Musical Instrument Store

Jensen Guitar & Music Co.

2830 De la Vina (acoustic shop), 687-4027; 2905 De la Vina
(electric shop), 563‑3200; 435 2nd St., Solvang, 686‑0080; 1130 E.
Clark Ave., Santa Maria, 934‑8687

It’s the best place in town where your
kids can learn how to play rock guitar. You can buy electronic
equipment, as well as beautiful handcrafted acoustic instruments.
And the readers pick it every year.

Finalist Nick Rail Music

Office Supply Store


7015 Marketplace Dr., Goleta, 961-8093; 410 State St.,

It’s hard to get sentimental about a place where you get gummed
reinforcements or laser jet cartridges. (We do miss Lund’s Business
Supply Stores a little, though.) Best thing about this big ol’
store is that it almost invariably has what you are looking for, so
when you buy it you can forget you needed to look. Maybe it’s not
sexy shopping, but you go there because you are all about
business — and so is Staples.

Finalist OfficeMax


Chaucer’s Books

3321 State St., 682-6787

Since the late 1980s in the Loreto Plaza, Mahri Kerley has
defied most of the current marketing formulas and made a pretty
damned good living on our bookworm tendencies. She does not stock
books just because they turn over twice a season, but rather she
brings them in if they sound delightful or even just insanely
informative. The store is overstocked year-round, and the staff is
knowledgeable and sprightly on their feet. Feeling indulgent? There
are signings, poetry, children’s books, and calendars year-round,
too. It’s not a very businesslike place; it’s for people who love

Finalist Borders Books Music Movies and

CD Store; Used CD Selection

Morninglory Music

1014 State St., 966-0266; 720 N. H St., Lompoc, 736-7676

For more than three decades it has been the homegrown store for
music, surviving the evolution of an industry that nowadays seems
to be evaporating into cyber world. CDs may be on their way out;
who knows in this downloading, ripping, and burning era of
obtaining the music we love. But you wouldn’t know it looking into
this emporium. The new stuff is up front, the older music and the
used copies integrated into the giant horde of pop, rock, folk,
jazz, hip-hop, and even spoken word. Like a hero standing against
some predicted doom, Morninglory shows no sign of wavering in its
commitment to protect us from dull quietude.

Finalists Store: Borders Books Music Movies and
Café; Used CD Selection: Wherehouse Music

DVD Store; Used DVD Selection

Blockbuster Video

Five locations

Somehow this chain survived the home entertainment makeover from
Beta to VHS and then to DVD. At one time, there was a mom & pop
video rental store on every corner like gas stations in the 1950s,
an era Blockbuster also outlived. Now it’s duking it out with the
big convenient services like Netflix. Soon we will have implants in
our cranial cavities that receive movies from giant robot-beaming
stations in the sky. Meanwhile, however, the voters like to go hang
out at Blockbuster and even buy a movie now and then to take home
and play on their soon-to-be-outdated plasma high res TV sets.
That’s so 2005.

Finalists DVD Store: Video Shmideo; Used DVD
Selection: Morninglory Music

Gift Shop

Lewis & Clark

1116 State St., 962-6034; 1286 Coast Village Rd., Montecito,

This pretty little shop in Montecito and
downtown has niceties for every occasion. Around our house it’s
known as the Valentine’s Day Supply Shop, but it has stepped in
nicely for birthdays and stocking stuffers, too. It’s got a great
staff and it can be fun just to browse; but in a town of nifty
gifts, the readers like this one best.

Finalist Imagine

Party Supply Store

Glenda’s Party Cove

3319-A State St., 687-4500

We like any business that ends in the word “Cove.” Balloons (the
big sales item), invites, streamers, party favors, and more formal
items like stationery and pens are all here under a roof that has
sheltered celebratory dreams since before time began. It started at
State and Mission, moved to La Cumbre, and now makes its home in
the Loreto Plaza. Owner Steve Thomson said some days can be tough,
with the occasional cranky customer. “But usually they get happy
coming in here. And I like that,” he said.

Finalist Scavenge

Art Supply Store

Art Essentials

32 E. Victoria St., 965-5456

It’s run by artists, and artists love their tools. So you can go
in there not knowing what you need to create — say, an altar piece
like old Bellini did? Then after a few ideas from the staff and
recommendations for the few things they don’t carry, you will be on
your way to becoming an old master. Or, maybe discovering that
hobby that makes you happier and happily busier while you get

Finalist Michaels Arts & Crafts

Used Bookstore

The Book Den

15 E. Anapamu St., 962-3321

They’ve moved again, but this time back into their original
site. It’s enough to set off nostalgia alarms and create
time-traveling scenarios for some of us old folk, but the newer
people around will probably just appreciate how much good stuff
Eric Kelley can squeeze onto the shelves people have been browsing
since before the Internet and television. Construction’s almost
done, and the new parking lot is rarely full. Come and visit an
institution considered to be California’s oldest continuing book

Finalist Paperback Alley Used Books

Video / DVD Rental Selection

Video Shmideo

11 W. Victoria St., 564-4999

It’s one of those places that should get a second award for its
see-and-be-seen ambiance. People love to wander in, browse, talk to
the friendly clerks, and, oh yeah, rent a few films. Great
selections in Hollywood, foreign, cult, gay and lesbian, and even
the complete library of Mystery Science Theater 3000 taped shows.
If you like both Alain Resnais and Bruce Lee, you will probably
enjoy Video Shmideo.

Finalist Blockbuster Video

Magazine and Newspaper Selection

Borders Books Music Movies and Café

900 State St., 899-3668; 7000 Marketplace Ave., Goleta,

The racks of glossy magazines stretch across more than half of
the ground floor in this big and airy store. It’s where you go to
get that hot article about you-know-who and von-whom in Vanity
Fair, it’s a good place to score Art in America, or Knitting
Essentials. If you want Rachel Ray’s magazine or Oprah’s, they’re
not far from the dish on Brad Pitt and a whole magazine dedicated
to Arizona highways. All this and more, and a bunch of your bigger
city and world newspapers, too.

Finalist Read N’ Post

Mac Computer Repair


216 E. Gutierrez St., 965-9722

Since 1999 Mike Bishop’s store has been dealing in and making
those extremely rare adjustments to Apple computers. They must be
satisfying customers left and right because each year, the readers
have named them the good apple in town.

Finalist Mac Shac

PC Computer Repair

Channel Data Systems

4141 State St., Ste. A-2, 964-6695

In an era of outsourced consumer support, people want to know
that the PC did not, oh no, it did not just eat that 40-page report
you worked on all night. (Chances are good it didn’t.) Bill Lewis’s
store has been around since before the era of computer reached
regular folk, and he’ll be here when you need repairs and
reassuring advice. Maybe not a miracle but something slightly magic
featuring the Undo command.

Finalist Hart Consulting

Camera Shop

Samy’s Camera

614 Chapala St., 963-7269

It’s a town dedicated to the art of photography, from Brooks
Institute of Photography to Richard Ross’s classes at UCSB. In all
the years since they’ve been here, the tiny-chain store — one store
here, another in Los Angeles — has been voted number one. This is
the kind of development that store owners and big shutterbugs
should focus on with pleasure. Someday my prints will come.

Finalist Russ Camera


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