Best of Santa Barbara 2012: Living Well
3321 State St., 682-6787
“Who woulda thunk it,” said Mahri Kerley, owner of the esteemed-est emporium of literary endeavor. “I outlasted the chains.” Kerley, who is also a big supporter of the arts, not only stocks the store amply, which was against all the old rules of bookselling, but also regularly hosts prestigious readings and signings, like the recent T.C. Boyle appearance. It’s the store where all of Santa Barbara’s writers go, but lest you think it’s only for the aesthetically advanced, Kerley is quite proud to admit she has sold almost 2,000 copies of the Shades of Grey mom-porn series and is looking forward to carrying a host of parodies, too.
FINALIST: THE BOOK DEN
216 E. Gutierrez St., 965-9722
Owner Michael Bishop, who also runs prize-winning Richard’s Accurate car repair, learned a lot from his father, who told him to identify a need in the community and then supply it. Believe it or not, that need was an Apple repair shop, which has been doing just fine, thanks very much, since the vaunted Apple Store opened on State Street. “I’ve done real well,” he said, insisting people compare the noisy din surrounding the Apple Store’s genius bar with the quiet classrooms Bishop provides to teach his customers how to use their machines. A lot of celebrities go to MacMechanic to avoid crowds for other reasons. “It’s where the stars park their cars,” Bishop loudly proclaimed.
FINALIST: APPLE STORE
614 Chapala St., 963-7269
What Chaucer’s Books is to the reading and writing public, Samy’s is to photographers. Its large emporium actually offers a lot of satellite technology — from computers to 3-D TV sets — surrounding a solid counter of the latest in the ever-technologizing world of the snapshot. Since even point-and-shoot cameras have innumerable options today, Samy’s offers a wide series of inexpensive classes and workshops, getting you ready for the breathless magic-hour landscape art shot or the holiday picture around Aunt Sally’s table. It’s the one-stop hot spot shop for hotshot photo op props. O, Snap!
Musical Instrument Store
Jensen Guitar & Music Company
2830 De la Vina St., 687-4027
Rock-out kids from this town mostly got their first guitar and likely took their first lessons at Jensen’s. Since 1973, Chris Jensen and his ragtag familiars (family and friends) have been holding court and offering help to musicians of all ages. From D.B. Cooper to MYNX — with all kinds of acoustic, country, and downright psychedelic songsters in between — they first got strung out and up on De la Vina, and chances are good their kids will learn a few hooks here, too.
FINALIST: INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC
909 State St., 845-3900
“Longtime voter, first time winner,” quipped Amy Cooper, owner of this barely two-year-old shop on State Street where, as Cooper put it, the hip-hop shop used to be. (We had a hip-hop shop?) Cooper’s main concern was to create an aesthetic environment for shoppers in a town that has become increasingly chained to chains. She prides herself in the setting, music, and, of course, the lovely things on sale. “I sell beautiful things made with integrity,” she said. “That’s one reason I resisted having a website; I want people to come in and see this.”
FINALIST: LEWIS & CLARK
Party Supply Store
Glenda’s Party Cove
3319 State St., 687-4500
Probably the second-best part of this store is that it’s a cove. You might expect Santa Barbara to exploit its nearness to the nautical, but not so much, with the obvious exception of seafood joints. Here we are forced to enjoy the imagery of a jolly pirate ship sailing into a port made up of party favors and gift-wrapping, which is about right and leads us to the very best aspect of this store. It has everything for any party you could name, from one-year-old birthdays to PhD graduation bashes and beyond. Gifts, wrapping paper, noisemakers, candles, napkins, even balloon bouquets: For 32 years, this has been the port of call most Barbareños make when sailing the soirée sea.
Art Supply Store
32 E. Victoria St., 965-5456
“We blow everybody else out of the water,” brags manager Adam Cherry. “We’re the biggest art supply store with the nicest staff. In fact, everybody who works here is an artist, so everybody has tested the things in the store firsthand. The customers who come in can feel that about us,” he added, remarking on the instant bond of confidence confused patrons feel when they meet the clerks. “It takes one to know one.”
Craft Supply Store
187 N. Fairview Ave., 967-7119
North American folkways, Goleta, California. Report: Our informants found that the inhabitants of this large beachside settlement often indulge in gratuitous decorations of objects, more specifically, stringing beads as items of friendship and self-enhancement; decorating large squash plants known as pumpkins as a seasonal ritual; and frequently creating illustrated texts that record accomplishments alongside souvenirs of clan walkabouts in places like Hawai’i and Disneyland, often referred to as Scrapbooks. The denizens frequently gathered the accoutrements of their folk art in a big trading post called Michael’s, a “chain” that gives, as the tribespeople often say, “featured deals” where “creativity happens.”
FINALIST: CRAFT ESSENTIALS
601 State St., 966-3954
One of the truest yet unremarked-upon measures of the passing from child to adult is the compulsion to put art inside of frames. Old movie posters, concert handbills, and orange crate decals are all very cool, but sooner or later somebody will give you a painting, sketch, or engraving and expect you to preserve it and set it apart on the wall with an honest-to-goodness mat, frame, and glass containment-and-preservation device. This chain, which began in Hollywood six decades ago, is where Santa Barbarians for the last decade have preferred to procure these adult-making devices at prices that remind us that saving money on something good doesn’t have to be just a pursuit of youth.
Santa Barbara Bank & Trust
Last March, Union Bank, which is part of the Mitusbishi UFJ Financial Group, purchased Santa Barbara Bank & Trust for an estimated $1.5 billion. Early word had it that SBB&T would soon become part of Union Bank’s bigger chain in name, as well, though that has not happened as of press time. Meanwhile, the readers have kept the long faith they have had in the bank that shares a name with their home town, voting for them (even after the bank weathered a disastrous 2009) presumably because they endorse the service, intelligence, and, likely, the security they feel keeping their money safe there. It’s also safe to say that the readers will be watching the name change next year with a great deal of interest.
FINALIST: WELLS FARGO
FedEx Office (aka Kinko’s)
It’s hard to break the news to the fans, but Kinko’s isn’t even FedEx Kinko’s anymore. It’s now officially FedEx Office. Never mind, the readers keep voting for the copying convenience store that got its start in humble Isla Vista back when most people remembered what a mimeograph machine smelled like. It’s nice that they remember, and we’ll play along because, even if they are voting for something that is kind of like a Xerox of the original, we know what they mean.
FINALIST: BILL’S COPY SHOP
5486 Calle Real, 308-9585
“Fantastic,” said Brian McCague, Maravilla’s executive director, who is extremely proud of the retirement residence’s almost spotless record of winning this category since it first opened in 2003. “We won’t talk about that one year we took second,” he laughed. But McCague firmly believes that the site’s beauty is only part of the success story. “Our main focus is on the service; we want to provide genuine hospitality for the people here. I’m very proud, and it’s our staff who make the difference,” he said.
FINALIST: VALLE VERDE
Santa Barbara Travel Bureau
Since 1947, Santa Barbara Travel Bureau has helped the locals get out of Paradise. In the last 10 years, under the beneficent guidance of the de L’Arbre bros (Charles is the CEO and David the COO), SBTB has won this award every year. Whether you need to escape our perfect land and go somewhere more perfect, like Hawai’i, or you have to do business in Dubuque — which is actually the company’s strong point — you have the readers’ endorsement that this family-owned business is the ticket.
Points of Health
1805 E. Cabrillo Blvd., Ste. E, 687-7775
“We are honored to win again,” said acupuncturist Erik Smith. “We want to thank all of our patients and The Indy. We absolutely love what we do and are grateful acupuncture is experiencing a huge surge in popularity and acceptance. And why not? It is natural and effective, with a track record of at least 2,500 years and side effects of deep relaxation, more energy, better sleep, and less stress. Who wouldn’t want that from their medicine?”
FINALIST: ANTHONY KAR
Dr. Lori Sender-OHara
25 Carlo Dr., Ste. B, 964-0222
“I am so honored to have the opportunity to bring fast, affordable pain relief to so many in my community,” said Lori Sender-OHara, DC. “Most people do not realize the health and optimal wellness benefits of chiropractic care. I utilize a very unique and specialized technique called the Gonstead Method, which gets truly unparalleled results. And with 25 years’ experience, I have to say, it makes all the difference in the world! Thank you, Santa Barbara and Goleta, for voting for me again this year. I am here to serve you.”
FINALIST: DR. JOHN CRAVIOTTO
Dr. J. David Dart
1819 State St., Ste. A, 687-2400
“I am both honored and flabbergasted … again,” said Dr. David Dart about winning Best Dentist. “I don’t jump out of planes, trains, bridges, or buildings; never been in Iraq or Somalia chasing pirates or had medals pinned to my naked chest. But, the practice is over 36 years of age and well-seasoned. I have three great partners (Drs. Kelly Kendall and Jeff Rohde) and associates (Dr. Karen Yoon) and the most excellent staff in Santa Barbara. We come to work every day with smiles on our faces and create the same for our families, friends, and patients. Bottom line, it’s more than just a job. Everyone here is passionate and mindful of creating quality dentistry. We’re all pretty fortunate to live here in S.B., and our practice is both lucky and grateful to have patients, friends, and family visit us on a regular basis. Thanks again for the recognition. We take it seriously and appreciate the recognition.”
FINALIST: JOHNSON FAMILY DENTAL
Licensed Massage Therapist
1126 & 1128 Coast Village Circle, 453-2333
“This last year was tremendous for myself and my staff,” said Marlo Tell. “We consolidated our two locations to a beautiful new building in Montecito in Coast Village Circle. We have had a greater emphasis over the past year treating athletes, professional and amateur, including NBA players and triathletes. I’m continuously learning as well as training my staff in techniques that are effective for our clientele. We use a combination of trigger-point therapy, deep tissue work, myofascial release, and other modalities. Online I post lifestyle tips, wellness videos, fitness and nutrition information.”
FINALIST: STEPHEN FOUNTAIN
Dr. Thomas Burke
If there were an additional category for best boss, Dr. Thomas Burke would clearly be among the finalists. Known for his personable eye-test manners, Burke ought to also be known for keeping eye-to-eye with the latest technologies in the ocular health-maintenance world. But Burke is firmly endorsed by those who see him every day, which, when you think about it, is just about the best test a doctor can pass.
FINALIST: DR. CORY BREAM (COSTCO)