We're all consumers. We buy clothes and shoes and used guitars. We need skull-and-crossbones shower curtains and love cute teddy bears with fuzzy ears and googly-eyes. What we don't need is overpriced crap from soulless stores. Lucky for us, Albuquerque is a booming, green-conscious shoppers’ paradise. From recycled vintage fashions to hand-carved (and fair-traded) soap dishes, somewhere in the Q there's a store to meet your consumer-driven lifestyle. Proclaim your love of spending and tap into your inner shopaholic at one of Burque's favorite retail establishments.
Best Independent Bookstore
What’s better than a bookstore with a large selection of books? An independently owned bookstore with a large selection of books served by a staff that loves to read almost as much as you do. This Albuquerque institution took out the competition this year. Bookworks fared well in second and The Book Stop took third.
Best DVD/Video Rental Store
Hastings isn't a local store, but it wins this category almost every year anyway. That’s one reason we’ve given it a Best of Burque Lifetime Achievement Award. Alphaville got a ton of votes, too, but it unfortunately went out of business last month after more than 12 years as a Nob Hill fixture. That leaves Downtown up-and-comer Burning Paradise to take over this category with its eclectic selection of cult/alternative/psychotronic cinema.
Best Thrift/Antique Store
Being stylish doesn't have to eat away at your checking account. Buffalo Exchange has those designer jeans of your dreams, only slightly used, and you might just find that vintage fringe vest and those bright pink high-tops you've been looking for while you're there. For a slightly more "traditional" approach to thrift store shopping, Burqueños head to Bargain Box, Thrift Town or Savers.
Best Shoe Store
Shoes on a Shoestring
Those grossly stereotypical ads informing husbands their lost wives are, in fact, fawning over shoes at Shoes on a Shoestring may hold a grain of truth—the racks and racks of darling foot apparel are mesmerizing, even drool-inducing. Shoe lover or not, this is the place to scour the aisles for the perfect heel or those extra-comfy running shoes. Dillard's came in second for its awesome sale rack and sexy selection. Third goes to Ruby Shoesday, your favorite place for designer stilettos no one else can have.
Best Comic Book Store
Conveniently located in Nob Hill, Astro-Zombies is a one-stop shop overflowing with comics, action figures, records and nostalgic toys. Tread lightly and you're sure to score some way cool collectibles. (Word is Transformers are hot again!) Noble Collectibles socks up second with its stock of comics, graphic novels and videogames (not to mention fine Vietnamese cuisine at the Montgomery location). Addicted to Comics comes in a close third, which is as good an excuse as any to mention that the longtime shop recently relocated to new digs over on Lomas.
Skip the bumbling monologue for a change and say it with flowers. When it’s time for an anniversary, a birthday, Valentine's Day or just a good old-fashioned, humble pie, butt-smoochin' apology, more Albuquerqueans turn to the communists over at People's Flowers than anywhere else. Melba's and Tiger Lily are also hugely popular.
Best Sexy Shop
Martha's Body Bueno
It's no surprise that Martha's took home the gold in this category. Whether you're shopping for something fun to wear, eat, smell or "play" with, Martha's Body Bueno is full of welcome surprises. Walking into Martha's always feels safe and welcoming, and our readers must agree. Tied for silver is local sex toy goliath Castle Superstore and newcomer Self Serve, while the exquisitely classy Seventh Goddess drew plenty of votes in third.
Best Music Equipment Store
Grandma's Music and Sound
While there are no freshly baked pies cooling in the windows of this massive and well-stocked music store, there is something vaguely maternal about the way the staff swaddles each customer in its doting care. Sound boards, amps, drum skins, clothes, light displays, keyboards, equipment repair—Grandma loves you. You also love Music-Go-Round and Marc's Guitar, which rocked second and third place, respectively.
Finding a great hairstylist is a tough business. Once you find one that does the job right, the deal is sealed. Our readers know that and voted Delana Veirs of Mar y Sol best hairstylist for the eighth year in a row. That’s loyalty.
Not to be forgotten is Chrystyne Doeller, also from Mar y Sol, and Shag Hair Studio’s Jessica Retskin, who tied for second, and Lindsey Burwell from the Nob Hill Mark Pardo, who snipped and shaped her way into third.
Best Fitness Facility
If you wanna wail on your glutes and feel the burn, the place to make your muscle-bound dreams come true is Defined Fitness. Coming in at a bulky second is New Mexico Sports and Wellness, followed by a three-way tie between Curves, Gold's Gym and UNM's Johnson Gym.
Betty's Bath and Day Spa
Betty's wins! When it comes to pampering, soaking, rub-downs and herbal wraps, Betty's knows Burque best. The Gambei Wellness Spa at Mar y Sol gets the silver medal for relaxation, and La Bella Spa soothed its way to the bronze.
Judy at Abitha's Herbary
Judy already knows she won this category. I’m sure Psychic Ana likewise knows she came in second. And my guess is that Cynthia Hess and Mindy Lou already know they got plenty of votes as well. As for the less clairvoyant among us, consider giving one of these ladies a call next time life presents you with a scenario in which you desperately need to predict the future.
Best Bicycle Shop
OK. It’s time to just put it out there. For those of you who haven’t picked up on our many, many hints, we sort of have a “thing” for bicycles. We think they’re swell. Several of us ride them every day to the office, and one of us even learned how to ride one for the first time last year. Luckily, there are plenty of good local bicycle businesses to cater to this “thing” we have. According to our readers, the best such place is the Bike Co-op, which can slime your wheels and grease your chain in no time. Not far behind is the Albuquerque Bicycle Center, with Two Wheel Drive rolling in at third.
Why should adults have all the fun? Best Boutique winners Aqui have fun clothes that are chichi (but not too froufrou) enough for everybody in your family, from Yanuk jeans for your hot mama, Howe hoodies for handsome him and Appaman Infant for the wee one. Don't miss the immaculate webstore at www.aqui-nobhill.com. Of course, Elsa Ross, Blue Portal, Free Radicals and Martha's Body Bueno are followed by devotees of the Cult of Boutique with near-religious fervor, too.
Best Dog-friendly Business
Tie: Flying Star Café and Kelly’s Brew Pub
It’s no surprise that we received a ton of entries for this category. Albuquerqueans love dogs. And, apparently, Albuquerque businesses love them, too. It’s hard to pass by a Flying Star or the Kelly’s patio[xurl ]without spotting a pooch, which is why they tied for first in this category. Three Dog Bakery placed a smooth second, while third place was an unorthodox three-way tie between Anodyne, Bow Wow Blues and happy newcomer Long Leash on Life.
Best Strip Mall
Strip malls are an Albuquerque tradition, much like tamales on Thanksgiving or farolitos at Christmas time. Although the new ABQ Uptown technically fits the usual definition of strip mall (a shopping center that has parking directly in front of the stores and does not have enclosed walkways linking the stores), it’s too upmarket to be called such a mundane phrase. ABQ Uptown provides a great shop-and-stroll alternative with fun stores, ambient music and pedestrian-friendly walkways. The Nob Hill Shopping Center (which came in second place) is jam-packed with local stores and great atmosphere. The Hoffmantown Shopping Center and The Courtyard also got lots of votes from the shopaholics.