By Gwyneth Doland and Laura Marrich
If there's one thing we've figured out about Burqueños, it's that we like to stockpile our crap. And lots of it. Whether it's a backyard collection of rust-eaten Buicks or the latest gadget from Williams and Sonoma, the cult of objects is as New Mexican as a plate of huevos on Sunday morning. You can see it for yourself, too. Every weekend we spill out from our homes, money in hand, on a mission from God to scour the desert for the best deal, the biggest piece or the rarest find. Sometimes we actually find it and, miraculously, it's just a few bucks less than we expected to pay. But even if we come away empty handed, it's that satisfaction of a full-day's hunt that sends us blissfully to bed, where we dream again of acquiring junk. Blessed, beautiful junk.
Best Store in Which to Ruin Your Credit Rating
You go in for a CD, you come out with a new computer, digital camera, mp3 player and a stackable washer/dryer. And when there's still a little room left on Mom's “emergencies only” card, you swipe it at Target, home of “oooh, what a cute lampshade/bathmat/J-Lo tracksuit ... I think I need that lampshade/bathmat/J-Lo tracksuit.” Rinse, repeat. Must-have fashions at Elsa Ross and to-die-for knicknacks at Hey Johnny are worth the overdraft charges every time.
Best Store for New Books
Barnes and Noble
“Well, we're already here at the mall so we might as well stop in and see if they have that book by that one guy all about how the president lied about the war and stuff.” (Good luck! There are so many you'll ruin your credit rating before you ever make it to Best Buy.) Page One, our second place winner, not only has a wine bar and café inside, they also have a searchable website that should make you rethink your addiction to amazon.com. Just behind Borders (in third place) comes Bound To Be Read in the same shopping center as Wild Oats at San Mateo and Academy.
Best Used Bookstore
Page One Too
Page One's little sister store, across the street, has a huge selection of books in addition to CDs and audio books and the best thing about selling your books to Page One Too is that you can use your credit for new merchandise at Page One as well. At the family-run Title Wave, our respondent's second choice, you'll find a carefully culled selection of used books in nice condition as well as a friendly and unintimidating staff. The Book Stop's excellent fiction section is delightfully free of tacky science fiction or bodice-ripping romance novels. Don's Paperback Book Exchange was also mentioned for their large selection of science fiction and mystery novels.
Best Children's Book Store
Bound To Be Read
Who can resist stepping into the magical hobbit hole that is the children's book room at Bound to be Read? Apparently you can't, Albuquerque. Moms and Dads also like losing the little ones at Barnes and Noble with Page One nipping at its tiny literary heels for third.
Best Local Bookstore
The space is huge, the staff is super-helpful and they've got at least two magazines for every hobby you've ever dimly considered attempting. Bound To Be Read scored second with their impossibly tall bookshelves and cute snack area. Kudos to Title Wave for climbing the book heap and attaining third place this year. Also, many of you have faithfully followed Birdsong from their long-time location on Harvard over to the building next to 7-11 at Central and University. If you haven't been to Birdsong in a while, check this place out again. It just gets better and better.
Best Place to Buy New Music
Second: Natural Sound, third: Best Buy. Same as last year. Look, nothing personal against employees of Hastings or Best Buy, but considering the current state of the record industry and the economy, don't you think it would be better and more honorable to buy your music from a locally owned joint than from some goddamned corporate chain store doing its level best to squeeze the mom 'n' pops out of business? Besides that, the folks at Natural Sound actually know what the hell they stock, what they sell and how to describe it to you in complete sentences.
Best Place to Buy Used Music
Traditionally, Natural Sound (second place) has won this category for their expansive, hand-picked selection of pre-owned CDs. This year, the corporate machine has finally taken over. Either that, or fewer people actually care about the sounds that enter their earholes than ever before. Third place went to Charlie's Records and Tapes. The end is near, friends, go in peace.
Best Vinyl Selection
Finally, we score a few for the locals. Mecca wins here for the second year in a row, followed closely by Charlie's Records and Tapes in second and Krazy Kat in third. If you're a vinyl junkie, you might also check out the stuff at Merlin's Record Workshop.
Best Video Store
Most people want to see the hot new releases most of the time and they might as well pick up Lil' Bow Wow's new CD and the latest issue of Glamour while they're at it. At second place Alphaville you'll find nothing but unusual, alternative and artsy films. Hollywood Video's convenient locations and focus on movies make it easy to get in and out without being distracted. Burning Paradise has made a dent in this category this year, meaning Albuquerque is still hungry for film.
Best Selection of Rental DVDs
See above re: new releases. But Hastings has moved faster than runners up Hollywood Video and Blockbuster to incorporate digital media into their stock.
Best Thrift Store
Because how often do you see people you know wearing stuff you sold to Buffalo (or vice-versa)? Sooner or later it happens to all of us. Second place goes to Thrift Town and the welcome addition of natural light in their new space on Menaul. Savers is a solid secret source for Burt Bacharach records and slightly used negligees.
Best Vintage/Antique Clothing Store
Even though they keep separating the vintage stuff from the rest of their clothes, then working it back in, then separating it out, we're addicted to the combination of selection and prices. At second place winner Off Broadway you can find rare collector's pieces or rent a pirate wench costume, depending on your price range. Newcomer Sparky's Trading Co. nabbed third for carrying a combination of new and vintage clothes plus vintage cowboy boots, bakelite jewelry and lucite purses.
Best Place to Buy New Mexico Souvenirs
Where tourists flock they also shop. So next time you need to pick up a bunch of kachina refrigerator magnets, kiva incense burners and Kokopelli switch plate covers, head down to Old Town and do like the Texans do. Real slackers can now safely wait until half an hour before boarding because the Albuquerque International Sunport has several nice, new shops. The Old Town Basket Shop was specifically mentioned enough times to put it in third place, just ahead of Skip Maisel's downtown. Zia key chains are also in abundance at the Texaco just off I-25's exit 242 and as always, the Flea Market at the Fairgrounds is a bonanza of schlock.
Best Men's Clothing Store
Albuquerque men may have only one suit in their closets but they get that suit at Dillard's. Then again, if you've never worn a suit in your life you probably shop at Free Radicals, where they carry indie-label clothing and products like American Greaser pomade. For those casual Friday staples, look no further than the Lobo Men's Shop across from UNM.
Best Women's Clothing Store
The obvious choice for Burqueñas who like their skirts studded, their ’dos dyed and their nipples clamped. For a prom dress that doesn't involve bondage straps, you high-tail it to Dillard's and hunt for bargains. Women with more couture tastes (read: designer jean addictions) blow their paycheck at Elsa Ross.
Best Shoe Store
Shoes on a Shoestring
The first of the month. Rent is due and Shoes on a Shoestring's yellow-tagged shoes just dropped in price. Convenient, isn't it? No matter what the season, this place has strappy thongs, kicky boots and even some cushy Naots for Mom. If you want to be the only girl on your block wearing Tiffany box-turquoise patent leather kitten heeled mules then you're probably already one of the many shopping at Ruby Shoesday, the little boutique downtown at Third and Gold. And Dillard's enormous shoe section isn't placed in between makeup and lingerie by chance; it'll suck you in one way or another, especially during those great end-of-the-season sales.
Best Computer Store
Those of you without computers are probably the only ones not buying computers and equipment on-line. But when you need a peripheral in a flash or a new piece of software today, it's available at CompUSA or the other two most popular spots, Best Buy and Circuit City. Sandia Computers and Computer Warehouse and Supplies also come highly recommended.
Best Comic Book Store
This Nob Hill fixture not only stocks a great selection of independent comics, they've got all the cool action figures you could want. Noble Collectibles, also the home of Café O (bubble tea!), covers all the bases with baseball cards, some video games and comics. Addicted to Comics, which recently moved from Triangle Plaza to East Nob Hill now has more room to display their excellent collection of vintage comics.
Best Furniture Store
When you graduate from buying all your furniture at yard sales and inheriting it from friends who move away (only to ask for it back when they return a year later), it's time to shop at TEMA. They've got purple suede couches, yellow leather chairs and just the kind of eye-catching pieces that will prompt your friends to say, “Only you could get away with a table like that!” Second place winner American Home Furnishings is where newlyweds love to exchange the extra three Nambé butterfly bowls for Mission-style table lamps. Nob Hill Furniture came in third as a popular spot for bar stools, and shiny '50s dinettes. The rest of the votes span the divide between the realm of flea market and “Dumpsters!” to the upscale Objects of Desire and Asian-themed Two Serious Ladies.
Best Antique Store
A winner not only for the perfect representation of pieces only ever-so-slightly above your price range and the warm service, Morningside is the place you know you'll find that which you seek, if not this Saturday then surely the next. The three-story Classic Century Square satisfies your flea market urge when the weather (or your hangover) keeps you away. Nearby, the Antique Specialty Mall is your one-stop-shop for dishes, silverware, vintage appliances, glassware and small furniture. Other favorites include The Antique Co-op in the North Valley for room after room of rustic house wares, and the impressive selection of ironwork at Gertrude Zachary's Secret Antiques (in the forest green building at Second and Coal).
Tie: Melba's and People's
Albuquerque isn't exactly the kind of wet and wildly overgrown city where flowers pop up on every median and threaten to take over every yard. Sure, we've got weeds with flowers on them but they're usually either two-inches tall or covered with thorns. So we depend a lot on our florists, especially Melba's and People's. Savon and Manning's are also favorite spots for bursts of color.
Best Plant Nursery
Second place Osuna Nursery. Who can say those words and not sing along with the jingle: Osuna Nursereeeeee/Our business is gro-o-o-wing. Third place Plants of the Southwest, that little place in the North Valley that sells mostly—you guessed it—native plants. Don't think about xeriscaping without a visit to Plants of the Southwest. Otherwise, you'll end up with red lava rocks and a prickly pear cactus.
Best Eclectic Gift Store
When you're in serious need of some gift-giving inspiration, what could be better than hitting up a place that carries genitalia-shaped pasta? Tasteful gifts of a different kind fly off the shelves at Hey Johnny and Cost Plus World Market. The A store, Castle Superstore, Martha's Body Bueno and ScoJo's also scored big votes from desperate last-minute shoppers.
Best Ethnic Supermarket
TaLin Oriental Market
TaLin's multiethnic bazaar is unmatched for sheer breadth and depth. From Middle Eastern spices to frozen potstickers, exotic produce, Indian curry powder and Brazilian energy drinks, this place rules. For Asian groceries, our readers also like 99B on Gibson and for Middle Eastern items, Café Istanbul.
Best Tattoo Parlor
Star Tattoo and Body Piercing
The fact that Star Tattoo manages to consistently draw fresh flesh all the way up to their shop at Corrales and Alameda proves that their customers are loyal and love to show off that ink. The artists over at Hardware and Sach's also have legions of fans who wrote in often enough to put them in second and third, respectively.
Delana Veirs at Mar y Sol
A shocking number of city dwellers get their hair cut by their moms, girlfriends and wives. It was the most dedicated (and no doubt, fashionable) who provided enough votes for Delana to take first prize. Only Jill McArthur at Laru Ni Hati had nearly so many votes. You can bet your stockpile of sculpting mud that none of those scenesters dancing at Burt's on Thursday nights had their moms cut their hair.
Best Hair Salon
If you're not getting the complete salon experience at Mark Pardo then you're probably seeing Delana at Mar y Sol or nibbing on a chocolate truffle and sipping a glass of champagne while you wait for Jill at Laru Ni Hati.
Betty's Bath and Day Spa
When it's time to blow off some steam, most people head over to Betty's outdoor hot tubs in the serene North Valley. Even though it's not in Albuquerque, the lure of Santa Fe's 10,000 Waves consistently draws stress monsters from Albuquerque. Pretty much everyone who voted for them acknowledged this irony and asked for forgiveness (“Sorry! I know it's in Santa Fe.”) Indulgences was your third choice, followed closely by Gambei Wellness Center and Marc Pardo.
Best Massage Therapist
Joyce Hooker at Gambei Wellness Spa
A gentle touch, a warm smile and a happy ending—no, wait! Just the first two (and hopefully a good sense of humor) make Dr. Hooker a stellar massage therapist and the resounding winner of this category. Albuquerque is addicted to massage therapy, and lord knows there are lots of practitioners here, so congratulations to all the other massage therapists out there. We love you!
Best New Car Dealer
Can you believe there were actually more hostile responses to this category than for used cars, despite all the nasty stereotypes about used car salespeople? The folks at Galles must be doing something right to have so many satisfied customers. Don Chalmers raced up to second place while Garcia took third.
Best Used Car Dealer
Cross Country Auto Sales
Honestly, we love it when people write in snarky comments instead of votes. Sure, the votes are what drive the poll but the snarky stuff is what makes it funny. Too bad nobody had anything nasty to say about this category. Used car dealers in Albuquerque must all be honest, plain-dealing, super-nice guys. Alibi readers also recommend Houston Auto Sales and Larry H. Miller (tied for second place) and Quality Jeep/Chrysler.
Best Place to Buy Package Liquor
Nothing cures a case of the Mondays like stepping into the Quarters' ice-cold beer room before heading off to work. You also drink responsibly with a little help from Kelly Liquors (second), while Jubilation Wine and Spirits (third) is good for what ails ya. We'd also like to report that Sunflower Market is doing a good job at keeping the Westside nice and lubricated.
Best Place to Go Slumming for a Deal
The Flea Market at the Fairgrounds
Contrary to what many of you thought, we weren't talking about drugs (Really, Roosevelt Park?) or sex (What? Foxes Booze ’n' Cruise?). We meant blankets bearing the face of Jesus, out-of-date Polaroid film, vintage handbags, spark plug wrenches, sunglasses and straw hats. The kind of stuff you find every Saturday and Sunday morning at the flea market. If you can't find what you're looking for there, readers say try Goodwill or Buffalo Exchange.
Best Pawn Shop
Why didn't anybody suggest pawn shops as places to go slumming for a deal? Maybe because most of them aren't as slummy as they used to be? Or maybe it's because they're underrated as great places to buy cheap DVD players, guitars and mountain bikes? If you're out hunting for great deals on premium stuff, be sure to also check out The Happy Hocker and Doc Holliday's.
Best Pet Store
Clark's Pet Emporium
Second and third place winners PetSmart and PetCo simply can't compete with the wide product selection and individual attention at Clark's. Clark's packs a lot of variety into their recently expanded digs on Lomas. Plus walking through their aquarium room is waaay more creepy and fun than a trip through those sorry-assed “haunted houses” at the State Fair—and free!
Best Alternative Healthcare Practitioner
That's right, Albuquerque likes to get pricked by Jinlen when we're feeling under the weather—for acupuncture, that is. Literally every other herbalist, rolfer, chiropractor and doctor of Oriental Medicine in town got at least one vote, so congratulations to you all. Get crazy and celebrate with some cranio-sacral work and a shot of wheat grass.
Best Local Event at Which to Spend Your Money
New Mexico State Fair
Wow, reading the list of votes in this category makes Albuquerque seem like a pretty cool place to live. Besides the fair, we've got Alibi's Spring and Fall Crawls (in second place), the Bernalillo Wine Festival (in third), Isotopes games, the Fiery Foods Show, Greek Festival, Highland Games in Rio Rancho and Lady Lobos games (seriously, we got no votes for the men!). Don't forget the New Mexico Arts and Crafts Fair, Nob Hill Shop and Strolls, performances at Popejoy, the Revolutions Theatre Festival, Scorpions Hockey, the Souper Bowl, Midnight Movies, local Growers Markets and Weems Artfest. And of course, 4:20 at Roosevelt Park.
Best Item You Can Make Out of a Copy of Weekly Alibi
Tie: Paper Airplane and Toilet Paper
Our favorite: more paper. Yeah, recycling! Others use the paper to line bird cages, make funny hats, and pack up stuff you sold on eBay.
Best Anything We Forgot
Best Pilates Studio—Engage Pilates
Best Salsa Dance Instructor—Naomi Martinez
Best Veterinarian—Faith Flower
Best Golf Course—Tanoan
Best Fitness Center/Gym—Albuquerque Sports and Wellness
That's it. We've decided to include all of your suggestions for next year's poll. The only problem is that the poll will now be 164 pages long. But you don't mind, do you? See, we'll need all that room to fit in categories for the best local straw bale contractor, fetish store, dentist, nonprofit organization, paralegal, salsa instructor ...
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