We've spent countless hours walking the aisles of Bookworks, running our fingers over the spines of damn near every book in there. Curated with care, staffed by knowledgeable bookworms and always hosting mind-expanding talks by local and traveling authors, Bookworks is a North Valley oasis for all of us who still thrill with each turned page. The fact that Bookworks is independently owned and truly local is just icing on the cake—we'd hardly buy a book anywhere else (unless it's at our runner-up, Page One).
2) Page One
3) Barnes & Noble
Best Comic Book Store
The votes are in and Albuquerque voted—quite decidedly—that Astro-Zombies is the preeminent spot to bask in the glory of the comic. This distinct medium has been celebrated and geeked out on everyday at Astro-Zombies for the past 18 years. And for many of those years, Burqueños have flocked to the polls to express their undying love for the place, earning them the top honors as Best Comic Book Store multiple times.
Best Game Store
Alas, the die is cast, and this year it favors Gamers Anonymous—our locally-owned gaming store that celebrates classic gaming, while making room for a few newer titles as well. Whether you're looking for F-Zero for Super Nintendo or a Sega Genesis system to up your entertainment center, this vintage gaming enclave has the droids you are looking for. Perhaps most importantly, everyone in the Northeast Heights store is willing to geek out with you, too—perhaps this enthusiasm is what has locked down the Best Game Store for Gamers Anonymous.
2) Empire Board Game Library
3) Noble Gaming
Best Jewelry Store
Ooh! Aah! Jewelry
Ooh look, something shiny! Open for 29 years, Ooh! Aah! Jewelry has handcrafted beautiful, chic and, yes, shiny jewelry for those in the market. A helpful and experienced staff can assist you in finding that perfect piece to add to your collection or a gift for someone else. With a diverse selection of rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and handbags, Ooh! Aah! Jewelry has a little something for everyone.
2) Gertrude Zachary
3) Lilly Barrack
Best Men's Clothing Store
Tie: Free Radicals/Izzy Martin
Seems like Burqueños like their men either crisp in business casual or slicked back in rockabilly flair. According to Sir Hardy Amies, notable English fashion designer, “A man should look as if he has bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them.” And that is precisely the clothes Izzy Martin, open since 2011, carries. On the flip side, if you want to look greased up and punked out, Free Radicals is the place for you. Either way, you're guaranteed to look super fly.
Best Women's Clothing Store
Shopping at Free Radicals is like stepping into John Waters' 1990 cult classic, Cry-Baby, down to the last hearse detail. Specializing in pin-up, punk, rockabilly and more, Free Radicals has been the go-to place for women's apparel since 2002. So if you want to look like a hepcat and not a square, fire up your ragtop and punch it to Free Radicals, daddy-o!
Best Vintage Clothing Store
When looking for previously funky fresh threads, Burqueños flock to Buffalo Exchange, where you can buy, sell or trade in your vintage apparel for better, weirder, louder duds. However you'll never quite match the trendy stylishness of the affable staff. If you're not quite sure what you're looking for, but know you'll find it at Buffalo, let the staff help match the perfect attire to suit your personality and taste.
2) Off Broadway
Best Antique Store
No Clear Winner
With dozens of antique stores here in Albuquerque, there were too many to choose from. There was no clear winner for this category, but perhaps the real winner was the friends we made along the way.
Best Thrift Store
“One man's trash is another man's treasure,” the famous saying goes, and what better place to find your next treasure than at Thrift Town. Founded in 1972 in northern California, Thrift Town has now expanded to 14 stores across 3 states. In the market for a suit? Thrift Town has you covered. How about some stilettos? Yeah they’ve got that, too. From home décor, to books, to clothes, accessories, shoes, your treasure awaits you.
3) Assistance League of Albuquerque Thrift Shop
Best Bicycle Shop
Two Wheel Drive
Not only does Two Wheel Drive serve the greater Albuquerque community with excellent service, but the owner, Charlie Ervin has, for decades, helped carve out bike trails that are widely used today. Since opening in 1982, Two Wheel Drive has expanded their bike collection to include people of all abilities, partnering with organizations like Veterans Administration and Carrie Tingley Foundation, all while providing top-notch professional bicycle knowledge to the 505.
2) The Bike Coop
Best Skate Shop
Silver Skate Shop
Are you the next Tony Hawk? Is this an outdated reference? The Albuquerque skate scene is growing bigger by the minute and taking the top place to serve this thriving community, for the third year in a row, is Silver Skate Shop. Selling gnarly boards and sweet threads, this woman-owned business is the business. Whether you’re a novice, pro or anywhere in between, Silver Skate Shop has everything you need.
2) BZ Skateshop
Best Ski/Snowboarding Shop
When Albuquerqueans need to gear up before hitting the slopes, where do they go? Sport Systems is the number one place to not only get new gear, but also boot adjustments, waxing, performance tuning, minor and major repair, and more. With two stories full of sports gear and equipment, and large sections dedicated to both ski and snowboarding, Sport Systems has you covered. Everything is reasonably priced and the knowledgeable staff is ready to help with any questions you might have.
Best “Adult” Toy Store
Self Serve Sexuality Resource
Self Serve prides itself on being sex-positive and inclusive for all. Knowing that public school sex education is lacking, Self Serve has taken on the task of filling in the gaps, pun intended, with their extensive classes ranging from Sex Positivity for Survivors to How to Have Great Group Sex. Self Serve covers the ABCs of sex and healthy sexual relationships for everyone and that's why they took the top spot.
2) Castle Megastore
Best Plant Nursery
An average of 280 days of sun and a temperate climate make Albuquerque a great place to have a garden. And Osuna Nursery is your go-to place to pick up plants. Started in 1980 by Chang An, an immigrant from Korea, Osuna Nursery has grown to include giving back to the community like local schools and sponsoring local organizations, in addition to housing almost every plant, flower or shrub under the sun. Still family-owned, this nursery also does plant diagnosis, where you can either take in a sample of your sick specimen or they will come to your home, and a professional can diagnosis your botanical bummer.
2) Rehm's Nursery & Garden Center
3) Jericho Nursery
Best Flower Shop/Florist
Growing flowers is one thing, but expertly arranging them in a pleasing fashion? Let's leave that to the professionals at Peoples Flower Shops where they've been doing it since 1944. Peoples takes floral arranging seriously, as they should. It is an art form, how carefully each stem and blossom are chosen and placed to create the perfect bouquet for each occasion. It's nothing to be sniffed at, and the people at Peoples Flower Shops know that.
Best Art Supplies Store
Artisan doesn't have pre-smashed TVs like Shocking Art Supplies in “Portlandia,” but they've got pretty much everything else you're looking for. Artisan's mission is to “sell supplies to fuel creativity,” and with over 50,000 items carried, it's safe to say there's enough fuel to go around. Located a stone's throw away from UNM, you can usually find young burgeoning artists spending ramen money on Copic markers. However, Artisan caters to artists of all levels and ages, the staff is friendly and extremely knowledgeable, and can help you find the right tools for your masterpiece.
3) Hobby Lobby
Best Bath and Body Store
Follow your nose in metropolitan Uptown and you'll quickly find yourself in the best “treat yo'self” store in town. Whether you're looking for a treatment to save your dry skin, the best way to pamper your hair, seeking high-quality, natural cosmetics, in need of a quick gift or just looking for the most bubbly and glistening way to relax, the friendly and knowledgeable folks at Lush know exactly what you need.
2) Bath & Body Works
3) Betty’s Bath & Day Spa
Best Gun Shop
Ron Peterson Firearms
The constant rotation of modern, antique, collectable, tactile and hunting firearms at Ron Peterson's may be what captures the initial interest of locals, but the expertise of the staff is what keeps them coming back. It's not just the variety that makes this a premier gun shop, Ron Peterson himself is nationally recognized for his gun knowledge and appraisals. The staff is knowledgeable, friendly and eager to help locals with whatever they require, whether it's buying or selling.
Best Grower’s Market
Downtown Growers’ Market
Every year from April to November, Burqueños enjoy a weekly dose of local and live music, yoga, art and goods from merchants, as well as food (naturally) at the Downtown Growers’ Market. This 21-year-old market—and staple of the growing community in Albuquerque—has big-city amenities like a bike valet, they accept EBT and SNAP funds, and has machinery standardly powered with solar energy. Locally grown produce includes everything from chard to tomatillos to honey and is on rotation often because, you know, it's seasonal and fresh.
2) Corrales Growers’ Market
3) Rail Yards Market
Best Local Produce
La Montañita Co-op
Despite any scandals, readers still love this community-owned market. After supplying fresh, locally-grown food, La Montañita obviously cares about the community—collectively they've donated over $100,000 to local charities, provided agricultural education to veterans, micro-lended to farmers and ranchers, and much more—all because of the locals who own it. And better yet, to make a usually difficult trip a tad easier, the kid-friendly store allows your littlest ones to munch on handheld fruit while you work on your next culinary creation.
2) Skarsgard Farms
3) Sprouts Farmers Market
Looking for a period costume? What about face-painting supplies? And eyewear? Masks? Wigs? Beards? Anything else? Whatever your costume needs, readers agree—Off Broadway is the place to get them. Since 1984, Off Broadway has been the premier source of costume sales and rentals, makeup, wigs, accessories and anything else you could possibly need. They even sell an extensive collection of vintage clothes for “casual wear.”
2) Assistance League of Albuquerque Thrift Shop
Best Home Furnishings and Décor
If furniture is art then American Home is the Met. Since 1936, this emporium sells furniture, mattresses, rugs, patio furniture and hope: Walk into the establishment and the wonderfully friendly staff will show you how to transform your space into a gallery for your soul. Sit in all the chairs but don't put your feet up, it's not yours ... Yet.
2) Assistance League of Albuquerque Furniture Shop