Best new reason to go shopping

RICK DAHMS

According to the management, no one has actually moved into Whole Foods (6400 Roosevelt Wy NE, 985-1500)—yet.

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Best of Seattle, 2000

Best new reason to go shopping

RICK DAHMS

According to the management, no one has actually moved into Whole Foods (6400 Roosevelt Wy NE, 985-1500)—yet. But it can only be a matter of time. Since it opened, the Roosevelt branch of the Austin, Texas-based gourmet food chain has served the entire North End as a combination of theme park, community center, and snack bar. At any time of day till 10 at night you can see the fanatics of flavor cruising its aisles—scanning the endless shelves of exotic spices and condiments; sampling slivers of succulence from the array of pat鳬 cheeses, meats, salads, and other deli items displayed so artfully under glass; consulting with "their" butcher, fishmonger, poulterer, patissier; or discussing skin treatments, dietary supplements, or personal hygiene with a staff herbalist. Short of a trip via SST to Paris, you can't get closer to foodie nirvana. To paraphrase one of the wisest of men: "When one is tired of Whole Foods, one is tired of life."

Best place to buy vintage corduroy pants

We were frightened when we saw it: Our beloved Capitol Hill used-clothing fixture the Wasteland had transformed seemingly overnight into the Red Light Clothing Exchange (312 Broadway E, 329-2200). Fortunately, we remembered that the U District Red Light had been good to us in the past, so we took a deep breath and entered the store to assess the damage. This two-level paradise (the best stuff is downstairs) never fails to yield the most fabulous finds. Their corduroy pant rack is a dream, packed with Levi's and beautiful, sky-blue wales. Other highlights include great men's button-up short-sleeve shirts and a fun dress selection. Really, though, this place is best for its browse-ability—you tend to make your finest discoveries when waiting for friends to leave the dressing room. We've found great belts, wigs, athletic pants, slips, bathing suits, eyeglasses . . . the list goes on. Despite our initial trepidation, the Red Light is shaping up to be as marvelous as its predecessor.

Best place to sell your used CDs

Whether you're looking to kill an afternoon by discovering new bands or having random encounters with strangers, Easy Street (4559 California SW, 938-EASY) has what you're looking for. Friendly staff members give reliable recommendations, the coffee/snack bar makes for a complete consumer experience, the 'zine rack is chock full of cool indie mags, prices are reasonable, and the listening stations are always open. You'll find everything from vinyl to tape, blues to hip-hop. But what's really great about Easy Street is their used section. Since the staff is so knowledgeable and keenly tuned in to pop, indie, rap, and country, and because the West Seattle area is so demographically diverse, it's a pleasure instead of a chore to sort through the racks of secondhand tapes, discs, and records. And so it follows that Easy Street is a great place to trade in your discarded discs. You'll get a fair price, usually $5 bucks a pop for gently used, desirable CDs.

Best barbershop

ALICE WHEELER

Spin's (5415 Meridian N, 547-9667) is a straight-up, local-boy-makes-good story; we knew Spin when he was a skinny little freshman at Garfield High, upside-down in a garbage can with the entire football team menacing him. These days the entire football team (past and current) lines up for a haircut at his ace barber shop, where he and Jeremy and Will make bank for hanging out and having fun cutting your hair. They're even open 11-7, seven days a week. How sweet it is.

Best garage sales

Ballard has the best garage sales for the same reason that Ballard has the worst drivers: loads and loads of old people. But hey, old people have good stuff, old people eventually get rid of their good stuff, and sometimes, old people don't know that the good stuff they have is really that good. Imagine driving out to the outer reaches on a Sunday morning and stumbling upon an elderly couple ridding themselves of their attic clutter in anticipation of an Arizona migration. Your eyes light up as you see the very thing you need to complete your life. You eye the miniscule price written in librarian's script on a piece of masking tape. "My son never uses that anymore," the sweet old lady tells you. She's about to get robbed blind. You hand over a 10-spot and walk away with a '59 Fender Bassman amp, complete with unscathed FenderTweed covering and 10-inch speakers, Alnico magnets intact! God bless Ballard.

Best celebrity sightings while trying on clothes

We wondered when this would happen: Celebs making a pit stop in Seattle have discovered that women's clothier Ardour (1115 First, 292-0660) and its sole-sister Ped (1100 First, 292-1767) are worth a visit. Owned by the fashion-forward Dayna Grubb, Ardour and Ped have become joint institutions for the Seattle woman who's sick of the whole Nordstrom thing and wants to decide for herself what her individual style is. Color-coordinated separates line one of Ardour's walls like a gossamer rainbow, while shelves opposite feature scarves, T-shirts, bath products, pants, skirts, blouses, and other items united by Grubb's dead-on sense of whimsy and style. Across the street at Ped you can choose from a funky and exquisitely made selection of shoes from Italy and New York. Bags, socks, and tights also dangle seductively from hooks or fill large baskets. So, you're probably wondering who's made Grubb's cash register ring lately, eh? Well, none other than Jennifer Aniston, here filming a month ago (we hear that Brad called in while she was trying on shoes); Patti Smith; Alanis (no last name needed); Chris Cornell (a Ped regular); Michael Stipe; Helena Christensen; and Amy Irving, who was buying a wedding dress, no less.

Best place to buy a Lotto ticket

Since the reputed champ, Russell's Meat Market in the ID, closed shop, there's been little time for a new best place to buy lottery tickets to emerge. Russell's locked up New Year's Eve after nearly 10 decades on South King Street, and in recent years sold more Lotto than loin, racking up $24 million in payoffs to winning customers. That's a big gaming void to fill, but Sandra Valentinsen of Seattle thinks one successor may be the Crown Hill Safeway store (8340 15th NW, 782-7464), where the ticket she bought there scored a $16 million Lotto jackpot in March (the big win lost some of its punch after she learned she had to share the ticket, then opted for the 50 percent option and wound up with $2,880,000 after taxes).

Best way to stay sane with a newborn

As anyone who's ever changed a diaper knows, babies bring joy and chaos in equal measure. The questions, at first, are endless. How much food or sleep do infants need? What exactly are you supposed to do with them all day? Do they really need those Baby Gap sunglasses? If there are few definitive answers, you're bound to get a ton of advice and reassurance by participating in the Program for Early Parent Support, known as Peps (4649 Sunnyside N, 547-8570). The volunteer organization forms neighborhood groups of new parents, which meet weekly with a Peps coordinator in the parents' homes. You come with your kid and talk and sing and eat. If nothing else, it gets you out of the house, an achievement in itself for a new parent wondering how to make time for a shower.

Now Santa—there's a cushy job. And I've tried to get work as a pro sports mascot. I mean, how could I possibly be any worse than 'Squatch?

Best place to drop a cool 1K on a suit

Yo, Gore-Tex tubby! Are you a man or a mountaineer? How about losing the PVC rain-blazer and spending some of that dot-com cash on a fine Italian suit. We're not talking Gap. We're not talking about a cotton sport coat at the Bon for $85. We're not talking about that crappy blue thing in your closet you whip out for dinners with the folks and funerals. We're talking about Mario's (1513 Sixth, 223-1461), the sleek, top-of-the-line store for men and women who wanna look like a million (and hence spend about that much for an outfit). We're talking about a life-altering purchase made to last. That's right, handsome, whip out the credit card and take the tailored Armani plunge. It will improve your performance, spice up your life, close deals, and make you look like a million bucks. And you'll only have paid a small fortune for the occasion. Don't forget to slide down the banisters on the way out.

The best place to lose that fat ass

The way we see it, if we're going to shake our fat asses in front of scantily clad people, we'd at least like a pleasant view as a distraction. And we'd like to feel comfortable wearing cruddy shorts and a T-shirt. And a wide variety of things to do would accommodate our vaporously short attention spans. Put it all together, and the winner ain't the Seattle Athletic Club. Or the Olympic Club. It's Sound Mind & Body's (437 N 34th, 547-3470) Fremont location. Spend an hour in one of Karen Ressig's step-aerobics classes, with a view of the ship canal, and you'll wonder why you ever wasted time on anyone else's treadmill.

Best used vinyl records

So you've got a record collection, right? And it's really great—lots of rarities and obscurities and hidden treasures that you know nobody else on your block has, first pressings of classic albums and mono mixes, all bagged up and kept at room temperature. Well, you ain't seen nothin' yet, because the folks at the recently opened Earth River Records and Tapes (4344 Brooklyn NE, 633-1954) know and share your mania—and go a few steps beyond it. Walk into the clean, well-maintained basement that houses the store and you'll feel like you've reached vinyl heaven; thousands of albums and singles, hundreds of cassettes, and probably the best selection of music-related books you'll find in the city, plus a couple of display cases housing box sets, forbiddingly rare old 7-inches (a 45 of the Beatles' "Please Please Me" on Vee-Jay, a 33 1/3 RPM Elvis Presley EP from the '50s), and ancient 78s. And that's just the front room. The back room features basketball player-tall shelves separated by a couple feet apiece, stuffed with titles to make collectors swoon. Jazz fans are especially well-served here: There's more Miles Davis and Duke Ellington than any but the most slavish fan could dream of, and often in multiple copies. Sure, these guys know the market—no thrift-store bargains here, we're afraid. But one look at those well-kept stacks will render moot any objections forever.

Best adult videos

It all started, as so often is the case with porn, with a house call. Eddie Lee, one of the managers and book scouts at Twice Sold Tales in Capitol Hill (905 E John, 324-2421), went to the estate of a recently deceased 94-year-old man to assess the value of his library, whereupon he discovered a completely different sort of library altogether, as the old man's nephew hesitantly directed Lee to a chest of drawers ("I don't know if you buy these") that contained nearly 100 neatly labeled, lovingly annotated adult videos. "Most of them were '80s titles," notes Twice Sold employee Nathan Conant. "They're not even classy enough to be from the '70s." Maybe not, but Lee bought them; at press time, about half of the collection is still for sale. Who purchases them? "Middle-aged men that we don't see too often," says Conant, "and when they buy, they usually buy like a whole stack." And why not—at $7 or so apiece, they deliver as much, as they say, bang for your buck as you're likely to find in this town.

Best 'zines

RICK DAHMS

Fallout Records, Books and Comics (1506 E Olive Wy, 323-2662) lives up to its name by having something of the feel of an old-fashioned bomb shelter. Think of it as an indie-rocker's hideaway should the Big One drop: a comfortable-sized space with all the essentials neatly placed along the walls. Vinyl, CDs, stickers, and other related paraphernalia are all present and accounted for. But what makes the store especially noteworthy is its stellar selection of rock-oriented reading matter: a full run of The Complete Crumb Comics, bios of the New York Dolls and the Velvet Underground, and, covering one whole wall and several spaces in an adjacent rack, 'zines, 'zines, and more 'zines. The store mixes well-known, widely distributed titles like Maximumrockandroll, Bust, and Punk Planet alongside smaller cult favorites like Black to Comm, Sonic Iguana, Poplust, Shindig, Multiball, Cometbus, and Ugly Things—not to mention Fallout employee Lily Boe's own title, Spider Stompin'. And if you've got a Xerox machine and something to say, they're happy to do consignments.

Best world music

Sure, Tower's got more volume—such are the spoils of international chaindom, bottomless coffers, and ruthless market strategy. And certainly there are other, smaller shops whose interest in global rhythms have taken them beyond the ubiquitous Putumayo Music display case. But if Wall of Sound's (2237 Second, 441-9880) selection is a little sparser than the big boys', figure it's because they go about their task with a greater amount of care. Wall of Sound's world CDs are of consistently high quality, featuring titles from well-regarded niche labels like World Circuit, World Music Network (who do the fine Rough Guide CD series), and the mighty Stern's, as well as major-label affiliates like EMI's Hemisphere and Elektra's Nonesuch. Buena Vista Social Club got you hot on Cuba? Go for the Estrellas De Arieto, the same idea done much better 20 years earlier, or any of a couple dozen other titles. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan put you in a trance? Wall's Middle Eastern section might be their most thorough. Groovin' on those '70s Fela Kuti reissues? Try his drummer Tony Allen's solo stuff from the same period. And the cool import boxes and assorted reading material just sweeten the deal.

Best new gym

It took exactly a year to renovate the old downtown YMCA (909 Fourth, 382-5000), during which members had to go to other Ys or the temporary set-up on Third. But with 50,000 square feet of fitness space and tons of new equipment, the wait was definitely worth it. Everything about the sparkling new gym says this ain't your parents' Y: The locker rooms are huge, with a sauna, steam room, and whirlpool. There are two glassed-in racquetball and squash courts, basketball courts, free weights, indoor track, 25-meter swimming pool, and on the top floor, a plethora of Lifecycle aerobic machines: eight Stairmasters, 18 treadmills, 18 ellipticals, 21 stationary bikes, and a dozen TV screens with cable hookup—so you don't have to miss Oprah or Tom Green while whittling those thighs.

Best new store for avant-jazz

When Matthew Watters and his wife Bert moved to town from Ellensburg last year, he was looking to find a neighborhood that wasn't already being served by one of Seattle's many independent record stores. He found such a 'hood in Columbia City. Eye and Ear Control (4822 Rainier S, 722-0300) opened up five months ago, right next to the new Starbucks. Watters' store has quickly made a name for itself among jazz heads for its discerning selection of important, but hard-to-find, avant-garde music, especially from the European improvised music scene. (Watters also specializes in obscure indie pop.) You won't find any Kenny G, but you will find a dozen discs from Evan Parker. At last report, the store was struggling, so call ahead!

Best place to buy dope sneakers

A good pair of sneakers is hard to find. I'm not talking your basic running shoes or high-tops you can slip into when you play b-ball once a month. I'm talking dope sneakers that'll put a confident bounce in your strut—shoes that can make, not break your whole look, shoes that'll cause passersby to regale you with compliments like, "Fly-ass shoes, G." And you won't find any as suave as the ones displayed in Sneaker City (214 Pike, 621-7923). Nestled on that strip of Pike between Second and Third where all the junkies and dealers hang, Sneaker City's like an oasis of cool in a blighted desert. Ironically, the store's not much larger than a shoebox; but, as they say, it's quality, not quantity, that matters. You'll find Pumas the Beastie Boys would gush about, old-school Nikes that would have Run DMC running for their money, and all kinds (and all colors) of classic Adidas—from Gazelles to Sambas—that can't even be found in the German company's only American store just up the street.

Best way to get an education without going broke

You're still paying off student loans, and the idea of grad school dunking you even deeper into debt causes you to wake up screaming. What to do? Take a class at the ASUW Experimental College (68-LEARN or www.depts.washington.edu/asuwxpcl). Compared to shopping for an advanced degree at the average institution, attending the Experimental College is like discovering the perfect pair of velvet pants at the funkiest of thrift stores. Taught by competitively chosen teachers from the UW and greater Seattle communities, some bargain finds include "Introduction to Canning," "An Earnest Desire to Save the World," "How to Get Paid for Shopping," "Taking the Budget Trip of Your Dreams," "Beginning Hat Making," and "Icon Painting: Traditional and Non." Classes range from "One Night Wonders" to eight weeks, and you'll most likely only pay $50-$100.

Best way to learn a thing or two about being gay

Queers across Seattle are cutting back on the crystal and the longnecks to cultivate a more self-empowering gay culture, and Gay City University's (locations vary, 860-6969) is proof of that. Hosted by Gay City, Seattle's very own gay and bisexual men's health project, GCU is a volunteer-driven program with a mission "to provide opportunities for growth and learning to gay and bisexual men in the Seattle-area through periodic nongraded classes and workshops offered in a safe and fun environment." GCU's not all Walt Whitman and Stonewall retrospective. Last session's catalogue offered "Men's Hair 101," "Seven Days to Deal with Frustration, Stress, and the Blues," "Homebuying for Gays," "Fags Fight Back," "Absolutely Fabulous: Drag 101," and "Weddings, Handfasts, & Commitment Ceremonies." For under $50, participants consume as much queer knowledge as they can digest (save some room for the eye candy). School's in session next March, so you might want to start searching for that pencil pouch and notebook (a Ricky Martin binder?). Who knows: While shopping, you might just bump into the boy you want to walk to school with.

Best place to bump into a Hindu deity

Who says you need to fly east to experience the East? Not the Travelers Shop (501 E Pine, 329-6260), a cross between an ethnic-artifacts store and a sacred space that displays and sells religion-related trinkets from such spiritual hot spots as India, Tibet, and Nepal. Although Tibetan prayer flags occasionally flutter outside the front entrance, Travelers is heavy on Hinduism, with your favorite Hindu deities—Kali, Shiva, Ganesh, Krishna—manifesting themselves in paintings, statues, T-shirts, refrigerator magnets, and even lunch boxes. But you don't need a guru to find what's good for you, as the shop offers Sakyamuni miniatures for you Buddhists and travel books, incense, and naughty Kama Sutra postcards for the staunchest secularists. Chat with the smiling staff or pull up a chair and read about meditation posture in one of store's many spiritual mags. Be warned: Whether you're a fan of karma or "Karma Chameleon," you may leave with a burning desire to further investigate Bombay, Katmandu, or one of your past lives.

Best neglected business

Now tell me, why the hell would you buy a sofa, a lamp, a coffee table, or a stereo, when you can rent to own? Quality Rentals (1505 Broadway, 328-9323; eight other area locations) used to dominate the corner of Broadway and Pike, and a good portion of our free time. But QR has recently been reduced to a paltry second-floor dweller in order to make room for—hold on to your crotch, folks—a Tully's. Lord knows how hard it is to get good corporate coffee in this town—but that's another tirade. The point here is that these aren't just rentals, these are quality rentals. So drag your derriere off that Yoo-Hoo-stained love seat your girlfriend left when she skipped town with the drummer from your "band," and go rent a new (-ish? -er?) one. Pick up a double-tall, half-caff jamochaccino with extra syrup while you're at it.

Best salon

If you remember your classics, Io was one of Zeus' babes on the side. Io the salon (2101 Ninth, 264-0855) is tucked away on the second floor of a building at Ninth and Lenora, and opens up from a sweetly elegant reception area to what feels like a super-cool New York loft space transplanted secretly to Seattle. It's modern and beautiful, with huge windows and exposed wood, but not pretentious or overdesigned; and the philosophy at Io echoes the surroundings. Io does not advertise, so those who know to find their way there for great haircuts have heard about it from a friend, who might happen to be a rock star or a senator or (really) a top brain surgeon; but the stylists are here to serve people, not make them feel like it's a privilege to be on the premises. They love their clients and strive to create a tranquil haven, and it shows both in the experience and the hair results. Think about it: It makes sense to trust your head to the same people top brain surgeons do.

Best used bookstore

Seattle has lots of good used bookstores, and even several good used bookstores with cats, but Horizon Books (425 15th E, 329-3586; also locations on Roosevelt Wy NE and Greenwood N) is, as far as we know, the only one in a sweet little house with a white picket fence and a porch with pillars. "Bought and sold since 1971" says the sign (presumably books in general, here, not Horizon Books the institution), and on the door is printed "It's okay to let the cats in!" The stock is awesome; you can usually actually find the title you're looking for, be it literature, criticism, philosophy, or what have you. Service has been historically gruff but completely efficient; the reverent silence of the completely absorbed generally reigns.

Best place to get some fine women's threads

The proprietresses at stellaBEAM (1535 First, 264-9699) are the exquisitely named Tracy English and Dyanna Moon (stellaBEAM is not their alter ego but an amalgamation of their grandmothers' names), and they select exquisitely cool, beautifully made, pretty spendy clothes made by young New York, European, and local designers. They've made their new location (the former home of Local Brilliance) spare like a Soho boutique but sweet and light and minus the scary attitude; it's heaven for clotheshorses and comfortable for the shopping impaired. Along with the hip, gorgeous clothes, stellaBEAM showcases local jewelry and art (to which a pro bono window is devoted in unselfish support of local artists).

Did I tell you about my third wife? No, wait, I lost my train of . . . just get me another Scotch! Tip Wizard is thirsty. Tip Wizard needs booze!

Best cash machine

It's just so gosh darn neat to be human in a sea of machines. We can't seem to go five minutes without having a little conversation with one of our robotic brethren. Talk, talk, tickle, tickle. We love them! And the best part? The entertainment they supply: Slide the card in, push the buttons, and booyah—an entire paragraph about home loans has us in stitches. (We can't even begin to tell you how many times we've nearly peed our velvet trousers reading about interest rates.) But by far the most interactive and entertaining cash machine in town resides at the Hillcrest Market (110 Summit E, 329-4400). The handwritten sign taped to its chest says it all: "This machine may dispense more than one tube per transaction." Do yourself a favor; experience "the tube."

Best place to feel like a prude

Unlike their former, cramped digs on Union, the Crypt's new location (112 Broadway E, entrance on 10th between Denny and John, 325-3882) has a roomy parking lot and large windows that make it seem less Little Shop of Horrors than Wal-Mart for the latest bedroom fashions and toys. With more than double its old floor space, the Crypt has expanded its stock of PVC, VHS, and silicone goodies. And while most things here may make a welcome addition to your boudoir, some of the merchandise is bound to startle, such as the collection of butt plugs the size of lava lamps or the unusually large dildos, which may be more useful as trusty assault weapons than as bedroom toys. Called "Star Tools," the set includes a "sledge hammer," "chisel," "jackhammer," and most intimidating, a "grinder," which measures approximately 4 inches in diameter and is as heavy as a bowling ball. (Preparation H not included.)

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