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Best of Utah

Best of Utah 2010: Goods & Services


IFA Country Store - JESS LEONARD

Best Whiff of Green Acres
IFA Country Store

You can’t buy petunia pomegranate room freshener or test-spray eau de vanilla springtime at the IFA Country Store. But, you can steep yourself in the primal scents that surrounded your ancestors—the sharp smell of leather, the fresh earthiness of topsoil and the potpourri of fur, feathers and cedar shavings rising from cages of baby critters. Even the 20th century chemical tang of fertilizers and the cottony canvas of stiff Carhartt coats are accessible to the appreciative nose. Wander the aisles, then—saddles, deer repellent, dog chews, cowboy hats—and allow the aromas to awaken your agrarian soul. Multiple locations,

Best Place to Bury Your Pet
Angels Rest Memorial Cemetery

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is a sprawling 36 acres of mountain red rock outside Kanab. A few miles up a dirt trail, you come to an almost surreal sight: three acres of chimes hanging from trees and hundreds of photo-embossed burial stones marking the remains of beloved animals. With a view of a canyon on one side and cliffs on the other, the cemetery is devotedly maintained by volunteers. Pet lover or not, it’s hard to ignore the serene solemnity of this remarkable tribute to pet owners’ love affairs with their pets. 5001 Angel Canyon Road, Kanab, 435-644-2001,


Best Cowboys for Rent
Hired Guns

Lannie “The Marshal” Scopes, left, and Craig “Creek” Johnson certainly look the part of the old-time cowboy: weathered visages and abundant facial hair. But that’s just the outward manifestation of the love for the Old West that the longtime “In Cahoots” partners have brought to their public speaking and meet-and-greet venture. Whether it’s cowboy poetry, humor, music or rustlin’ up a big “Howdy,” Scopes and Johnson have made it their business to keep a certain authentic Western spirit and code alive. If the event calls for cowboys, it calls for these hired guns.

Best Sole Saver
Village Cobbler

What’s that, you ask? “Cobblers still exist?” That’s right, they do, and some in this day are actually thriving. Take, for example, the Village Cobbler near Foothill Village. A proud family operation that alternately employs the seven children of owner Rob Morgan, Village Cobbler has mended his customers’ favorite shoes since 1968. A simple profession, perhaps, but in these economic times, Morgan not only earns his bread and butter cobbling shoes, he helps people avoid forking over a lot more dough for a brand new pair, a classic win-win. The Morgan family can be relied upon to keep us stitched up, re-soled and worry-free—at least about spending too much on new footwear. 1455 S. 2300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-582-7784

Best Party Favors
Smile Now Photo Booths

There aren’t many places in Utah that provide access to old-school photo booths. However, entrepreneur Suzzi Williams wisely scooped up several of the nostalgic camera machines to rent out. Though primarily for weddings, the attractive booths add to any festive occasion. Customers also have the option of purchasing one of Smile Now’s customized candy buffets. Price and packaging vary, but each photo booth order comes with an on-site technician and unlimited photos. Say cheese!

Best Friendly Gas Station
Bob Nafus Sinclair, Kanosh

Kanosh is a little off the beaten path. But if you’re driving to Las Vegas and find yourself in need of gas at the halfway mark, turn off Interstate 15, drive the seven miles to Kanosh and say hi to Bob Nafus. He owns and operates the Sinclair garage—about the only surviving business in this dusty town. Nafus laughingly says he sells all the sin products—tobacco, beer and sickly sweet coffee—along with ammo and gas. He also owns the 24-hour towing service and rents out ATVs and small equipment. Nafus takes a genuine interest in his visitors and reminds travelers what Utah hospitality is all about. 115 S. Main, Kanosh, 435-759-2652

Best Snack & Snip
Caffe Niche & Dexterity Salon

At Tara Southard and Jeff Martin’s Caffe Niche & Dexterity Salon, you can get an all-new you while you nosh on some of the best cafe food in town. Make an early hair appointment and enjoy Caffe Niche’s daily quiche, or maybe its breakfast sandwich with egg, asparagus, Fontina cheese and truffle oil. Or, later on in the day, enjoy a great grilled cheese while you’re getting snipped: Irish cheddar, Stilton, pecans and Dijon mustard on sourdough or whole-wheat bread. Why not enjoy a great meal along with a great new ’do? Caffe Niche: 779 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-433-3380,; Dexterity Salon: 777 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-1420,

Best Beer & Boots Shop
Ream’s Foods, Layton

Yes, many grocery superstores have clothes, but this Ream’s has devoted seemingly half its store to classic Western wear. Their selection is varied and colorful, especially the shirts, which are suitable for riding bareback broncs, drinking whiskey on the back of a pickup truck, or swingin’ to honky tonk. At the same time, Ream’s is a grocery store, making it possible to grab your snap button shirt with a rose on the lapel and a case of cold beer. Now that’s one-stop shopping. 1040 N. Main, Layton, 801-547-9842

Best Tight-Knit Community
Blazing Needles

Blazing Needles might sound like a tattoo shop, but the Sugar House store specializes not in skin art but the art of knitting. Located in what looks like your sweet grandmother’s house, the business offers a cozy, inviting atmosphere in which to shop for a vast selection of yarn, patterns and books. Blazing Needles also serves as a community gathering place for knitters of all levels, with affordable classes and events available monthly so that you don’t have to brave the “magic loop” on your own. 1365 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-487-5648,

Best Break From Your Workout Norm
Fight for Your Life

Looking to spice up your fitness routine? Want to arm yourself against would-be attackers? Or maybe, just maybe, your ego needs to be taken down a notch. At Fight For Your Life, serious athletes and weekend warriors engage side by side in intense workouts combining punching bags with lunges, weights, ladders and other things you hated about gym class but are surprisingly handy in the battle of the bulge. Group classes, personal training and boxing for aspiring professionals are all great ways to tap into folks’ fight-or-flight response. 1483 S. Major St., Salt Lake City, 801-326-9647,

Best Function & Form
Shabby Apple

Utah-based online clothing site Shabby Apple takes the guesswork out of dress shopping with Fit to Flatter, a guide that doesn’t pretend “one size fits all.” The feature uses a three-question quiz to help customers determine which pieces will best suit their figures. Whether the results are hourglass, pear, apple, pencil, athletic, womanly, tall or short, you’re sure to find an amazing addition to your wardrobe with just a few easy mouse clicks.

Best E-Cycler
Used Computer Warehouse

Used Computer Warehouse is just like it sounds, except instead of actually being a warehouse, it has two spacious stores in Midvale and Layton strip malls. But the computer systems they sell at prices as low as $200 will work well for most users. If the configurations they have don’t quite fit your needs, they’ll rearrange the components to build you a custom system. Since “reduce” and “reuse” are even more important than “recycle,” buying from this store gets you a halo or two in conservation heaven—and saves you cash. 7045 S. State, Midvale, 801-561-8733; 1991 N. Main, Layton, 801-776-8733

Best Gathering of Spirit
Native American Trading Post

This store has the duel spirit of a powwow and Native American Church meeting, each boiled down to their constituent parts—music, beads, feathers, fans and drums—then blended and displayed with price tags. But more than just a powwow/NAC supply store, the Native American Trading Post is also an art gallery, specialty grocer, jewelry purveyor, gift store and occasional classroom. Ask owners Dru and Leslie Drury to tell you the tale of the business’s evolution from a booth at a nearby flea market to the full-fledged super store it is today. 3971 S. Redwood Road, West Valley City, 801-952-0184,

Best Cheap Ride
U Car Share

Utah isn’t the best place to live without a car. While our mass-transit system is certainly improving, it hardly compares to those of bustling bergs like New York City and Chicago. And, when time is of the essence, waiting for TRAX can make or break your appointments. Obviously, then, we jumped for joy when Salt Lake City and Ogden joined up with Phoenix-based U Car Share, a subsidiary of U-Haul. The system works as follows: Participants pay a one-time $25 membership fee, then pay rates as low as $4.95 per hour to drive cars available at select locations around the city. The peace of mind that comes with U Car Share? Priceless.


Best Vacuums
Smith-Crown Co.

Since 1947, Smith-Crown Co. in Sugar House has been the city’s finest purveyor of vacuums. As vacuum cleaners have increasingly become the domain of the big-box stores, it is refreshing to find a company still specializing in various product lines. The Smith family has made selling quality merchandise and providing old-fashioned customer service its stock in trade. If you need to bring your vacuum in for service, the Smith family (who still run the joint) will remember you. They’ll honor product warranties and provide any needed repairs without haggling. As members of the Sugar House Merchants Association, they’re also great boosters for local business—all the more reason to make Smith-Crown your go-to destination for all your vacuum needs. 2005 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City, 801-484-5259,

Best Reason to Pray for Snow
Goldsmith Co. Jewelers New Year’s Eve Promotion

Most of us would rather not deal with a storm while making our way to and from New Year’s Eve celebrations, but a Provo jewelry store gave its customers plenty of reason to pray for snow. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, Goldsmith Co. Jewelers ran a promotion promising that if 4 inches or more of snow fell at the store location on Dec. 31, 2009, everything purchased during that time frame would be free (an insurance policy was readied for that possibility). No big storm ended up striking on that day, but according to store owner Wil Feller, “We’re definitely hoping for snow next year … we have to pay the insurance, regardless.” 120 N. University Ave., Provo, 801-375-5220,

Best Celebration for Your Little Princess
Princess Parties

Disney has made a mint on this simple realization: Little girls love their princesses. And they’re bound to love a birthday party in which a real live princess comes to the door to lead the festivities. Princess Parties sends performers dressed as beloved storybook characters to homes to tell stories, play games and even give lessons in how to curtsy and dance for that upcoming ball. Someday their prince may come, but their princess can come any time. 3176 S. 400 East, Bountiful, 801-897-3345,

Best Marsupial Maintenance
Sugar Glider Shop

An exotic pet like a sugar glider—an adorable, tiny marsupial with gliding wings and some very distinctive sounds—is nothing to take lightly. In Utah, you even need a special permit to own one. But if it’s the right choice for you, there’s a place in Sandy to help you with everything you need to know. Cages, warming lamps, guidebooks, special foods and more can all be yours to help your new little friend be more comfortable and to help you be more knowledgable caring for him. 9460 S. Union Square, Sandy, 801-432-7192

Best Doggie Diapers
Pocos Pet Products

Yes, it looks silly—but tell me the convenience doesn’t make sense after you’ve cleaned up your dog’s latest mess. Utah-based Pocos sells washable sanitary garments for dogs of all sizes that are practical for taking your dogs to other people’s houses, in the car or leaving them for an extended stretch inside the house. And you can match the pattern choice to your personality (or that of your pet). A clean, dry home has its aesthetic appeal, too.

Best Hive Maintenance
Hansen Hives & Honey

Urban gardening has grown more popular in recent years, both for health and economic reasons. But the question is: Is your garden getting properly pollinated? Locally owned Hansen Hives is a resource for would-be backyard beekeepers, both by setting up entire hives in homes willing to host (a service already ordered to capacity for 2010) and by consulting individuals setting up their own hives. Order your hive parts and accessories, or have Hansen Hives extract the honey from your hive for you. And if you happen to find a swarm on your property, they’ll remove them safely to provide the foundation for a new hive. 1254 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-1854,

Best Beehive Bargain Blog
Utah Deal Diva

Stay-at-home mom Jessica—aka the Utah Deal Diva—took the lemons of her husband’s unemployment and turned it into the sweet lemonade of tips that help her readers live more frugally. Her site offers everyday useful instruction on how to shop with coupons and stretch food dollars, in addition to suggestions for finding giveways, free samples and other local deals. Take it from someone who can feed a family of five on $170 a month: There are more ways to live inexpensively in Utah than you’ve ever dreamed.

Best Value-Added Scrapbooking
Cherish Bound

Utahns love scrapbooking and can’t get enough of turning memories into bound collections of photos with cutesy borders and mats. But don’t some of these stories work even better with, you know, words? This Lehi-based company offers consulting to help folks turn weddings, vacations, family histories and more into full-fledged books, then binds them to your specifications. Other products provide tools to guide the home memoirist-to-be. Time to kick that scrapbook up a notch. 3375 W. Mayflower, Suite B, Lehi,

Best Store for All Things Windy
Breakin’ Wind

It’s a unique enough retail specialty: filling a store with things that flutter or jingle in the breeze, whether they be chimes, windsocks, kites, flags or spinners. But Cedar City’s AJ Hegedus gave his establishment the kind of moniker that’s likely to make folks do a double-take, whether it’s when driving by or spotting an ad. Also a supporter of southern Utah kiting and ballooning events, Hegedus isn’t just breakin’ wind; he’s breakin’ new ground in goofily entertaining business names. 50 W. Center St., Cedar City, 435-586-8851,

Best One-Stop Home Breadmaker’s Resource
Kitchen Kneads

There are few things more satisfying for an amateur cook than pulling freshly baked bread from an oven and subsequently filling a room with its aroma and your belly with its goodness. If you want to get really serious about baked goods, it’s time to visit Kitchen Kneads. As an all-purpose kitchen-goods retailer, it sells plenty more than the grain mills and bread machines specific to the bread-making task. But, it also offers great classes in bread-making that will have you eager to fill that oven whenever possible. 3030 Grant St., Ogden, 801-399-3221,

Best a la Carte Cooking Instruction
Bob Bryant

In the age of the Food Network, everyone feels that home-cooking brilliance is at their fingertips. At Harmons Culinary Education Center in Draper, Bob Bryant—a chef with 35 years of professional experience—can give the boost your kitchen skills need. Want to make killer stocks and sauces? There’s a class for that. Ditto for preparing seafood, making delicious vegetarian dishes or crafting delectable desserts. With costs between $30 and $50 per session, it’s like being able to craft your personalized culinary-school curriculum. 125 E. 13800 South, Draper, 801-617-0133,


Best Tires & Tamales
Victor’s Tires

Why it took us a decade-plus to discover the unique combination of tires and tamales is a mystery—and a damned shame. To think, we’ve been wasting all this time at corporate tire chains, flipping through outdated issues of US Weekly and sipping watery vending-machine coffee while our axels get cozy with new wheels. We could have been at Victor’s Tires, munching on muy authenticopozole, quesadillas and menudo! Victor Galindo and his wife, Elvia, started offering customers chips and salsa years ago before installing a full kitchen at the Salt Lake City shop. How good are their traditional meals? Good enough to make your next flat tire cause for a celebration. 1406 S. 700 West, Salt Lake City, 801-978-9595,

Best Big Bang for Your Buck
Lantis Fireworks & Lasers

Fireworks only as flashy ooh-and-ahh-inspiring entertainment? C’mon, Bub, it’s the 21st century. Utah-based Lantis Fireworks & Lasers has pumped up its show-stopping potential with the addition of German state-of-the-art machinery and the ability to put on dazzling displays that you won’t see just anywhere. Lantis’ experience across the country and around the world—from city celebrations to bowl games—creates something more than simple eye candy. With this kind of style, it’s more like eye truffles. 801-673-4465,

Best African Crafts Marketplace
Beautiful Options/A Gift to Africa

“Fair trade” isn’t just a buzzword meant to assuage guilty consumption; it’s a choice that allows people all over the world to live a better life. And if doing so allows you to bring more beauty into your life, so much the better. Beautiful Options distributes handmade jewelry and crafts from Swaziland, Kenya, Uganda and other African nations, all made by rural women in those nations. Buy them for their beauty, and consider the social consequences a wonderful bonus. 1807 Nobility Circle, Salt Lake City, 801-746-1194,

Best Sew-Original Greeting Cards
Stitched Cards

The Hallmark-ing of American sentiment has led to a situation in which buying a card may indicate that you remembered, but not that you’ve really given someone much thought. Utah’s Jeni Shirley decided to turn the giving of cards into an opportunity to give something truly distinctive—a one-of-a-kind piece of embroidered art. Birthdays, graduations and every other possible occasion are covered by one of Stitched Cards’ designs; there are even cards honoring other similarly local-minded enterprises, like Sam Weller’s Bookstore. And unlike disposable cards, you’ll want to pass these on in a way that makes “re-gifting” make sense. Visit one of the partner retailers, or check out the full catalog online.

Best Male Toiletries
Tabula Rasa Social Stationers

Women’s moisturizers are sold door-to-door and in every department store, but men who want a body that looks primped—but doesn’t smell feminine—have to search a lot harder to buy anything more spectacular than drug-store lotion. While pens and paper are—quite literally—the store’s calling card, Tabula Rasa is so much more than stationery. Among the offerings is a carefully selected menu of male grooming products that is anything but common. For men whose masculinity isn’t threatened by healthy skin, Tabula Rasa offers Jack Black, Caswell-Massey, Crabtree & Evelyn, Claus Porto and other brands that understand men get ashy, too. 330 Trolley Square, Salt Lake City, 801-575-5043,

Best Wool Baby
Mountain Top Alpacas

Alpacas resemble little Wookie-horses or miniature llamas. But you don’t have to know what they look like to know that alpaca wool is a silky and lustrous luxury in itself. While these unique creatures hail from the Peruvian Andes, they seem to like Utah’s rugged terrain, as well. Thus, you can buy alpacas and alpaca products here in Utah, and your first stop in doing so ought to be Mountain Top Alpacas. Mountain Top sells all major breeds as well as alpaca wool for your knitting needs. Or, if you’d rather just strut in the fabric of Incan nobility, you can simply purchase Alpaca wool socks directly from the farm. 2686 W. 6000 South, Lake Shore, 801-254-5627,

Best Thrifty Fiction in Kaysville
ABC Paperback Exchange

If you’re a bookworm, pack your tote bag for your stop at ABC Paperbacks—you’ll walk out with a stack. ABC runs on a trade system, meaning they’ll take the original cover price of any books you bring in and apply it as credit toward the dirt-cheap prices of its used books: 75 cents for mass markets and $2-$4 for larger paperbacks. Specializing in genre fiction, ABC also offers a respectable selection of general fiction and children/teen titles. Eric Conley, there most days of the week sorting through recent used-book arrivals, can keep track of specific titles or authors and give you a call when one you want comes through the door. The service and opportunity for endless browsing are well worth the drive north. 575 N. Main, Kaysville, 801-544-6510

Best Green Lodging
Treasure Mountain Inn

Park City’s Treasure Mountain Inn was once renowned simply for its mere tiptoe of a carbon footprint, being 100 percent wind-powered as well as 11 percent carbon neutral. In 2010, however, the Inn kicked the green up a notch by adding 18 solar panels across half an acre’s worth of roof space. The Inn can now count on generating its own solar energy, making it a bright and shimmering beacon of green business in Utah’s resort industry. 255 Main, Park City, 800-344-2460,

Best Odd But Useful Classes
Always Learning SLC

For anyone looking for some mad skills, a unique learning collaborative has hit Salt Lake City that will teach you everything from parkour to crafts, Spanish lessons to Dumpster-diving strategies. Always Learning SLC is almost like a makeshift university of esoteric knowledge. Classes are always free and always interesting and in classrooms anywhere from the alleys of downtown to the Salt Lake City Public Main Library to a locale known as the Temple of Doom. Come learn Salt Lake City, and come with an open mind.

Best Nonprofit Collaboration
Candy Cane Corner Holiday Shop

When the economy was forcing the for-profit world into a survival-of-the-fittest showdown, Utah’s nonprofits resisted a similar fate and came together for the common good. The Candy Cane Corner is a collaboration between Volunteers of America, the YWCA and Catholic Community Services where low-income and homeless families can “shop” for donated Christmans gifts with dignity. “It’s a service we can’t really provide singularly,” says Sam Stephenson of the VOA. “But it’s a service we can provide very effectively and efficiently when we combine our efforts.” 322 E. 300 South, Salt Lake City,

Best Downtown Renovator
Ben Logue, The Laporte Group

Somewhere in rich-developer school, Ben Logue missed the class on screwing over the poor, razing historic buildings and raping the Earth. The plucky developer has made a profitable business out of developing with an eye to historic preservation and affordable housing. Logue’s redeveloping of the Regis and Cambridge Hotel SROs on State Street between 200 and 300 South will preserve the historic character and guarantee subsidized housing at a rate comparable to what low-income tenants are paying now. When complete, it will provide a mix of low-income and market-rate housing for folks at the poverty line and working-class stiffs. It will also offer solar-panel heating, retail shops and offices—all the ingredients that make for a true downtown. 2505 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-484-4775,

Best Book of Mormon Re-translation
Sunstone Magazine

If navigating all the “begat”s and “verily”s of the scriptures is forcing you to pound Adderall just to get through the Book of Mormon, then there may be a better way for you to find the spirit—like scriptures in comic-book form! In each month’s edition of Sunstone magazine, you not only get some great scholarship on Mormon studies, but also a new installment of a comic series retelling of stories of the Book of Mormon. Recent editions have been telling the “Saga of Zeniff,” with wonderful depictions of battles between the Lamanites and Nephites. You get all the story, without the usual editorializing of the original scriptures—plus some great lines, like: “Time for Nephite Kabob!!” when the Lamanite army has cornered the Nephites.


Best Custom Longboards
Balance Longboards

Nothing takes the counterculture fun out of a longboard faster than thinking about the kids in the Bangladesh sweatshop who built your board for a nickel-a-day wage. That’s why you’ll be happy you can purchase custom, hand-built boards, made with love and care at Balance Longboards, a Utah-based online enterprise. The boards are selected from the lumberyard using the highest-quality hardwoods cut to your exact specifications. Whether you need a board for cruising your neighborhood or careening down hills, there’s one just for you, waiting to be released from a block of hard lumber. All you need to do is let the artisans of Balance make your dream board come true. 801-750-6054,

Best Stolen Bikes
Salt Lake City Bike Collective

Whether you need a bike for commuting, a starter ride for aspiring fat-tire daredevils, or simply some advice on bicycle repair, the SLC Bike Collective can provide what you’re looking for—for pennies on the dollar, compared to other places. No, you probably won’t find any carbon-frame road bikes, but thanks to a partnership with the Salt Lake City Police Department, unclaimed bikes found by police are donated to the collective, and the selection is quite varied. Plus, the options for purchase go beyond cash or credit. By volunteering at the collective, people can earn their rides while learning bicycle care and repair. 2312 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-328-2453,


Best Hand-Rolled Leaves
Hungry Trout Cigars & Smoke Shop

This small and unpretentious Sandy humidor may not have the largest selection of smokes, but they make up for it with special hand-rolled cigars, sent directly from a Florida roller. With this hookup, Hungry Trout can offer a wide variety of impeccable smokes at just $4.65 that would otherwise run twice the price. Enjoy a lovely Habano Robusto 2000 or a pressed Maduro Churchill or many others for just about $5, with tax. The charming humidor also has all your pipe tobacco and Hookah needs, but it’s their exclusive hand-rolleds that will really get you hooked on the Trout. 8634 S. 700 East, Sandy, 801-566-5178,

Best Cheap Gas
Sapp Bros.

Sure, one can save a few pennies per gallon by buying gas at a preferred-membership warehouse store. Or, you can save 20 cents a gallon by jumping of Interstate 215 at the California Avenue exit and visiting Sapp Bros. It’s easy to spot, thanks to the giant coffee pot sign. Truck stops need to be competitive, so their gas prices are a lot cheaper than other stations, including the one just across the street. Don’t ask why, just fill up and enjoy the savings. 1953 California Ave., Salt Lake City, 801-977-3900

Best Garbage Can
SLC’s Brown Waste Can

To reduce the amount of trash going to the landfill, Salt Lake City offers residents a brown bin in which to recycle grass clippings, leaves and branches. The yard waste gets repurposed into wood chips and compost. Between this bin and the blue recycling bin, even a lackadaisical family can reduce their weekly trash output to one or two small bags.

Best Japanese Acupuncture
Longevity Acupuncture Clinic

For just about as long as needles have been around, acupuncture has been a means of fixing what ails you by cultivating and directing the qi, or life force, in the body. While Chinese acupuncture is by far the most well-known method, the good folks at Longevity Acupuncture Clinic have got the finer points of Japanese acupuncture down. The needles used in the Hari method are lighter than those used in traditional Chinese acupuncture, are pain-free and are left in no longer than five or 10 minutes before being redirected to best engage your energies and give your qi the tuneup it needs. 1901 Prospector Ave., Suite 30, Park City, 435-655-1578,

Best Damaged Goods
The NPS Store

It’s likely that anything you’re looking for eventually may be found at the NPS Store. Everything stocked here was somehow damaged during shipping and is discounted because of it. More often than not, the damage—especially on tools or sporting goods—is superficial. But don’t expect to come in and find exactly what you need; shopping here takes perseverance and patience. Oh, and for the really brave, NPS auctions off pallets of stuff twice a week, but it’s unpredictable what will actually be on the pallet. 1600 S. Empire Road, Salt Lake City, 801-972-4133,

Best Old-School Mechanic
Gary Miller Foreign Car Service

He doesn’t talk much, the waitlist for a repair appointment can run into weeks, and his repair shop doesn’t offer any frills like front-counter service or coffee machines. But Gary Miller knows cars, and he won’t rip you off by pushing a bunch of unnecessary extras. In fact, his bills for some repairs are often far lower than other mechanics, especially national chains. He’s the kind of mechanic your father and grandfather had: a grumpy wizard who owns his own shop—a way of business that is sadly going the way of doctors who make house calls. 630 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-364-6792

Best Kitchenware Purveyor
Spoons ’n Spice

Looking for a particular, hard-to-find gadget for your kitchen? If Spoons ‘n Spice doesn’t have it, it probably doesn’t exist. This small store is stocked with more than 17,000 kitchenware items, and the savvy staff at Spoons ’n Spice is extremely helpful, whether you’re looking for a mother-of-pearl caviar spoon, a rubber garlic peeler, or a big-ticket item like a complete set of All-Clad copper cookware. Wanna be a great chef? Spoons ‘n Spice is a good starting place. 4700 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-263-1898; 788 E. 9400 South, Suite 32, Sandy, 801-553-1988,

Best Flower Shop

Got flowers? At Pam Ostermiller and Lindsay Vieta-Vest’s Trifecta, you’ll find fabulous flower arrangements that are creative, innovative and individually tailored to your needs. Incorporating the use of interesting fabrics, exotic textiles and a gorgeous color palette, Trifecta’s flowers and unique gifts are, really, one-of-a-kind works of art. If you’ve been buying your flowers at the supermarket, it’s time to invest in quality with a visit to Trifecta. 1940 S. 1100 East, 801-364-4606,


Best Eclectic Vintage Clothing
Misc. (pronounced Mis-sy) Boutique

Want to cultivate a unique wardrobe on a shoestring budget, without sorting through mountains of dingy T-shirts and hideous paisley prints? Look no farther than Misc. Boutique. Owner Missy Baber scours local racks for vintage clothing so you don’t have to. Her adorable shop shares a roof with The Green Ant, and both stores are bursting with tasteful retro flair. Baber frequently refreshes her selection of mostly women’s apparel, which runs from ’50s-era housedresses to modern tanks and dainty shoes. Everything is affordably priced; a lightweight floral skirt, for example, went for $12! Bonus: The coolest store dog ever will melt your heart. 272 S. 200 East, Salt Lake City, 801-364-6472

Best Green Clean
Five Step Carpet Care

If you got a stink or a stain on your rug that assaults your senses, why drop a chemical bomb on it when you can clean it green? That’s where local environmentally friendly Five Step Carpet Care Utah comes in with its miracle team and five-step process to lift the funk out of everything from carpet to vinyl, upholstery and stone—using no bleach, soap or enzymes. The process requires less water than regular cleaning services, and the cleaning solution is biodegradable, hypo-allergenic, colorless and odorless. Make your carpet and Mother Earth happy by thinking green next time you need a clean. 801-656-5259,

Best for Gods & Goddesses
Free Spirit Pagan

Do you want to let your freak flag fly, but are lacking some critical accessories? Missing a pentacle backpack, a celtic-knot yoga mat or some healing crystals for your arthritis? Lucky for you, all these charms, gifts and much more— from tarot decks to Nag Champa incense—can be found in one convenient online location at the Free Spirit Pagan. It’s your one-stop for everything delightfully counterculture you could think of.

Best Lip Whip
Stinky Ds

What some would call a lip balm, the mavens of Stinky Ds like to call a lip whip. Given that their name is also Stinky Ds, it should be clear they like to do things their way. But no matter what you call a lip whip, it doesn’t change the fantastic flavors these local lotion and balm purveyors provide—be it the chocolate-and-banana-flavored Funky Munky or the cheesecake-flavored Super Duper Strawberry. Whatever the concoction, you’ll be proud to be smacking your lips with all-natural whips of Stinky Ds.

Best Horrifying Crafts
Grimmleigh’s Fiends

Who could have guessed that these twisted little creations could have come from such a happy couple? Rachel Kade teamed her passion for crocheting with the artistic and creative skills of her husband, Leigh George, to create demented-yet-cuddly toys for kids and adults. They make everything from psychotic vegetables to ninja kitties to love-struck zombies, each with its own back story and personality traits. A major hit at Craft Lake City and now a frequent feature of the Craft Sabbath gatherings at Nobrow Coffee & Tea Company, these toys have become a local must-have. And, by the way ... they take requests!

Best Low-Down Photog
Patiri Photography

The majority of photographers across the state usually focus on their own projects and artwork in the medium, but this gal got right to work taking pictures of figures in the hip-hop community. Starting local and now going nationwide, Bethany Fisher used the camera to help her recuperate after a struggle with cancer and ended up making a career for herself in the process. Having snapped shots for small Websites all the way to major magazines like Vibe and The Source, Fisher has paid her dues the hard way and showed she can hang with the pros.

Best Who’s on First (Amendment)
Brian Barnard

For many lawyers, idealism gets lost in the filing cabinet a few years after graduating from law school—however, that can’t be said of Salt Lake City civil-rights attorney Brian Barnard. Case in point: He’s been working uncompensated for 18 years representing the embattled Navajo of southern Utah for alleged state mismanagement of the reservations’s oil royalties trust fund, moving the tribe toward a $33 million settlement. Barnard works on all manner of civil-rights cases, from advocating for a religious group like Summum to have its monuments displayed in a public park to representing an animal-rights advocate in Morgan. Barnard is not one to shy away from a fight or to back down when he feels he’s right. He’ll fight for decades if he has to, and he’d love for you to challenge him on that. 214 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-328-9531,

Best Asian Imports
Halus International

Translating Halus to English could be as simple as saying “refinement,” but what’s lost in translation is the idea of refining human character, a notion Halus International brings home to local Utahns with its exquisitely crafted Indonesian furnishings that are not only works of art but are fair traded by indigenous Indonesian craftsmen. Whether it’s a superb magistrate-style writing desk, an exotic Congo-style bed frame or Bali desk—you’ll find an array of imports that not only bring Eastern quality home to the West but do so while building a socially conscious bridge between two worlds that your patronage helps strengthen. 3003 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-486-0407,

Best Utah Plants
Great Basin Natives

Utah’s got a rugged and beautiful landscape that can vary from red desert rocks to rocky mountain peaks. If you’re looking for flora to decorate your home with to match a landscape as varied and beautiful as the state itself, you’ll want to invest in some choice Utah plants and shrubs at a great price from Great Basin Natives. A gallon bucket of Sulphur Buckwheat—a gorgeous yellow flower that often turns red in the winter—goes for about $9. Or, how about a gallon of gorgeous yellow, drought-tough Cliffrose shrubs for $9.50, or a gallon of evening primrose that will bloom all summer for about $10? If you can’t make it to Holden, Great Basin can ship you the shrub of your dreams. 75 W. 300 South, Holden, 435-795-2303,

Best Little China Town Near Liberty Park
900 South & 400 East

In a small shopping center along 900 South, one can find the raw ingredients for a homemade Asian dinner, get Chinese take-out (or eat-in), and Chinese pastries. The raw ingredients can be found at SouthEast Supermarket (422 E. 900 South), including many sauces and spices that have no English words on their labels. For the short-order cook, there is a jaw-dropping selection of ramen noodles. Next door, South China House (428 E. 900 South ) has the expected selection of Chinese stir-fries as well as delectable pho. On the other side of the market, a small Chinese bakery, Melewa (416 E. 900 South), offers a different, but tasty, take on pastries.

Best Foreign Film Rentals
Tower Theatre

The square footage on this rental shop may be small, but it’s packed tight with a neat collection of films curated by the Salt Lake Film Society. Despite its tiny stature, Tower Theatre’s rental library contains dozens more foreign titles than you’d find at a Blockbuster. 876 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-321-0310,

Best Flicks that Click
Broadway Centre Cinemas

Seeing a movie at Broadway Centre Cinemas is always full of possibilities. Surrounded by a multitude of downtown food and drink options for pre- or post-film enjoyment, Broadway attracts crowds looking for interesting, provocative films you won’t find at a megaplex. That Salt Lake City can support six independent screens proves the art house is far from dead in Zion. 111 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 801-321-0310,

Best Customer Sound Service
Skull Candy

So you got some Skull Candy earphones or earbuds, and now you don’t like them, or they’re not sounding right. But the place where you purchased them won’t refund your money or exchange them for another pair. Not to worry. Skull Candy, with headquarters in Kimball Junction, takes great care of its customers. Even if you don’t have the receipt, the customer-service folks will quickly replace the product, often with a more expensive version. Need another set of rubber or foam pads for the earpiece? Just ask—you’ll get a bunch of ’em for free so you can get your sound in tune and head up to the slopes. 1441 W. Ute Blvd, Suite 250, Park City, 435-940-1545,


Best Qi With Your Tai Chi
Master Lu’s Health Center

Acupuncture points are placed along meridians on which qi, or “life energy,” flows. Poking these precious spots with filiform needles, the acupuncturist relieves pain and stresses. Anthropologists place this Chinese healing practice back to the Neolithic Age—now, that’s some history. Master Cheng Tsang Lu was one of the first certified acupuncturists in Utah, and continues to offer a wide variety of Chinese healings, such as acupuncture, Tai Chi and Chinese herbals. So, if you’re tired of traditional Western medicine and want to try something different—or you just like getting poked, check out Lu’s. 3220 S. State, South Salt Lake, 801-463-1101,

Best Outdoor Gear Rental
University of Utah’s Outdoor Recreation Program

Outdoor gear is expensive—generally, only the privileged can afford it. If you’re dabbling in a new sport or just don’t want to break the bank, consider renting gear before you buy. From whitewater kayaks to headlamps, backcountry-skiing skins to rock-climbing harnesses, the Outdoor Recreation Program has just about everything you need for your outdoor endeavors—short of a in-camp chef or porter to lug all that newly rented gear to the top of the mountain. 2140 E. Red Butte Road, Building 650, Salt Lake City, 801-581-8516

Best Green Builder

Frequently recognized by Build Green Utah, the folks at PCR (Planet Concious Resource) are the epitome of forward-thinking. PCR builds, designs and remodels to make our homes and offices greener. Sure, every builder could build green, but every builder doesn’t. 797 N. Washington Blvd., Harrisville, 801-782-9009,

Best Homegrown Jeans
Nappi Clothing

Danny Nappi’s way of finding the perfect pair of jeans meant creating his own clothing company. Five years later, he has achieved his goal with Nappi jeans, arguably the best-fitting pair of pants you will ever own. Made out of both Italian and Japanese denim, these no-frill pants will flatter nearly any figure and become a staple for any wardrobe. According to Nappi, next on his radar will be perfecting the basic T-shirt and perhaps the leather jacket to complete the classic James Dean look. It’s nice to know that it’s possible to support local designers without having to sacrifice quality or style. 2105 S. Main, Salt Lake City,

Best Local Outdoor E-Tailer

Lacking an actual brick-and-mortar store, it might seem contrary to call the best local outdoor outfitter. But, this online retailer does call Utah home, and there are some serious benefits to having the company here in our back yard. First, it offers a huge selection of discounted gear. Second, the shipping costs are negligible and the time from purchase to delivery is usually less than 24 hours. The clear advantage is that customers can return and/or exchange merchandise by going directly to Backcountry’s place of business; they can pop into their warehouse to see if they have what you need.

Best Institutional Yard Sale
University of Utah Surplus & Salvage

The end of the line for the university’s stuff is a historic, red brick Army building near the residence halls in Fort Douglas. Its three floors are filled with desks, chairs, filing cabinets and the like, and there are also mountain bikes, telephones, automobiles and enough computers and electronic gizmos to excite any hardcore tinkerer. Prices on unsold items drop in 20 percent increments monthly. 210 Connor St., 801-581-7917,

Best for Self-Actualization
The Wrench-It Center

Talented but unfulfilled? Willing to go where few have dared go before? Fortify your ego while padding your bank account with do-it-yourself car repair at the Wrench-It Center. There, in a warm-ish, clean, well-lit place, you can change your oil, restore your brakes, get rid of that unsettling “check engine” light, and replace the whole damned engine if you want! The Wrench-It Center provides space, tools and step-by-step instructions. Parts, delivery and overnight storage are free. Just do it! 1245 S. 700 West, Salt Lake City, 801-977-7500,


Best Chic on the Cheap
Name Droppers

Want basement-level bargain prices without the basement vibe? Name Droppers is a high-fashion consignment shop that looks and feels like an upscale boutique, but whose merchandise sells for at least 75 percent off original designer prices. It offers the thrill of a sweet D.I. score without the smell, concrete tile floors or outdated appliances. 3355 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-486-1128; 2350 East Parleys Way, Salt Lake City, 801-474-1644,

Best Extreme Makeover (Boutique)
The Children’s Hour

“Between the dark and the daylight/ When the night is beginning to lower/ Comes a pause in the day’s occupations/ That is known as the Children’s Hour.” Longfellow’s poem served as inspiration for naming a children’s bookshop some 26 years ago that became one of 9th and 9th’s stalwart boutiques. Some have compared it to moviedom’s “Shop Around the Corner.” Now in newly remodeled digs on the northwest corner of 9th and 9th, it’s anything but quaint. Yes, there are still the remarkable children’s books, but it is also one of the grooviest places to shop for novelty toys; designer clothes and shoes for men, women and children; as well as linens and household items. Whether you be a babe, tween, teen or adult, there’s a bauble, accessory, teacup, sundress or puzzle with your name on it. 898 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City, 801-359-4150,


Best Male Underwear

If you were teased last summer for wearing swim trunks to a pool party, you can rectify that before people start getting the wrong idea about you (namely, that you’re boring). Cockers offers a complete line of male swimwear, gym wear and so-not-holy undergarments. Brands include Andrew Christian, N2N, Joe Snyder, American Apparel, Unico, Junk and more. The front store, Spark, sells men’s and women’s clothing, hats, jewelry and accessories. One of a few stores that are succeeding after being dislocated by the premature bulldozing in Sugar House, we’re glad Cockers didn’t get stuck in the Sugarhole. 629 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-467-1574

Best Wax On/Wax Off
Kathy’s Electrolysis

Brazilian waxing is a rather intimate, maybe even embarrassing, experience. When you get right down to it, who really needs to be pampered with cucumber water or aroma therapy during this procedure? Just rip it, strip it and go. Kathy works in a private office space. Here, you’ll only find Kathy and a few of her tools of the trade—no distractions from the task at hand. Kathy is quick, no nonsense, reasonably priced and, damn, she’s good. Now, get the hell outta here. 1073 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-463-1950

Best Singing Bowls
Dragon Dreams

Crystal bowls are made from 99.992 percent crushed quartz that is heated to about 4,000 degrees in a centrifugal mold and fashioned into bowls between 6 and 24 inches in diameter. Dragon Dreams boutique on 9th and 9th is a primary outlet for locally made Crystal Tone bowls. If in need of having your aura cleared, stop by the shop and ask for a free demonstration of the singing bowls. Running a mallet around the rim, you’ll hear a haunting vibration that reverberates through your mind and body. When many bowls are played at once, the effect is exquisite. The shop teams up with Centered City Yoga every few months to sponsor a singing-bowl meditation, guaranteed to infuse the entire block with good vibrations. 920 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-509-1043, DragonDreamsGifts. com

Best Fort Union Hair Affair
Gemini Salon

Not every stylist here is Ken Paves. And the salon is not trying to be the Frédéric Fekkai of Fort Union. Rather, this is a place for a relaxing, unhassled quick & easy ’do that you can afford to keep “doing,” even in these indecent times. It’s full-service, offering professional cuts, color, weaves, extensions, waxing, makeup, nails and tanning as well as wedding and special occasion styling. Yet, as busy as they are, there’s no pressure to hurry you along or to make you buy products. They’re more interested in hitting it off with you, so you’ll return for more pampering on another day. And yes, even on Saturdays, walk-ins are welcome. 771 E. Fort Union Blvd., Midvale, 801-563-1999,

Best Flower Purchasing Power
Skyline Flowers

Need flowers at a good price? Skyline Flowers have been florists for decades, located in an unassuming little shop on Highland Drive, near the old Villa theater building. They’re strictly old school: no Website, no credit cards. With a low overhead, they can afford to give you more bloom for your buck. They’ll take cash and checks, or if you have an account, they’ll take orders by phone and bill you later. The key is not to be in a rush or too demanding. Some of the staff speak Spanish, while others are senior citizens. Just be patient when ordering your flowers, and you’ll smile contentedly all the way to the bank. 3064 Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, 801-466-8118


Best Throwback Art
Pretty Little Pixel

A favorite among local art collectors and those who have a love of nostalgia, Stephanie Swift’s works have caught the eye of many. Swift takes photos of classic electric signage (itself a lost art) from across the city, breathing new life and color into her printed reminders of a time gone by. She’s captured urban signage for businesses like Blue Plate Diner, Bonwood Bowl, Bar X and the lost DV8 for all time and turned her product offerings into highly sought-after art.

Best Dealership in the Face of Disaster
Mark Miller Toyota

The economy has dealt car dealerships a cruel blow for well over a year now. And things have only gotten worse for Toyota as news has spread of its floor-mat and gas-pedal problems believed to cause unintended acceleration in a number of models. In the face of recalling millions of cars, you’d think Toyota service departments might be on the verge of cranking up the bitterness quotient. If so, the folks at Mark Miller Toyota did not get the memo. Their service people continue to solve everyday crises for customers, going the extra mile to ensure things like garage-door remotes in their vehicles work. They maintain a spotless facility and proudly give tours of it. Yep, real people, not hard-sell types, appear to work in the Mark Miller Toyota service department. 730 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, 801-364-2100,

Best After-Hours Swine Flu Diagnosis
Redwood Urgent Care

It’s Friday night and you’re ready to party—only you’re not. Turns out, you’re sick as a dog. Now what do you do, hope to survive the weekend so you can see a doctor on Monday? The University of Utah’s Redwood Health Center can hook you up. It offers evening and weekend hours in its urgent care clinic to treat flu, fever, earaches, nausea, rashes, allergic reactions, animal and insect bites, sprains, cuts and even minor broken bones. It has an onsite X-ray, lab and pharmacy services, which means your one stop may be the only stop before going back home to bed. 1525 W. 2100 South, 801-213-9900,