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Best Bookstore

Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza
Stuyvesant Plaza

This is the bookstore for the real reader. You can’t buy the new Velvet Revolver disc, a James Bond flick or a bagel. You can buy books. In addition to the latest novels and nonfiction tomes, there’s a fine selection of books representing almost every genre, including lovely art books for your coffee table. (There’s a nice selection of maps, too.) What brings us back to the Book House, however, is the knowledgeable staff. Really, who do you trust more: an enthusiastic reader you know by name or some anonymous schmuck on a Web site?

Best Used Bookstore

Old Saratoga Books
94 Broad St., Schuylerville

Why do we settle for boring, sanitized Book Chopper chains when perfect little hideaways like this exist? Nestled in an 1870s brick storefront, Old Saratoga Books is everything you ever wanted from a used bookstore: shelves stocked from dark, hardwood floors to dark, hardwood ceilings, ’50s pulp fiction, a late-19th-century cash register, a gray store kitty named Sam (who likes sunlight and books about cats) and an extremely sweet married pair of owners, Dan and Rachel. With an impressively well-stocked inventory—notably in fiction, American history, vintage paperbacks, sci-fi and politics—overfilling two floors, they’ve covered their bases as well as a used bookstore can. Want proof? Browse their up-to-date catalogue at www.oldsaratogabooks.com. But then visit in person, because the shop’s too cute to miss out on.

Best Antiquarian Bookstore

Lyrical Ballad
7-9 Phila St., Saratoga Springs

Occupying the cozy spaces of an old bank vault, Lyrical Ballad’s endlessly twisting halls, nooks and backroom crannies abound with gems from our printed past. Among them you’ll find a January 1939 issue of American Girl magazine, a first-edition copy of Walden, nature prints, antique maps, bibles, dictionaries, a full wall of literary criticism and an under-$3 paperback room. With a collection approaching 100,000 volumes (the store’s estimate), Lyrical Ballad remains one of the finest destinations for book hunting in the entire Northeast. Paradise found.

Best Childrens Bookstore

Little Book House
Stuyvesant Plaza

Cozy without being cramped—that’s the Little Book House. Enlightened without being insufferable—that’s the LBH staff. This perennial favorite scores on so many levels, with both parents and children, because everything about it caters to a love of reading and story time. Not only does LBH feature the latest and best titles in children’s literature, it has good selections of series and young adult fiction, along with a strong section on families and childrearing. This isn’t the kind of place where the shopper in need of a pre-purchase opinion is treated to a recap of what’s on somebody’s bestseller list. It’s where you can engage in a thoroughly enjoyable discussion about what’s out there and how to make that little reader in your life thrill to the possibilities of the written word.

Let ’em school ya: the Mary Jane Books crew. Photo by: John Whipple

Best College Bookstore

Mary Jane Books
214 Quail St., Albany

Since 1998, this locally owned, independent book store has been the only alternative for local students who want to stick it to the big guys up on campus. Always keeping students’ needs in mind, Mary Jane’s not only makes buying and selling back books throughout the academic year easy and hassle-free but also operates its own bumper sticker-clad, blue Magic School Bus to transport SUNY students to the store on Quail Street.

Best Comics Store

Earthworld Comics
537 Central Ave., Albany

Earthworld is the Capital Region’s mecca for all things comic-related. Whether you’re a fanboy or a first-time visitor, owner J.C. Glindmyer and his staff will help you find whatever it is that you’re looking for. From the Amazing Spider-Man to Y: The Last Man, you can find all the mainstream titles you want, along with a cornucopia of independent and locally produced titles. Manga and anime junkies can also get their fixes, along with anyone looking to find gifts for their favorite comic geeks. Can’t decide what to check out? Ask for a recommendation, and you’ll probably end up with a new favorite. New issues arrive every Wednesday; set up a subscription if you want to stay current.

Best Record Store (new)

Music Shack
1272 Central Ave., Colonie

We can’t say we don’t miss it in the neighborhood, but Music Shack has settled nicely into its new spot up Central Avenue. Though its space is smaller, the new racks are easier to browse, and the store’s long aisles are easy to navigate. The brothers Roy are committed to keeping prices reasonable and are holding on strong as the only independent music source in the Capital Region, stocking all the hot and obscure new releases a music junkie could desire.

Best Record Store (Used and Vinyl)

Last Vestige
173 Quail St., Albany
437 Broadway, Saratoga Springs

In case you haven’t heard, vinyl is making a comeback. Luckily we’re all ahead of the trend, because Last Vestige has been offering up the area’s best selection of new and used vinyl for more than a decade now. It also offers some CDs and—for those of us still living in an analog world—tapes, as well as a variety of local sounds to go with the mainstream standards. Looking to begin a vinyl love affair? You can get all the information, equipment and recommendations that you need to start your collection. Sure, you can check out the stock online (www.lastvestige.com), but Last Vestige is the type of store where true vinyl fans go to find their Zen.

Best Free Video

Albany Public Library
161 Washington Ave., Albany

Now that the Albany Public Library has expanded its collection of DVDs to match that of its VHS cassettes, there’s almost no point in going anywhere else. There’s rarely any order to the shelves, but as you peruse the titles, you’re bound to make one of those “I’ve meant to watch this movie but didn’t want to pay for it” discoveries. Want to take advantage of the APL’s selection from outside Albany? Try the database on the library’s Web site (www.albanypubliclibrary.org) and request delivery of a title to your own local library. The APL has it all, from films in the Criterion Collection to complete seasons of Buffy—and the late fee is only 20 cents a day, so you can afford to be a little lazy. If you’re planning a weekend movie night, get there before Friday afternoon for a better selection.

Best Video Rental

Super Video
1839 Central Ave., Colonie

Super Video has more than 30,000 movies available for rent. Wrap your mind around that number. You can rent Winona Ryder’s Little Women and compare it to the original version starring Katharine Hepburn. You can contrast George Romero’s slower-but-funnier zombies in the first Dawn of the Dead with the recent remake’s fast-moving zombies on crack. Ask the friendly staff for a suggestion or just grab a new release off the shelf. Super Video has games, too. And it still has the area’s biggest selection of DVDs.

Best Gift Store

Wit’s End Giftique
Parkwood Plaza , Clifton Park

Schedule an extra few minutes for your shopping experience, because there’s lots to see. Know anyone who collects Swarovski Crystal or Snow Village miniatures? This is the place to shop for them. Wit’s End also has a large selection of fine jewelry and beautiful Christmas ornaments that anyone would love to receive.

The crowned jewels: Dana Rudolph.
Photo by: Shannon DeCelle

Best Jewelry (Classic)

Dana Rudolph and Company
River St., Troy

Dana Rudolph starting out on Lark Street many moons ago and has resurfaced at a great little shop in Troy. Rudolph sells her own sophisticated jewelry, set with glittering stones, crystals and pearls, and she’ll design a piece for you if you have certain stones in mind or need something in a specific color. If you’re feeling creative the day of your visit, you’ll find everything you need to create a masterpiece of your own: beads, stones, findings and assistance from Rudolph and her staff to get you off on the right foot.

Best Jewelry (Modern)

Elissa Halloran Designs
225 Lark St., Albany

Amazonite. Rhodochrosite. Aventurine. Olive jade. Green garnet. Cinnabar. Mother-of-pearl. Superheroes in a new Marvel comic? Not quite. When put together with sterling silver or vintage beads by designer Elissa Halloran, these marvelous-sounding names are the centerpieces of exquisite earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Halloran is equally adept at fashioning a bold statement or creating a more delicate design. What’s more, she stays ahead of trends. Who knew Albany could be so fashion-forward? Elissa Halloran Designs also sells gift items, a matchless selection of designer bags (Kim Sava, J. Sheperd) and some surprising designer consignment finds.

Best Womens Clothing (Eclectic)

State of Grace
11 Second St., Troy

State of Grace is both a retail location and a state of mind. When you enter, you’re transported to a cozy world in which mundane cares are stripped away and you’re ready to immerse yourself in luscious fabrics, glorious colors, sensual scents—in short, it’s a ridiculously feminine place, in all the very best ways. Owner Grace stocks her boutique-cum-treasure chest with an eclectic mix of labels—Lily Pulitzer alongside Kit Cornell—and a copious, tantalizing supply of accessories and beauty products. Go ahead, touch everything. If ever there was a store in which the tactile was as important as the visual, this is it.

Best Womens Clothing (Special Occasion)

Circles
Stuyvesant Plaza

You’ve been asked to present at the Emmy Awards ceremony, or—perhaps more likely—you’re going to a very important dinner dance at which you’ll be recognized for your tremendous achievements. You’ve got the speech down pat, but what are you going to wear? You didn’t get where you are by being a ninny, so, of course, you trot right down to Circles at Stuyvesant Plaza, where you know that you’ll find the latest in BCBG, Max Mara, Yigal Azrouël or Maria Vasquez. Circles is one-stop shopping, offering shoes by Pucci, Calvin Klein and Stuart Weitzman; cosmetics by Laura Mercier, Nars and Trish McEvoy; accessories; and, for those non-glitterati events, sportswear. If you’re looking at it in Vogue or Bazaar, there’s a good chance Circles has it.

Best Mens Clothing (Casual)

Cohoes
Crossgates Mall

When Cohoes the store was in Cohoes the city, it was truly a destination shopping experience. People would travel from miles away to get designer names at bargain prices. But when Cohoes the store moved to Crossgates the mall, we feared the worst: Would it be just another department store, marking merchandise up, then marking it down for a sale? Turns out the prices are great, the merchandise is designer, and even though it’s not the old store, believe it or not, there are still some of the old faces. Cohoes is still a great shopping experience, even in the mall.

Best Mens Clothing Store (Designer)

Christopher’s Clothing Store
Crossgates Mall

So you got that new sales job, and the wardrobe needs some revamping. This is the place to get what you need: high-quality Italian-cut suits, custom-made shirts, and a great selection of ties, socks and accessories. The haberdashers at this fine clothier will make you look like a million bucks—and that reminds us: Bring your checkbook, because this kind of quality doesn’t come cheap. Christopher’s also has a very nice selection of casual clothing if your company allows “dress down” Fridays. Service is extremely attentive, close to overbearing, but the staff does know its stuff. And as the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression, so do it with style.

Putting your best foot forward: Cohoes. Photo by: Joe Putrock

Best Mens Footwear

Cohoes
Crossgates Mall, Albany

When it comes to footwear, most men have one pair of brown, one pair of black and 10 pairs of sneakers, but since the Queer Eye guys have kicked men’s awareness of fashion up a notch, it’s good to see retailers like Cohoes bringing in more than just the basics. A huge selection of kicks from Steven Madden, Kenneth Cole, Stacy Adams and many others fills the racks; great prices empty them. Watch out for the end-of-season sales.

Best Vintage Clothing

Steve’s Vintage Clothing Warehouse
Route 9W, Coxsackie

Cool hats, well-worn (and some new) shoes, coats—fur, leather, what-have-you—and a wide variety of T-shirts, each awaiting the proper owner to put it to full ironic employment, line the walls and occupy much of the floor space in Steve’s enormous front room, but it’s the jeans that got Steve Tailleur started in the vintage biz. He’s got a collection of blue jeans unrivaled in the northern hemisphere. Acres upon acres of them. If you placed every pair of jeans from Steve’s warehouse end to end, they’d stretch around the globe five times over. We think. OK, maybe not, but you get the point. Plus, it’s a nice afternoon drive down through Ravena to get there.

Best Toy Store

Mudpies & Fireflies
446 Broadway, Saratoga Springs

What started as something catering to that awful mentality—you know, when Mom or Aunt Sue squeals over the educational value of the same toy that Junior finds hopelessly dull—has blossomed into one terrific toy store. Sweet baby dolls and mini-Mom accessories, puppets, kites, things with wheels and things to dig with, crafts, games, baskets of little doodads perfect for grab bags or “no special occasion” treats, and even infant clothes and accoutrements coexist quite nicely in a spacious, colorful interior designed to maximize interest and minimize congestion. It’s a rare and wonderful thing: a toy store that doesn’t drive you bonkers or trigger your claustrophobia.

Best Toy Shopping With Live Folk Music in the Background

Old Songs Folk Festival Vendors
Altamont Fairgrounds, 4th weekend in June

You may think of musical instruments and pretty pottery when you think of shopping at a folk festival, and you’d be right. But these vendors also know how to have fun: from the puppet stand that draws crowds all day (mosquito puppet, anyone? how about a platypus?) to the hand-carved wooden puzzles and make-your-own-toys-out-of-popsicle-sticks booth, items to delight and inspire the younger set are plentiful and high-quality. And don’t forget the musical instruments.

Best Antique Shop

Coxsackie Antique Center
Routes 9W and 81, West Coxsackie

With more than 60 dealers under one roof and almost 9,000 square feet of floor space (and growing), this gem is hard to beat for collectors, who come from all over the Northeast to find their booty. You can easily negotiate with dealers over the phone on-premises, and the shop fully insures against fakes. Whether it’s Fentonware, Roseville pottery, Maxfield Parrish prints, old appliances, vintage clothing and jewelry or just that out-of-print book you’ve always wanted, this place usually has it.

Best Garden Center

Garden Time
652 Quaker Road, Queensbury

This huge place has everything the garden enthusiast could want: annuals, perennials (common and exotic), pots and planters galore—even a gazebo for your yard and a playhouse for the little ones. The friendly knowledgeable staff will be able to answer any questions you might have.

Best Farmers Market

Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market
Hedley Park Place and Marina, 411 River St., Troy

With the possible exception of the market in Saratoga, this is easily the finest farmers’ market in the region, with an average of 40 vendors offering naturally raised, USDA-certified meat products, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, cheese, wine, maple syrup, honey and baked goods. For the discerning palate or the environmentally vigilant, there are many organically grown products available as well. If you’d like to have a personal relationship with the food you eat and the people who produce it, this is the place to be, every Saturday morning from May through October.

Best Fresh Food Market

Guido’s Fresh Marketplace
1020 South St., Pittsfield, Mass.
760 S. Main St., Great Barrington, Mass.

There’s just nothing else around here quite like this feast of fresh produce, fresh fish, international cheeses, hormone-free meats and poultry, and top-notch natural and organic dry goods. Old World market ambience offsets stress from too many weekend shoppers crowding too-narrow aisles. And did we mention the produce?

Best Musical Instrument Store

Parkway Music
1602 Route 9, Clifton Park

We’d be so bold as to say Parkway has not only the Capital Region’s but all of upstate New York’s best selection of guitars, basses, drums and amps—new, used, and vintage—plus PA, DJ and recording gear galore. Add to that friendly and helpful employees who know every last piece in the store because they actually play them, plus lessons by the area’s top working musicians, and you’ve got yourself a well-justified perennial winner in this category.

Best Laundromat

Playdium Laundry and Dry Cleaners
349 Ontario St., Albany

The folks over at the Playdium Laundromat have made one of the most loathsome chores sort of fun again. Not only is this clean, well-lit laundrette decked out with a snack bar, some arcade games and a few television sets, it’s also next door to both a bar and a bowling alley. It’s got king-size dryers too, so bring in that musty sleeping bag you’ve been meaning to wash.

Best Convenience Store

Stewart’s
Everywhere

Stewart’s blows the convenience store competition out of the water year after year. The service is always customer-friendly, the ice cream is always mouthwatering, and the atmosphere is always reminiscent of the ’70s. These elements are just some of what makes Stewart’s our favorite place to visit when we need last-minute supplies (milk, newspaper, nightcrawlers, etc.). And we’re never left wanting: every time we turn a corner, there’s another one. Ubiquity is key.

Best Sporting Goods

Walton’s Sport Shop
59 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs

Proof that you don’t need to be a big box to serve the needs of the sports enthusiast, Walton’s is a well-stocked store on a human scale, inviting you to relax and browse rather that worry that you’ve gone 14 aisles in the wrong direction. Service is personal, friendly and knowledgeable, and the store is noted for a number of specialties, including custom racquet stringing, in-house printing of team uniforms, hockey outfitting (including skate sharpening) and a top-notch line of fly-fishing gear. Kind of makes you wonder why you’d need a sporting goods store to be the size of an airport terminal.

Best Building Supply Store

Bellevue Builders Supply
504 Duanesburg Road, Schenectady

Weather you’re a contractor or do-it-yourselfer, hardware heaven on earth is in Schenectady. The goods are high-quality, and the service is knowledgeable and attentive (good luck finding that at your local Hardware Hangar), but the coolest thing is a drive-through lumberyard—yeah, you read that right, a drive-through lumberyard! You drive up, tell ’em what you want, and they throw it in your vehicle. Take that, Mickey D’s!

Best Hardware Store

Trojan Hardware Company
96 Congress St., Troy

The Capital Region is somewhat lacking in traditional “avalanche” hardware stores—the ones where 50 percent of the volume of the store is filled with stuff, organized in some way that’s inexplicable to the customer but instantly accessible by the staff. But despite its odd spaciousness, Trojan Hardware has many of the other qualities we enjoy in a hardware store—a feeling of timelessness, nooks and crannies to get lost in, and employees who will lead you directly to pretty much anything you need. Unusual bonuses include the substantial kitchenware section and the absence of dollar-store kitsch crowding the register.

Best Kitchen Supply (Retail)

Different Drummer’s Kitchen
Stuyvesant Plaza
374 Pittsfield Road, Lenox, Mass.

French butter bells. Citrus zesters. Mixing bowls bigger than your washing machine. It’s dangerous to walk into Different Drummer without blinders on, as you’re certain to find something you didn’t know existed, let alone that you needed it, which you do. One avid amateur chef says Different Drummer is the best thing since Lechter’s went out of business, minus the cheaper stuff and minus needing to brave Wolf Road traffic and Colonie Center to get there.

Best Beer Warehouse

Oliver’s Beverage
105 Colvin Ave., Albany

Whether you’re looking for a case of Bud or an obscure bottom-fermented double bock, you can find it at Oliver’s, whose Web site lists more than 300 brands of beer. The staff isn’t called the “Brew Crew” for nothing, you know. Kegs, growlers, cigarettes, jerky—they’re all here, too, and at competitive prices. And you can’t beat a well-priced jerky, now, can you?

Best Liquor Store

Exit 9 Wine and Liquor Warehouse
54 Crossing Blvd., Clifton Park

Sure, it’s got wine galore—it’s in the name, after all—but it’s the massive square footage of the liquor section that makes us swoon and stagger in delight. This definitely isn’t the place to go to track down a 30-year old bottle of Glenfarclas (you snob), but if you need to stock the party bar in less than 30 minutes, or if you just have a hankering for 30 bottles of Cuervo, this is the spot.

Best Wine Store (Neighborhood)

Capital Wine & Spirits
348 Lark St., Albany

Owner Brad Junco has put a lot of time and energy into building his empire of spirits, and the results are a joy to behold. Perhaps the standard by which we should judge all other “upscale” retail shops, Junco’s recently refurbished store is an immaculate den of beautiful, hand-carved wooden shelving boasting an excellent variety of wines and liquors, and its location at State and Lark streets in Albany’s Center Square neighborhood makes it a perfect spot to drop in and pick up something to go with dinner or accompany that long-awaited movie date. If you’re not in walking distance, you can place a delivery order through the store’s equally snazzy Web site.

Best Wine Store (Selection)

All-Star
Latham Farms, Latham

“If wine were a religion,” boasts proprietor and connoisseur Craig Allen, “this would be a church.” It certainly is a mecca for wine lovers, with vintages from Cakebread, Stag’s Leap, Caymus, Conn Estates, St. Francis and too many more to name. Aisle after aisle, rack after rack, bottle after bottle, the selection is incredible, and if the hard-to-find wine you’re looking for isn’t there, chances are All-Star can get it. Need a gift for a real wine snob? This is the place. Want a quality wine for under $10? Ditto. Tasting rooms and wine classes are also a part of the experience.

Best Wine Store (Unique)

Saratoga Wine Exchange
42 Phila St., Saratoga Springs

The Saratoga Wine Exchange offers a good selection of wines of with a wide enough range of style and price to suit almost any customer’s needs. In their spacious location they offer tastings, classes, and an array of wine and liquor encyclopedias for customer perusal. Their staff is knowledgeable and helpful to a fault; if a wine is out of stock, they readily offer to set bottles aside for customers upon restocking. They are involved in Saratoga Springs community efforts, such as Save the Ballet, and boast the largest selection of New York state wines in the region with more than 300 varieties. They also stock high-end liquors particularly vodka tequila and about 100 scotches.

Best Optical Store

EyeDentity Eyewear
1315 Central Ave., Colonie

Whether it’s state-of-the-art technology in lens design or those street-stopping designer frames you need, check out EyeDentity Eyewear. Owners Marie Coluccio and Loretta Ackerman do a bang-up job of offering a fabulous selection of the latest designer styles—from that unique Versace frame to the newest designs by Michael Kors—along with impressive product knowledge and customer service. And if you’re one of those 20/20 freaks of nature, EyeDentity’s got the hottest sunglasses, too.

Everything’s coming up roses, and carnations and lilies: Henry F. Clas Florist. Photo by: Joe Putrock

Best Flower Shop

Henry F. Clas Florist
404 New Scotland Ave., Albany

The intoxicating smell of flowers in bloom is a staple of any good florist, but seeing flowers turned into works of art before your eyes—that’s a rare experience. The fine people of Henry Clas have taken the monotony out of floral design, producing masterpieces of color, shape and scent—and while your bouquet is taking form, you’ll feel like the only person there. The care and quality of customer service is unparalleled not only in the flower business but in most others as well: the employees really seem to feel how important it is to get every order just right. If an arrangement needs 45 minutes, they’ll take an hour. It’s amazing to watch a vision in bloom. See for yourself.

Best Pet Food Store

Pet Supplies Plus
1225 Western Ave., Albany

Whether your hedgehog is hungry or your kitty needs a catnip fix, you can still find everything to make your furry (or feathery or scaly) friend happy at Pet Supplies Plus: a wide variety of locally produced pet supplies, great prices and an overall selection that gives the chain stores a run for their monkey.

Best Home Appliance Store

Cocca’s Appliances
158 Railroad Ave. Ext., Colonie

Price. Service. Warranty. Service. Big shiny things that whirr and hum and heat things up and keep things cool and make things clean. Any questions?

Best Custom Home Electronics

Hippo’s
Stuyvesant Plaza

Watching TV just ain’t what it used to be. Imagine a movie theater in your family room, complete with light-blocking drapes, soundproof walls and seats like a theater’s. Imagine your home completely wired to let you see who’s at the front door, watch the kids playing in the backyard and check in on the sleeping newborn upstairs. Imagine a TV so thin it looks like a picture hanging on the wall, sound so clear you’ll think you’re at the show. This is what home electronics has become, and Hippo’s can make your imagination a reality. The well-trained staff takes the time to determine your needs and has the know-how to make everything work. Of course, if you’re looking for a plain old TV or DVD player, Hippo’s has that too.

Best Custom Mobile Electronics

Boomer McCloud at Car Essentials
1021 Central Ave., Albany
299 Dix Ave., Glens Falls
1702 Chrysler Ave., Schenectady,
1603 Route 9, Clifton Park

If you’re ever sitting in your home and the windows begin to rattle, or you’re walking down the street and you feel as though the ground is shaking, chances are you’re feeling the effects of a seriously tricked-out car stereo system, and chances are it came from the boys at Car Essentials. Whether you’re installing a new CD player and some speakers or a full-blown system complete with hard drive, TV monitor and subwoofers the size of your trunk, they give it the same care. Hold on to your earlobes.

Best Downtown Retail District

Saratoga Springs

We know, there’s a touch of the urban chain mall at the southern end of downtown, what with the Gap and Eddie Bauer and Borders and the like. But thankfully, they’re still in the minority, since this model downtown thrives precisely because so many local independent businesses weathered the onslaught of suburban malls. And so downtown Saratoga—several blocks of Broadway and those wonderfully narrow side streets, Caroline, Phila, etc.—offer the most pleasant downtown shopping/strolling experience to be had in this region. And when you need to take a break and sit down, there are more than enough restaurants and watering holes to suit almost any taste and price range.

Best Business Juxtaposition

Saratoga Wine Exchange
Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Council
36-42 Phila St., Saratoga Springs

An excellent wine store in the same building as a substance abuse prevention agency seems a bit cruel to those who come seeking information or assistance from said agency. But if you have the resilience to shrug off this kind of in-your-face temptation, we suppose you can handle anything.

Best New Bus Service

CDTA Route 7 (Glenmont)

This is, in fact, the first bus route that the CDTA has added in 25 years. The No. 7 bus runs between Albany and beautiful downtown Glenmont—specifically, the Kmart/Price Chopper plaza, with a stop at Wal-Mart along the way. It’s a boon for downtown Albany residents, opening up more suburban retail jobs to city dwellers and giving bus-riding shoppers an alternative to the always crowded buses on Washington and Central avenues. Also, folks who live on the southernmost stretch of South Pearl Street are now, finally, connected to the CDTA system. Memo to CDTA: Nice work. Where will you be expanding service next?

Readers Poll

Best Optical Store
1. Empire Vision

Best Appliance Store
1. Best Buy
2. Sears

Best Antiques
1. Hudson

Best Bookstore
1. Borders
2. Barnes & Noble

Best Record Store
1. FYE
2. Last Vestige

Best Newsstand
1. Coulson’s

Best Internet Provider
1. Road Runner

Best Garden Store/Nursery
1. Hewitt’s Garden Center
2. Troy’s Landscape Supply

Best Florist
1. Frank Gallo & Son Florist
2. Lark St. Flower Market

Best Home Electronics Store
1. Best Buy
2. Hippo’s Home Entertainment

Best Furniture Store
1. Taft Furniture Warehouse
2. Mooradian’s

Best Pet Supply Store
1. PetSmart
2. Petco

Best Gift Store
1. Romeo’s Gifts

Best Wine/Liquor Store
1. All Star Wine & Spirits

Best Vintage Store
1. Salvation Army
2. Special FX

Best Women’s Clothing Store
1. Macy’s

Best Men’s Clothing Store
1. Macy’s
2. Spector’s

Best Children’s Clothing Store
1. Lollipops Children’s Shop

Best Women’s Shoe Store
1. Saratoga Shoe Depot

Best Men’s Shore Store
1. Saratoga Shoe Depot

Best Women’s Haircut
1. Jean Paul Spa & Hair

Best Men’s Haircut
1. Gregory’s Barbershop
2. Rumor’s For Men

Best Sporting Goods Store
1. Dick’s Sporting Goods

Best Bike Shop
1. Down Tube Cycle Shop

Best Toy Store
1. Toys R Us

Best Video Rental
1. Hollywood Video

Best Tattoo
1. Lark Tattoo

Best Cellular Service
1. Verizon Wireless

Best Jeweler
1. Northeastern Fine Jewelry

Best Day Spa
1. Kimberly’s A Day Spa

Best Musical Instrument Store
1. Parkway Music
2. Only Guitar Shop

Best Farmers Market
1. Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market

Best Produce
1. Price Chopper
2. Hannaford

Best Bakery
1. Bella Napoli
2. Vanilla Bean


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