Place to splurge: Scarpa
Runner-up: Ben Around Tattoos
Honorable mention: O’Suzannah
We’re not here to tell you how to spend your money, but readers know that “splurge” is just another way of saying, in the words of “Parks and Recreation”’s Tom Haverford, “Treat yo self.” Scarpa is your destination for indulgence, be it a Jerome Dreyfuss handbag or a pair of Coclico sandals. If you want your splurges to be a bit more permanent, Ben Around Tattoo on West Main Street charges a minimum of $100 for ink work, but it’s worth every penny.
Place for an engagement ring: Keller & George
Runner-up: Andrew Minton Jewelry
Honorable mention: Angelo
Diamonds are forever, and, apparently, so is Keller & George. The Millmont Street shop carries pieces by top-notch designers and has been a Charlottesville staple since the 1800s. It started out as a watch repair shop, and has become the place to go before getting down on one knee. Andrew Minton Jewelry, located in the Seminole Square Shopping Center, has been around since the 1970s, and offers jewelry repair, restringing, custom work, and appraisals.
Vintage or consignment store: Circa
Runner-up: Darling Boutique
Honorable mention: ReThreads
We dare you to set foot in Circa, the 10,000-square-foot consignment shop on Allied Street, and not fall in love with something. Whether you’re looking for a practical lamp for the living room, an old-but-new headboard, a pair of earrings, or a vintage typewriter, you won’t be able to stroll through Circa without finding an item you can’t live without. Don’t feel like lugging the furniture home yourself? One of those strapping young men in the back will load up the truck and deliver it right to your door. The only thing you won’t find in the McIntire Plaza shop? Apparel. For that, readers head to Darling Boutique for the perfect, last-chance-to-find-it cardigan or going-out dress.
Women’s clothing store: Bittersweet
Honorable mention: eloise
Where else in town can you try on a dozen pairs of TOMS in different colors and styles, and, if you’re feeling particularly indulgent, finally test out those Frye boots you’ve had your eye on since last winter? Bittersweet on the Downtown Mall stocks both these brands, along with other popular labels like Aryn K, Free People, and Angie. If you’re going for a boho chic look, Anthropologie on Emmet Street is the place to go, and don’t forget to check out the sale rack for dresses and skinny jeans marked down by upwards of 40 percent.
Men’s clothing store: Banana Republic
Runner-up: Beecroft & Bull
Honorable mention: Belk
Barracks Road Shopping Center is chock full of stores and shops for women, but let’s not forget about the gentlemen in this town who like to look their best. Banana Republic offers sleek, preppy, and classic pieces for men of all ages. And for the guy who doesn’t want to make multiple stops, no worries—he’ll find everything from slacks, shirts, and outerwear to shoes and accessories. Just across the parking lot is Beecroft & Bull, a high-end chain for fellas who want a little something more.
Kids’ clothing store: Whimsies
Runner-up: Old Navy
Honorable mention: Kid to Kid
Who can resist an adorable pair of pink patent leather Mary Janes that fit in the palm of your hand? Or a sweater small enough for a doll, featuring a puppy flying an airplane? There’s no place for charming children’s wear quite like Whimsies, the kids’ clothing store that’s been dressing Charlottesville’s little ones for more than 25 years. If you’re looking for something a little lower on the price scale but with a huge variety of mix-and-match outfits for the kiddos, the old favorite, Old Navy, is just a few blocks away.
Place to buy wine: Market Street Wineshops
Runner-up: Trader Joe’s
Honorable mention: Wine Warehouse
They say wine gets better with age, and apparently, so do wine shops. Market Street Wineshop’s downtown and 29 North locations have been selling a carefully curated selection to Charlottesville’s biggest oenophiles for a long time (the store’s been voted best wine shop in town every year since 2002). Not only is the selection unbeatable, but you can pop in for free wine tastings on Fridays downtown and on Saturdays uptown. If Two Buck Chuck (which’ll actually set you back $2.49) is more up your alley for a night in your pajamas or a dinner party with friends, you can’t beat Trader Joe’s.
Place to buy beer: Beer Run
Runner-up: Blue Mountain Brewery
Honorable mention: Whole Foods
B double-e double-r u-n, Beer Run! Nothing says “beer in Charlottesville” quite like the Carlton Road store-restaurant-bar combo, which stocks more than 400 types of beer. Whether you’re looking for a six-pack to take home or a draft to enjoy with a heaping pile of nachos, you’ll find everything from the local classics to the obscure imports and lots in between. And for those of you who don’t mind a drive, Blue Mountain Brewery in Nelson County is your second favorite spot to pick up a brewski.
Grocery store: Whole Foods
Runner-up: Trader Joe’s
Honorable mention: Harris Teeter
It’s no secret that this town loves its kale chips, flavored protein powder, and artisanal spreads, so we shouldn’t be surprised that Whole Foods, a spot with all these things under one roof, was voted the No. 1 place to buy groceries in Charlottesville. Despite being a national chain, the store gets seasonal produce from local farms and carries plenty of locally made products. Across29 is the newer-but-almost-equally-popular-among-the-hipsters Trader Joe’s, where the organic frozen dinners and healthy snacks are must-buys.
Specialty food store: Feast!
Runner-up: Foods of All Nations
Honorable mention: Market Street Market
The top names in the grocery store category may have been national chains, but readers know Charlottesville isn’t lacking in small, local spots to buy food. Feast!, the West Main shop that’s been around since 2002, was the top choice with more than 75 cheeses, 60 cured and deli meats, and a lunch café with a full menu. If you’re feeling compelled to cook something you’ve never tasted (or even heard of), look no further for your ingredients than Foods of All Nations on Ivy Road, which takes the runner-up spot.
Place for antiques: Circa
Runner-up: Covesville Store
Honorable mention: Kenny Ball Antiques
You’ve already said that Circa is the place to go for consignment items, but it’s also the top choice for antiques. The shop’s space may not look huge from the outside, but don’t be fooled—truckloads of antique items arrive at the store almost daily, so if nothing jumped out at you last time, check back next week. About 20 miles south on Route 29, Covesville Store was revamped in 2002 under new ownership after being closed for nearly a decade, and it offers everything from bed frames and couches to one-of-a-kind table-and-chair sets.
Bookstore: Barnes & Noble
Runner-up: New Dominion Bookshop
Honorable mention: Daedalus
With all the quirky hole-in-the-wall spots to find something to read in this town, our readers choose Barnes & Noble as their favorite? It’s hard to argue with the nation’s largest book retailer, and one of the anchor stores in Barracks Road Shopping Center. It’s always packed with bookworms. This year’s runner-up, downtown’s New Dominion Bookshop, also happens to be the oldest independent bookseller in Virginia.
Nursery/garden store: Ivy Nursery
Runner-up: Fifth Season Gardening
Honorable mention: Southern States
Located on seven acres off Route 250, Ivy Nursery was established in 1975 and is owned by two green thumbs with master’s degrees in landscape architecture from UVA. So not only are you getting the freshest and healthiest plants around, the folks helping you out know their stuff. At Fifth Season Gardening on Preston Avenue, you can find everything from hydroponics and organic soils to cheese-making kits and beer brewing supplies.
Florist: Hedge Fine Blooms
Runner-up: University Florists
Honorable mention: Snow’s Garden Center
April showers bring May flowers, and a bouquet from Hedge Fine Blooms will light up any room. Founded in 2001, the shop is known for providing a European flower market experience and floral arrangements and designs for the home, weddings, and other special events. And if it hit you in the middle of class that her birthday is tomorrow, don’t be the guy who shows up empty-handed—pop over to University Florists on Arlington Boulevard and pick up an arrangement of daisies or a single rose to surprise her.
Place for pet supplies: PetSmart
Runner-up: Sammy Snacks
Honorable mention: Pet Food Discounters
For those of us who live in Charlottesville, getting all the way up Route 29 can feel like a bit of a haul. But readers say schlepping up to Hollymead Town Center to browse the aisles of PetSmart is worth it. You’ll find everything you could possibly need for your pets, from guppy food and hamster bedding to the perfect chew toys and cat collar. And let’s not forget that PetSmart is also home to grooming, training, and veterinary services. Sammy Snacks on Millmont Street provides all-natural dog and cat goodies.
Place to buy a new car: Brown Automotive Group
Runner-up: Volvo of Charlottesville
Honorable mention: Flow Automotive
Maybe you’ve been driving that old clunker around since 11th grade, but you’re an adult now, and it’s time to invest in a new set of wheels. Brown Automotive Group has a little bit of everything, from Hondas and Subarus to Benzes and Scions. Located up Route 29 on Hilton Heights Road, it’s been playing matchmaker for drivers and vehicles since 1981. And don’t forget about Volvo of Charlottesville on Ivy Road, the area’s only authorized Volvo dealer and service center.
Place to buy a used car: CarMax
Runner-up: Brown Automotive Group
Honorable mention: Edgecomb’s Imported Auto
As long as it’s new to you, you’re willing to save a few bucks by buying a used car at the Charlottesville branch of the nationwide chain CarMax. (You can peruse its extensive selection at carmax.com.) And, it turns out, your favorite place to buy a new car is also your second favorite place to buy a used one: Brown Automotive Group takes the runner-up spot this year.