Best of C-VILLE 2016: Shopping

Keep that secondhand vape smoke coming—it smells like cotton candy. Photo: Keith Alan Sprouse Keep that secondhand vape smoke coming—it smells like cotton candy. Photo: Keith Alan Sprouse

Moola, cash, dinero, dolla dolla bills—it doesn’t matter what you call it, you like spending money. And you know where all that hard-earned coin should go, too. From toys and books to bow ties and pet food, here’s how you’ve been shelling out your shekels.



Andrew Minton Jewelers

Runner-up: Keller & George

Honorable mention: Tuel Jewelers

There’s no dearth of jewelry stores with strong community ties in Charlottesville, and Andy Minton’s are perhaps the strongest. A former Cavalier football starting defensive back, Minton not only offers some of the finest gold, diamonds, pearls, pendants, bracelets and custom jewelry in town, he’s committed to supporting the university, its athletic programs and the surrounding area. Visit the shop off Route 29 or browse on the Web, but don’t go home empty-handed (and by empty-handed, we mean don’t overlook the rings!). Keller & George takes second place with nearly 150 years in business and a sparkling lineup.



Pick of the litter

From wacky to wonderful, Circa stocks it all

There’s plenty to love at Circa—literally more than 10,000 square feet worth—but part of the 18-year-old store’s appeal is finding a piece you’re not quite sure about. Maybe it won’t mesh with your décor or it’s just not sending the right vibe. It equal parts intrigues and intimidates you. We feel that. On a recent visit, we noticed a box of mannequin arms, a carved wooden head and this nearly 2′-tall cat. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what we might take home…if we had the guts.

Runner-Up: HomeGoods

Honorable mention: The Habitat Store




Runner-up: Goodwill

Honorable mention: Twice is Nice

Owner Linnea White says she doesn’t just want to help women find a great outfit (like “that dress you pined after from Anthropologie last year”)—she wants to empower women through fashion. That’s why the Darling diva stocks handcrafted wares by female artisans both local and abroad and offers brands with a global impact mission. In second place, Goodwill is the place to make an unexpected find on the cheap, from a Fendi purse to Frye boots.

The Men's & Boy's Shop's Josh Cain ties it right. Photo: Amy Jackson
The Men’s & Boy’s Shop’s Josh Cain ties it right. Photo: Amy Jackson

PLACE TO BUY A BOW-TIE The Men’s & Boy’s Shop

Tie one on

Ask Men’s & Boy’s Shop owner Mike Kidd how to a tie a bow tie, and he answers with a question: “Can you tie your shoes?” Um, sure. “Same principle,” Kidd says, as he ambles to the middle of his Downtown Mall store and stops in front of a rack with an impressive assortment of slim slips of silk. “Your neck is your foot, and you’re tying your shoes,” he says.

“There’s no need to make it complicated,” he adds as he places an orange-and-blue (go Hoos!) number on the back of his neck, letting one side hang a little longer than the other. And then:

Kidd crosses the longer end over the shorter end, brings the longer end underneath the shorter end and out from the center.

Keeping a finger on the half-knot so the tie stays tight to his neck, he folds the shorter end of the bow tie horizontally and places the longer end of the tie over the shorter end.

He then folds the longer end of the bow tie horizontally, and, just like you do when you tie your shoes using the bunny ears method, pulls the longer end of the bow tie through the loop at the back of the shorter end.

Kidd tugs both sides to tighten and straighten, and centers the tie between his collar.

Pee-wee Herman would be proud.

Runner-up: Eljo’s

Honorable mention: Beecroft & Bull




Runner-up: BitterSweet

Honorable mention: Derriere de Soie

It’s bittersweet when local shops get tossed on their derriere in favor of the big chains. But readers know Anthropologie delivers beautiful designs and quality clothes from its artistically decorated store. Or, as the 42-state, 217-store conglomerate says on its website, it offers “clothing, accessories, gifts and home décor that reflects… their [customers’] passions.” Downtown, runner-up BitterSweet hits the spot, offering a curated selection of cool-girl garb that’ll make your date all swoony.


Old Navy

Runner-up: Belk

Honorable mention: Kid to Kid

One way to explain this win? Quantity over quality. Old Navy is the leader in trendy, inexpensive duds the nation over, which is why readers say, this year, they’re headed there for pint-sized khakis and tees come school time. Meanwhile, runner-up Belk keeps your little ones dressed to impress.

Illustration: Jason Crosby
Illustration: Jason Crosby


In store

What you want is what you get at Foods of All Nations

On a recent stroll through the aisles at Foods of All Nations, store manager Geoffrey Garbaccio stops in front of a bin overflowing with Hanover tomatoes. Clearly pleased with the beautiful, bountiful harvest before him, he points to equally impressive displays of cucumbers, peppers, peaches and zucchinis. “All from local farms,” he says, and then guides a visitor toward aisle 2, Jam and Jelly Central, where you’ll find everything from Smuckers strawberry to Frank Cooper’s Original Oxford Marmalade. Because here’s the thing about the Ivy Road food emporium: If you want it, all you have to do is ask.

“Charlottesville is a very diverse, multicultural city, and if somebody wants us to get something for them, we’ll try to do it,” Garbaccio says, be it Helmut Sachers Kaffee, De Ruijter chocolate or Divina Dolmas stuffed grape leaves. But not everything on the store’s shelves is from far-flung locales: Chaps ice cream is served in the café and Gearharts chocolate (in custom-made Foods of All Nations wrappers) is front-and-center on a candy shelf that’s located near a large display of Barboursville Vineyards wines. And it’s hard to miss the MarieBette bread in the bakery.

One of the first things Garbaccio did after coming to work at FOAN six months ago was visit every bread baker within 30 miles of the store. “Dozens of them,” he says. “Because you have to have good bread. It’s a staple.” And he’ll get no argument from his customers: MarieBette “bakes twice a day for us—and we sell out every day.”

Runner-up: Feast!

Honorable mention: Market Street Market



Market Street Wineshops

Runner-up: Trader Joe’s

Honorable mention: Market Street Market

What is it with all our favorite places being just below ground (see previous nautical-themed choice)? Regardless of where it is relative to sea level, Market Street Wineshop has it all—knowledgeable, gregarious staff, wine and beer tastings by the bushel and, of course, rack after rack of world-class vino. If you can’t find what you want at its 29th Place location or its location downtown on the north side of Market Street, head to Stonefield for Trader Joe’s value (read: cheap!) selection.


New Dominion Bookshop

Runner-up: Blue Whale Books

Honorable mention: Read It Again Sam

New Dominion offers the best of both worlds: nearly the inventory of a national brand and all the charm of a carefully curated, thoughtfully designed local shop. Ask any of New Dominion’s bookies for recommendations or help, and you’ll walk out of the oldest independent bookseller in Virginia with the perfect selection of fiction or nonfiction. The store also has an unmatched catalog of architecture and landscape gardening books. Down the mall at Blue Whale, it’s a history buff’s mecca, with rare books and antiquarian maps (and a Corgi named Gizmo, for the dog-loving bibliophiles).


STATIONERY STORE Rock Paper Scissors

Mail call!

8 times a card is better than an e-mail

It’s clear readers love browsing Rock Paper Scissors’ wall of greeting cards. We asked local etiquette expert Patty Hughson of Etiquette Empowerment to give us even more excuses to peruse.

After you receive a gift

If the person takes the time, money and interest, don’t you want them to know how much you appreciated it with a written note of thank you?

When someone has passed away

Your written words on a card provide more comfort in the survivor’s time of sorrow.

When someone you know is ill

Every time the person looks at your note on their bedside table, they’ll know how much you care and it will bring them a smile.

When congratulations are in order

Take the extra five minutes to show them you understand how hard they worked for that accomplishment.

After a job interview

This may be your future boss and this is the time to make a great first impression. Stand out from the crowd by showing that you appreciated their time and would be an asset to the company.

To repay a nice gesture

Acknowledge the gesture by taking the time to write a note.

To your grandparents

It may sound old-fashioned, but grandparents love written notes from family for gifts or to just say I love you.

After you leave a job

Never burn your bridges; you never know when your paths might cross again.

Runner-up: O’Suzannah

Honorable mention: Caspari




Runner-up: Alakazam

Honorable mention: O’Suzannah

When Kai Rady opened Shenanigans in 1974, it was the only toy store in Charlottesville. More than 40 years later, Rady’s still hand-selecting toys for sale in her Main Street retail space. She says she seeks out “toys, books, games, dolls and stuffed animals from all over the world that offer high play value, which I think is the No. 1 thing.” It shows. Shenanigans remains the place to snag this year’s hard-to-find plaything (and win Parent of the Year). Downtown, Alakazam continues to wow crowds with a selection of (among other fun things) themed toys from Wild West to pirates.


Fifth Season Gardening

Runner-up: Ivy Nursery

Honorable mention: Snow’s Garden Center

Local beer geeks know Fifth Season as the spot for all their homebrew needs, but this funky joint on Preston is also a destination gardening center. The chain’s fifth location, the Charlottesville store offers up hydroponic and organic gardening supplies, wine- making products and supplies for cheesemaking, vinegar-making, canning, fermentation and more. The family-owned business, founded more than 20 years ago in North Carolina, claims to have everything for folks who are into “urban D.I.Y.” At upscale garden shop Ivy Nursery, nab anything from a Japanese maple to a gallon container of annual blooms.


Ancestry Pet Food

Runner-up: Pet Food Discounters

Honorable mention: PetSmart

Although its name has changed (Ancestry Pet Food was previously Sammy Snacks), the dedication to your pets’ health hasn’t. What started as the owners’ quest to bake a healthy chocolate-chip cookie for their black Lab, Sammy, morphed into a farm-to-bowl business in which almost all ingredients for the company’s food and treats are sourced in the U.S. Once your pet has had a taste of the all-natural, holistic food (most pets eat less because it’s more nutrient-dense), it’ll be hard turning them back to brand-name nibbles. Runner-up Pet Food Discounters is the place to go for any pet—from dogs and cats to reptiles, fish and even pigs.

VAPE SHOP Smoke Brake Vapes

Vape a little

Tracy Riffel opened Smoke Brake Vapes with her aunt, Ronda Richardson, because she wanted to quit smoking but was intimidated by most e-smoking retailers. She wanted a place where newbies would feel comfortable coming to kick a bad habit.

“My aunt and I both used vaping to quit smoking, and we were both successful on our first try,” Riffel says. “I was in the hospital and purchased a starter kit. I didn’t even know I hadn’t been craving a cigarette for several days.”

Serious stuff. But for the fun side of vaping, try one of these: Pink Paradise, Thug Passion or Blueberry Muffin. “My favorite is Bourbon Street,” Riffel says. “It’s a vanilla bourbon flavor, a very subtle vanilla.”

Runner-up: Carytown Tobacco

Honorable mention: Mom & Pop Vape Shop

Brown Automotive Group

Runner-up: CarMax

Honorable mention: Volvo of Charlottesville

Driving around Charlottesville, you’ve likely seen more than a few cars with the Brown Automotive Group’s sticker on the back. It’s hard to miss the big red heart stamped in the middle of the company’s name. No wonder it’s so ubiquitous: The locally owned and operated business started in 1981 and has since expanded to five facilities and a body shop. And it doesn’t just do well; it does good, too: Brown keeps strong ties with the community, often partnering with the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital and the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA.


Charlottesville City Market

Runner-up: The Happy Cook

Honorable mention: Feast!

Stockpiling all those birthday checks seems like a great idea right about now. When you have a little (or a lot!) of cash to spend, readers say the Saturday morning City Market is the place to do it. Grab a breakfast sandwich from Ivy Provisions, ogle the bounty of fresh farm produce ripe for the pickin’ and be on the lookout for one-of-a-kind items to complete your Christmas shopping early this year (for once), like handmade jewelry or furniture. Bring your own bags—lots of them. And don’t forget to swing by runner-up Happy Cook to nab that vegetable spiralizer to make zoodles or the perfect baking dish for your farm-to-your-table berry tart.



There are two reasons readers head to Angelo: They need something for a special occasion or just because. We tricked you there—there’s no reason not to choose the Downtown Mall jewelry gallery, as readers have told us practically since Lee Marraccini opened the shop with his wife, Pam, in 1999. The owners stock work from nearly 40 contemporary artists, from cufflinks to engagement rings, in the modern space. You know what they say: Good taste never goes out of style.

Daedalus Bookshop

We’ll let the words of a commenter on Daedalus’ Facebook page sum this up quite nicely for us: “Book shopping online is great if you know what you want, but the exquisite pleasure of discovering what you didn’t know you wanted can only be obtained in person.” In person at Daedalus, you get wall-to-wall secondhand books for three floors—more than 100,000 total—worth an afternoon (or two) of exploration.

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