Best of C-VILLE 2012: Retail

Gimme a beat: Charlottesville Music is readers' favorite place for music gear. Photo: John Robinson Gimme a beat: Charlottesville Music is readers’ favorite place for music gear. Photo: John Robinson

From your favorite place to buy a party dress to home goods, here’s  the best in local retail.

Jewelry store
Vintage clothing store
Boutique clothing store
Place for a party dress
Place to buy shoes
Place to buy athletic apparel
Place for kids’ clothes
Place for a man’s suit
Thrift store
Local hardware store
Place to buy wine
Place to buy beer
Local grocery store
Place for furniture
Place for antiques
Place for music gear
Place for used books
Toy store
Bike shop
Place for pet supplies
Place for last-minute gifts
Place for stationery
Place to buy a car

220 E. Main St., 971-9256
Runner-up: Andrew Minton Jewelry
192 Zan Rd., 979-7672
Diamond in the rough? Not hardly. Angelo has been shining bright on the Downtown Mall since 1999. Readers rate the contemporary jewelry gallery a cut above the competition again this year. Andrew Minton Jewelry, in the Seminole Square Shopping Center, offers jewelry repair, custom work, restringing, and appraisals.
Vintage Vixen
300 E. Market St., 244-0778
Runner-up: Glad Rags
1923 Commonwealth Dr., 979-1816
Calling all fashionistas! When Vintage Vixen says “Gucci,” you say “How much?” Of course, what you really mean is, “How fast can you ring me up?” The Downtown purveyor of designer duds of yore gets readers stamp of approval after barely a year in business. Across town at Glad Rags, you’ll find a few big-name labels, but you’ll need to dig for the real treasures, like pink leather shorts or a silk bed jacket.
106 E. Main St., 977-5977
Runner-up: Jean Theory
111 E. Main St., 296-5326
Did you just see that pair of Toms walk by? Chances are, the person wearing them bought them at Bittersweet. The Downtown Mall shop stocks the charitable brand’s models by the dozen, in addition to popular labels like Angie, Aryn K, and Free People. Jean Theory, which moved onto the Mall this year, stocks new or gently used duds capable of turning heads.
106 E. Main St., 977-5977
Runner-up: Eloise
505 W. Main St., 295-3905
Did we mention that Bittersweet, your choice for best boutique, is also a great place to find a special occasion outfit? Runner-up Eloise recently moved from its home on West Water Street to a new spot in the Main Street Market Annex. But that’s the only big change it made—you can still expect beautiful, well-made dresses (and more!) at the 13-year-old shop.
Barracks Road Shopping Center, 296-0040
Runner-up: Rack Room Shoes
Barracks Road Shopping Center, 293-8613
Rio Hill Shopping Center, 974-7303
Even after 18 years at the top of the business, the folks at Scarpa like to keep things fresh. This year, they introduced a new facet to their Barracks Road store: Carlo, a roving 1969 Airstream trailer, that’s traveled from Old Trail to Lexington, Virginia, and back. Those who love a bargain shop for new kicks at Rack Room Shoes, where there’s always a sale at the store’s two locations in Barracks Road and Rio Hill Center.
Ragged Mountain Running Shop
3 Elliewood Ave., 293-3367
Runner-up: Blue Ridge Mountain Sports
Barracks Road Shopping Center, 977-4400
Back in February, Ragged Mountain owner Mark Lorenzoni told us that, when he and his wife opened the shop in 1982, if both of the customer chairs were filled, “we were having a great day.” Thirty years later, it sounds like every day is great for the Lorenzonis, whose Elliewood store draws both amateur and pro runners. Over in Barracks Road Shopping Center, BRMS outfits athletes for everything from kayaking to hiking, and it’s a favorite for trail runners too.
Old Navy
Barracks Road Shopping Center, 984-0167
Runner-up: Whimsies
Barracks Road Shopping Center, 977-8767
Looking for a bargain? Readers know to visit Old Navy to stock up on basics that won’t break the bank. For a more personal touch, they head to Whimsies, which opened 26 years ago when owner Betsy Lynn realized she missed all the noise and laughter she’d had growing up in a big family. The store, located in Barracks Road’s North Wing, stocks quality brands like Petit Bateau, Aden & Anais, and Pink Chicken New York.
JoS. A. Bank
Barracks Road Shopping Center, 244-0015
Runner-up: Men’s Wearhouse
Shoppers World Court, 973-8094
When the economy won’t support your taste for an Italian suit, you stick with the basics, something that fits you well. That thing, you say, is a suit from JoS. A. Bank, the 107-year-old company that specializes in top-quality duds at about 2/3 the cost of their competitors’ selection. Men’s Wearhouse, this year’s runner-up, helps gentlemen suit up from two locations, in Shoppers World Court and Fashion Square Mall.
1242 Richmond Rd., 295-3967
1720 Seminole Trail, 872-0171
Runner-up: SPCA Rummage Store
943 Preston Ave., 293-8475
Lookin’ for a cheap frill? Goodwill is the place to go. With locations at Pantops, 29N, and one up the road in Ruckersville, you’re never without a place to find the best secondhand has to offer. On Preston Avenue, the SPCA store stocks clothes, furniture, antiques, and kitty cats. Want a deal? Books are half-off the first Saturday of every month!
Martin Hardware
941 Preston Ave., 293-8171
Runner-up: Crozet Hardware
5783 The Square (Crozet), 823-4381
Stop. It’s hammer time. Actually, it’s always hammer time at Martin—as well as nail time, Weber grill time, air filter time… In fact, the local shop has had just about anything you need for home improvement since 1893. Likewise Crozet Hardware, which may have 56 less years under its tool belt, but will help you find just about anything you need.
Market Street Wineshop
502 E. Market St., 293-3663
Shoppers World Court, 964-9463
Runner-up: Wine Warehouse
1804 Hydraulic Rd., 296-1727
Here’s how to look like you’re an old pro when it comes to wine tasting. Remember the four Ss: See, swirl, sniff, and sip. And don’t forget: Never hold the glass by the bowl, only by the stem. Of course, you winos already knew that—you received your wine education at Market Street’s Friday night tastings. Wine Warehouse on Hydraulic has had you covered since 1994 with its no-nonsense rows of fine beer and wine.
Beer Run
156 Carlton Rd. #203, 984-2337
Runner-up: Market Street Wineshop
502 E. Market St., 293-3663
Shoppers World Court, 964-9463
As we said before (see Best beer selection), the Carlton Avenue all-things-beer restaurant stocks more than 400 kinds of the stuff. Have a request? Just let them know and they’ll try to accommodate. And, as it turns out, your favorite place to buy wine is also your second favorite place to buy beer. Though vino is Market Street’s schtick, the Downtown and 29N shop stocks beers lovingly curated by local poet Clinton Johnston.
Whole Foods
1797 Hydraulic Rd., 973-4900
Runner-up: C’ville Market
221 Carlton Rd., 984-0545
Well, perhaps we should have been more clear. When we said “local,” we meant “locally owned and operated.” But, no big. Whole Foods’ “think local” model gets seasonal produce from local farms and, if you go at lunch, feels like a small town. Runner-up C’ville Market is the retail arm of Cavalier Produce, stocking local fruits, vegetables, and gourmet groceries at great prices from its huge walk-in refrigerator.
1700 Allied St., 295-5760
Runner-up: The Artful Lodger
218 W. Market St. #4, 970-1900
The National Association of Home Builders says that, this time last year, the average home size was about 2,380 square feet. With 10,000 square feet of home furnishings, Circa only has enough inventory to stock 4.2 households. But try walking through once without falling in love with a sideboard or lamp and you’ll see why readers stalk the inventory. At Artful Lodger Downtown, you’ll find one-of-a-kind pieces that span genres.
1700 Allied St., 295-5760
Runner-up: The Consignment House
121 W. Main St., 977-5527
It’s not just furniture that draws the crowds to Circa. The McIntire Plaza shop also stocks shelves of vintage home goods, from electronics to kitchenware. At runner-up Consignment House, find everything from high-end new and vintage jewelry and Oriental rugs to antique furniture and curiosities.
Charlottesville Music
1710 Seminole Trail #2, 973-5859
Runner-up: Stacy’s Music
1816 Rio Hill Center, 975-1555
So, you’ve always wanted to start a rock band. First thing you’ll need? Instruments. Second thing? Lessons on how to play said instruments. Everything you need is available at these two spots. Your winner, Charlottesville Music on Seminole Trail, offers lessons in guitar, bass, and banjo. At Stacy’s, the folks there can teach you how to play anything from flute and piano to mandolin and drums.
Daedalus Bookshop
121 Fourth St. NE, 293-7595
Runner-up: Random Row Books
315 W. Main St., 295-2493
Besides the nostalgic aroma of aging paper, what do these two top shops have in common? Volume, for one. The shelves are so stocked to the brim that you can spend the day lost in titles, which leads to the second thing they have in common: community. Ah, the power of literature.
Ivy Nursery
570 Broomley Rd., 295-1183
Runner-up: Eltzroth & Thompson
1686 Monacan Trail Rd., 295-2488
Much like a newborn, fragile blooms need tender loving care. No place understands this better than Ivy Nursery, where you’ll not only find the best flora in the area, but a knowledgeable staff ready to help you with any gardening problem that may crop up. In the runner-up spot, Eltzroth & Thompson has been serving local green thumbs for more than 40 years.
Hedge Fine Blooms
112 Second St. NE, 293-8825
Main Street Market, 817-9950
Runner-up: University Florists
1929 Arlington Blvd., 973-1381
Fresh flowers are a vital ingredient to a happy life. So say the folks at Hedge, your pick for best florist again this year. The Downtown and Market Street Market shops specialize in special occasion, wedding, and corporate arrangements to keep you smiling. Runner-up University Florists promises same-day delivery from Charlottesville’s “largest stock of fresh flowers.”
Barracks Road Shopping Center, 295-4797
Runner-up: Alakazam
100 E. Main St., 971-1717
Most people think a best case scenario for a kid is being in a candy store. Obviously, those people don’t know about FAO Schwartz, and they’ve never set foot in Shenanigans, as there’s no better place to be than the Barracks Road toy store. Your winner has been in existence since 1974 and stocks puppets, dollhouses, figurines, and more. Downtown’s Alakazam keeps the magic of childhood alive. Don’t miss the daily joke on the chalkboard outside the shop.
Blue Wheel Bicycles
941 Second St. SE, 977-1870
Runner-up: Performance Bike Shop
Seminole Square Shopping Center, 963-9161
Blue Wheel’s Roger Friend and Scott Paisley are no strangers to winning. This past April, the bike shop owners and Trek dealers added both gold and bronze medals for their success in the James Beazell Wintergreen Ascent. Therein lies the secret to their shop’s success: When you visit, you’re getting advice from cyclists just like you. In the Seminole Square Shopping Center, Performance stocks a large collection of road, mountain, and pavement bikes.
Hollymead Town Center, 964-9213
Runner-up: Pet Food Discounters
607 Woodbrook Dr., 974-6060
Dude, pets are expensive. Sure, they look really cute when they’re sleeping and they have a somewhat uncanny ability to recognize when you’re sad or ill, but you still have to feed them, water them, and sometimes walk them (not cats—they really hate that). Thus, readers prefer to buy in bulk, which is why PetSmart and Pet Food Discounters make it to the winners’ circle this year.
Cha Cha’s
201 E. Main St. #B, 292-8553
Runner-up: O’Suzannah
114 Fourth St. NE, 979-7467
What do these two Downtown spots have in common? Variety. After all, when it comes time to pick up a last-minute gift, isn’t that what you need the most? It’s good to know you can find something for Aunt Ellen and for your just-married best friend. At Cha Cha’s, find a gift with a retro twist—plastic-rimmed glasses, funky jewelry, or, if you’re feeling generous (if that’s what you’d call it), a chandelier made from Barbie dolls. At O’Suz, nab specialty bath soaps, Hobo wallets, journals, candles… Shall we go on?
Rock Paper Scissors
225 E. Main St., 979-6366
Runner-up: Caspari
100 W. Main St., 817-7880
In this fast-paced digital age, we sure are glad to know there are people out there committed to preserving the somewhat romantic notion of the thank-you note. E-mail, however convenient, just doesn’t cut it, folks. The ladies at Rock Paper Scissors help you carry on the tradition with a collection of both lovely and laughable cards, papers, and goodies. Further down the Mall, Caspari pays homage to all things paper—napkins, plates, and yes, stationery.
Brown Automotive
1357 Richmond Rd., 817-3380
Runner-up: CarMax
1448 Richmond Rd., 295-6351
When those Brown commercials tell you “you’ll love the service,” they could mean a lot of things—customer service, service to your car, or even community service. The auto group has contributed to more than 15 local charitable organizations and will continue that tradition as long as it’s in business (which, if readers’ votes are any indication, will be a while). It will also sell you a Subaru, Toyota, or Honda. Used car retailer CarMax, on Pantops, keeps budget-conscious shoppers happy at its local branch, one of more than 100 locations.

Posted In:     Living


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