Best Stores & Services


54. Best in-person travel agency

We may work for dot-coms, but that doesn't mean we want to schedule all our travel through them. After accumulating


Best Stores & Services

Best of Seattle, 2000

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    54. Best in-person travel agency

    We may work for dot-coms, but that doesn't mean we want to schedule all our travel through them. After accumulating such Web-related bruises as an unplanned red-eye to Chicago, a nonrefundable pair of tickets to a suddenly war-torn country, zero customer service, and a credit-card number that somehow fell into the hands of a serial shopper in Phoenix, you want some person-to-person interaction when booking your next trip. With 14 branches in western Washington, Doug Fox Travel (800-368-4369) is Seattle's best bet for smooth sailing. Lisa Bear, Doug Fox's marketing manger, points out the 55-year-old agency's pluses: They offer longevity, qualified agents, and, most importantly, reliability. Unlike the dot-coms, Bear says, "We're here when things don't go 100 percent." For you Internet junkies, worry not—Doug Fox has its own Web site: Runners-up in the race to further World Wide Travel—not the World Wide Web—include Bloodhound Travel (second) and Mutual Travel (third).

    55. Best independent shoe store

    In Seattle, shoes tend toward the sensible. Clogs, people, it's all about clogs! That's about what our readers said, too, by voting the Woolly Mammoth (4303 University Wy NE, 632-3254), purveyor of comfortable soles, the best in this category. It outpaced the other finishers, the modern and high-styling Ped and John Fluevog, which came in second and third, respectively. Let it be said that for those who do a fair amount of hoofing it, comfort rules. At least locals are eschewing their Manolo Blahniks in favor of other, more practical sole mates. On a more serious note, we at the Weekly would like to pause to acknowledge the late Pat Andre, who founded this neighborhood shoe store a quarter-century ago, and whose devoted wife and employees continue, literally, in his footsteps.

    Bow down and worship the Tip Wizard! I am supreme! I am all-powerful! Hail my omniscience and cloak of many colors!

    56. Best grocery store checkout line

    Need you ask? QFC walked away with this one. If there's one thing to add in describing the fine Quality Food Center checkout experience, it's that they know what reading material we, the customers, demand. The latest People is a must, as is some version of a fashion magazine that screams it has the answer to trimming that nagging cellulite, as well as the saga of what some minor celebrity had to suffer through to get her Hollywood Hills bungalow restored to its former charm. We don't really notice the Tic Tacs anymore; we just want to pass the time before we have to talk to someone who has the authority to scan our food and help us get the heck out of there. Safeway and Thriftway tied for second, probably because they both end in "way." Larry's Market raked in enough votes for third place, which isn't really a surprise; don't you like having discounted champagne as an impulse option?

    57. Best aerobics instructor

    There's more to aerobics than a pair of leg warmers, a leotard, a bottle of water, and an upbeat CD collection. In the words of RuPaul, "You better work," and you need an aerobics instructor who knows just how to work you. Seattle's made it clear that they want Trisha Murphy of Pumakicks Conditioning Club (4554 California SW, 938-4119) to sculpt their calves and abs and turn that big ol' butt into a bootay of beauty. A Seattle native and an aerobics instructor for eight years, Murphy recently transformed Pumakicks from an empty 4,200-square-foot space into a kick-ass club that features eight instructors and 30 classes per week. After speaking with numerous clients who've lost weight and gained happiness, the best aerobics instructor in Seattle has discovered what's best about her job: "You have an effect on people's lives." Since aerobics training is, in Murphy's words, "a positive, positive environment," hopefully this year's runners-up—jazzy Dale Merrill from Spectrum Dance (second) and rock-solid Cliff from the Vault (third)—will accept their slots with a smile.

    Rick Dahms

    Trisha Murphy

    aerobics instructor, Pumakicks Conditioning Club

    * Mornings Live on KCPQ-13: This show represents everything new and fresh in our community. Christine Chen is an awesome representation of young female professionals. The entire cast brings something to the table.

    * Snoqualmie Pass: On a bright sunny day, there is nothing more incredible than the beauty our mountains have to offer. Even on a not-so-sunny day.

    * Diversity: A child raised in Seattle has a unique opportunity to meet people of all ethnicities, origins, sexual preferences, etc. We create loving children in our community if we give them the gift of diverse relations.

    58. Best car detailing

    If you have a couple of hours to spare and your car has just barely survived the rainy season (i.e., the floors are always damp), putt on over to Elephant Car Wash (616 Battery, 441-6776; six other locations) and bow to the rotating pink elephant. The local landmark predictably drove readers to vote it tops, and we wholeheartedly agree. Pull in, place your order (the Gold Package will last you well into the next rainy season), and partake in the ritual known as Awaiting Your Car's Makeover. Even the dingiest Dodge will gleam like a Rolls after getting some much-needed attention from brushes, suds, wax, spray, and vacuums. Like we said, worship at the mighty pink elephant! Pay your respects! Those homebodies among you refuse to pay a nickel when they can stay home and do it themselves, which was the second-place winner. Others who decided to leave their own driveways headed to Chester Dorsey's Auto Salon, which ranked third.

    59. Best diaper service

    The logo says it all: Fans of Baby Diaper Service (800-562-BABY, 800-562-2229) can imagine their own child as the happy, crowned tot, firmly ensconced in a nice clean diaper, takin' a snooze in a pretty pink heart. (Awww, how sweet.) For a price that seems much lower than what you'd have to pay us to even consider touching a "soiled" diaper, the friendly folks at Baby Diaper Service will whisk away a whole bag full of dirty nappies and replace them with immaculately clean ones. This longtime, locally based heavyweight beat out Pure and Natural Diaper Service by a large margin, with your third choice being—well, us, your hands-on Seattle Weekly staff. Hey, we love you, but we don't love you that much.

    60. Best place to buy power tools

    We like huge warehouses. We like tools, construction materials, and garden products piled to the rafters. And we like Home Depot a whole lot, which explains why it took top honors in this category (the low prices may also have something to do with this choice). Of course, for you old-school types, the only name in tools is Craftsman, and the only place to buy these storied gems is at Sears. So there. Third place goes to another big-box home retailer, the Edgar Martinez-endorsed Eagle Hardware.

    61. Best department store sales staff

    Remember in seventh grade when you and your friends kept yourselves in squeaky white tennies because every few months Nordstrom (1601 Second, 448-8522; Northgate Mall, 364-8800; Southcenter Mall, 246-0400; Bellevue Square, 425-455-5800; Alderwood Mall, 425-771-5755; Supermall, 253-833-8824) would take your gently used ones back and furnish you with new ones if you complained about a seam coming undone? Not a lot has changed at the local family-run department store. Now, as always, customers—like our readers—are always right. (OK, almost always.) And readers agree that helpful staff comes with the Nordy territory. And, of course, we've all heard the urban myth about the person who returned a tire to their customer service counter and it was accepted. Well, for every spare tire and sneaky junior high schooler who slides one past them, Nordstrom has managed to hang onto a city full of loyal customers. Well shod ones, at that. The Bon March鬠all decked out with its renovated main and men's floors, came in second; JC Penney earned a third-place vote.

    62. Best place to get a keg

    If the sight of those hundreds of beer kegs in immense stacks out back doesn't get you all choked up, wait until you try the great beer inside 'em at the Red Hook Ale Brewery (3400 Phinney N, 548-8000). The ESB is still their specialty, but the Fremont (and Woodinville) -based brewer has a full range of products for your beer-drinking wants. Second place in this category goes to the Green Lantern Tavern, a traditional beer-swilling joint on N 45th in Wallingford. Third place goes to another local microbrew champ, Capitol Hill's Elysian Brewing Co. (whose excellent India Pale Ale we heartily recommend). Bottoms up!

    63. Best place to gear up for climbing Rainier

    No, we haven't recently, and neither have most of you. But if we were going to climb Mount Rainier, we'd buy our woolies and crampons at the ultimate Northwest outdoor palace—REI (222 Yale N, 470-4020). Starting as a tiny cooperative formed to allow local mountaineers to garner group discounts on merchandise, REI has grown into the Northwest's most popular outdoor store. It blew away the competition in a big way: The distant followers were Feathered Friends (second), and Outdoor & More and the North Face (tied for third).

    64. Best tattoo/piercing parlor

    Alice Wheeler

    Seems like just about everybody is wearing their heart on their sleeve, or rather, their calf, butt, chest, back, or forearm. And when one's passion isn't on their body, it can often be found through their body. Whether it's a pierced nipple or a bicep adorned with an intricate Celtic knot, art on the body can as beautiful and evocative as anything on a wall. If you're looking to curate a collection of your own or add to the ink you've already got, you are likely to head to favorite body-art purveyors at Slave to the Needle (508 NW 65th, 789-2618). Home to six ink artists, four needle-wielding piercers, and a tranquil koi pond, Slave has the variety and the expertise to transform your earthly body into a true work of art. The silver medal (a labret, perhaps?) goes to the Pink Zone, and your third choice was Laughing Buddha.

    65. Best place to buy vinyl records

    Everyone's a DJ these days, which explains why more and more record stores have beefed up their vinyl sections after years of neglect and CD-centricity. Seattle's favorite place to shop for LPs is none other than Cellophane Square, the local mini-chain (now owned by a larger chain, with stores locally in the U District, Capitol Hill, and Bellevue. The Square's long, wide aisles, and its selection of both new and used vinyl, make it an ideal place to browse through the new releases or find a long-lost classic. Second-place finisher Easy Street's a West Seattle fixture that any music fan will tell you is worth the trip, especially after the fantastic shop's expansion last year. Knowledgeable staffers are what keep people heading back over the West Seattle bridge. And third place goes to Tower Records, the Sacramento-based chain with two landmark locations in Seattle's Queen Anne and U-District.

    OK, Tip Wizard is lonely! It's hard being a grizzled old sorcerer when your only friend is Mr. Paperclip (that bug-eyed freak). Why are't there more witches in the personals?

    66. Best antique store

    When you've got an empty apartment (and more importantly, a full wallet), you cruise over to Pelayo Antiques (7601 Greenwood N, 789-1999; 8421 Greenwood N, 789-1333). With two shops just a few blocks apart from each other, this Greenwood fixture has a diverse selection of goods. In fact, the wide variety of stuff at Pelayo seems to have only one unifying trait—everything is IMMENSE. Like the Big and Tall of antique shops, Pelayo carries an abundance of everything you need to live grandly—huge dressers, regal sofas, and enormous bureaus. Their big Western trunks revive our Little House on the Prairie fantasies, too. Fremont neighbors Deluxe Junk and the Fremont Antique Mall also struck your old-fashioned fancy to earn second and third places, respectively.

    67. Best place to buy eyeglasses

    They're expensive, and you, our near-sighted readers, have declared yourselves worth it. Market Optical (Pike Place Market, 448-7739; Bellevue Square, 451-1184) edged out second-place Eye Society and the one-stop mecca Costco (third) where buying frames was concerned. Maybe it's the cutting-edge designs, the walk-in Market location (lenses at lunch hour?), and the surprisingly large selection. Given the burgeoning popularity of laser eye surgery, it's a wonder that glasses are still going strong. But like all good accessories, if you gotta use glasses to see anything, you gotta look good. Or at least be able to see while attempting to do so.

    68. Best pet grooming

    Alice Wheeler

    "The more I know men, the more I love my dog," somebody once said. And for those of you who know what it's like to have tons of spare time to lavish upon a pet, Kristi's Grooming Co. (2407 10th E, 320-0100; 8501 35th NE, 522-0500) is the place to be. If you'll be staying at home this Saturday night, why not treat the one you love to a nail clipping before you get into the heavy petting? Strictly for the nonhuman set, Kristi's will provide the eye candy you've been missing (note: our conscience compels us to say that in no way, shape, or form do we advocate crossing the line with your pet). The do-it-yourself folks out there voted PetsMart and Petco into the second- and third-place slots.

    69. Best high-end computer store for your dot-com startup

    High-end, schmigh-end—when it comes to the notoriously unstable dot-com world, you approach with caution. You'd pick the affordable, fluorescent-lit, beige-tiled ambiance of CompUSA (Southcenter Mall, 575-2922; 100 108th NE, Bellevue, 425-452-9511; Totem Lake Mall, Kirkland, 425-825-5500; 6007 244th SW, Mountlake Terrace, 425-744-0165) over someplace more lavish. And who are we to blame you? When computers seem pretty darn "high-end" as it is, who needs more luxury? In similar fashion, you gave the nod to fellow superstore Gateway Country and secondhand shop Computer Renaissance in a near tie.

    70. (BONUS) Best idea for becoming a dot-com billionaire

    We thought we'd let you all speak for yer darn selves (while we hustle off to the nearest venture capitalist):

    "—don't steal this, you bastards!"

    "Marry a dot-com billionaire, or divorce a dot-com billionaire."

    "10 percent of the dream might be able to get me a date—not!"

    "Pet chat, i.e. cat to cat, dog to dog."

    "Sell virus protection—create Virus"

    "Executions on the Web (streaming video)—"

    "No way Hose A."


    "Chumming up to Satan. . . ."

    "Something that allows me to drink all the beer I want then rate it on the Web."

    "Starting a portal . . . into Bill Gates' head!"

    "Get in yesterday and get out today!"

    "Sell water in bottles shaped like people and call them Bodies of Water."

    "Start for aimlessly sending information from one site to another."

    "—deliver a cot and pillow to people at work."


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