13201 Prospect Rd., Dearborn; 313-945-5600; advancedrestaurantservices.com
Our big tip here is a concept. Typical consumers assume that restaurant supply shops are not for them, despite signs that say "Open to the Public." And thus most of us miss out on great buys, great advice and a great shopping experience. True, a place like Advanced in Dearborn sells freezers large enough to hold the entire kitchen of many a MT reader; we've seen shops where the smallest deep fryer needed a gallon of oil. But these stores have plenty of restaurant-quality items — from bamboo skewers to ramekins to knives and stock pots and bar stools — that can also work just fine in the home. And last time we checked, we didn't see any of those cool "Please Wait to Be Seated" signs at Williams-Sonoma. Advanced — founded in 1917 — is reputedly the largest of these outfits in the area, sprawling over an area roughly the size of an auto plant. Go in looking for a paring knife, and we guarantee you'll come out with more.