BEST INDEPENDENT MENS CLOTHIER
Showtime Clothing 16231 Mack, 313-886-6288; 5708 Woodward, 313-875-9280
Dan Tatarian is a good guy. But he doesnt want you to know it.
"This man has a kind heart," says D., a regular customer at Tatarians Showtime Clothing (and gifts and CDs). "He has a rough exterior, but a kind heart."
Tatarian, a burly guy with a shaved head, protests, but his benevolent nature and commitment to his community show through whether hes discussing his Cass Corridor location or his business philosophy: Showtime carries only the choicest quality clothing for the choicest quality customers.
Visitors who mistreat the merchandise are asked to leave. Unlike cheaper chain outfits, Tatarian cant afford to return damaged goods. Besides, answering to no corporate headquarters, he does not have to subscribe to that retail fallacy that the customer, however much of an asshole, is always right.
Suppliers whose ethics dont jibe with Tatarians are ousted as well. Hes axing Doc Marten from his inventory, for instance, because they are only offering their top-of-the-line to chain stores these days.
And Tatarian does not do mail order. If you want to partake of Showtimes ultrahip offerings, you need to haul your ass to the Corridor to do it.
Showtime has provided anything one could need for clubbing, from lavender wigs on down to steel-toed, thigh-high patent leather boots, for 10 years. Over time, Tatarian has added gifts and CDs to his inventory as well.
In the past year, Tatarian has focused specifically on his mens line, and is especially pleased Metro Times readers have appeared to notice. But its a wide range of customers to whom Showtime appeals, says Tatarian, from pimps to musicians to club cats to students.
"We cater to anyone and everyone who has fun," he explains. — Kristin Palm
BEST INDEPENDENT WOMENS CLOTHIER
Patti Smith Collectibles 450 S. Washington, Royal Oak, 248-399-0756
Its not the first time this cute and tiny shop with the fierce-looking womens wear has received a "Best Of." Maybe its because Metro Times readers like paying prices that wont torment them while theyre driving home from their shopping trips.
Yep, Patti Smith Collectibles is all that and then some. The shop has an exotic yet trendy vibe that invites you in to see all the latest fashion statements: Great looks for club hopping, going out with that man youre trying to impress, or just lounging on your own.
Whatever the occasion, Patti Smith is dedicated to helping you look creatively distinct for a reasonable price. Best of all, you can leave the store happy with your purchases, and keep your blood pressure in check when the credit card bill arrives. — Tracy Spurlin
BEST PLACE FOR COOL EYEWEAR
D.O.C. Eyeworld Various locations
Back in high school, I always wanted glasses. I thought they would make me look intelligent. Since I am old enough to have used a typewriter throughout my wonder years, however, I was never able to damage my eyesight enough to create a need for this key accessory.
Only after I began to spend countless hours entranced by the all-powerful Mac Plus did objects more than a foot in front of my face finally become a joyous blur.
Thus began the quest for the perfect pair of specs. I began with horn-rims which, in retrospect, made me look like an owl. Then came a more stylish, and smaller, pair of Calvin Kleins. Then a pair of green cats eye wire-rims, which I wear to this day.
The problem is, even though I undoubtedly feel more interesting with my face bespectacled, I can always find someone whose glasses are cooler than mine. I have always been especially envious of my friend Karens small, oval tortoise-shell frames that make her look, well, smarter than me.
I had always blamed my inability to keep up with the Joneses (or the Karens) on my refusal to spend the dough necessary to shop at trendy suburban eyewear boutiques. But apparently, if Metro Times readers the hippest of the hip, right? are to be believed, the place to go is not these upscale indies but to your local mall and its D.O.C. for some Sexy Specs. Now, if I can only find out who does Karens hair. — Kristin Palm
BEST ALL-ROUND DEPARTMENT STORE
Hudsons Various locations
BEST PLACE FOR A THRIFT SCORE
Value Village Various locations
I bought my couch at Value Village. It was just sitting there: a perfect bench-style specimen from the early 60s. The price was right too: 50 bucks. Id seen the same couch at an upscale "vintage" shop in Royal Oak for $400. Why was no one buying this beauty?
Five minutes later, Sam the floor manager and I carried the thing out to my station wagon. I remember having to contain my excitement on the way out the door.
This is the essence of the perfect thrift score. You keep a straight face and save the shouts of joy for the car ride home. And although its popularity among urban bargain hunters has grown tremendously in the last few years, Value Village is still the mostly untapped kingdom for thrift discoveries.
Sure, youll see the odd knit-capped hipster there, rooting around for that vintage Oceans Eleven-era Sinatra suit or perhaps a seafoam-green 50s table. But for the most part, the competition is thin. Especially at the stores located in sketchier neighborhoods.
Value Village completely changes your idea of what things should cost. A 1970s globe lamp: $3.18. Retro leather jacket: $5.72. Last years Halloween costume: a Val-Vil special at 10 bucks. Lets face it the Gap just cant compete. And certainly WalMart is nowhere near as fun.
Of course, shopping at the Village isnt for everyone. There are no dressing rooms. The price tags are stapled to the clothes. And frankly, most of the clientele doesnt shop there by choice. Walking out the door with a bag full of goodies does provoke a certain amount of guilt.
But if youre looking for that thrift score rush, Value Village just cant be beat. Well, there is one better place ... but theres no way Im gonna tell where. — Adam Druckman
Somerset Collection 2801 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy, 810-643-6360
First, make sure you match: No odd socks, no sneakers with a two-piece suit, no nonsense. This is not your job youre going to. I mean, for once, it does matter how you look.
No (cheap) mascara, please, no loud lipstick, no undisciplined strands of hair (even if your enemies the ones you havent identified yet told you how much that disheveled Melanie Griffith look suits you).
None of that. (Oh, and one other thing: Do lie about your age. Defying it will do doodley-squat for you.) Now youre ready.
Park at the Gates of Heaven. Go in. Smell the coffee. Worship the cleanliness. Start with The Nature Company, which is one darn good place to buy a lizard if youre into that whole reptile thing.
Then move on to J. Peterman they of the insane catalog and fondle the velvets and the rich brocades. (While youre at it, make sure you buy something during their 75 percent-off sale, before they disappear without a trace on short notice like all the stores youve ever loved. Buy a Swiss Army knife or an Alice in Wonderland tie and make some remarkable young man happy.)
Speaking of young men, theres Brooks Brothers and Saks Fifth Avenue. Naturally, they cant afford more than a pair of socks there, but a bit of window shopping might improve their taste.
Then, theres Mont Blanc. Go in, smile, take out your credit card (the one thats not maxed out yet), buy a $200 pen without a trace of hesitation, leave the store, get a cup of espresso, sit down, take from your pocket the crumpled postcard youve been carrying around for days, take the pen out of its velour case and write: "Dear Maurice, guess where I am? Paris may be great, but ..." — Dayana Stetco
BEST NON-MALL SHOPPING DISTRICT
BEST URBAN BOUTIQUE
BEST HEAD SHOP
B.D.T. Pipe and Tobacco 21623 John R, Hazel Park, 248-542-6110
On a Monday night the store went kablooie with the rest of the mall in Hazel Park. By Wednesday night, co-owner Charlie Strackbein was able to laugh at the obvious "up in smoke" jokes. By Friday, the headshop of choice for MT readers, BDT Pipe & Tobacco, reopened in temporary digs across the street with "blowout prices."
"Were excited about being able to open four days after a major explosion," says Strackbein, calling by cell phone from the gutted remains at John R and Meyers.
"Three feet of ash and debris," he says, reporting on his surroundings. "Its still smoldering."
The store began 25 years ago at Nine Mile and John R, moving to the ill-fated mall location in 1984.
The blast after closing hours March 8 destroyed five stores in the strip mall, reportedly sending flames 200 feet into the air; there were no injuries. Authorities are investigating a possible arson aimed at one of the other stores.
One upshot: When the mall is rebuilt in about three months, BDT plans to move back in and have roughly twice its original space.
Talk about a business boom. — W. Kim Heron
BEST VINTAGE CLOTHING STORE
Cinderellas Attic 322 S. Main, Royal Oak, 248-546-7209
This Royal Oak-based store, widely known for its eclectic and too-cute yesterday-wear, is the kind of store Audrey Hepburn would shop at if she were a living Michigander.
Its ongoing popularity (this is about Cinderellas gazillionth "Best Of") can probably be attributed to Metro Times readers desire to look both chic and different. Count on Cinderellas Attic to give you a look that no one else at the party will have!
If youre looking for the best in retro, you can find shoes from the 1920s, Capri pants from the 50s, 60s spaghetti-strapped dresses, and a whole lot more.
You can go in looking very 90s, but come out looking like a 40s movie star and if you wish to look like Louise Brooks, Joan Crawford or Rita Hayworth, Cinderellas has the clothes.
Walking through the store is a lesson in fashion history: You can see just how far women have come in terms of style. Imagine having to hold in your gut with a stifling corset, or being confined to a wardrobe of dresses that cannot be any shorter than just above your ankle. (Wow, we have come a long way!) But, thanks to Cinderellas Attic, we can go back to yesterday (or yestercentury) anytime we choose. — Tracy Spurlin
MOST WALKABLE OUTDOOR SHOPPING AREA
BEST PLACE TO BUY A COMPUTER
BEST COOL FURNITURE SHOP
Pier One Imports
BEST SMOKE SHOP
B.D.T. Pipe and Tobacco
BEST PLACE TO GET SOMETHING PIERCED
Eternal Tattoos 27590 Plymouth Rd., Livonia, 248-425-0428
BEST PLACE TO GET A NEW DO
BoRics Haircare for Everyone
BEST NAIL SHOP
Heidis Salon Fairlane Town Center, Dearborn, 313-336-4630
BEST TOY STORE (FOR KIDS)
Toys R Us Various locations
"It all started with $2,000 and Charles Lazarus, a man with a vision. At 22, he borrowed the money to open a baby furniture store. Smart move. It was after the war and the baby boom was due to arrive. The first store was 40 feet by 60 feet. After a year or two a customer said, Dont you stock any toys for my baby? and Toys R Us was born.
"In 1957, Lazarus opened the first toy supermarket. Specialty retailing and off-price positioning were revolutionary concepts in those old pre-mall, pre-discount days. And, obviously, it was an idea whose time had come. In the late 70s, Toys R Us became a public company. At last count, between Toys R Us, Kids R Us and our latest division, Babies R Us, we had over 1,450 stores nationwide and $11 billion in sales. Thats a lot of Legos, Barbies, Mr. Potato Heads and Transformers."
There you have it, the official corporate lore about how MT readers favorite toy store came to be.
When you think toys, you have to think Toys R Us. Theyve got it all, and theyve got it under one roof. From old-time favorites such as Monopoly or Matchbox cars, to the newest in high-tech gizmos and computer games, the R us gives our kids (and the rest of us, too) the fun we crave. And they do it at prices that are hard to beat.
Were not just talkin toys, either. Whether its a sturdy car seat for Junior or one of the best deals in town on disposable dipes, the house that Geoffrey the Giraffe built satisfies.
Thanks, Mr. Lazarus.— Curt Guyette
BEST TOY STORE (FOR GROWN-UPS)
Sharper Image Twelve Oaks Mall, Novi, 248-347-0080
BEST SEX TOYS
The first thing that comes to mind is a movie called White Castle, with Susan Sarandon and James Spader. Hes a ritzy young lawyer (Jewish? Yes, I think so. It doesnt matter, does it? I mean, it wouldnt change the story if he werent) whose elegant, smooth life is disrupted by the sudden death of his wife. (How did she die? I dont know. I dont remember the circumstances.)
Anyway, his friends keep throwing these lavish parties and he attends them all faint smile on his lips, glass of cognac (Cognac?! I think so. Stop interrupting me!) in his hand and meets all these perfect porcelain girls with perfect manicures and perfect hair, but none of them touches his heart.
And one day he gets drunk and this woman (Sarandon? Yes!) takes him home and makes love to him. (Good love scene? Yeah ... Steamy? Steamy but delicate, if you know what I mean ... they dont wrestle like strangers in bed ... its more like healing ... like inventing another kind of solitude ... for two. I have no idea what youre talking about. Sex is sex. Go on.)
In the morning he looks around: Messy house, miserable little space suffocated by kitsch shes a 40-something burnt-out waitress with no conversation and then he does something strange. He opens a drawer and inside among loose keys and little pieces of string, and other odds and ends he finds a dildo. He smells it and puts it back.
Its a strange scene: Not funny, not even awkward. The woman is awake.
"Did you find something interesting?" she asks, facing the other way. Hes silent. "Will I see you again?"
"No," he says and leaves quietly. (And then? And then nothing. He remembers her touch the texture of every gesture and knows it was magic and comes back for more. Its a fairy tale. These things dont happen. The dildo is the only real thing in the whole damn movie. Sad, isnt it?) — Dayana Stetco
BEST PLACE TO BUY THOSE SEX TOYS
Lovers Lane Various locations
BEST ART SUPPLY STORE
Charrette 1422 N. Woodward, Royal Oak, 248-548-7679
BEST PLACE TO SATISFY A FOOTWEAR FETISH
Incognito 323 S. Main, Royal Oak, 248-548-2980
As a teacher, Ive had my share of stupid encounters. (Lets face it, not everybody should be in college.) But those are people I choose to disremember, for they make me angry and sad.
I do remember the smart kids, though: Boys of four-and-20 with a taste for wine, women and song; little rave girls with pig tails and pink (occasionally green or silver) hair; beauty queens annoyed by their own perfection, too clever for their own good; plump and quiet lasses of remarkable intelligence ("Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses"); devastated, unkempt lads of formidable insight.
I remember them all and Im grateful for the simple fact that they exist, and I keep their papers notes, exams, diary entries, essays to reread in moments of utter desolation.
One of the papers I like best talks about shoes. Its supposed to be autobiographical and it is, but strangely so: The girl remembers sundry incidents in her life in connection with different pairs of shoes (their color, feel, leathery smell, childish accessories).
Its an extraordinary "still life" pages and pages of shoe descriptions laced with restrained emotion or backed up by the occasional anecdote. And the words are alive, at times shiny and loud, often dark, clean-cut and elegant, soft to the touch and warm, like a familiar, lived-in pair of shoes of tremendous quality.
"So, where do you buy your shoes?" I ask the girl.
"You didnt think it was a stupid paper?"
"On the contrary. I found it very comforting."
She shrugs her shoulders. "Incognito," she says in a quiet voice. "The only place that still reminds me of the old Royal Oak. You should go there sometime before they disappear. Youll like it. Its the kind of place people should write stories about."
"Ive always believed places preserve memories better than people."
The girl looks straight at me. "Yeah," she says. — Dayana Stetco
Godiva Chocolatier Various locations
BEST PLACE TO BUY AFFORDABLE ART
C-Pop Gallery David Whitney Bldg., Suite 313, 1553 Woodward, Detroit, 313-964-0911
BEST STEREO STORE
Best Buy Various locations
MOST KNOWLEDGEABLE ELECTRONICS STORE STAFF
Best Buy/Circuit City (tie) Various locations
Theres this new computer youve had your eye on the one you hope wont be obsolete three days after you buy it. Does it have all the RAM necessary to meet your digital needs? And, by the way, just what the hell is a RAM anyway?
Then theres that big-screen TV youve been coveting for years, because you are a glutton for punishment and want to watch your beloved Lions lose in dimensions that old 19-incher just cant fulfill.
Is projection the way to go? And what about this surround sound and will the subwoofer that comes with it cause my old Rottweiler to get jealous?
And will this spiffy 250-watt receiver and four Bose 901s be a sufficient system for my 600-square-foot studio apartment?
Finally, theres the one big question that actually has two answers: When you need to buy electronic gear and want knowledgeable staff that can do more than show you where the on/off button is, where are you going to go to?
Well, according to Metro Times readers, the place to go is Circuit City. Unless you prefer Best Buy.
Thats right. Our readers rendered a split decision on this one, saying that the folks offering their services at either of these national chains can tell you all youll ever need to know about bytes and amps and the latest in DVS. Wow. — Curt Guyette
Roto-Rooter Sewer Service 18620 Van Born Rd., Dearborn, 313-525-1370
The best detectives in the world often solve their cases by rummaging through peoples trash. Sometimes the operation is delicate: A pair of gloves, a little plastic bag, a tiny fragment of cigar ash, or fiber, or the expiration date on a can of pineapple, or a piece of cheese with teeth marks on it.
Provided with the visible evidence, "the little gray cells" start working.
Other times its stinky sewers and bad pipes, deep wells or buried trunks.
Whatever the scenario, the detective has to get down and dirty sometimes. Take Sherlock Holmes, for instance (played by the formidable Jeremy Brett). In "The Case of the Master Blackmailer," Holmes secures the affection of the blackmailers maid by posing as a plumber. But as the girl falls for the elderly plumber with sad eyes and cultivated voice, Holmes discovers somewhere, in the empty region of his heart undisciplined feelings of love.
"You touch my heart," he tells the girl. Watson is worried.
But let us leave the movies and move into the real world. Can you imagine a world without plumbers? (Without Roto-Rooter in particular, of course.) Perish the thought.
In his book, The Hippopotamus, Stephen Fry imagines such an apocalyptic scenario. Question: What would happen if all the poets were to be executed? Answer: No one would notice for about 15 years.
Question: what would happen if all the sewage engineers disappeared? Answer: The end of the world. Chaos. The plague bacillus. The end of all the happy cities. Bloated corpses and intestinal cramps. There. — Dayana Stetco
BEST PLACE TO BUY A NEW CAR
Saturn dealers Various locations
BEST PLACE TO BUY A USED CAR
AutoNation 36250 Van Dyke, Sterling Heights, 810-978-3336
BEST NEW CAR TO BECOME THE NEXT EDSEL
New VW Bug
Midas Muffler Shop Various locations
BEST HOME REPAIR PROFESSIONAL
Tim Taylor/Sears (tie) Various locations
BEST BEER SELECTION IN A STORE
Merchant of Vino Various locations
BEST WINE SELECTION IN A STORE
Merchant of Vino
BEST SINGLE ITEM TO BLOW A PAYCHECK ON
BEST IMPULSE PURCHASE
More MT readers blow their money on those little silver discs that store their favorite music than on any other potential treat.
Well, at least CDs are a lot cheaper and less painful (in more ways than one!) than some of the other responses: House, a car, hookers and tattoos.
At least with CDs, you may not have too many regrets later on down the road. Theyre relatively cheap, costing anywhere between $12 and $20 (less if youre buying them used), and you can get safe enjoyment out of the musical experience they offer.
According to sales reps at Media Play and FYE (For Your Entertainment), the biggest sellers these days are the latest from Lauryn Hill, TLC and the Dixie Chicks, which are snapped up almost before they reach the shelves.
These same stores also have CD singles (lately, by Britney Spears or the Roots) placed near the registers for you to peruse while waiting in line. And guess what? You cant resist the temptation! What a practical bunch. — Tracy Spurlin
BEST ANTIQUE SHOP
DuMouchelles Art Galleries 409 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit, 313-963-6255
BEST PLACE TO BUY VIDEO GAMES
Funcoland 16201 Ford Road, Dearborn, 313-271-6700
BEST ANTIDOTE FOR SHOPPERS RAGE
You decide an excursion to the mall will help you either forget your problems or sort them out, so off you go.
Once there, you encounter Sandy the Salesgirl, who has an I-could-care-less-that-you-need-help attitude.
If thats not bad enough, you cant seem to find that hot-looking outfit in your size. When you finally head on over to the checkout line, you see its unbelievably long, because the stupid store has only one sales rep on the cash registers.
While waiting, you have time to think about the fact that the jeans youre buying will set you back to almost before-the-paycheck status.
All of this is starting to make your blood boil, so what do you do? Cut to the front of the line? Curse out the management? Try to do major damage to your space in the fitting room? Nope.
According to Metro Times readers, the answer is to head to the bar or the party store for some liquor because when the going gets tough, the tough dont go shopping until they grab the Jack Daniels. — Tracy Squrlin