The Real Deal - Readers' Picks

Best Indie Women's Clothing in Detroit
Best Indie Men's Clothing in Detroit
5708 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-875-9280

Piles of punk rock and rock star "fashion," from imported creepers to sexed-out knee-high platforms to vintage racks stuffed with one-of-a-kind shirts and T's to those made to look like that. There are aged bomber jackets, pink boas, hot pants, shades, fishnets, flares and straight legs. You'll even find Marc Bolan-ish hats and studded Joe Strummer belts, styled 1977! And then there are the dresses and mini-skirts, some vintage, but mostly new. The jewelry is dark and silver mostly, and there's a shit-ton of it, all badass, plus some behind-the-counter sexual threads, which completes the idea that the warehouse-sized Showtime is a one-stop shop.

Best Indie Women's Clothing in Suburbs
Best Indie Men's Clothing in Suburbs
323 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-548-2980;

Since 1982, the style mavens at Incognito have been the reigning harbingers of hip in metro Detroit, featuring out-of-the-box apparel (including such rising labels as Hell Bunny, Joyrich and Kid Dangerous), and stunner shoes not available at chain retailers, for men and women. Incognito caters to those comfortable in both smokin' hot cocktail dresses and Converse. And though it's not the cheapest shop on the block, it's internationally famous for its eyewear, and the wow factor weighs in as heavily as the fact that it's local.

Best Vintage Clothing
Lost and Found Vintage
510 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-548-6154;

For vintage lovers, nothing compares to stepping into Lost and Found Vintage for the first time — the meticulously preserved fashions of the past fill three floors, hang from the ceiling, adorn the wall and clothe faceless mannequins who don't know how lucky they are. Despite the massive stock of premium duds that date from the 1900s to the 1980s, the shop never feels crowded or crammed. Instead, its well-organized layout and airy atmosphere make finding the perfect garment — from the affordable to the couture — a breeze; they sell accessories, shoes and records as well.

Best Thrift Shop
Salvation Army
Various locations; see

It'll be a cold day in hell when any other thrift store manages to wrest this title away from the Salvation Army. With its numberless locations and endless variety of merchandise, it's the consummate thrift store, selling everything from used kitchenware and satisfyingly cheap vintage duds to Boots Randolph records and overlooked audio equipment. What's more, all the proceeds fund the army's rehabilitation centers and long-term residential facilities.

Best Place to Satisfy a Shoe fetish
Sole Sisters
325 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-547-7650; 329 S. Main St., Rochester; 248-652-9305; 207 S. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-369-4697; 87 E. Canfield St., Detroit; 313-831-9013

If you don't have the time, money or energy to travel to New York, Los Angeles or London to buy shoes, fear not: These shoe merchants have done that for you. And their finds are now your finds. Whether it's riding boots you'll wear with skirts all winter, strappy colorful sandals for spring weddings or animal-print clogs to throw on with jeans, the Sole Sisters have them.

Best Eyewear Boutique
160 S. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham; 248-723-1900; 308 S. State St., Ann Arbor; 734-622-8056; for more locations, visit

The near- and far-sighted among us know that good eyewear is essential, not just for practical purposes (they help you see, duh!), but also from a fashion standpoint — your glasses are often the first thing people notice about you. Unfortunately, most fashionable frames are as expensive as hell, which is why SEE is so attractive. European designers create frames exclusively for the store, making them that elusive combo of hip-yet-affordable. Started in Birmingham by Richard Golden of DOC fame, SEE now has locations throughout the country — and has even been featured on Oprah.

Best Indie Lingerie Shop
Harp's Lingerie
265 S. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham; 248-642-2555

The selection is like Santa's list: a little bit naughty but mostly nice. Whether you need the perfect undergarment for a backless dress or a plunging neckline, the sales staff here will find it for you. Personal fittings are a hallmark, and the selection is plentiful. Loyal customers report that once they find Harp's, they won't go anywhere else.

Best Nail Salon
Best Hair Salon
Curl Up & Dye
4215 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-833-5006;

Open for almost a year-and-a-half, Curl Up & Dye already boasts more than 2,000 clients and it's no wonder why — the salon offers a full range of pampering services at affordable prices, from cuts and coloring to polishing up those pretty little piggies. Its commitment to beauty is nearly matched by its commitment to the environment — most products are natural and organic and everything that can be recycled is. Other beautifying options available include massages, facials, waxing, hair extensions, ear candling and makeup.

Best Salon for African-American Hair
Best Hair Stylist
Textures by Nefertiti, Nefertiti
4147 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-4771;

In her new midtown location, Nefertiti's salon is more than just a place for hair. It's a place for embracing the natural — the curly, kinky hair that African-American women sometimes fight so hard against. Her work testifies to a celebration of African-American beauty itself, not its transformation into another culture's ideal. Here, with what is really spiritual guidance from Nefertiti, it's possible to have hair that's maintained, professional and stylish without hot combs, perms or heavy chemicals. Twists and braids replace weaves and straightening for young and old, men and women.

Best Makeup Artist
Myranda Jennings at Curl Up & Dye
4215 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-833-5006;

As any woman (or dude) who's ever wielded an eyeliner pencil in vain knows they're called artists for a reason. For occasions when your own attempts at higher cheeks and arched eyebrows just won't do, it's important to seek the help of the right professional. Enter Myranda Jennings, Curl Up & Dye's resident cosmetics guru. No matter the look you want — whether sweetly feminine or ultra glam — she's got you covered at reasonable prices — $40 for the whole face, $25 for your eyes only. Along with makeup, Myranda also tames unruly eyebrows, administers facials and is the shop's massage therapist.

Best Flea Market
2045 Dixie Hwy., Waterford; 248-338-3220;

Whether you need a rickshaw or a beer cooler, a banjo or a Seger T-shirt, Dixieland Market Place is the treasure hunter's dream. Open Friday though Sunday only, admission and parking are free. Shoppers will find, among its myriad booths under one roof, what they came for — and will probably leave with more. If we said there was a "wide selection" that would win "Best Understatement" for this shopping site. Ain't that America!

Best Antique Shop
Vintage Vogue
23622 Woodward Ave., Pleasant Ridge; 248-546-1555

This large store is well-stocked with quality vintage goods, from records and knickknacks to jewelry and clothing. Vogue Vintage is an especially sweet spot for furniture — pieces are in great shape, often looking barely used. If nothing catches your eye while browsing the store, inquire about the warehouse. It's just a short trip away and houses most of the furniture collection. The staff seems to have the inventory memorized, so if you're looking for something specific, stop searching and just ask.

Best Makeup Studio
Todd's Room
239 Pierce St., Birmingham; 248-594-0003;

Whether it's a wedding, some all-night party or some random need for a new look, Todd's roster of artists will fix you right up. Plan on an hour and $55 to $80 for a full make-up application. Eyebrow arching and mani-pedis are also available. We'd probably not ask for Tweezer, the studio's doggie mascot, to do the waxing. Too much fur in the way.

Best Adult Novelty
Noir Leather
124 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-541-6655;

Rubber hoods, spiked collars, wrist restraints, silk silicone dildos, strap-ons, paddles ... whatever's your kink this week, Noir Leather's, um, bound to have it in stock. The store has supplied lusty metro Detroiters with fetish gear for 26 years, but if ball gags and riding crops are a little too extreme, just gander at the store's selection of unusual apparel, shoes, hosiery, wigs, jewelry and leather jackets, pants and chaps, as well as the unique leather items made by the store's own leather crafter.

Best Tattoo Shop
Eternal Tattoos
27590 Plymouth Rd., Livonia; 734-425-0428; for more locations, see

For 30 years this shop has been inking and "arting" skin in the Motor City. That's 30 years! So, of course, they now offer tat removal and their Brighton (one of five locations) site, should you finally decide to erase forever that soused night in high school where you had "NIRVANA" tattooed in large letters straight across your chest. Truth be told, these guys are artisans, first and foremost. So trip down if you're in need of a new design or one of Eternal's artists to fix someone else's work. Eternal's founder, Terry "Tramp" Welker, continues his commitment to the industry, hosting the annual Motor City Tattoo Expo.

Best Body-Piercing Shop
Lady Luck
5310 Highland Rd., Waterford; 248-673-0670;

Here's where noses, ears and navels meet stones, barbells, balls and more. Choose the site and the design and Tiffany at Lady Luck will have you pierced with attention to your particular needs. It's not a one-piercing-for-all mentality here, but instead has plenty of attention to your own anatomy. And for the patriot in you, all of this shop's steel, titanium, gold, dental acrylic and glass jewelry is made in the USA.

Best Smoke Shop
Best Head Shop
B.D.T. Pipe & Tobacco
21640 John R Rd., Hazel Park; 248-542-6110; 27419 Gratiot Ave., Roseville; 586-776-5233

There are plenty of head shops in the metro Detroit area, but MT readers consistently favor B.D.T.'s. With nearly 40 years in the biz (it's one of the oldest head shops still up and running), the shop offers all the paraphernalia a dedicated smoker could hope for — from an extensive selection of pipes (including beautiful hand-blown glass ones) to vaporizers to drug tests and fake bladders complete with urine. Oh, boy! And the friendly and very knowledgeable staff will be more than happy to help you find whatever accoutrement you need for your smoking pleasure.

Best Michigan Product

Who can resist the brightly colored allure of a Faygo pop as it beckons from the cooler of your corner liquor store? Founded in Detroit in 1907, the soda that popped when it opened came in three flavors based on cake frosting recipes. Now, you can sample more than 50 varieties, including favorites redpop, rock & rye and root beer (recently named one of the best-tasting American root beers by Bon Appetit magazine). And if drinking the fizzy nectar isn't enough, Faygo released a recipe book to coincide with its 100th anniversary in 2007; inside find instructions on how to make everything from Faygo chocolate cake to rock & rye burger bean pie.

Best Comic Book Shop
Detroit Comics
23333 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-548-2669;

A polished Ferndale gem that gleams as brightly as a Green Lantern ring, Detroit Comics is a refreshingly breezy shopping experience, without that dreaded dank, geeky comic book store aroma. Owner Brian Kelly is the hippest nerd in town, always ready to embrace newcomers and sass back at regulars, lending the joint the relaxed, homey feeling of your favorite dive bar, but with only slightly more capes, spandex and killer robots.

Best Indie Bookstore in Detroit
John K. King Used & Rare Books
901 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit; 313-961-0622;

We almost wish this would lose the readers' poll so we could make a category of our own for this beloved downtown institution. But, dear readers, you keep recognizing John King for best indie bookstore in Detroit. And there's absolutely nothing to argue there.

Best Indie Bookstore in Suburbs
Book Beat
26010 Greenfield Rd., Oak Park; 248-968-1190;

Once in a while, the suburban strip malls surprise us and house some real gems, and Book Beat is one of those. Maybe it's the selection, with plenty of local authors represented, or maybe it's the store's involvement with author appearances and book signings in partnership with local organizations. Maybe it's just the kickass atmo, or the easy access to the store from Interstate 696, or that there's an indie with a literary bent that's surviving the fiscal climate.

Best Video Selection
Thomas Video & DVD
4732 Rochester Rd., Royal Oak; 248-280-2833;

The original and best independent video store in town, and by some accounts one of the first in the world, continues to bust ass while the competition evaporates. Yes, they stock the latest hits, but why bother when this incredible joint rents everything from Frank Capra to Frankenhooker? Co-owner Jim Olenski literally wrote the book (VideoHound's Cult Flicks and Trash Hits) on oddball cinema, and his passion and encyclopedic knowledge are shared by the ever-fun and gently sarcastic staff.

Best Shop for Gamers

With more than 6,100 stores located across the globe, GameStop is the world's largest video game retailer, perhaps proving that bigger really is better. Well, at least when it comes to pimping out your Nintendo Wii. The store sells games both new and used for just about every system in existence, offers deals and credits when you trade in your old games, and features downloadable games on its website.

Best Record Store
Best Record Store for Local Music
Best Record Store for Vinyl
Record Time
27360 Gratiot Ave., Roseville; 586-775-1550;

Record Time is a trusted brand name, a cherished resource for diehard music lovers in this scary, new media world. Woodward corridor fans are still pissing and moaning about the loss of the Ferndale branch, but they can take solace in the loving embrace of the huge east side storefront that keeps on rocking in the free world. Haul it on out to Roseville and you'll discover a treasure trove of all things flat, black and circular, as well as those newfangled shiny silver plastic music discs all the kids are wild about. Record Time has been dropping science since 1983, and has bolstered the wax collections of a who's who of Detroit's biggest musical exports, such as former loyal shoppers Eminem and Kid Rock, as well as the homegrown stars of tomorrow, still flipping through the racks for the latest groove to blow their minds wide open.

Best Store for Musical Instruments
Guitar Center
31940 Gratiot Ave., Roseville; 586-296-6161; for more locations, see

From humble beginning in 1960s California, Guitar Center has grown into the nation's largest retailer of musical instruments. The mega-store carries all the well-known brands, with plenty of on-staff rock stars on hand to answer all your gearhead questions, and fret out some dweedlee-dweedlee-dweedlee-dee action through with the store's platinum gear.

Best Skate/Skateboard/etc. Shop
Modern Skate and Surf
29862 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak; 248-545-5700; 1500 N. Stephenson Hwy., Royal Oak; Also Lansing and Grand Rapids; 248-546-PARK;

After rollerskates came inlines and skateboards in 1981. Now this retail giant is the place for the proper gear — and some your grandmother might consider "improper" — for shredding, thrashing and surfing on concrete, snow or water.

Best Bicycle Shop in Detroit
The Hub
3611 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-879-5073

With bike sales and maintenance bringing the money in and youth and educational programming spending it, the Hub is part bike shop, part repair shop, part community advocacy organization. Its nonprofit partner, Back Alley Bikes, does youth outreach and education in partnership with other city groups and trains "future" bike mechanics. As such, they'll take donations of bikes and parts (cash too!) as well as sell you a new ride. And look for employees and volunteers on most of the organized rides around the city.

Best Bicycle Shop in Suburbs
Continental Bicycle Shop
24436 John R Rd., Hazel Park; 248-545-1225;

As Michigan figures out its future is most likely on two wheels, Continental Bike Shop is ready. It has bikes, helmets, parts, clothing and accessories like lights, packs and fenders, as well as technicians ready to fix your current ride or fit your new ride to your body size, shape and style. Continental's website is more than an extension of the store. Sure, it has the requisite views of in-store items but also a fine listing of cycling news and advocacy information.

Best Indie Hardware Shop in Detroit
Busy Bee
1401 Gratiot Ave., Detroit; 313-567-0785

Located between Eastern Market and downtown, the family-owned Busy Bee Hardware has whatever you need for the inside or the outside of your urban or suburban home. It's the antitheses of the idea behind Home Depot, and here you get knowledgeable, first-hand advice from a patient person about whatever project you may or may not be tripping into. It's also a convenient stop on the way to or from Eastern Market. We love this place.

Best Indie Hardware Shop in suburbs
Frentz & Sons Hardware
1010 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-544-8111;

The wooden floors might sink a bit with your step and the shop's history. Started in Detroit in 1925 and moved to Royal Oak seven years later, the crowded aisles might make whatever tool or part you're looking for a little more challenging to find, but the Frentz brothers — John, Mike and Chip — will be on hand to help. They'll re-key locks, cut and thread pipes, repair windows and screens and also offer wise counsel on whatever project you're tackling.

Best Florist
503 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-398-5153; 1300 Broadway, Detroit; 313-964-5777;

Nothing brightens the mood set by a room, table or desk better than fresh flowers or a healthy plant. Keep that in mind when you head into one of Blumz's two locations — and we dare you to not smile and take something for your home, to the office or to give away. Whimsical vases and other gifts make the enchantment here even sweeter.

Best Jewelry Design
Gemela Design
Available at local boutiques and art gallery stores;

Spanish for "twin," Gemela was the obvious choice for the business setup by design team duo Diana and Julie Verdugo. Their passion for travel couldn't help but infuse their designs, a creative collaboration of the siblings. Inspired by the flash of fashion runways and the richness of ethnic cultures, Gemela Design's pieces are distinct, fun and savvy. The colorful necklaces in the "Ready-to-Wear" collection are named after foreign cities while the recently launched "Couture" line features one-of-a-kind pieces with a mix of materials the sisters have collected from around the world.

Best Jewelry Repair
Mount 'n' Repair
205 Pierce St., Birmingham; 248-647-8670;

Decided where to send your beloved jewelry for replacement of missing links, general repair or restringing or resizing of a favorite family piece isn't always an easy decision. But our readers have vetted Mount 'n' Repair for us. They'll do the simple maintenance like replacing watch batteries, but they'll also take as much care with your favorite costume pieces that need tuning up as they will with your finer jewels.

Best Place to Sell Your Gold
Tapper's Diamonds & Fine Jewelry
6337 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield; 248-932-7700;

Last year, this family-owned and -operated business, which has been selling jewelry for more than 30 years, opened five gold-buying locations. Tapper's Gold Exchange provides a trustworthy spot where you can ditch your old gold in return for some instant cash. All gold is weighed and measured in front of the sellers and Tapper's pays anywhere from 6 to 150 percent more for gold than its competitors. Holy jeez! If that ain't enough cheddar to convince, customers also receive $25 when they refer a friend.

Best Indie Furniture Store
Bright Ideas
220 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-541-9940; 22110 Telegraph Rd., Southfield; 248-352-5811;

Some of it's definitely funky, some of it's just plain fun. Whether you're looking to furnish your loft condo, your bungalow or your McMansion, this downtown Royal Oak vendor will have everything from a single lamp to a whole room's worth of furniture choices for an aesthetically sound space.

Best Place to Buy Home Accessories
41640 Ford Rd., Canton; 734-981-6300;

This Swedish import blends the best of the mall with the best of the individual retailer; it has the space and selection and the ability to showcase originality with style. Here you can find furnishings for every lifestyle. Ikea's inventory works in dorm rooms, apartments, lofts, homes, cabins, wherever. The stuff is affordable with a sense of style as great as its functionality.

Best Place for Audio Gear
Best Buy

All hail the big box! At least, when it comes to audio. At least, according to our readers. Whether you're constructing a home theater or the perfect multiroom audio setup for your music collection, Best Buy can supply it. Not sure what the hell you're doing? A polo-shirted staff member will help you figure it out. Don't feel like leaving your house? Shop online to receive free shipping on thousands of items or to utilize the Ask & Answer feature, which allows you to query other shoppers and Best Buy staff.

Best Place for Car Audio Equipment
Mickey Shorr
Various locations, see

In 1967, DJ Mickey Shorr opened up his flagship audio store on Davison in Detroit, with only $1,000 in his pocket and just one installer working for him. Now, with more than 16 stores located throughout the state, Mickey Shorr is the place for car audio gear. There are the top brands (Kenwood, Viper, Sirius, etc.), and Mickey's beats all competitor pricing, provides installation service by certified pros and accepts trade-ins for as much as $250 store credit. The shops also carry marine audio equipment, remote starters, navigation systems and more.

Best Place to Buy a Domestic Car
Roy O'Brien Ford
22201 E. Nine Mile Rd., St. Clair Shores; 586-776-7600;

Its slogan is "stay on the right track to Nine Mile and Mack," but lucky for Roy O'Brien Ford, the dealership has a lot more to recommend itself than a rhyming jingle. It has consistently been ranked one of the top Ford dealerships in the country for customer satisfaction, no doubt due to the knowledgeable and experienced staff, many of whom have more than 10 years of experience in the field. Other perks offered by O'Brien's include free Wi-Fi in the service department, a free tank of gas with all new vehicle purchases and a free service loaner during the length of the three-year factory lease on new cars.

Best Place to Buy a Foreign Car
Ferndale Honda
21350 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-548-6300;

Courteous and friendly service goes a long way when purchasing a vehicle. Perhaps that's why MT readers selected Ferndale Honda as the best place to buy a (cough) foreign car. This stalwart dealership located just north of Eight Mile is known for its accommodating staff that will help you pick out the perfect new or used ride. If yours needs some love, the service department is quick and efficient with a comfortable waiting room — a perk that should never be underestimated.

Best Domestic Car
Ford Fusion 

By the turn of the century, most domestic sedans were timid little slabs of sheet metal that just couldn't compete with sleek, efficient Japanese econo boxes. But skyrocketing gas prices forced a major rethink, and Ford was quick on the throttle of change. The result is the fun and fashionable Fusion, a dependable, fuel-efficient and super-smooth ride. The 2010 Motor Trend car of the year sports a 2.5 liter, four-cylinder, 175-horsepower engine that blows away the average grocery-getter, and the sporty plug-in Hybrid model sips fuel like a school marm does booze at a garden party, all for an affordable price tag.

Best Foreign Car

At the risk of hate mail (including voice mail and e-mail), the Honda win in this category isn't without merit. The mostly smaller cars — meaning you can't fit a whole Cub Scout troop in it — are reliable, efficient and hold their value with little needed maintenance. The recent Toyota flap involving the Prius can't hurt Honda's chances here either.

Best Car Wash
Best Car Detailer
28845 Telegraph Rd., Southfield; 248-353-4700; for more locations, see

This is the Motor City after all, but city driving and nasty weather can be sheer murder on a paint job. Who wants to cruise down Woodward in a janky, sludge-covered ride? Fortunately Jax has you covered, so to speak, with six locations that have made them a favorite auto-scrubbing hot spot since '53. Carpet shampooing, wax, leather treatment, Jax does it all to keep your whip looking correct, and ready to blow the doors off all those sad, grimy hoopties stalling out on the boulevard.

Best Attorney
Geoffrey Fieger
19390 W. 10 Mile Rd., Southfield; 248-355-5555;

Whether he's making headlines, TV commercials or actual court appearances, the well-coifed Geoffrey Fieger continues to win reader admiration. The theatrical Southfield attorney became an international sensation with his representation of Dr. Death — Jack Kevorkian — in the early 1990s. Fieger, the 1998 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, recently said he was pondering another run at the state's highest office. Hmmm, we didn't see him in those readers' picks.

Best Gift Shop
Catching Fireflies
117 W. 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; 248-336-2030; 203 E. University Dr., Rochester; 248-650-3318;

Look, it's as simple as this: Catching Fireflies' two locations put the fun in functional. Many colorful gifts get the "awww" for cuteness, with such items as the baby cupcake crinkler toy or the little dust bunny puppet for cleaning your computer screen, while the "mmmm" sound rises with the aromatherapy shower steamers. Perfect for shower favors or "just because" gifts to your girlfriends, these stores also have dude stuff like barbecue books and desk accessories.

Best Indie Health Food Store
Natural Food Patch
221 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-546-5908;

For a little more than a decade, the Natural Food Patch has been peddling natural and organic alternatives as a traditional grocery store. The 5,200-square-foot space features organic produce, herbal teas, health drinks, grains, vitamins and organic health and beauty products, as well as environmentally friendly cleaning products and even organic items for babies. While smaller than Whole Foods, it's also less overwhelming and gives the added bonus of making your shopping trip not just healthy, but local.

Best Independent Grocery —Wayne
Honey Bee La Colmena
2443 Bagley Ave., Detroit; 313-237-0295;

In a city known for food deserts, Honey Bee is an oasis. Sure, its aisles are crammed with all the usual grocery staples, but Honey Bee also offers what a lot of other stores (especially in Detroit) don't — fresh produce, quality meats, excellent hot foods and hard-to-find Latin American foods and ingredients. Honey Bee's own creations are all superb — the family-recipe chorizo is their best-selling product, the tamales rival any others found in southwest Detroit and the guacamole has no equal. Started in 1956, the third generation of the Alfaro family runs the store, which recently expanded from 4,000 to 15,000 sq. ft.

Best Independent Grocery —Oakland
Best Wine Store —Oakland
Holiday Market
1203 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-541-1414;

For the perfect bottle with the perfect meal — a takeaway from the prepared sections or your own concoction made with ingredients purchased here — Holiday Market is your place. Make a quick stop and grab sushi for lunch or drive a shopping cart around the scrumptious selections and find just what you need for home entertaining.

Best Independent Grocery — Macomb
27900 Harper Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-778-3650; for other locations, see

The produce is so fresh it practically snaps with crispness. The selection is so big you'll definitely go "off your list" and end up with a few more groceries than you came for. And with everything from soup to nuts, including a really good wine selection, Nino's is perfect for standard family needs, dinner parties and every meal or snack in between.

Best Independent Grocery —Washtenaw
People's Food Co-operative
216 N. Fourth St., Ann Arbor; 734-994-9174;

This is a place where longtime members mix with those who've newly discovered it. And while it's a great source of quality and local food, it's also a place to find a sense of community by running into someone you know or chilling out in the café. The food is almost secondary, you feel so good about what you're buying and eating. And if you don't know what's for dinner that night, go to the co-op and pick what's fresh. Make a meal around that.

Best Liquor Store — Wayne
Best Wine Store — Wayne
Merchant's Fine Wine
22250 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-563-8700

Don't let the relatively austere front fool you, when it comes time to buy that bottle of scotch to impress the boss or soon-to-be father-in-law, Merchant's offers a great selection, efficient service and helpful advice if you need it. Between the variety of unique gourmet products and reputation of helping customers find that hard-to-find bottle, Merchant's has plenty of other goodies to satisfy all palates. And their good taste can become yours.

Best Liquor Store —Oakland
Red Wagon Shoppe
2940 S. Rochester Rd., Rochester Hills; 248-852-9307; 1613 Livernois Rd., Troy; 248-404-9999

Maybe it was Red Wagon's single malt scotch, bourbon and tequila tastings that earned them the readers' admiration, but these two Oakland County stores also are notable for their 1,500 different liquors. Red Wagon specializes in rare scotch, vodka, tequila, rum and bourbon and carries rare and hard-to-find imported spirits and cordials too. And they stock Riedel glassware because drinking the right drink out of the wrong glass just can't happen.

Best Liquor Store —Macomb
Best Wine Store —Macomb
Champane's Wine Cellar & International Marketplace

Champane's offers a dizzying array of wines, liquors and beers, often at discount prices. From obscure vintages to Michigan-made favorites, eager and friendly employees will help you hunt down the perfect bottle. Champane's is known for its excellent prices, as well as the numerous specials it offers. The store also hosts affordable wine and beer tastings, a great way for novice tasters to gain an education.

Best Wine Store —Washtenaw
Morgan and York Fine Wines and Specialty Foods
1928 Packard St., Ann Arbor; 734-662-0798

Stocked with all the best for your wine cellar and pantry, this former party store transformed into a high-end market a few years ago. Don't let the $30-plus a pound cheese scare you away, if that's not in your budget. There's plenty in the more affordable range. But if you're looking for food and drink cared for so it retains its most authentic flavors, Morgan and York will have it. Buying from small producers doesn't help keep the cost down but it does keep the quality up.