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Best of WNY 2011: Shopaholic I

Best new business
Bloom Floristry and Special Event Planning
Gorgeous displays reflect the artistry of Orlando Diaz, whose wealth of experience in creating floral fantasies for special events culminated in the opening of this spacious storefront last spring. The vintage commercial building fits into a blossoming block, anchored by the repurposed Granite Works lofts. We love Bloom for the freshest floral and other gifts. 846 Main St., 887-3863


Best business website
Whether you’re outfitting your bridal party, shopping for a Garden Walk trench coat, or designing your own custom-fitted look, Anatomy’s website is both beautiful and comprehensive. Kudos to their Syracuse-based designers, Face First Creative.


Best big liquor/wine store
Premier Liquor Group
Like Walt Whitman, Premier contains multitudes. You’ll find it all here—a huge selection of value-minded wines, perfect for big parties; a special room where you can find top Bordeaux, Sauternes, and other premium bottles; and shelves loaded with wines you’ve never heard about and need to try. We love to visit Premier during the holidays; seeing people load up their cars with cases of alcohol makes us happy for some reason. www.premierwines.com


Small liquor/wine store
City Wine Merchant/Brighton Liquor
Lawyer turned wine shop owner Eric Genau has found his true calling. No wonder his blog is entitled Do Something You Love. In a couple short years, City Wine Merchant has set the standard for what a hip city wine store should be. Weekly posts on Facebook invite “friends” to stop by for an after-work tasting, and we highly recommend checking out their website for discounts, suggested wine pairings, upcoming tasting, and much more—and did we mention they deliver? 715 Main St., 931-9114
Brighton Liquors is the domain of local wine guru Bob Leighton. Imagine you know 10 times as much as you do about wine and then quadruple that. You still won’t come close. Trust his knowledge to make your wine selections for you—you'll add greatly to your wine expertise in the process. 930 Brighton Rd., Tonawanda 833-2606


Best kitchen supplies
Premier Gourmet
Culinary gadget fetishists across WNY flock to Kenmore for the latest and greatest (to say nothing of the nouveau-retro and just-plain-classic) in pots, pans, barware, and other tools of the trade. Come for the Cuisinarts, leave with that high-tech crème brulée torch you just know will make your life complete. Christmas-in-July bonus: stuff the stocking of your favorite foodie sometime with a little sumpin’-sumpin’ from the aisles of inventions both oddball (dishwasher-safe avocado extender, anyone?) and practical (gotta love those OXO Good Grips!). 3465 Delaware Ave., Kenmore, 877-3574


Best place to source hard-to-find ingredients
Gourmands in many other parts of the U.S. struggle to source exotic ingredients, relying on the internet and overnight shipping to bring them chayote, lemon grass, or caster sugar. But that’s no concern of ours here in WNY. Aptly called the “Disneyland of food” in a recent Maryland newspaper, we think locals sometimes forget just how lucky they are to have access to Wegmans’ varied selection of fresh (local and exotic) produce, amazing cheeses, bevy of beer, and overwhelming supply of dry imported goods. We haven’t.


Best source for interesting plants
Lockwood’s Greenhouses
Whether it’s long-forgotten natives, cool-looking cultivars, or improved varieties of old favorites you’re seeking, the friendly folks in the shadow of the fairgrounds can help. They’ll not only point you in the direction of that cutting-edge hakonechloa grass, they’ll give you tips on how to treat it and suggestions for how to incorporate it in your landscape—and don’t be too surprised if they ask you how it’s doing, a year later. Time after time, when neighbors or GardenWalkers ask where you found a particularly provocative specimen, odds are your answer’s going to be, “I got it at Lockwood’s.” 4484 Clark St., Hamburg, 649-4684

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