Urban Threads photo by J.P. Thimot.
Trendiest boutique
Urban Threads
736 Elmwood Ave., 884-9145,
The motto of this hipster mainstay—“Modern Clothing for Modern Men and Women”—is still true.

Best T-shirts
New Buffalo Graphics
1417 Hertel Ave., 1-877-809-1659,
If you heart Buffalo, you also have to heart artist Michael Margulis’s endlessly creative takes on the Buffalo-themed T-shirt.

Best new business (open since 2008)
City Wine Merchant
715 Main St., 931-9114,
A boon for thirsty downtowners, this shop has one of the most discriminating and thoughtful wine selections WNY has ever seen.

Tony Walker & Co. photo by Nancy J. Parisi.

Best shop if you are a size two
Tony Walker & Co.
5110 Main St., Williamsville, 430-4003,
This is a true center for style, complete with top designer names and regular fashion events.

Blum's photo by J.P. Thimot.
Best shop if you are not a size two
Allen Street Dress Shop
89 Allen St., 883-0871,
The destination for style, comfort, and chic. ASDS carries Flax, Eileen Fisher, and Cut Loose, as well as carefully selected vintage.

Bathing suits
Blum’s Swimwear & Intimate Apparel
5110 Main St., Williamsville, 633-8999,
They’ve got everything from teensy-weensie to stylin’ full-coverage.

Best selection of tops
Half & Half
1088 Elmwood Ave. 881-4147
Can it be almost forty years? It seems impossible because this shop’s offerings are still as fresh and dynamic today as they were in the ’70s.

For visual evidence of why we chose Anna Grace, Tony Walker, Lockwood’s Greenhouses, Capello, and Excuria as WNY bests, look no further than the cover of this issue of Spree. Marianne Minbiole (also a Buffalo Spree Publishing employee) is our good-natured cover model for this demo of some of the wares from our top tier of local vendors.

photo by kc kratt

Buffalo Fleece photo by Nancy J. Parisi.

Best winter clothes
Buffalo Fleece
Pumpkins and Shoefly photos by J.P. Thimot.
Excuria photo by Jim Bush.
BeautyQuest photo by kc kratt.
758 Elmwood Ave., 883-4380,
It’s not just fleece—these folks have all the latest hi-tech fabrics that will keep you warm without turning you into the Michelin Man.

Best men’s dress clothes
Riverside Men’s
Northtown Plaza, 3063 Sheridan Dr., Amherst, 833-8401,
Riverside Men's stakes out a classic and elegant middle ground between prep and Euro.

Best men’s casual clothes
715 Elmwood Ave., 881-1205,
Update the blue blazer and grey flannel look here with some great British, Canadian, Italian, and American brands.

Best kids’ clothes
Pumpkins Children’s Clothing
5520 Main St., Williamsville, 632-2246
This Williamsville storefront is one of the few locally owned shops left to get unique and adorable children’s fashions.

Best place for boots
Several area locations
If you’re willing to come back often and check the different branches—the stock changes frequently—you will find gorgeous boots for less here.

Best shoe selection
801 Elmwood Ave., 886-3595,
When you hear “Where did you get those shoes?” the name of this Elmwood boutique is likely to be the answer.

Best pedicure
Corto’s Salon and Seasons Spa
4065 N. Buffalo St., Orchard Park, 662-9525,
We wrote about their great executive pedi for men in our Beauty Book; this is also a great all-round spa.

Best manicure
Excuria Spa
5725 Main St., Williamsville, 839-3106,
They’ve been doing it all for over a decade; one of WNY’s earliest spas is also the best for the basics.

Best facial
BeautyQuest Medispa & Skin Care
Williamsville Place, 5483 Sheridan Dr., Williamsville 633-7546; 4 Cazenovia St., 826-4800; 5862 S. Transit Rd., Lockport, 434-4100; 305 Main St., East Aurora, 655-7546; 3385 Orchard Park Rd., Orchard Park, 677-9700;
This is the place to go for some serious skin revival.

Best jewelry
798 Elmwood Ave., 873-0734
A great selection of stylish precious metal and precious stone designs.

Best men’s haircut
Studio 806
806 Elmwood Ave., 881-2806,
This popular Elmwood salon is a place the whole family can go for great cuts.

Capello photo by Elizabeth Halliday.

Best women’s haircut
Capello Salon & Day Spa
5422 Main St., Williamsville, 634-4111; 9424 Transit Rd., East Amherst, 639-8019; 200 Delaware Ave., 852-5600,
The professionals here have been known for their reliable, friendly, and knowledgeable service for many years—and now there’s a snazzy new location at the Avant downtown.

Best interior designer
Michael Donnelly
1534 Hertel Ave., 308-6520;
This designer always creates one of the best rooms in the biennial Show House.

Best garden designer
Ben Hirsch of Beautiful River
244 Dewitt St. 886-0641
Check out the courtyard garden at the Rue Franklin—that’s his.

Best kitchen supplies
Savvy Gourmet
4610 Main St., 626-2665,
This newcomer to the scene carries 50 lines, offers cooking classes, and provides catering. It’s the full-service foodie experience.

Best secondhand furniture
1478 Hertel Ave. 837-3385,
Whatever you call it—antique, vintage, retro, or, as we prefer, secondhand—this place has the coolest stuff.

Best bedding
Homeward Bound
927 Elmwood Ave., 873-4764,
Find Company C, Pine Cone Hill, and more among the specialty linens here.

Green Spa photo by kc kratt.

Best massage
Green Spa
5526 Main St., Williamsville, 635-6482,
We love the hot stone massages and organic detoxifying products here.

Best cleaning service
Maid Pro
5684 Main St., Williamsville, 565-1060,
The “pro” means professionally trained. A rarity in this field.

Neo photo by Nancy J. Parisi.
Lockwood’s photo courtesy of Lockwood’s Greenhouses.
Best place for hard-to-find ingredients
TIE: Guercio & Sons/Premier Gourmet
G&S: 250 Grant St. 882-7935; PG: 3465 Delaware Ave., 877-3574,
There is no one place that has it all, but between these two, you can choose from a fabulous array of sauces, oils, pastas, exotic condiments, and much more.

Best antiques
5548 Main St., Williamsville, 633-4077,
For early Americana and folk art especially, this Williamsville storefront stands out in a crowded field.

Best unique gifts
512 Elmwood Ave. 884-1119
We love their mad wrapping style and consistent selection of both lower-priced funky gifts and designer high-end.

Best annuals
Mike Weber Greenhouses
42 French Rd., West Seneca, 822-8887,
In late July and August, when other nurseries have slim pickings, this place has a great selection of fresh plants to reinvigorate your garden well into fall.

Best source for perennials
Lockwood’s Greenhouses
4484 Clark St., Hamburg, 649-4684,
Their wide selection of native plants and expert staff—who are always right there when you have a question—makes them the clear winner.

Best new business:
We could not consider City Wine Merchants for best liquor store because they don’t sell liquor. What they do sell is one of the most discriminating wine selections we have seen anywhere, in or outside of WNY. There are plenty of “around $10” bottles for the casual consumer, but they’re wines that taste like they cost much more. There are also some very serious bottles of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Barolo, Chateauneuf-Du-Pape and fine champagne for the connoisseur. In between there is plenty to explore in the realms of German reislings, Oregon pinot noirs, Chilean carmeneres, and much more.

Tastings are held here at least once a week, hosted by suppliers who often sell out of the featured bottles on that day. In May, tastings featured Vermentino, Bordeaux, and Vinho Verde. Eric Geneau, the genial young attorney who owns CWM, is usually in the store. He will soon ascertain your preferences and is always happy to talk up bottles he’s particularly excited about.

And, oh yes, there are thirteen Australian wines—but none of them have any kind of animal on the label.

—Elizabeth Licata; photo by kc kratt

Wegmans photo by Jim Bush.

Best flower shop
Multiple locations including: 601 Amherst St., 877-1339; 675 Alberta Dr., Amherst, 831-6300; 370 Orchard Park Rd., 826-4000;
There is a difference, depending on what location you go to, but Wegmans often carries hard-to-find, long-lasting VeriFlora certified organic flowers. They also have a great orchid collection for a longer-lasting floral gift.

Best source for trees
Russell’s Tree and Shrub Farm
9800 Transit Rd., East Amherst, 689-6764,
One of the largest and best selections in the area; they also donate to Re-Tree.

Best place to learn a foreign language
The International Institute
864 Delaware Ave., 883-1900,
Time-tested and blessed avec a photogenic location, es muy bien.

Puppy Playpen photo by J.P. Thimot.
Best pet emergency room
Orchard Park Veterinary Medical Center
3930 N. Buffalo Rd., Orchard Park, 662-6660,
For the second year in a row, this facility is the first choice of panelists and readers alike.

Best pet sitter
The Puppy Playpen
2293 Delaware Ave., 447-9699; 431 Ellicott St., 864-0646;
Much more than just pet minders, these professionals will send home a tired, happy, and well-socialized dog.

Best pet store
Elmwood Pets
706 Elmwood Ave. 883-1377
For decades, this has been one of WNY’s most reliable and knowledgeable stores for small animals (birds and fish) and pet supplies for all types of pets.

Talking Leaves photo by J.P. Thimot.

West End Gallery photo by kc kratt.
Best helpful retail staff
Talking Leaves
3158 Main St., 837-8554; 951 Elmwood Ave., 884-9524;
One of our panelists says that when she was laid up with a broken leg, she was sent an entire box of books—without having to prepay. Now that’s service.

Best gift-wrapping
West End Gallery
48 Douglas Ln., East Aurora, 652-5860,
Their fabulously festive stylings will make your gift stand out in any pile of presents.

Best auto repair
Sammy’s Auto Repair & Collision
369 Niagara St., 852-3706,
They’ve won awards from AAA for their ability to do every type of repair, including collision, and for a reasonable charge.

Best liquor store, small
Gates Circle Liquor & Wines
1430 Delaware Ave., 884-1346,
Our panelists and readers agree: city-dwellers or commuters on their way home will find a great selection fast when they “get to Gates.”

Best liquor store, large
Global Wine & Spirits
4990 Harlem Rd., Amherst, 839-4515,
This place is giving our other local megastore a run for its money in terms of selection and pricing.

Best gym
Jewish Community Center
787 Delaware Ave., 886-3145,
Their $1 million renovation was completed in late 2009; now they have a huge, air-conditioned space with updated equipment and a more conveniently located spinning room.

Best yoga
Shakti Yoga
133 Grant St., 884-9642,
We have to applaud their bold foray on to Grant Street, where they’ve completed a gorgeous renovation (complete with heated floors) in a former bank.

Best pilates
Pilates Loft
166 Allen St., 883-7539
Beth Elkins offers professional machines in a stylish downtown facility. She’s also an incredibly nice and patient instructor.

Best party spa
BeautyQuest Medispa & Skin Care
Williamsville Place, 5483 Sheridan Dr., Williamsville 633-7546; 4 Cazenovia St., 826-4800; 5862 S. Transit Rd., Lockport, 434-4100; 305 Main St., East Aurora, 655-7546; 3385 Orchard Park Rd., Orchard Park, 677-9700;
This fantastic set-up, with its lounge-y feel, can accommodate many people at once, multiplying the fun.

Treehouse photo by J.P. Thimot.
Lexington Co-Op photo by Jim Bush.
Buffalo Re-Use photo by Rose Mattrey.
Best place for a makeover
MAC counter, Macy’s
Sure, it’s a national name, but it comes with great local talent, in the form of the make-up artists who work there. Ask for Blade.

Best toy store
The TreeHouse, Inc.
793 Elmwood Ave., 882-1322,
Even those without kids know that this place knows fun, with a wide selection for everyone from infants to teenagers.

Best retail discount
Saks Off 5th
1890 Military Rd., Niagara Falls, 297-2364,
There are always amazing sales here, on everything from designer shoes to cashmere sweaters, and it also has a surprisingly good selection of modestly priced gifts during the holidays.

Best customer service
Federal Meats
Numerous locations including: 3055 Sheridan Dr., Amherst, 833-9152; 3863 Delaware Ave., 875-8434, 2140 Delaware Ave., 873-4370
One of the last of the old-time butchers. You can get meat cut to order, and stock up on a season’s worth of beef for your freezer.

Best high tech shop
Stereo Advantage
5195 Main St., Williamsville, 632-8038,
Don’t fret if you don’t know how to set up that magnificent system. Here, they work with you to custom design your components to your budget and needs, then come to your house and make it work.

Best sustainable retail (small)
Lexington Co-Op Market
807 Elmwood Ave., 886-2667,
They always do their best to source locally, keep it green, and listen to customers.

Best sustainable retail (large)
Buffalo Re-Use ReStore
298 Northampton St., 882-2800,
If you want to spend half a day looking at doorknobs or bricks, this is the place to do it. Even if you don’t need a vintage door, fence slats, or any of thousands of items lovingly salvaged from deconstructed buildings, it’s worth a trip just to see this amazing warehouse.

Best Customer Service:
Federal Meats
With apologies to Sam the Butcher, the category of “best butcher, fictional,” remains the domain of Daniel Day Lewis’s Bill the Butcher in Scorsese’s Gangs of New York—the man knows how to yield a carver. But far less scary, and far more helpful, are the butchers of Federal Meats, winners of our customer service category. I have memories of being offered various meats as a young visitor, and have noticed that this tradition continues, but for more specific reasons behind the win, I asked a few locals for comment: “They knew my granny by name at the East Aurora shop.” “They’ll take your groceries out to your car.” “Very knowledgeable.” “Basically, these guys—and girls—know meat.” Sorry, Bill. Your glass eye is awesome, but I trust a butcher who isn’t going to throw a knife at me, and offers a variety of premade meals, to boot. That, friends, is Federal.

—Christopher Schobert



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