Best Of 2011

Best old business that Just doesn't add up

Lust Cash Transactor

With its jarring name – it's a nod to 80-year-old store proprietor Mark Lust, not a quantifier of felicitations – and even more surprising business focus on machines that don't often factor into modern life (cash registers, old typewriters, adding machines), it's hard to find a better merchant in Orlando to represent the battle between what is and what used to be. Lust launched his Cash Transactor 35 years ago, before there were dust bunnies and the smell of pending obsolescence in his shop, and he claims that, at least at one time, business was booming. These days, a few kind visitors and irony fans venture through his alarm-rigged storefront, but generally speaking, he's just waiting for the right time to exit himself.

See, Lust's story is less about a down-on-his-luck former entrepreneur and the stacks of papers and devices that surround him than it is a David and Goliath tale between one man and a city with unrealizable dreams. In 2006, the city signed off on big plans for the blighted Mills-Nebraska lumberyard, which is adjacent to Lust's property near the corner of Virginia Drive and Mills Avenue. The so-called Mills Park – evidenced today in the sun-bleached banners heralding its imminent arrival – was to be a boon for the city and the lifestyle it was becoming increasingly fond of pretending it could afford. About 78,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, 272,000 square feet for office space and 564 residential condominiums were intended to add up to a $350 million mixed-use paradise. None of that, of course, would ever pan out.

But even when the city thought Mills Park – and its original developer, Justin Pelloni – was a near-certainty, Lust was playing hardball with the city, reportedly holding out for $1.25 million for his 5,250-square-foot parcel. A series of negotiations either did or didn't happen, depending on whom you speak to, and in the end the city was left with a massive pile of dirt and a lone holdout in the form of Lust. Alleged pressure from code enforcement and several written back-and-forths with the city have yet to produce any real agreement, and Lust continues to operate his gadget emporium with a bent spring in his step.

"It's the planners," Lust says of the city. "They plan on things for the future when the future's not there."

He is, however, still waiting on his big payout.

 

Best place to pretty yourself up on the cheap

Aveda Institute
495 N. Semoran Blvd., Winter Park; 407-657-0348; avedaflorida.com

In our ideal world, we have all the time and money we need to invest in our vanity – leisurely trips to the spa, stress-relieving mani-pedis and frequent, gossipy appointments with our favorite stylists with whom we never spend less than $250. But we live in the real world, where sometimes you can’t wait until your next paycheck comes to tidy up your bedraggled rat’s nest, months go by between manicures and … what exactly do they do at a spa, anyway? That’s why we’re happy to have an Aveda Institute in town – everything’s cheap (haircuts for just $12 by students in training, $18 by “masters”), you can get all your beauty treatments in one cavernous space and did we mention it’s cheap? Sure, you’re entrusting your good looks to a student, but it’s only hair – it’ll grow back.

 

Best enabler of urban chicken farmers

Palmer’s Feed Store
912 W. Church St.,;407-841-8924; palmersfeedstore.com

Every hipster in town these days seems to have a chicken – better yet, a flock – pecking and clucking and laying eggs in a shabby-chic coop in the backyard. You can chalk that up, in part, to the fact that Palmer’s Feed Store carries an assortment of small barnyard animals – chickens, ducks, the occasional rabbit – in its downtown shop (which, by the way, is kind of a musty, dusty, one-horse town kind of throwback to the Orlando of yesteryear). In addition to full-grown laying hens, they keep racks of adorably fuzzy baby chicks. Pop a couple in your purse and bring them home today – they’ll be pooping out eggs for you in no time.

 

Best gas-station rebellion

Independent convenience stores still selling fake pot

On Nov. 24, the DEA announced a crackdown on the chemicals prevalent in K2, the so-called “fake pot” that was selling like hotcakes at smoke shops around the country. We sounded the bell on Christmas Eve, when the ban was officially in effect. But months later, it can still be found aplenty in small, independently owned gas stations all over our great city, and so we salute you, brave merchants of generally South Asian descent. You keep stocking the good stuff and we’ll keep respectfully asking to buy really expensive “incense.”

 

Best boutique on a budget

Goodwill Boutique
750 Orange Ave., Winter Park; 407-628-5553; goodwillcfl.org

Adding the word “boutique” to anything in the retail world typically leads to hiked-up price tags, but that’s not the case for the Goodwill Boutique. The fairly high-end thrift store, located just down the way from the ultra-spendy retail strip on Park Avenue in Winter Park, offers an affordable, donation-based inventory, much like its savings-store brethren, complete with evening gowns, fur coats, men’s suits, TVs, purses, shoes and more. And for this store, location is key: Since it’s located in the heart of affluent Winter Park, the store is full of trendy designer labels and never-worn, tags-still-attached clothing.

 

Best place to pull together jewelry and an outfit

Dear Prudence Shop
2912 Corrine Drive,; 407-894-8941; dresssweet.com

This store is a hybrid of two Audubon Park retailers: the Bead Lounge and Sweet Boutique. The front of the space hosts a vast display of beads and jewelry-making supplies for DIY types who like to make their own accessories. The back of the shop is home to a full lineup of women’s fashions: super-cute sundresses, sandals, shoes, locally made jewelry, sunglasses and some vintage pieces. The store’s owners update their inventory regularly and post photos of their newest items on Facebook every week, so keep your eyes open for the hot new stuff.

 

Best produce market

Eat More Produce
1111 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park; 407-647-5292; eatmoreproduce.com

“A Canadian and a Brit open a produce market” sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but the Eat More Produce market is anything but. Ever since opening its Winter Park store in 2010 the market has grown from offering a meager selection of high-quality produce (both local and shipped in) to a full-service bodega. Now offering excellent wines, local dairy, dry goods and Boar’s Head deli selections at lower prices than the big-box competitors, Eat More Produce also takes pride in promoting local artisans like Olde Hearth Bread Company while continuing to carry hard-to-find produce like rondelle zucchini and purple asparagus.

 

Best place to dip your bacon in chocolate

Peterbrooke Chocolatier
300 S. Park Ave., Winter Park; 407-644-3200; peterbrooke.com

We’re not usually in the business of endorsing a corporate candy vendor that owns more than 20 stores spanning three states, but honestly, we can’t resist a store like Peterbrooke in downtown Winter Park where you can have your choicest slice of bacon dipped in chocolate. Your two options – milk or dark – are, to the untrained tongue, medium-grade chocolates, so choose your bacon brand accordingly. (The price depends on how much fudge clings to your bacon slice(s); both chocolates are $1.50 per ounce.) Make sure you bring some thick-sliced pork, unless you simply want a crunchy piece of chocolate with a faint whiff of bacon. If you don’t like it, you can always dump what’s left in your neighborhood pool.

 

Best low-rent shopping experience

Other Peoples Property’s Clothing Swap and Shops
otherpeoplesproperty.com

If you’re into vintage clothing or prefer to steer clear of the generic shopping-mall experience, you’d do well to acquaint yourself with Orlando’s Other Peoples Property. OPP [insert requisite call-and-response here] is an online boutique that specializes in vintage clothing from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, altered and updated to suit today’s trends – think shortened hemlines, capped sleeves and the like. Prices are a bit higher than we’d like to pay for used clothing, but we like that the money OPP takes in goes to a good cause: The company donates the majority of its profits to charity. And if you’re like us and love a good freebie, OPP hosts cool Swap and Shop events every three months where you can browse through piles of clothes that are completely free. For a $5 donation, anyone can take part: Just clean out your closet, bring the stuff you no longer wear and swap it for stuff somebody else brought. You might end up with one too many pairs of pants that you’ll never wear, but you can always bring them back to the next Swap and Shop and trade them in for something new.

 

Best flies on the wall

Orlando Outfitters
2814 Corrine Drive, 407-896-8220; orlandooutfitters.com

Audubon Park is Orlando’s hipster-central neighborhood, so it may seem an unlikely place to find a store that caters to the rabid outdoorsman. But Orlando Outfitters on Corrine Drive, a Bass Pro Shop-type store that caters to the fly-fishing crowd, is located right in the thick of it. In addition to more mundane fishing gear, Orlando Outfitters also has a huge selection of colorful, handcrafted flies: pink ones, plain ones, sparkly ones, ones that look like little mice. If you can’t find something pre-made that strikes your fancy, there are also supplies to build your own lures. Even if you’re not that into fishing, this shop is worth stopping into just so you can gawk at the impressive selection of flies on the wall. (Fly on the wall! Get it?)

 

Best place to get booted out

Stockman’s Harness and Saddle Shop
1820 Lee Road; 407-295-0331; stockmansharnessandsaddle.com

A homey, multi-room establishment on Lee Road, Stockman’s sells tack, clothing and assorted paraphernalia for riders both English and Western. Serious horse people know that saddles run into the thousands of dollars, which is why there’s such a huge selection of maintenance supplies, as well as an in-house repair service. Best of all, Stockman’s tack exchange buys and sells used saddles, stable supplies and even boots. Non-riders who are just looking for a form-fitting pair of jodhpurs, a well-broken-in pair of tall shiny boots, or a crop can find the authentic deal here – no questions asked.

 

Best mani-pedi

Koi Nail Spa
2025 W.P. Ball Blvd., Sanford; 407-302-3655

Local nail blogs (and yes, Orlando has a few) are generally devoted to DIY manicure-crafting, with their intimidating array of shatter finishes, splatter art, rhinestones and nail charms. But Kari Klein, puppeteer, reformed nail-biter and mistress of the Once Bitten Blog, recently recommended Koi Nail Spa to us on Twitter: “I do my own nails, but when I have someone else do them I go to the Koi Nail Salon in Sanford.” When you want a tiny bouquet of rhinestone-centered flowers painted on your toes but aren’t able to execute it yourself, this is the expert-anointed place to go.

 

Best new therapy

The Salt Room
1804 N. Mills Ave.; 407-965-3065; saltroomorlando.com

Isak Dinesen said that salt water can cure anything – whether it’s sweat, tears or the ocean. The Salt Room isn’t offering anything that will make you perspire or weep, just a “salt cave” (a big white room full of chaises longues) with a salt-air circulator and the promise that “halotherapy” alleviates asthma, sinus infection, eczema, allergies and other skin and respiratory ailments. It might seem illogical to pay for artificial sea breezes when we’re only an hour from the actual beach, but who knows – that hour behind the wheel might negate the therapeutic gains. It’s not cheap – about a dollar per minute unless you buy an unlimited pass – but at a certain point in the spring when the pollen count starts to soar, we’d consider paying almost anything to stanch the sniffles.

STILL GREAT A flashback to Best of Orlando, 2005

Best place to get small

Ron's Miniature Shop
751 W. Colonial Drive, 407-841-9333

WE SAID THEN: Need an Oriental rug that will fit in your wallet? How about a ficus tree as tall as your finger? Or a pizza the size of a quarter? Actually, "need" doesn't describe the fascination some people have for the tiny goods available at Ron's. If you want to see a little girl's eyes light up – even the tomboy types – take her to Ron's and turn her loose in the museum section up front, where dozens of dollhouses and shadowboxes are crammed together. There's a Chinese pagoda, a Victorian theater (with yawning audience, actors changing backstage, and a tiny Phantom abducting a tiny Christine in the cellar) and my personal favorite, a spooky-ooky Addams Family mansion. Those for whom shadowboxing does not involve jabs or fancy footwork can find everything they need to create, God-like, a minute replica of the real world – from furniture and figurines (OK, dolls) all the way down to bitty little newspapers and replica Roseville vases. Imagine the sick possibilities: a dinky re-creation of Marilyn Monroe's death scene, complete with little Pucci scarf, itsy box of hair dye, tiny vodka bottle and a spill of microscopic pills.

WE SAY NOW: This shop is still Polly Pockets' dream mall, where you can find anything from a tiny pink pig for 25 cents or a Barbie-sized mansion for $1,700, pre-assembled. We're glad some things never change.

BEST BARTENDER

1st: Teege Braune, Redlight Redlight

2nd: Will Walker, Will’s Pub

3rd: Jeff Echegaray, Backbooth

 

BEST HAIR SALON

1st: Alchemy
2812 Edgewater Drive
407-650-8022
alchemyorlando.com

2nd: J. Bauman Salon & Spa
1043 N. Mills Ave.
407-898-9044
jbaumansalon.com

3rd: Nube Nove
717 E. Washington St.
407-246-5488
nubenove.com

 

BEST MUSICAL INSTRUMENT STORE

1st: Sam Ash
4644 E. Colonial Drive
407-896-5508
912 Lee Road
407-599-1222
samash.com

2nd: Guitar Center
12402 S. Orange Blossom Trail
407-251-6659
520 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park
407-975-9119
guitarcenter.com

3rd: George’s Music
6817 Visitors Circle
407-352-8000
6585 Highway 17-92, Fern Park
407-830-4600
georgesmusic.com

 

BEST NAILS

1st: Queens Nails, multiple locations

2nd: Magic Nails & Day Spa, multiple locations
mgnflorida.com

3rd: InStyle Hair Nail & Day Spa, multiple locations
383 Alafaya Trail
407-275-9999
instylehairnailspa.com

 

BEST WOMEN’S FASHION

1st: Etoile Boutique
2424 E. Robinson St.
407-895-6363
etoileboutique.com

2nd: Dechoes, multiple locations
dechoes.shoprw.com

3rd: Dear Prudence Shop
2912 Corrine Drive
407-894-8941
dresssweet.com

 

BEST WINE SHOP

1st: Total Wine & More
2712 E. Colonial Drive
407-894-6553
totalwine.com

2nd: Tim’s Wine Market
1223 N. Orange Ave.
407-895-9463
timswine.com

3rd: The Wine Room on Park Avenue
270 S Park Ave., Winter Park
407-696-9463
thewineroomonline.com

 

BEST VINYL RECORD STORE

1st: Park Ave CDs
2916 Corrine Drive
407-447-7275
parkavecds.com

2nd: Rock and Roll Heaven
1814 N. Orange Ave.
407-896-1952
rock-n-rollheaven.com

3rd: The Drop Shop
2422 E. Robinson St.
407-895-5707
dropshop.com

 

BEST VINTAGE CLOTHING

1st: Etoile
2424 E. Robinson St.
407-895-6363
etoileboutique.com

2nd: Dechoes, multiple locations
dechoes.shoprw.com

3rd: Deja Vu Vintage Clothing & Accessories
1825 N. Orange Ave.
407-898-3609 ‎

 

BEST THRIFT STORE

1st: Goodwill, multiple locations
goodwill.org/get-involved/shop

2nd: Dechoes, multiple locations
dechoes.shoprw.com

3rd: Community Thrift Store
5456 S. Orange Ave.

 

BEST TATTOO PARLOR

1st: Black Chapel Tattoo Studio
693 N, Orange Ave., Suite 200
407-420-9636
blackchapeltattoo.com

2nd: Orlando Tattoo Company
11229 E. Colonial Drive, Suite 105
407-412-5922
orlandotattoocompany.com

3rd: Ascension Custom Dermagraphics
832 N Mills Ave.
407-898-2013
114 Semoran Blvd., Winter Park
321-972-8930
ascensiontattoo.com

 

BEST TANNING SALON

1st: South Beach Tanning Company, multiple locations
http://southbeachtanningcompany.com/

2nd: Sol y Luna Tanning, multiple locations
solylunatanning.com

3rd: Planet Beach, multiple locations
planetbeach.com

 

BEST T-SHIRT STORE

1st: Mother Falcon
817 E. Washington St.
407-423-3060
motherfalconclothing.com

2nd: Big Top by AKT
7612 University Blvd., Winter Park
(321) 473-7555
bigtopbyakt.com

3rd: Enemy Ink
enemyink.com

BEST SPA

1st: Ritz Carlton Spa
4012 Central Florida Parkway
407-393-4200
ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Orlando/Spa

2nd: The Spa, LLC
1903 N. Orange Ave.
407-898-7737
thespallc.com

3rd: Eo Inn & Spa
227 N. Eola Drive
407-481-8485
eoinn.com

 

BEST SMOKE SHOP

1st: Pipe Dreams
6325 N. Orange Blossom Trail
407-445-3939
2921 S. Orlando Drive, Sanford
407-302-1717

2nd: Kathmandu
23 S. Court Ave.
407-316-0026
352 N. Park Ave., Winter Park
407-647-7071

3rd: Purple Ringer
1436 State Road 436, Casselberry
407-767-7441

 

BEST SHOE STORE

1st: DSW
multiple locations
dsw.com

2nd: Nordstrom
8001 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Suite 900
(407) 888-7889

3rd: Payless Shoe Source, multiple locations
payless.com

 

BEST SKATE SHOP

1st: Galactic G
2020 N Orange Ave
407-895-0410
galacticg.com

2nd: Ron Jon Surf Shop
multiple locations
ronjonsurfshop.com

3rd: USS Catalyst
12299 University Blvd.
407-380-7427
universitysurfandskate.com

 

BEST SEAFOOD

1st: Lombardi’s Seafood
1152 Harmon Ave., Winter Park
407-628-3474
lombardismarketplace.com

2nd: Whole Foods, multiple locations
wholefoodsmarket.com

3rd: Wild Ocean Seafood Market at Audubon Park Community Market and College Park Farmers Market
wildoceanmarket.com

 

BEST ADULT ENTERTAINMENT

1st: Fairvilla Megastore
1740 N. Orange Blossom Trail
407-425-6005
fairvilla.com

2nd: Premier Adult Factory Outlet
5009 S. Orange Blossom Tr.
407-857-2050
premieradult.com

3rd: The Blissful Lotus
817A Virginia Drive
407-446-4170
theblissfullotus.blogspot.com

 

BEST BICYCLE SHOP

1st: Orange Cycle
2204 Edgewater Drive
407-422-5552
orangecycleorlando.com

2nd: Kyle’s Bike Shop
203 N. Primrose Drive
407-228-7088
kylesbikeshop.net

3rd: Ace Metric Cycles
444 W. New England Ave, Suite 119, Winter Park
407-790-7802
acemetric.blogspot.com

 

BEST BOOKSTORE

1st: Barnes & Noble, multiple locations
barnesandnoble.com

2nd: Borders, multiple locations
borders.com

3rd: The Book Worm of Orlando
2400 E. Washington St.
407-898-7888
thebookwormoforlando.com

 

BEST CD STORE

1st: Park Ave CDs
2916 Corrine Drive
407-447-7275
parkavecds.com

2nd: Rock and Roll Heaven
1814 N. Orange Ave.
407-896-1952
rock-n-rollheaven.com

3rd: East-West CDs
4895 S. Orange Ave.
407-859-8991

 

BEST COMIC BOOK STORE

1st: A Comic Shop
114 S. Semoran Blvd., Winter Park
407-332-9636
acomicshop.com

2nd: Coliseum of Comics, multiple locations
coliseumofcomics.com

3rd: Sci-Fi City
6006 E Colonial Drive
407-282-2292
sci-fi-city.com

 

BEST CUSTOM BODY SHOP

1st: Rock Stars & Custom Cars
30 S. Industrial Drive
Orange City
(386) 456-5288
[email protected]

 

BEST DOGGY DAY CARE

1st: Ranger’s Pet Outpost and Retreat
1239 Minnesota Ave., Winter Park
407-894-4884
rangerspetoutpost.com

2nd: University of Doglando
12276 E. Colonial Drive
407-832-3763
universityofdoglando.com

3rd: Dog Day Afternoon
1015 Sligh Blvd.
407-835-9200
200 S. Myrtle Ave., Sanford
407-328-9205
dogdayafternoon.net

 

BEST DRY CLEANERS

1st: Best Cleaners
multiple locations
bestcleanersorlando.com

2nd: Acme Cleaners
multiple locations
acmecleaners.com

3rd: Parisian Cleaners
701 Virginia Drive
407-894-2655

 

BEST FARMERS MARKET

1st: Winter Park Farmers Market
200 W. New England Ave., Winter Park
407-599-3397

2nd: Orlando Farmers Market at Lake Eola Park
195 N. Rosalind Ave.
orlandofarmersmarket.com

3rd: Audubon Park Community Market at Stardust Video & Coffee,
1842 E. Winter Park Road
407-590-8776
apmarket.wordpress.com

 

BEST FURNITURE STORE

1st: IKEA
4092 Eastgate Drive
407-355-3155
ikea.com

2nd: 1618 Something Different
1618 N. Orange Ave.
407-897-6707
somethingdifferentretro.com

3rd: Washburn Imports
1800 N. Orange Ave.
407-228-4403
116 E. First St., Sanford
407-322-1449
washburnimports.com

 

BEST HEALTH FOOD STORE

1st: Whole Foods, multiple locations
wholefoodsmarket.com

2nd: Chamberlin’s, multiple locations
chamberlins.com

3rd: Hoover’s Market
1035 Academy Drive, Altamonte Springs
407-869-0000
hooversmarket.com

 

BEST JEWELRY STORE

1st: Victoria Jewelers
4876 New Broad St.
407-895-0047
victoriajewelers.net

2nd: Jared, multiple locations
jared.com

3rd: Kay Jewelers, multiple locations
kay.com

 

BEST LIQUOR STORE

1st: Total Wine & More
2712 E. Colonial Drive
407-894-6553
totalwine.com

2nd: ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, multiple locations
abcfws.com

3rd: Wally’s Mills Avenue Liquors
1001 N.Mills Ave
407-896-6975
wallysonmills.com

 

BEST FASHION DESIGNER

1st: Tammy Jo, Tammy Jo Designs
tandodesign.com/tammyjo

2nd: Lauren E Lee, Ensemble Pieces
etsy.com/shop/ensemblepieces

3rd: Jesse LeNoir (Project Runway contestant)

 

BEST MEAT

1st: Petty’s Meats
2141 W. State Road 434, Longwood
407-862-0400
pettysmeats.com

2nd: Whole Foods, multiple locations
wholefoodsmarket.com

3rd: (tie) Cavallari Gourmet
1954 W. SR 426, Oviedo
407-365-8000
cavallarigourmet.com

3rd: (tie) Freshfields Farm
400 E. Compton St.
407-423-3309
freshfieldsfarm.com

 

BEST MECHANIC

1st: Gene’s Auto Service
3025 Corrine Drive
407-645-1647

2nd: Wilcox & Son Automotive
62 W. Illiana St., Suite C
407-440-2848
facebook.com/Wilcoxandsonauto

3rd: (tie) Integrity Automotive
9777 S. Orange Blossom Trail Unit #22
Orlando, FL 32837-8976
(321) 795-0688
integrityautoinc.biz

3rd: (tie) Don’s Autotek
2917 Corrine Drive
407-644-4482

 

BEST PET SUPPLY STORE

1st: PetSmart, multiple locations
petsmart.com

2nd: Pookie’s Pet Nutrition & Bow Wow Bakery
1980 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park
407-622-7387
pookiesbowwowbakery.com

3rd: Petco, multiple locations
petco.com

 

BEST MEN’S FASHION

1st: Men’s Wearhouse, multiple locations
menswearhouse.com

2nd: Etoile Boutique
2424 E. Robinson St.
407-895-6363
etoileboutique.com

3rd: John Craig Clothier
132 S. Park Ave., Winter Park
407-629-7944
johncraigclothier.com

 

BEST LOCAL ETSY-ERS

1st: Moxie Apparel (by Etoile Boutique)
etsy.com/shop/moxieapparel

2nd: Tammy Jo Designs
etsy.com/shop/Tammyjo

3rd: Other Peoples Property
etsy.com/shop/OtherPeoplesProperty