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  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Best of Detroit 2012

Real Deal - Reader's Choice

Reader's choice of retail in Metro Detroit

Best Antique Shop

DuMouchelles

409 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit; 313-963-6255;  dumouchelle.com

Its retail salon offers only the highest quality antiques, but it's really as an auction house that DuMouchelles has gained national recognition. Praised as one of the finest in the Midwest, DuMouchelles specializes in fine art, jewelry, sports memorabilia and other, often big-ticket, collectibles. Newcomers shouldn't shy away from the auctions, which host an array of people as fabulous as the items on the block. Recent high-priced items auctioned off include a baseball bat used by the Tigers in the '35 World Series ($5,500) and a Marshall Fredericks bronze statue ($22,500). Kids, don't leave your checkbook at home.

Best Hair Salon, 

Wayne County

Curl Up & Die

4215 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-833-5006; curulupanddyedetroit.com

This full-service salon offers all the amenities guaranteed to make customers look and feel good. While MT readers consistently honor its hair cutting chops, the salon also offers facials, makeup application, massage and nail services. Along with taming unruly locks, the salon focuses on health and sustainability, making recycling a priority and featuring natural, nontoxic products that are never tested on animals, including its own in-house skin and haircare line, Cass Corridor Organics. Stylish decor, a relaxed atmosphere and a friendly, talented staff don't hurt either.

Best Hair Salon, 

Oakland County

Flip

251 W. Nine Mile, Ferndale; 248-544-1400;        flipsaloninc.com

Flip combines a hip vintage aesthetic with up-to-the-minute style techniques and trends, providing a full range of services, including cuts, color, massage, makeup, manis and pedis. The comfy atmosphere allows clients to sit back and fully relax while Flip's skilled stylists work their beauty magic. Besides selling high-quality beauty products, the salon also features hand-crafted gifts and vintage items for sale. It also hosts occasional art openings and exhibits featuring work by an eclectic mix of local artists.

Best Hair Salon, 

Macomb County

London Calling

27380 Gratiot, Roseville; 586-778-6379; londoncallingsalon.com

Whether you desire a modest trim or fushia highlights, a visit to this east side salon is in order. Founded in 1986, London Calling has gained a rep for its edgy styles, but its fashion-forward status doesn't mean friendly service has been sacrificed — the experienced staff always puts the customers' desires first, making sure you walk out with confidence and not running for cover. Along with the usual cut, color and style, the salon also offers waxing, nails, makeup, skincare, extensions and out-call services. London Salon also produces the annual Hair Ball fashion show and benefit, as well as other fashion and style events.

Best Hair Salon, Washtenaw County

Douglas J. Aveda Institute

333 Maynard St., Ann Arbor; 734-929-0453;                             for other locations, see douglasj.com

When Douglas Weaver opened his first salon in East Lansing in 1967, he had a vision for the kind of business he wanted to build, one that would not only provide superb service and style to clients, but one that would also aid budding stylists on their career paths. That vision is now a reality, with Douglas J Aveda Institutes and salons located throughout Michigan and the country. The institutes provide nascent hairdressers with the skills they'll need to go pro, while giving the public the chance to receive top-notch salon services at discount rates. Style and service, at both the schools and the pro salons, are still paramount.

Best African-American Hair Salon

Textures by Nefertiti

4147 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-4771; texturesbynef.com

At her Midtown salon, Nefertiti provides a calming refuge from hectic city life, viewing herself as much a "spiritual coach" as a hairstylist. Her focus is on providing natural hair care to men and women, helping clients embrace their inner beauty as much as the natural kink and curl of their hair. This holistic philosophy is evidenced throughout the entire enterprise, which features all-natural, organic products and — along with standard salon services such as massages, facials and nail care — energy balancing and shamanic healing massages.

Best Adult Novelty Shop

Noir Leather

124 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-541-3979;      noirleather.com

For more than a quarter-century, Noir Leather has been metro Detroit's prime purveyor of kink, offering BDSM toys, leather gear, sexy threads, lingerie and almost anything necessary to satisfy any taste. But what really sets Noir apart from other adult shops is its constant community presence. It embraced being on the fringe before being on the fringe was cool, and frequently hosts a number of fashion events, parties and concerts, including its epic Hellbound fetish parties. Check the website to stay abreast of upcoming happenings.

Best Tattoo Shop

Eternal Tattoos

27590 Plymouth Rd., Livonia; 723-425-0428; 

for more locations, see eternaltattoos.com

After being knocked off its MT Best Of perch for a few years, Eternal regains its throne this year. Formed in 1980, Eternal provides indelible artistic ink to satisfied customers at multiple locations throughout metro Detroit. And if you eventually become dissatisfied, Eternal even offers laser removal at its Howell store. Founder Terry "Tramp" Welker is something of a legend in the local body mod community, hawking his own product line and organizing the yearly Motor City Tattoo Convention.

Best Body-Piercing Shop

Signature Tattoo

230 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-439-0021

When Ferndale City Council finally scrapped outdated zoning that prohibited tattoo shops downtown, it was only a matter of time before one would pop up. Signature opened its doors in October 2010, an artist-run venture co-owned by prominent tattoo and underground artist Mark Heggie. Noting that many of his clients at his other shop, Big Top Tattoo in Utica, traveled from Detroit and nearby suburbs, it only made sense to open a store there. Artists create all their own designs rather than relying on purchased flash, but it's not the ink that grabbed our readers' attention. The skill and creativity of the resident needle-wielder, Piercing by Tyler, gets the honors this year.

Best Tobacco/Smoke Shop

Smoker's Outlet

smokersoutletinc.com

With more than 20 locations, Smoker's Outlet is undoubtedly the big kahuna of all that can be lit and puffed (or just about) in the state. The extensive selection features fine cigars, pipes, imported cigarettes, lighters and roll-your-own tobacco, all at competitive prices. But if you do find your brand cheaper elsewhere, the folks at Smoker's will gladly match it as part of their mission to offer the lowest tobacco prices around. Many locations feature a cigar lounge, all feature humidors and knowledgeable staff eager and willing to get you a quick nic fix.

Best Head Shop

B.D.T. Pipe and Tobacco

21650 John R, Hazel Park; 248-542-6110; 

for more locations, see buzzbdt.com

Another perennial winner, B.D.T. has served metro Detroit's discerning smokers and tokers since 1973. The shop's staying power, with three locations to meet your inhaling needs, speaks not just to the power of pot, but also to the potency of B.D.T. itself. The seasoned and friendly staff will help you navigate the dizzying selection of pipes, bowls, vaporizers, papers, grinders and other accessories, including high-quality items and locally made goods.

Best Michigan Product

Better Made

bmchips.com

In the ongoing knock-down, drag-out fight between Michigan monoliths Better Made and Faygo, the potato chip takes the crown this year. A local snack staple since 1930, any party store, grocery store, bar, gas station, barbecue or picnic worth its salt (pun intended) must feature this iconic Michigan brand. Whether you prefer kettle cooked, barbecue, sour cream and vinegar or the classic original, Better Made is pure potato chip perfection.

Best Comic Book Shop, Wayne County

Green Brain

13210 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-582-9444; greenbrain.biz

This family-owned shop is a perpetual readers' pick thanks to its diverse selection of comics, including mainstream titles and small-press offerings. And if it's not in stock, the staff will gladly order it for you — just one example of the shining customer service comic nerds can expect at Green Brain. The store also holds monthly comic jams, creator signings and art exhibits; other perks include a weekly subscription service and a loyalty program rewarding fanboys and -girls for their continuing patronage. 

Best Comic Book Shop, Oakland County

Detroit Comics

23333 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-548-2661; detroitcomics.com

This small shop packs a mighty punch, thanks to its bright, inviting interior and well-organized selection. Eschewing the stereotype of the musty, dusty and cramped comic store, Detroit Comics appeals to both comic newbies and die-hard lifers by creating an easily navigated space stocked with the latest titles, and staffed by welcoming, comics-loving folks. The shop also offers occasional events and a subscription service that gives members 10 percent off new comic books, trade paperbacks and action figures.

Best Comic Book Shop, Macomb County

Comix Corner

32032 Utica Rd., Fraser; 586-296-2758

861 E. Auburn Rd., Rochester; 248-852-3356

This veteran eastside shop has been supplying the funny book faithful for nearly 30 years. Comix Corner is truly all about the comics, man — no toys or action figures here — with an established following of devoted customers who praise the shop's selection, great service and primo deals on rare, vintage and new books. The shop rewards these loyal shoppers with the Collectors' Club, a monthly subscription service that offers members 25 percent off their must-have reads. 

Best Comic Book Shop, Washtenaw County

Vault of Midnight

219 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-998-1413; vaultofmidnight.com

For more than 15 years, this downtown Ann Arbor shop has served as a one-stop shopping destination for geeks of all varieties. Not only does it carry a large selection of graphic novels and comics, from decades-old rarities to the latest mainstream titles and hard-to-find small-press issues, but it also stocks a vast supply of board games, vinyl toys, action figures and other assorted fun stuff. VoM also hosts art exhibits, musical performances and other events, and is the only shop in the state that's been awarded the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award, which honors one indie shop per year for supporting its community and the comic industry.

Best Indie Bookstore in Detroit

John K. King Used and Rare Books

901 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit; 313-961-0622; rarebooklink.com

As the market for e-readers expands, a place such as John King's become even more hallowed. But to be fair, King's has always been rather singular — four floors of a former glove factory are filled with nearly one million books, quietly exuding the power and possibility of the written word into the still, spacious rooms. It's the kind of soul you can't find by staring at a screen — although King's vast catalogue of rare and collectible books can be searched using an online database.

Best Indie Bookstore in the Suburbs

Book Beat

26010 Greenfield Rd., Oak Park; 248-968-1190; thebookbeat.com

Besides shelves bursting with books — including titles you won't find at big box retailers, killer music and photography sections, beautiful art books, oodles of local titles and a superb children's section — besides all that, Book Beat also provides a feeling of community. Friendly and knowledgeable staffers remember customers and make suggestions tailored to their tastes, and frequent readings, signings, art exhibits and other special events bring together like-minded readers to connect over the ideas contained between two covers. 

Best Video Selection

Thomas Video & DVD

4732 Rochester Rd., Royal Oak; 248-280-2833 thomasvideo.com

Some day in the distant future, you'll tell your grandchildren about the wondrous places known as video stores that you actually had to visit when you wanted to watch movies. While video stores already seem like an anachronism, Thomas has remained staunchly relevant to true film lovers thanks to its unmatched selection. Sure, there are the blockbuster titles and beloved classics, but where Thomas really shines is in its collection of bizarre cult flicks, out-of-print rarities, trashy B movies and other oddball films you truly can't find anywhere else but desperately need to see.

Best Indie Record Store, Wayne County

Dearborn Music

22000 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-561-1000; dearbornmusic.com

Dearborn Music has been around for more than 50 years, satiating music lovers with a stock of more than 50,000 titles, including the latest imports and rarities and entire rooms devoted to classical and jazz and blues. The always-expanding vinyl section includes thousands of new and used records, and the well-run, well-organized store also sells the requisite DVDs, trinkets, memorabilia and other pop culture ephemera.

Best Indie Record Store, Oakland County

UHF

512 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-545-5955; uhfmusic.com

Although it hasn't even been around for two years, UHF already ranks as one of the best record shops in metro Detroit (and not just 'cause our readers say so). The store homes in on quality new and used vinyl, including pristine rarities and an ample local section. Dollar bins, used CDs and DVDs, hip merch and frequent in-store performances courtesy of local acts round out UHF's irresistible cool.

Best Indie Record Store, Macomb County

Melodies & Memories

23013 S. Gratiot Ave., Eastpointe; 586-774-8480

OK, the MT editors and the readers adore Melodies & Memories. For good reason — its claims to fame go well beyond its repeated winning of this category: It's Eminem's favorite local record shop. It's steeped in rich, Motown history. It boasts the region's largest selection of boxed sets. It features tens of thousands of titles on vinyl, CD and cassette, 8-track, 78s, 45s, with stellar classic rock, jazz, blues and soul sections. It pays tribute to pop culture and decades of music with its memorabilia, as well as an entire section devoted to rock posters and photos. Often you'll run across Motown stars shopping — or those who backed the Motown stars.

Best Indie Record Store, Washtenaw County

Encore Records

417 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-662-6776; encorerecordsa2.com

This past summer, two employees purchased Encore from its longtime owner Peter Dale. Besides tweaking the name — Encore Recordings is now Encore Records, the new owners haven't changed the place much, to the relief of music lovers everywhere. The shop still features floor-to-ceiling shelves chock-full of new and used vinyl and CDs, including rare gems and a large number of jazz and classical titles. The store's large collection of music-related books, posters, handbills and other paper ephemera also remains intact.

Best Store for Musical Instruments

 

Best Place for Audio Gear

Guitar Center

31940 Gratiot Ave., Roseville; 586-296-6161; 

for more locations, see guitarcenter.com

This frequent readers' pick offers all the latest gear by the biggest names, as well as a mammoth used selection and online access to the rare and valuable guitars of vintage collections located in Nashville, New York and Hollywood. Shoppers can get merch for a steal thanks to clearances on already competitive prices; expert and experienced staff, repair services, online shopping with free shipping, contests and other events just sweeten the deals.

Best Place to Buy Skates/Skateboard/etc.

Modern Skate & Surf

29862 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak; 248-545-5700

1500 N. Stephenson Hwy., Royal Oak; 248-547-SKATE; for Lansing location, see modernskate.com

For more than 30 years, Modern has been providing metro Detroiters with everything they need to skate or board, by land or by sea. They've got all the essentials, from skates and skateboards to snowboards and wakeboards, plus all the clothing, accessories and protective gear needed to complete the getup. Along with its retail locations, Modern also boasts a skate park at its Stephenson Highway location, which features walk-in clinics, private lessons, inline skate sessions and bike sessions. Become a member to receive discounted rates at the park, and sign up for the newsletter to stay hip to upcoming events.

Best Bicycle Shop in Detroit

The Hub

3611 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-833-0813; thehubofdetroit.org

An annual Best Of winner, this Cass Corridor shop sells refurbished bikes and provides repair services on the cheap in order to promote its three-pronged mission: youth development, sustainable practices and community access. To that end, the Hub and the nonprofit arm that it supports, Back Alley Bikes, offers youth and adult mechanics classes, volunteer opportunities, a youth Earn-A-Bike program and community rides. The shop also works with other local bike projects to recycle old bikes and bike parts — be on the lookout for their bike racks crafted from retired bike frames at spots around Detroit. Check the website for weekly updates regarding classes, youth programs and other community news.

Best Bicycle Shop in the Suburbs

Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop

163 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-439-1892 downtownferndalebikeshop.com

Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop proprietor Jon Hughes has bikes in his blood — he's the third generation of his family to make a profession out of bicycling, and he spent years racing, building tracks, coaching and repairing bikes before translating his bred-in-the-bone passion into his own shop. The store specializes in commuter and fixed-gear track bikes (made to order), but caters to all types and levels of cyclists, from cruisers and road bikes to BMX and vintage. Whatever your needs, the staff of accommodating cycling pros will find you the perfect two-wheeled machine; the shop also provides parts and repair services and hosts mechanic classes and group rides.

Best Indie Hardware Shop in Detroit

Busy Bee

1401 Gratiot Ave., Detroit; 313-567-0785

Since 1918, Busy Bee has been the go-to hardware shop for Detroiters and Saturday morning Eastern Market shoppers. The story goes that Busy Bee was established to cater to the market's visiting farmers, eventually expanding to service everyone from the Detroit Police Department's mounted patrol to the circus when it came to town. Today, the shop retains its old-school charm, complete with creaking floorboards, vintage signage and the old-fashioned customer service that mom & pop shops specialize in. Stop in for all your hardware needs, plus seeds, canning jars, barrels, cleaning supplies, kitchen accessories and more.

Best Indie Hardware Shop in the Suburbs

Frentz & Sons

1010 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-544-8111 

frentzandsons.com

This repeat winner also nails the old-school charm of the hardware stores of yore, retaining the same friendly service and down-to-earth know-how that the store was founded with in 1925. Now run by the third generation of the Frentz family, the shop offers all the basic hardware store stock along with an extensive supply of difficult-to-find parts. Frentz's specialties include lock re-keying, window and screen repair, cutting pipe and most importantly, the expertise to help customers accomplish the oddest of odd jobs. And if they can't help you get the project done, the three Frentz brothers will make sure to send you to the place that can.

Best Florist

Blumz

1260 Library St., Detroit; 313-964-5777

503 E. Nine Mile, Ferndale; 248-398-5130; blumz.com

Between them, the two owners of Blumz have more than 50 years in the floral biz, and it shows in the fresh, long-lasting flowers and eye-catching, artistic arrangements. While colorful, creatively displayed blossoms are Blumz' raison d'être, the shop also holds classes, hosts events, provides free event consultations and offers full-service event planning, assisting brides, birthday boys and other event planners in everything from tux rental to chair linens. The shop is also well-known for its philanthropic and community activity, and a dedicated, award-winning staff. Be sure to check out the new downtown location, which recently relocated from the corner of Broadway and Gratiot one block over to Library Street.

Best Gift Shop, 

Wayne County

 

Best Place to Buy Detroit Products

Pure Detroit

Inside the Guardian Building, 500 Griswold, St., Detroit; 313-963-1440; see puredetroit.com for Fisher Building and Renaissance Center locations

Pure Detroit's city-centric apparel is instantly recognizable, with T-shirts, hoodies, track jackets and undies emblazoned with the store's logo, the image of the Spirit of Detroit, or such cheeky slogans as "Detroit is for Lovers." The store also promotes the city's past and present by selling the city's iconic products — Faygo, Pewabic, Sanders — and books, posters, art and home goods that champion our town. Pure Detroit also puts its money where its slogan is by launching new businesses, hosting cultural events, providing fashion scholarships and other grants, and taking part in a number of local events and development projects. 

Best Gift Shop, 

Oakland County

Catching Fireflies

3117 W. 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; 248-336-2030

203 E. University, Rochester; 248-650-3318; catchingfireflies.com

Cute, clever and colorful is probably the best way to describe Catching Fireflies. Its potpourri of giftable goodies includes home decor, kids' stuff, jewelry, books, bath products, pet items and more. Products range from artful to whimsical and humorous to sentimental. Now that spring is in the air, either location is bursting with items perfect for moms, grads and dads, from cupcake-shaped wall clocks and aromatherapy bath salts to inspirational journals and quirky joke books.

Best Gift Shop, 

Washtenaw County

The Rocket

122 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti; 734-483-2291; therocketypsi.com

The Rocket specializes in the twin childhood joys of candy and gag gifts, pairing a huge selection of bulk candy (including such retro favorites as root beer barrels and rock candy) with an assortment of humorous novelty gifts and toys. The themes of pirates, zombies, bacon and mustaches are in abundance, along with vintage and replica tin toys, metal lunchboxes and whimsical kitchenwares. Hey, why not try a unicorn mask or the world's largest underwear on for size? Shopping is simple at the Rocket — just get your sugar high on and go haywire.

Best Jewelry Store

Diamond Vault

801 W. Big Beaver, Ste. 103, Troy; 248-244-0600; diamondvaultoftroy.com

Diamond Vault topples perpetual winner Tapper's this year, earning accolades for its personalized, low-pressure service and superior diamonds at knockout prices. Established in 2003, the store's owners bring with them nearly 50 years of experience in the jewelry biz, which they use to educate customers in the intricacies of diamonds, custom designs and all aspects of jewelry purchasing. Personalized appointments are preferred, so staff can work closely with customers and involve them in every step of the design process. The individualized attention means you receive the glittery gem of your dreams — and most likely a yes if you're popping the question.

Best Jewelry Repair

Miner's Den

2417 Rochester Rd., Royal Oak; 248-585-6950; minersden.com

Whether it's a priceless family heirloom or an item with strictly sentimental value, Miner's Den will give it the necessary lovin' to make it good as new. Up-to-date technology and years of experience mean that Miner's can tackle almost any repair problem on any type and style of jewelry, from the simple restringing of beads and replacing pinbacks to rebuilding rings and soldering together broken parts. Miner's Den also repairs watches and costume jewelry, and carries a complete selection of replacement stones and parts.

Best Place to Sell 

Your Gold

Tapper's Gold Exchange

Various locations, see tappersgold.com

If you're looking to unload some of that pesky extra gold or need a fast way to make some cash money, Tapper's provides a secure — and lucrative — way to do just that. A fully licensed precious metal buyer, Tapper's purchases all precious metals, diamonds, gold and silver coins, estate jewelry and high-end watches. Metals and gemstones are weighed and evaluated in front of you, ensuring you get the right price for your weight of gold — which is paid to you immediately. Walk in with jewels, walk out with a check. It's as simple as that!

Best Indie Furniture Store

TIE

Leon & Lulu's

96 W. 14 Mile Rd., Clawson; 248-288-3600; leonandlulu.com

Bright Ideas

220 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-541-9940

22110 Telegraph Rd., Southfield; 248-352-5811; brightideasfurniture.com

With two such perfect options for Best Indie Furniture Store, it's no wonder our readers couldn't decide. Located in the old Ambassador Roller Rink in downtown Clawson, Leon & Lulu's features an eclectic mix of furniture that is both well-made and well-designed. While you're there, be sure to browse their one-of-a-kind pieces crafted by artists and artisans while you enjoy some coffee and a cookie. Bright Ideas, with locations in downtown Royal Oak and Southfield, illustrates spot-on suggestions for room settings with their store displays. But feel free to mix and match — dining tables and chairs are priced separately, not as sets, and the same goes for bedrooms.

Best Place to Buy Home Accessories

Bed, Bath & Beyond

See bedbathandbeyond.com for dozens of locations

Already reasonably priced, shop with one of their 20 percent-off coupons (which you can find online, snip out of a catalogue, or sign up to have e-mailed or snail mailed) and you'll be surprised at how many quality home accessories you can afford to take home. It gets pretty busy just before the college students head back to school, but with plenty of friendly sales associates and lots of checkout lanes, even the busiest seasons afford a pleasant shopping experience. The BB&B gift card also makes an excellent present for graduations, house warmings and weddings.

Best Place to Buy a Mattress

Art Van Furniture

artvan.com

Art Van Furniture caters to your mattress needs, whether you're looking for a custom-made adjustable bed, or a different comfort level made especially for your finicky partner's side of the bed. They offer name brands at great prices, and they'll ship the mattress out to you the next day for free so you won't have to wait long to finally get a good night's sleep.

Best Grow Shop

Cultivation Station

2518 Market St., Detroit; 313-394-0441; 

more locations at tcs-hydroponics.com

Cultivation Station provides a variety of indoor and outdoor gardening supplies perfectly suited for whatever strain of green you're cultivating. The staff is more than willing to bring its expertise to bear on helping both green-thumbed gardeners and growing amateurs set up their very own custom hydro system. The staff will recommend everything from the best techniques and the correct lights to the proper growing accessories and the best nutrients and supplements — everything to ensure that your harvest is top-notch.

Best Place for Car Audio Equipment

Mickey Shorr

15270 Gratiot Ave., Detroit; 313-526-3799; mickeyshorr.com

This family-owned Michigan-based business will beat any price you can bring in from competitors. That alone makes them an obvious choice for this Best Of designation. Along with the best prices around, they also offer basic in-dash car stereo installations free of charge when you purchase from any of their name brand stereo selections. To top off the savings potential, your old CD and cassette players and speakers can be traded in toward your purchase.

Best Place to Buy a Car, Wayne County

Jack Demmer

37300 Michigan Ave., Wayne; 734-721-2600

21531 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 800-736-9081

Jack Demmer has been hawking Ford vehicles for more than 50 years, branching out with its Dearborn Lincoln Mercury dealership in '98. The family-owned business strives to set itself apart from the dealership pack by offering exceptional customer service, both on the sales floor and in the service department. Their mission is to treat customers as though they're part of the family, ensuring happy drivers for the life of their Tauruses, Fusions and Lincolns.

Best Place to Buy a Car, Oakland County

Golling Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

2405 S. Telegraph Rd., Bloomfield Hills; 877-233-6493 gollingchryserjeepdodge.com

An expansive inventory and low prices make this Bloomfield Hills dealership our readers' favorite place to purchase their Chrysler 300s and Dodge Durangos. Golling's offers one of the largest inventories of new Chryslers, Dodges, Jeeps and Rams in the state, as well as a hefty selection of pre-owned rides. The award-winning service department is fast and efficient, but if you are in for a wait you'll be treated to free WiFi, a children's playroom (complete with a Wii!) and a café. Golling also operates five other dealerships selling Fiats, Buicks and more.

Best Place to Buy a Car, Macomb County

TIE

Dorian Ford

35900 Gratiot Ave., Clinton Twp.; 888-856-1308 dorianford.com

Jeffrey Auto

30800 Gratiot Ave., Roseville; 800-362-4259;      jeffreyauto.com

Roy O'Brien Ford

22201 E. Nine Mile Rd., St. Clair Shores; 586-776-7600; royobrien.com

It's tough to beat repeat winner Roy O'Brien — established in 1946, it's consistently ranked as one of the top Ford dealers in the county — but, two other Macomb dealerships managed to muscle their way in for the tie. The Dorian family has more than 47 years of experience getting drivers into Fords, priding itself on offering some of the best prices around for new and used autos and repairs. Jeffrey Auto provides speedy sales of Kias, Hondas, Nissans and Acuras. Customers can take advantage of the Internet Express Lane Service to get in and out with a brand-spanking new ride in 60 minutes or less. Damn!

Best Place to Buy a Car, Washtenaw County

Varsity Ford

3480 Jackson Rd., Ann Arbor; 800-291-5889; 

varsityford.com

Family-owned since '81, Varsity Ford places an emphasis on making the car buying process as quick and painless as dropping thousands of dollars can be. To that end, they accommodate busy shoppers by putting as much of the process online as possible, from making appointments and obtaining financing to offering exclusive Internet specials and giving Internet shoppers the ability to browse Varsity's extensive selection of new and used Fords from the comfort of their home or office. The dealership also boasts the largest retail volume for Ford dealerships in the country and is a recipient of Ford's President's Award.

Best Motorcycle Shop

Motor City Harley-Davidson

34900 Grand River Ave., Farmington Hills; 248-473-RIDE; motorcityharley.com

Now that warm weather is here (for the most part), Motor City Harley-Davidson has everything you need to get out on the open road. Need a part? They have more than 1 million parts and accessories in stock. Need some maintenance? The service center offers more than 130 years of combined technical experience to repair or soup up your boss hog. Need a new bike? They've got a great selection of 2012 rides, plus 2011 models and more than 200 used bikes. New to motorcycles? Sign up for a class to get out and riding in no time.

Best Attorney

Michael Dezsi

615 Griswold St., Ste. 719, Detroit; 313-879-1206; dezsilaw.com

For the second year in a row, this former staff attorney for Geoffrey Fieger keeps his old boss from claiming the Best Of title. An aggressive and accomplished attorney, Dezsi spent five years in Fieger's firm handling a number of high-profile cases, including as part of the "dream team" that obtained Fieger's acquittal for federal campaign violations. Heading up his own firm for more than year now, Dezsi handles criminal defense, civil litigation, personal injury and employment discrimination cases.

Best Indie Health 

Food Store

Natural Food Patch

221 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-546-5908; naturalfoodpatch.com

According to Natural Food Patch of Ferndale owner Joel Fisher, being healthy isn't just for the wealthy. Natural Food Patch gets fresh organic produce every other day — it's the same organic fare you see at larger chains like Whole Foods, but without the fancy displays and hefty price tags. Their knowledgeable staff will help you find the perfect vitamins and supplements for your particular needs and sell them to you at a fraction of the price of other, fancy vitamin shops. Our readers love that this friendly, one-stop shop carries health and beauty aids, dog food and frozen treats like soy and rice ice cream alongside its produce and vitamins.

Best Independent Grocery Store, Wayne County

Honey Bee La Colmena

2443 Bagley St., Detroit; 313-237-0295

honeybeemkt.com

This southwest Detroit market keeps Detroiters happily stuffed with its wide selection of fresh produce, quality meats, hot prepared foods and plentifully stocked shelves. It has all the basics of good grocers down pat — clean, bright, well-organized — but comes in heads and shoulders above the rest thanks to its large selection of Latin American specialty products and its own in-house edibles. We dare you not to fall in love with Honey Bee's salsa, pico, chips and guac — which ranks as the best in town, in our humble opinion. 

Best Independent Grocery Store, Oakland

Western Market

447 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-546-7288; westernmarket.net

Since 1983, Western Market has provided its shoppers with fresh and healthy meats, produce, deli items and grocery store staples. Western's emphasis is on local foods, featuring a wide array of products from Michigan companies and farms. And if local isn't an option, the family-owned store does its best to deal only with other independent, family-owned businesses. Western also boasts a sizable selection of fine wines and craft beers, extensive organic options, generous weekly specials and, best of all, a passion for real, delicious food.

Best Independent Grocery Store, Macomb County

Nino Salvaggio

27900 Harper Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-778-3650; see ninosalvaggio.com for more locations

Nino Salvaggio's roots as a fruit and vegetable market show through in the delectable produce on display, but this gourmet grocery now offers so much more than just apples and tomatoes. Hundreds of cheeses, more than 1,600 Michigan-made products, a vast array of organic goods, an extensive wine selection, hard-to-find craft beers, fresh lobster, hundreds of gluten-free foods and gourmet meals prepared in-store are all available at the market's multiple locations. It also offers gift baskets, party planning services and online recipes and cooking guides. 

Best Independent Grocery Store, Washtenaw County

Arbor Farms

2103 W. Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor; 734-996-8111; arborfarms.com

For better or worse, your health is connected to what you eat — a fact not ignored at Arbor Farms. Since 1979, this Ann Arbor grocer has specialized in foods that are both good tasting and good for you, including local and organic produce, sustainably harvested seafood and grass-fed Michigan beef, pork and poultry. Arbor Farms also features homemade salads, soups and entrées, breads and sweets from local bakeries, and a wide range of natural grocery products. Check out the website for specials and access to extensive reference info on nutrition, health and the best eats to help cure what ails you.

Best Beer Selection in a Store, Wayne County

 

Best Wine Selection in a Store, Wayne County

Merchant's Fine Wine

22250 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-563-8700; merchantsfinewine.com

Founded in 1994, Merchant's Fine Wine is the place to go for all your fermented needs. They boast an impressive selection of fine wines including imported wines from almost every country imaginable, domestic wines from California, Arizona, Oregon and Washington, and perhaps the best selection of Michigan wines available anywhere. For beer, ask Merchant's Certified Cicerone for advice on selecting, acquiring, storing and serving today's wide range of beers. Once you've selected the perfect beer or wine, have the gracious and informed staff at Merchant's suggest a dynamic cheese or rich chocolate from their gourmet foods section to pair it with — you won't be disappointed.

Best Beer Selection in a Store, Oakland County

 

Best Wine Selection in a Store, Oakland County

Holiday Market

1203 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-541-1414;               holiday-market.com

The folks at Holiday Market have expanded from the snug neighborhood butcher shop they opened in the 1950s to the 60,000-square-foot market we know today, but the same foundation of quality and service remain. Whether you're a seasoned oenophile or just purchasing your first bottle, you'll enjoy looking through Holiday Market's more than 3,500 wine selections. As their website aptly states, they take pride in their ability to satisfy "any budget, occasion or palate." If you prefer a good beer, browse Holiday's collection of imported, domestic and microbrews — many of which are available in both bottle and keg.

Best Beer Selection in a Store, Macomb County

 

Best Wine Selection in a Store, Macomb County

Champane's Wine Cellars

7001 Chicago Rd., Warren; 586-978-9463; 

champanes.com

Champane's describes its knowledgeable staff as "partly clairvoyant," able to discern what a shopper desires with just a few, adroit questions. It's a trait no doubt appreciated by customers overwhelmed by the store's massive selection of Michigan-made brews, little-known craft beers, rare vintages, a vast array of Michigan wines and everything in between. And that's not even mentioning the huge liquor selection, competitive prices, rotating specials and frequent wine and beer tastings.

Best Beer Selection in a Store, Washtenaw County

The Beer Depot

114 E. William St., Ann Arbor; 734-623-4430 annarborbeerdepot.com

The Beer Depot is a beer geek's paradise, featuring more than 750 kinds of the frothy beverage. Whether you prefer stouts, lagers, IPAs or just want to search out new and unusual brews, the Depot is bound to have something that will satisfy your thirst. In business since 1941, the store also sells more than 750 wines and home brewing supplies. Teetotalers should stop by to check out the store's historic building, which was built in 1875 as a private residence.

Best Wine Selection in a Store, Washtenaw County

Plum Market

375 N. Maple Rd., Ann Arbor; 734-827-5000

for other locations, see plummarket.com

Plum Market has plenty of features to recommend it to local gourmands — excellent cheeses, amazing chocolates, natural and local products — but it's the wine that won over MT readers. The store's considerable selection represents a wide variety of regions and vintages, as well as more than 90 bottles affordably priced at $25 or less. Browse and purchase a bottle or two (or three or four ...) online or stop into the store to get handy pairing suggestions from the attentive employees.

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