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Best Of 1999

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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Skate Shop

Inline skates and skateboards are sidelines at surf and ski shops, but Super Skates specifically targets wheeled warriors. This specialized approach gives each store the atmosphere of a boutique. The shop on Fort Lauderdale beach is wide open to the salty breeze and outfitted with a smattering of clothing racks and rows of metal skate mounts. Skateboards and oversize T-shirts hang around one corner, bearing busty comic-book blondes and sinister skulls. The comprehensive selection of inline skates includes K2, Roces, and Salomon as well as the ubiquitous Rollerblade, at prices ranging from a child's $79.99 X-tenblade to a stuntman's $249.99 El Oro. "The word on the street -- a lot of people have them -- is Salomon," advises 13-year-old Neal McClure. In just seconds, he has slipped out of his skate-rat slouch and into smooth salesmanship. "It's a win-win situation. The flat sole goes a lot faster, and it's superior in comfort." Too young to be on the payroll, McClure helps out for free shirts, discounted gear, and social opportunities. "I make new friends every day," says McClure. "This place is so great, I'd work here for free."

Best Adult Video Store

Size does matter. That's why we journey to Megasex Adult Emporium for our XXX video needs. With about 20,000 titles available for rent, the place stocks something for every fetish and fantasy. Looking for celluloid she-males? There's a whole section dedicated to the testosterone-challenged. Titillated by outrageously endowed women? Check out the "Big Tits" section. The women featured here make Dolly Parton's you-know-whats look like mosquito bites. There are also dozens of amateur titles, such as Fuck the Boss Vol. 5, which features five "suck-retariats." Not to mention countless "classics": Who could forget Deep Throat 6? Our favorite section of Megasex Adult Emporium, however, has to be "Wrestling." It features such cinematic juggernauts as Pussy Whipped and Smothered With Pantyhose. Open until 2 a.m. every night except Sunday (when closing time is midnight), Megasex is the perfect opiate for those lonely Saturday nights when the family-friendly fare at Blockbuster just doesn't cut it.

Best Bait Shop

When Betty and Earnest "Blackie" Hinkle opened Hinkle Bait and Tackle on State Road 84 in 1955, a sprinkling of lures hung on the wall, and the empty boxes were put on display to make it look like they had more in stock. The trick worked, because enough customers returned to justify increasing the inventory. Soon the store was recognized for its wide selection of fishing equipment and accessories, especially live bait. So when Larry and Marcia Brooks took over the shop in 1996, all Larry had to do was mention the name of his new shop at a fishing trade convention, and he was promptly offered a $100,000 credit line by one manufacturer. The Hinkles originally sold the shop in 1977, but Betty Hinkle has stayed in contact with all the owners since, offering advice and occasionally working at the shop, which moved to its present location in Davie in 1983, when a section of I-595 was built through the property. Earlier this year the inside walls of the building, which resembles a rustic wood cabin with a porch, were knocked out to create more space. Now the current owners, Tom and Lisa Krips, are set to provide area fishermen with an even greater selection of rods, reels, waders, lures, line, hunting gear, and, of course, plenty of live crawly critters to put on the end of a hook.

Best Barber

Customers of Guys and Dolls are sternly advised to "Please sit up straight, uncross your legs, keep your feet off the furniture, and please don't smoke while your hair is being cut." The sign on the wall is no joke, says co-owner Linda Lafrato; at the height of the season, her colorful beachfront salon draws weird walk-ins like driftwood. Maybe it's the huge row of red, green, orange, and purple "passion flowers" painted along the outside façade or possibly the six-foot, hand-carved teak "Java Man" statue waiting just inside the front door to greet unsuspecting visitors. Or maybe it's just they've heard this is an always-reliable spot to have your hair cut, curled, styled, teased, shampooed, combed, and blown dry for a reasonable price by a friendly and talented crew. They heard right.

Best Boutique

Nine Inch Nails pumps through the store, indicating that a trip to Rhythm Clothiers is not your typical shopping excursion. Street-savvy duds by Miss Sixty, Diesel, and Juicy share the racks with more refined designs from BCBG Max Azria, Vertigo, and Parallel. "It's all in the mix," co-owner Gerry Novoa says of his take on trends and the attention he pays to fresh, durable fabrics. The Rhythm staff unpacks new pieces every day but stocks only a few of each so that, out on the street, customers don't run into other folks wearing the same outfits. Although women's clothes -- sheer skirts, slinky dresses, metallic slacks -- fill most of this funky boutique, the velour pullovers and retro-patterned shirts in the back of the shop tempt fashion-conscious men. Collaged wallpaper fragments cover the walls of dressing rooms outfitted with vintage chairs. In one stall stands a regal mannequin with arms of red wood, decked out in an AstroTurf bustier and skirt of faux poinsettias. The patron saint of Rhythm Clothiers, she has attitude and style to spare.

Best Comic Book Shop

If you're into comic books or know someone who is, you've probably heard of Phil's Comic Shoppe. And if you're looking for that hard-to-find Silver Surfer No. 15 or Superman: The Complete History, Phil has it. Even some of his competitors say Phil Beracha is the best, and there are plenty of reasons why. He has more than 30 years of experience, he has everything from brand-new books to back issues, and he knows the history of comic books inside out -- the fact, for instance, that the comic book began back in the 1800s with pulp magazines that featured the Yellow Kid. And get this: If there's a title you can't find in Phil's shop, he'll get you in touch with someone who can provide it. He's not afraid to recommend customers to other comic book dealers.

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Best Skate Shop: Super Skates

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