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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Used-Book Store

This place has everything a used-book store should have: prices penciled inside well-thumbed covers; the warm smell of leather, ink, and paper; and books piled on blue milk crates, stuffed in shelves, flapping from racks, and strewn across countertops. The hand-painted sign above the door welcomes browsers, and Trader John's means it. You could spend an entire rainy April afternoon tackling Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and no one would bother you -- or even notice, for that matter. The store's hodgepodge of genres includes mysteries, classics, reference books, fiction, and the occult. There's even a rare-and-collectibles section in the front offering tomes dating from the late 1890s to the early part of the 20th Century. The store's selection of vinyl records and videos is just as eclectic: Ovid's The Art of Love neighbors the Three Stooges' Jerks of All Trades in the front window display. Don't let Paco, the large gold Labrador sprawled by the entranceway, deter your rummaging. He belongs to the owner and is somewhat of a book hound himself.

Best Head Shop

Yes, there are the mandatory lavender incense, dancin' bears, black lights, and tie-dye. But there's also a humidifier housing Dominican and Honduran cigars and a mean music selection of bluegrass and jazz greats like Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday. Acoustic guitars, painted wooden flutes, ukuleles, and even a mountain dulcimer offer further testimony to owner Bob Kovner's love of melody. Kovner, who's been in the smoke-shop biz for 18 years, also role-plays as house artisan with an on-the-premises studio, where he crafts sculpture from Lucite, glass, and gemstones. He's so handy that, after leasing the space, he bought a full-size school bus and chopped the front end off by himself. Now its psychedelic façade (think smiling suns and mushrooms) sits center stage, an Uncle Sam-hatted skeleton grinning from a seat. Pipes behind the counter; munchies like sourballs and Skittles toward the back. Chimes, kites, sundresses, harmony candles. A strange trip, indeed.

Best Place to Rent a Ferrari

You want to have sex, but you drive a Corolla. And you know that driving a Corolla means it will be difficult, if not impossible, to find someone to have sex with. You need a car that says: "Not only have I made it, but I've squandered a good deal of it on this car, which makes me a very sexually attractive person, don't you think?" What to do? Scrape together a week's wages or so and take it to Unique Auto Rentals. There you will find approximately 35 very sexy cars for your renting pleasure. Unique can put you in a Ferrari 355 Spider for about $1000 a day. Or, if you don't need that much sex, you could rent a Porsche 996 Cabrio for about $400 a day, or a Plymouth Prowler for a little more than $300. The rest is up to you, tiger.

Best Pet Store

When it comes to styling, most dog owners think in terms of one of those God-awful poodle clips. But real dog obsessives know there is couture for K-9s. This house offers custom-designed pet outfits made by a local woman from all kinds of fabric. You can almost hear the voice-over as the fashion show begins: "Fifi is most charming this season in her wind-and-rain gear that keeps her coat dry and, well, smelling right. The fabric is waterproof, of course, and comes in a wide array of attractive colors. And when spring rains fall, her sleek little hood snaps on. And here comes Millie, rugged and ready for anything in a purple fleece jacket that slips on and off easily with Velcro…." Everyone knows to accessorize with collars, but how about that added touch: "Timmy Holedigger" pet cologne. There's even an oral hygiene product called Oxyfresh if your model is stepping out after a day on the runway. Is she jetting off to Paris for a show? Then you can get transporters and carriers here, along with diet treats so she can maintain that model figure.

Best Vet/Animal Hospital

Hello. This is Spotty the dog weighing in on my favorite animal hospital. Paws down that would be Simmons Veterinary Clinic. First of all, they don't make me wait with annoying cats -- dogs get our own waiting room. A vet is on site 24 hours a day, so if I get hit by a car in the middle of the night, my owner can take me to Simmons for immediate treatment and reassurance. They do everything there, from implanting a computer identification chip under my skin to surgery to x-rays to cleaning my teeth. (OK, I confess, I sometimes get doggy breath.) My owner is even enrolling me in puppy socialization classes, where I will learn how to sit, stay, jump, and, um, refrain from accidents. ( I just get so excited!) I don't even mind if my owner leaves me overnight, because this place offers an indoor dog run, a three-acre outdoor exercise area, and online computer visits with my owner. The poor guy can't handle being away from me for a second.

Best Toy Store

The thing that sets Super Toys apart is that it's one of the few places that doesn't sell Sega Dreamcast or Sony Playstation. You're more likely to find toys that serve some kind of creative or educational purpose, like the popular Odyssey talking globe. Here's how it works: Select a category (such as national anthem or capital city of a country), then place the pointer on any spot on the globe, and the globe "tells" you the answer in a loud voice. Super Toys is also one of the few places where wood is good, as seen in the Swedish Brio and the Thomas the Tank Engine brands. For the bone collector in your young'un, there's the Dueling Dino Dig Archaeological Kit, where you can "Dig 'Em Up, and Assemble 'Em." If your kid's into arts and crafts, the Fortune Kooky Power Bead Kit can help Junior cleanse his aura and achieve spiritual awakening at home. In addition to toys, there are books such as the Homework Helpers series and edible treats like Puzzle-Os potato chips. In general Super Toys shies away from mass-market merchandise. Thank goodness there's not a Barney doll in sight. Then, you ask, what's the deal with the Pokémon stuff behind the register? Well, if one of their regulars repeatedly requests a certain item, it'll be there. Attention to customer service (no matter how painful), along with free gift-wrapping, is what keeps the well-heeled toy shoppers of western Broward County coming back.


Best Used-Book Store: Trader John's Book & Record


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