Best Beer, Bait, and Bullets - 2004
The Corner Store
It started out quirky and has gotten weirder since. Built in the '70s, the Corner Store was initially envisioned as a futuristic, octagonal-shaped market manned by robots. The original owner ringed the place with conveyor belts with the idea that customers could select items from computerized terminals that would then pass along the belts and into their cars. The Jetsons-like system bombed and was torn out 20 years ago. But since, that odd outlook on convenience has permeated this place. The Corner Store's current owner, Robert Lamelas, now sells a bizarre collection of goods, including ammunition, live bait, designer sunglasses, and imported beer. The ammo is stacked haphazardly on a shelf in the back, sold frequently to tournament shooters who pay a little extra to avoid Wal-Mart. Nearby sit tanks filled with live crabs and live shrimp. And in the coolers that line the back side of the small store are rows and rows of exotic beers, ranging from $2 Abita to the $10-a-bottle Dogfish Head stout. Weirdest of all, Corner Store employees are required to carry their own guns, Manager Mike Papadatos says. This gunslinger approach to shopkeeping has given the store a unique advantage, Papadatos says: "I think we're the only corner store that has never been robbed." We'll drink to that.