Best Of

Best Shopping

by Sheri Boggs

Best Furniture Store - Burgan's Furniture

Oooh, nothing beats that "new furniture smell." Especially if it means your tattered, threadbare, dated, dog-haunted sectional is long gone, and in its place is a sleek, stylish leather couch or a gorgeous new sofa in the sophisticated new neutrals. If you're ready to get some new feng shui the furniture way, BURGAN'S FURNITURE is the first place to go in the Inland Northwest. Here you'll find the chair, sofa, loveseat, recliner, bed, table or desk of your dreams, as well as all of the accoutrements that go around your great new purchase (think: lamps, end tables, coffee tables, wall hangings, rugs and so on).

While Burgan's is one of the oldest businesses in Spokane (they've been a permanent fixture of the near North Side since the early-1900s), they didn't become a furniture store until sometime early in the 1950s.

"It was a general store originally," says Todd McEachran, buyer and information technology expert at Burgan's. "But it was my grandfather, Robert McEachran, who really went out and decided to spearhead the furniture side of the business." The problem was, there wasn't really a furniture side of the business to begin with, and when Robert approached his father for permission, the senior McEachran would have none of it.

"So my grandfather went out and had this great big sign made that said 'FURNITURE'," explains McEachran. The sign still stands proudly atop the building, making it easier to find after dark. "He decided it would be best to just do it and say 'I'm sorry' later."

And what about the building's exterior, so boxy, so vintage 1960s, so not in keeping with all the contemporary furniture inside? If you look closely, you'll see that the yellow and white stripes are made of tiles, giving it a distinctive honor of sorts. "Actually, we're the largest tiled building between Seattle and Minneapolis," laughs McEachran. Tiles or no, our readers still crown Burgan's No. 1.

Second place: Walker's

Third place: Joel

Best Shopping Mall - NorthTown Mall

Boy, how do you pick? While there are some who feel that "all malls are the same," many of our readers took the time to make it known that their mall, and only their mall, should be deemed Best Shopping Mall in the Inland Northwest. It was a close race, with Spokane Valley Mall and River Park Square snapping at its heels, but NorthTown Mall has proven itself the champion and king of all things food-courted and anchor-stored. While they've long been a regional favorite in this category, NorthTown's success this year is due no doubt to the opening of a new Regal Cinema in September. There have also been several new retail/restaurant additions, including Chili's and the Nordstrom Rack.

Second place: River Park Square

Third place: Spokane Valley Mall

Best soaps and Lotions - Bath and Body Works

Even though we spend most daylight hours inside our little cubicles, toiling mightily to produce The Inlander each week with little contact with the outside world, this is not to say we don't understand the importance of looking and smelling good. And we're happy to report that the citizens of Spokane are with us on this one. And when it's time to slather on the heavenly unguents and find just the right vanilla candle, we turn to Bath and Body Works. Here are people who can guide you in the choosing of your next scent du jour, be it freesia, tangerine or cucumber melon. Who are down with the hip new possibilities of scented ironing water. Who know what a pumice stone is and how to use it, by God. With its aggressively gingham awning and packed displays of fruity and flowery delights, their fresh-from-the-garden concept stores can be found at the Valley Mall, River Park Square and NorthTown Mall.

Second place: Lotions and Potions

Third place: The Body Shop

Best Pet Store - Northwest Seed & amp; Pet

For a long time, we've joked that we need a pet burro at The Inlander, not only to tote our copy up and down the stairs, but to bring us Cokes (from the vending machine two flights away) and companionship (from the bottom of its patient, beast of burden heart). And chances are, our friends at Northwest Seed & amp; Pet could hook us up. The place to go if you're ready to share your life and living space with a cat/dog/fish/snake/lizard/bird/potbellied pig/hamster/tarantula, Northwest Seed & amp; Pet also has all the stuff you'll need to keep your new friend both contained and content. And if you're also into nurturing plants, Northwest Seed & amp; Pet's middle name is, well, "Seed." It's catchy and accurate. Here's everything you could ever want in the way of bulbs, flower and vegetable varieties, pots, garden ornaments and nitty gritty stuff like fertilizer and insecticide.

Second place: Petco

Third place: Petsmart

Best Natural Foods - Huckleberry's

It's hard to believe a beat up little former IGA store could become this beautiful little haven for natural foods, gourmet wines and environmentally wise products. When they opened up five years ago, Huckleberry's wowed us with both their elegant store design (it's still the prettiest grocery store we've ever seen) and their selection. Their mission statement, to provide people with the healthiest alternatives possible, permeates every part of the store, from the caf & eacute;, where you can get the best tofu scramble in town, to the book corner in back, where you can find books by all the latest healthy living gurus. They even have a florist, on-site chair massage by appointment, a great selection of Odwalla juices and a cosmetics counter, stocked with products from Zia, Beauty Without Cruelty, and Dr. Hauschka.

Second place: Pilgrim's Nutrition

Third place: Lorien

Best Place to Get a Tattoo - Tiger Tattoo

More than a few of you wiseacres responded with "your ass." Ha, ha. While that is indeed a popular site for potential tattoo work, the answer we were looking for is best business that specializes in such work. And this year, the honor goes -- again -- to Tiger Tattoo. Just head east on Sprague, look for the great big painted tiger head on the wall, screw up your courage and walk in. Inside, you'll find that Tiger Tattoo is one professional tattoo joint -- hygiene is of the utmost priority here -- and you'll also be amazed at all the designs you can choose from. Kanji, fairies, Celtic knots, butterflies, flames, snakes, planets, comets, animals -- whatever you're into, they can do it. They do piercing, too, in case that's the look you're after, and you can pick up some new body jewelry items while you're there as well.

Second place: Lady Luck Tattoos

Third place: Bullet Proof Tattoos

Best Men's Clothes - Nordstrom

"The ladies go crazy for a sharp dressed man..." goes the old ZZ Top song. Quite frankly, who doesn't? And Nordstrom is the place to get your look. Whether it's dress shirts, polo shirts, jeans, chinos, khakis, socks, ties, boxers, shoes or jackets you're after, Nordstrom can set you up with the best there is. Kenneth Cole, Halogen, Tommy Bahama, Ralph Lauren or Fa & ccedil;onnable are just a few of the designer names you'll find. Nordstrom is famous for its impeccable, friendly service, which goes a long way when you're trying to find just the right white cotton shirt or a watch that can go from hiking on the weekends to meeting with clients during the week.

Second place: The Bon Marche

Third place: Hamer's

Best Bookstore - Auntie's

If you're a book junkie, Auntie's is the place to get your fix. We were happy to see that even with two Barnes & amp; Noble stores (and they're lovely, don't get us wrong) within a 15-mile radius, Auntie's customers remain a loyal group, and once again the independent bookseller pulled ahead of the pack. Part of the reason for their success is a core group of employees dedicated to the written word -- they'll happily pull you off into the shelves to share their latest literary love. But there's also the selection -- both bestselling authors and new discoveries -- as well as a spacious, browsing-friendly store space. Free gift wrap, parking validations, events for children, used books, the reading series, book club services and a building that also holds the Liberty Cafe, the Paper Garden, Stone Crazy and Argentum Aurum, are just a few of the things that make Auntie's queen of all bookstores.

Auntie's began 16 years ago, in a cozy little location on Riverside. Owners Chris O'Harra and Shannon Ahern were doing well with their Book & amp; Game Company store in the Flour Mill, but O'Harra had always wanted to open a bigger, more literary bookstore. Auntie's moved to the new location in the Liberty Building in 1993, and Ahern left the business last year to focus on the Book & amp; Game Company, which has stores throughout the Inland Northwest. But all these changes have only invigorated the business. Even with increased competition, changes within the company and fluctuations in sales, the store has remained a strong part of the downtown Spokane retail landscape.

Second place: Barnes & amp; Noble

Third place: Hastings

Best CDs and Videos Hastings

Remember back in the early '80s when they were just one little store in a strip mall on East Sprague? Hardly anyone does, probably because Hastings has become so huge here in the Inland Northwest. The national chain has four stores in Spokane and one in Coeur d'Alene, each fully stocked with all the music, movies and video games you could hope for. Whether your taste runs to Shania Twain, Vitamin C or P.J. Harvey, chances are you'll find it at Hastings. The same goes for movies. Hastings has a nice DVD collection, as well as videos -- action, foreign, scary, romantic, art films, whatever your mood, they've got it. Not only that, they also do special orders, they offer gift cards (they're like gift certificates in a handy little credit card-sized unit) and they're open until 11 pm.

Second place: 4,000 Holes

Third place: Blockbuster

Best Bank - Washington Mutual

The commercial goes: "Washington Mutual will make a fan out of you." And it looks like they've made a fan out of Spokane. Founded in 1889 after the Great Seattle Fire, Washington Mutual has grown to have branches all over the state, from Pullman to Puyallup, from Spokane to Sequim. In addition to all the usual bank services -- including checking, savings, loan services and financial advising -- they also offer free checking, online banking, banking with a teller at no extra cost and friendly, helpful staffs who are willing to go the distance to help you with all of your banking needs. Best of all, Washington Mutual is community-oriented banking at its finest. Recently, Washington Mutual became a proud sponsor of the Seattle Mariners, and just awarded a $50,000 grant to fund the Farm Workers Housing project in central Washington.

Second place: Bank of America

Third place: Spokane Teachers Credit Union

Best New Car Dealer - Wendle Motors

For years, we've always thought of them as Wendle Ford, which is appropriate considering that in the '70s and '80s, it was that Ford dealership that made Dick and Chud Wendle's business one of the biggest in the area. But now, Wendle Motors carries not only Ford, but also Isuzu, Suzuki, Nissan, Infiniti and all makes and models of used cars as well. The Division and Wellesley site has expanded to encompass 100,000 square feet teeming with shiny new cars and trucks; the site at the Division Street Y is now a whopping 60,000 square feet. Founded in 1943, Wendle is expanding into cyberspace as well. You can now shop for your new car online, schedule your next service appointment and they even have a Web site calculator that will help you figure out the financing should you decide to take the plunge and buy a new vehicle.

Second place: Appleway

Third place: Camp

Best Customer Service - Nordstrom

Founded in 1901 by John W. Nordstrom, one of the Northwest's finest retailers and success stories celebrates 100 years this year. And one of the hallmarks of Nordstrom's highly lauded reputation is its service, which sets the standard for other major department stores. Of course, the knowledgeable sales associates at Nordstrom are happy to search far and wide for whatever it is you're looking for, but they also make a point of building relationships with each customer. They'll even call you when the new season of a certain designer arrives, or show you how to achieve a new look with the latest trendy cosmetic colors and textures. The nicest thing about Nordstrom is that many of the sales associates have incorporated their company's approach to exemplary customer service, making it not only a great place to shop, but a place that tends to keep loyal employees and customers alike for the long haul.

Second place: Les Schwab

Third place: Safeway

Best Business Sign - Spokane Pump

"We Fix Things That Suck." It's as much a mission statement as it is a great local sign. Although Spokane Pump won a similar category ("Best Slogan or Jingle") in our 1999 poll, as far as our readers are concerned, the novelty just hasn't worn off. The slogan was dreamed up by those crazy kids at the Quinn Advertising Group and was promptly embraced by the commuting community, some of whom have been known to drive around the block to get a better look.

Second Place: Handy Andy's

Third Place: Northern Quest/Italian Kitchen (tie)

Best Store the Inland Northwest Needs - Old Navy

Ever since we first started seeing the kitschy commercials with Morgan Fairchild, Magic the dog and that lady with the really big black glasses, we've been coveting an Old Navy store of our very own. According to their Web site, their commercials "celebrate family, fashion, fun and value" -- in short, everything Old Navy is about. The clothes are trendy without being overly so, the prices are amazing (really) and they have stuff for men, women, boys, girls, babies and even, occasionally, dogs. If you've been hearing rumors for years that Spokane is getting an Old Navy, for once they're true. Old Navy is moving into a free-standing building near the Spokane Valley Mall, later this year.

Second place: IKEA

Third place: Trader Joe's

Best New Business - Restoration Hardware

At first glance, this doesn't even appear to be a hardware store. And in many ways, it's not. There aren't any big dusty bins of nails, no staple gun supplies or even a good carpenter's pencil. But if you're the happy owner of an old home, or a newer home that craves a vintage look, Restoration Hardware is a mighty fine place to go for ideas. You can order pedestal sinks, faucets and ceiling fixtures. You can buy towel racks, leather furniture, brushed chrome heat register covers and Victorian green grass drawer pulls. They even have paint -- Silver Sage is a lovely green neutral -- and Anchor Hocking glass refrigerator containers (the way they used to make 'em). We especially like how Restoration Hardware conjures up a nostalgic era -- whether real or imagined -- with products like Oxydol detergent, Nevr Dull and plastic school cafeteria trays like the kind that used to transport your pigs-in-a-blanket, orange wedges and milk to the table.

Second place: Pottery Barn

Third place: Abercrombie and Fitch

Best Antiques - Aunt Bea's Antiques

The word on the street is that Spokane is a great town for antiquing, and nowhere is that more true than on Market Street, which is where the winner of our antiques category, Aunt Bea's, resides. Specializing in fine antiques, Aunt Bea's combs estate and yard sales looking for all the best finds from Depression and Fenton glass to oak and maple dressers from a century ago. We're especially happy to see a Hillyard business win -- Aunt Bea's is just one of the many businesses that continue to draw visitors into one of Spokane's most interesting neighborhoods.

Second place: Madeleine's

Third place: Vintage Rabbit/Finders Keepers (tie)

Best Jewelry - Pounder's

"A Diamond is Forever" goes the saying, and there's no better place to select your own sparkling little piece of eternity than Pounder's. They've been around since 1956, and while their location has changed, their standards of quality, selection and service have not. They have one of the largest collections of new and estate jewelry in the area, and they also do custom design and manufacturing work. And it doesn't matter what kind of budget you're on -- the knowledgeable staff will take care of you. So whether it's time to pop the question, celebrate a big anniversary or custom design a unique, personal piece of jewelry for yourself, Pounder's is the place.

Second place: Dodson's

Third place: Jewelry Design Center

Best Florist - Liberty Park Florist

In this hotly contested race, Inlander readers voted for a true blue neighborhood florist. Liberty Park Florist and Greenhouse is in the newly revitalized South Perry district, at the corner of Eighth and Perry. The reasons for needing flowers are as varied as the blossoms themselves, and Liberty Park is here to help. Whether your sister just delivered her first baby, your best friend just landed the job of her dreams or you really messed up and you need to say "I'm sorry" to your girlfriend -- pronto -- you'll find just the right way with flowers here.

Second place: Just Roses

Third place: Peters and Sons

Best Women's Clothes - Nordstrom

Okay, here's the deal: you've got an interview coming up for the job of your dreams. Or, you're meeting your boyfriend's parents for the first time. Maybe it's a cruise you decided to go on at the last minute and you need a new bathing suit -- fast. Or perhaps you feel like your look is trapped somewhere back in the tapestry vest-and-khaki pants era (10 years ago) and it's time for a makeover. Or, it's as simple as the fact that you love clothes in a big way. Whatever your need, Nordstrom's the place. Not only do they have a great selection of the newest, most fashion-forward looks in town, they carry all the big names, including DKNY, Eileen Fisher, Emme, Elie Tahari and Laundry by Shelli Segal.

Second place: The Bon Marche

Third place: The Gap

Best Beauty Salon - 14th and Grand

Is your hair hanging in lackluster strands all over your head? Is your straight-from-the-box haircolor losing its lustre? Do you need to force your hair back in a complicated arrangement of bobby pins just to get through the day? Then you need to visit 14th and Grand, my tress-troubled friend. This South Hill institution runs a close race with Jaazz every year, but this year they managed to win the Best Beauty Salon crown back. Part of the reason for their success is the fact that you can almost always walk in and get an appointment the same day, if not right away. The lobby is a gilt-and-floral temple to girly pleasures. Their great selection of Bumble & amp; Bumble products smell heavenly and make your coif look great. And as Spokane's premier no-tipping salon, it's one less little hassle for 14th and Grand's busy clients to have to deal with.

Second place: Jaazz Salon

Third place: Blades

Best Day Spa - Spa Paradiso

When Spokane needs to unwind, relax, detox and exfoliate, they come to Spa Paradiso. With a full range of services for men and women in dire need of pampering (in fact, we know a few here at The Inlander), Spa Paradiso is an oasis in a busy and hectic world. When you arrive for your appointment, you're bundled up in a robe and sandals and all the trappings of your street life are safely whisked away to a locker. Then it's off to the jacuzzi, steam room or sauna to "enhance the therapeutic quality" of your visit. The spa services include massage (Swedish, deep tissue and sports), reiki, La Stone therapy, thalassotherapy (using the minerals in seaweed and sea mud), aromatherapy and facials. For the money, it's the best ticket to paradise around!

Second place: Jaazz Salon

Third Place: Paradise Spa

Heartistry: Artistic Wellbeing @ Spark Central

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