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Readers Poll: Goods & Services, People & Places

by The Staff on March 8, 2012 · 1 comment

People & Places

Best Park

1. Washington Park

2. The Crossings

3. Thacher State Park

Albany’s urban oasis won easily, but there was still strong support for Colonie’s gem and one of our best-loved regional destination parks.


Best Playground

1. The Crossings

2. Central Park, Schenectady

3. Elm Avenue Park

This was a big win for the Crossings.


Best Day Trip

1. Western Massachusetts

2. Lake George

3. Vermont

Clearly, you look to the north and/or east when you’re in the mood for an excursion.


Best Bike Ride

1. Mohawk-Hudson Bike Trail

2. Corning Preserve

3. Saratoga

Since Corning Preserve is part of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Trail, it’s a double win for the continually expanding trans-city trail.


Best Running Trail

1. The Crossings

2. (TIE) Corning Preserve, Pine Bush Preserve

The suburban Crossings walked off with first place by a narrow margin over both nature preserves.


Best Hiking/Nature Trail

1. Thacher State Park

2. Five Rivers Environmental Center

3. Plotter Kill Preserve

Thacher is by far the most popular hiking trail—yet another proof that this natural treasure should be kept open regardless of the state economy.


Best Rock Climbing

1. Albany Indoor Rock Gym

2. The Edge

3. The Gunks

A landslide win for Albany Indoor Rock Gym with the new Edge at Halfmoon besting outdoor climbing Mecca the Shawangunks.


Best Gym

1. Planet Fitness


3. Golds Gym

The situation here suggests we’ll need to add tanning and laundry categories for next year.


Best Tattoo Artist

1. Jonathan Abbott, Timeless Tattoo

2. Matt Mrowka, Needlewurks

3. Tom Spaulding, Tom Spaulding Tattoo Studio

It’s important to trust the dude who’s about to put that butterfly on your lower back. None of these three would let you get away with that.


Best Yoga/Pilates

1. (TIE) Heartspace Yoga & Healing Arts, Orenda Yoga

3. Hot Yoga Saratoga

Your votes were stretched between points north and west, as Schenectady’s Orenda matched Albany mainstay Heartspace, followed at some distance by Hot Yoga Saratoga.


Best Golf Course

1. Saratoga National Golf Club

2. Capital Hills Golf Course

3. Stadium Golf Course

When it comes to hitting the links, readers apparently prefer luxury over economy.


Best Miniature Golf

1. Oasis Family Fun Park

2. Hoffman’s Miniature Golf

3. Pirate’s Cove Mini Golf

This is what happens when you put “miniature” or “mini” in your name: A place with “Fun” in the title wins the round.


Best Skiing/Snowboarding

1. Gore Mountain

2. Jiminy Peak

3. West Mountain

With more ski-trail acreage than any other ski facility in the state, Gore shredded the votes.


Best Ice Skating

1. Empire State Plaza

2. Swinburne Skating Park

3. Conway Ice Rink at HVCC

Given the sizable margin of victory, we’re thinking that Gov. Cuomo made a very popular move in reopening the Plaza rink.


Best Bowling Alley

1. Playdium

2. Del Lanes

3. Sunset Lanes

Who wouldn’t want to rock-‘n’-bowl at the retro-chic Playdium? And it has glow-in-the-dark lighting!


Best Pool Hall

1. Diamond Eight Billiards

2. Golden Cue

3. Trick Shot

It wasn’t by a long shot, but Latham pool hall Diamond Eight put the most votes in the pocket.


Best Bar

1. McGeary’s Irish Pub

2. The Ruck

3. City Beer Hall

The former perennial winner in this category was Tess’ Lark Tavern. Clearly, when Tess Collins moved downtown to McGeary’s, she took her winning ways with her.


Best Hook-Up Bar

1. Jillian’s

2. McGeary’s Irish Pub

3. The Ruck

What, nobody goes to Lark Street to get laid anymore?


Best Gay Bar

1. Oh Bar

2. Water Works Pub

3. Rocks

Only 10 votes separated Oh Bar from Water Works this year. Maybe it’s the fab patio; our neighbors seem to be having a great time all summer.


Best Wine Bar

1. Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark

2. The Wine Bar Saratoga

3. The Ginger Man

Both wine bars did well, but Albany’s Wine Bar & Bistro really poured it on.


Best Happy Hour Bar

1. McGeary’s Irish Pub

2. (TIE) The Ruck, Justin’s

We’re happy each time we visit any of these three wonderful hotspots.


Best Bar Staff

1. McGeary’s Irish Pub

2. The Ruck

3. Wolff’s Biergarten

Tess’ tight-knit “family” wins again.


Best Strip Club

1. DiCarlo’s

2. Nite Moves

3. Double Vision

Once again, DiCarlo’s is “the hot chick” among the hot chicks.


Best Comedy Club

1. Comedy Works

2. Savannah’s

3. Water Works Pub

Work it: Voters gave it up for the specialist, voting Comedy Works all the love.


Best Drive-In Movie Theater

1. Malta Drive-In

2. Jericho Drive-In

3. Hollywood Drive-In

The Capital Region is blessed with an awesome array of drive-in theaters. There was solid support for each of these, but Malta won by almost 40 votes.


Best Sports Venue (Spectator)

1. Times Union Center

2. Joe Bruno Stadium

3. Saratoga Race Course

With Albany Devils AHL hockey and Siena men’s NCAA basketball, we expected the TUC to win. But it was closer than expected, and it must be that you really, really love the Tri-City Valley Cats.


Best Sports Venue (Participant)

1. Afrim’s Sports

2. (TIE) Times Union Center, Washington Ave Armory

If soccer, lacrosse, golf or flag football are your games, Afrim’s in Colonie and Latham are the places to go when it’s raining outside.


Best Public Official

1. Jerry Jennings

2. Paul Tonko

3. Andrew Cuomo

Andrew Cuomo may have sky-high approval ratings, but nobody has more friends than Jerry Jennings.


Best Citizen Advocate

1. Alice Green

2. Occupy Albany

3. David Soares

Only a few votes separated these fine advocates for legal and/or economic justice.


Best Animal Advocate

1. Steve Caporizzo

2. Mohawk Hudson Humane Society

3. Brad Shear

Another solid win for everyone’s favorite meterologist-advocate.


Best Local Charity

1. Mohawk Hudson Humane Society

2. Capital City Rescue Mission

3. Ronald McDonald House

Puppies and kitties narrowly won over down-and-outers and sick kids. We’re not sure what this means, but we admire your overall generosity.


Best Swimming


2. Grafton State Park

3. Elm Avenue Park

As they say, it’s fun to stay at the YMCA.


Best Campgrounds

1. Lake George

2. (TIE) Moreau State Park, Thompson’s Lake

Maybe it’s the nightlife, but Lake George got a clear majority over the other places to pitch a tent.


Best Suburb

1. Delmar

2. Guilderland

3. Clifton Park

We have a theory: Folks in Loudonville are secure enough in their ’burb’s superiority that they didn’t feel a need to vote. We’re not saying, however, that Delmartians have an inferiority complex. Of course not.


Best Downtown Living

1. Saratoga Springs

2. Troy

3. Albany

Jeez, does less crime really make that big of a difference?


Best Downtown Partying

1. Saratoga Springs

2. Albany

3. Lark Street

We can’t argue with your choices. And we write from experience.


Best Up-and-Coming Neighborhood

1. Delaware Avenue, Albany

2. Troy

3. Pine Hills, Albany

A big win for the residents and businesses in and around Albany’s Delaware Avenue. And props for the heartfelt support of Pine Hills in spite of, well, you know. But, hey, Trojans, listen up: All of Troy isn’t “a neighborhood.”


Best In-Store Pet

1. Ruby and Bella from Head To Tail Pet Wellness Center

2. Tommy from Counties of Ireland

3. Faith from Spa Virgo

Having two store pets is clearly the way to win in this category.


Goods & Services

Best Optical Store

1. Empire Vision Centers

2. DiNapoli Opticians

3. LensCrafters

We can see that Empire Vision Centers are your occulists of choice.


Best Appliance Store

1. Sears Roebuck & Co.

2. Marcella & Son Appliances & Home Entertainment

3. Earl B. Feiden Appliance

Mall store Sears narrowly beat out Schenectady appliance giant Marcella & Sons.


Best Antiques

1. Aunt Katie’s Attic

2. Silver Fox Salvage

3. La Moda Lisa

OK, you wanted gently used rather than really old, and these three stores have the goods–recycled, reclaimed, and repurposed.


Best Bookstore

1. The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza

2. Barnes & Noble

3. The Open Door Bookstore

Victory for the independents: The Book House vanquished Barnes & Noble, and the Open Door vaulted over the slain Borders chain into third place.


Best Comic Book Store

1. Earthworld Comics

2. Zombie Planet

3. Aquilonia Comics, Cards & More

Earthworld Comics, the clear winners, proudly state that they’ve been “rotting minds” and “seducing the innocent” since 1983. We appreciate that.


Best Garden Store/Nursery

1. Hewitt’s Garden Centers

2. Faddegon’s Nursery

3. George’s Market & Nursery

Hewitt’s had almost twice the votes of runner-up Faddegon’s, which had three times the votes of George’s. So, yes, this is a popular category.


Best Florist

1. Lark Street Flower Market

2. Emil J. Nagengast Florist

3. Central Market Florist at Price Chopper

Lark Street Flower Market retains its crown, but only by a handful of votes: Your regard for Nagengast’s artistry continues to grow.


Best Kitchen Store

1. Different Drummer’s Kitchen

2. Bed Bath & Beyond

3. Williams-Sonoma

It was no contest in this cook-off, as Different Drummer’s varied selection won it hands down. Another victory for independents.


Best Furniture Store

1. The Old Brick Furniture Co.

2. Taft Furniture

3. Huck Finn’s Warehouse

Price was no object in this category, where discounters ruled but Old Brick’s traditional salesroom took the top spot.


Best Pet Supply Store

1. PetSmart

2. Benson’s Pet Center

3. Healthy Pet Center

When it comes to buying small pets, or supplies for big pets, readers prefer the national chain with the familiar name.


Best Gift Store

1. Wits End Giftique

2. Pearl Grant Richmans

3. Romeo’s Gifts

This is a pretty tight category, but this time the allure of the “giftique” won out.


Best Wine/Liquor Store

1. Exit 9 Wine & Liquor Warehouse

2. Empire Wine

3. All Star Wine & Spirits

These three quality superstores represent volume, value and vast selection in wine and spirits.


Best Women’s Clothing Store

1. Macy’s

2. Kohl’s

3. Circles

The women’s clothing “shops” at Macy’s form an arcade of fashion, from Sportswear to Petites to Impulse to Lauren—and voting reflected all departments.


Best Men’s Clothing Store

1. Macy’s

2. Jos. A. Bank

3. Spector’s Men’s Clothing

Apparently the gents appreciate Macy’s as much as the ladies do.


Best Children’s Clothing Store

1. Gap Kids

2. Children’s Place

3. Macy’s

The relatively small number of votes cast in this category suggests that readers don’t want to admit the truth: They buy most of their kids’ clothes at Walmart.


Best Consignment Clothing Store

1. La Moda Lisa

2. Plato’s Closet

3. Clothes Mentor

La Moda Lisa consigns vintage jewelry, formal wear for ladies and gents, fixed-up furnishings, and local artworks. And you love her for it.


Best Sporting Goods Store

1. Dick’s Sporting Goods

2. Goldstocks Sporting Goods

3. Eastern Mountain Sports

By the look of these results, our readers’ definition of “sport” (as Mitt Romney says), is the running and dribbling rather than the paddling and skiing sort. Dick’s won in a landslide.


Best Head Shop

1. Northern Lights

2. Deja Vu

3. Shining Star

Each of these boutiques has a strong following, judging by the closeness of the vote.


Best Cigar/Tobacco Shop

1. Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe

2. Edleez Tobacco

3. Smokers Choice

Habana Premium has stores on both sides of the river—with cigar lounges—which may have given them their small lead over pipe den Edleez Tobacco.


Best Holistic Shop

1. Honest Weight Food Co-op

2. Peaceful Inspirations

3. Four Seasons

OK, so “holistic” is a fairly broad descriptor and the results here reflect that. Whatever your flavor of incense, these three likely have you covered.


Best Art Supply Store

1. Arlene’s Artist Materials

2. Michael’s

3. Soave Faire Art & Office Supplies

Perennial favorite Arlene’s wins in a landslide. And why not? They have a quality selection of art supplies and a helpful, knowledgeable staff.


Best Bicycle Shop

1. The Downtube Cycle Shop

2. Broadway Bicycle Co.

3. Plaine and Son Bike Ski Warehouse

There’s been no excuse to suspend your bike commute this winter. This is good news for local bike shops. These three will grease your chain right.


Best Toy Store

1. Toys “R” Us

2. G. Willikers Toys

3. The Toy Maker

Even though they’ve grown up, our readers are still Toys “R” Us kids. Boutique toy sellers G. Willikers and the Toy Maker proved there are plenty of strong alternatives to the big-box giant as well.


Best Jeweler

1. Northeastern Fine Jewelry

2. Hannoush Jewelers

3. Mayfair Jewelers

It was a close contest for second place, but Northeastern Fine Jewelry was the clear gem.


Best Day Spa

1. Kimberley’s A Day Spa

2. Complexions Spa & Salon

3. Jean Paul Day Spa & Hair Salon

It’s been a while since we last had a Brazilian, but we trust our readers when they tell us that Kimberley’s is the place to go.


Best Musical Instrument Store

1. Parkway Music

2. Guitar Center

3. Drome Sound

Every year, Parkway Music bests the field as the destination for area musicians to cop samplers, drum pads, synthesizers and dubstep software—oh, and these shops carry guitars too.


Best Apple Orchard

1. Indian Ladder Farms

2. Goold Orchards

3. Altamont Orchards

Our readers like to pick their own, and that they did, earning Indian Ladder Farms bushels more votes than their closest competitors.


Best Farmers Market

1. Troy Waterfront/Winter Farmers Market

2. Schenectady Greenmarket

3. Saratoga Springs Farmers Market

The proliferation of area farmers markets these past couple years is a wonderful thing, and readers have plenty of allegiance to their neighborhood markets, but the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market remains the ultimate destination market in the region.


Best Produce

1. Honest Weight Food Co-op

2. Hannaford

3. Price Chopper

No surprise here. Honest Weight’s locally-grown organic heirloom veggies consistently out-class the conventional, trucked-in crop you’ll find at the chains.


Best Shopping (Plaza)

1. Stuyvesant Plaza

2. Clifton Park Center

3. Mohawk Commons

It’s a bit of a mercy rule that we don’t post the vote totals in this competition. Stuyvesant Plaza should actually feel a little guilty about how badly they trounced the runners up in this category.


Best Shopping (Mall)

1. Colonie Center

2. Crossgates Mall

3. Wilton Mall

It’s a clash of the titans in this category. We’re thinking that Colonie Center’s more upscale retail environment contributed to their victory over Crossgates.


Best Shopping (Downtown)

1. Saratoga Springs

2. Troy

3. Albany

No surprise here that Saratoga Springs received more votes than Albany and Troy combined, what with its excellent walkable Broadway downtown. Troy edging Albany by three votes, though, was a stunner. Props to River Street.


Best Shopping (Outlet)

1. Lee Premium Outlets

2. Factory Outlets of Lake George

3. Woodbury Common Premium Outlets

Western Massachusetts, the North Country and Orange County: Capital Region shoppers will travel for bargains.


Best Supermarket

1. Hannaford

2. Price Chopper

3. (TIE) Honest Weight Food Co-op & Shop Rite

The two biggies always lock in a dead heat for this category, but Shop Rite emerged as the dark horse here, matching Honest Weight’s perennial third. Better watch this category next year, though, with Trader Joe’s finally arriving on Wolf Road this spring.


Best Health Food Store

1. Honest Weight Food Co-op

2. Four Seasons

3. Green Grocer

This honor seems to be the reason Honest Weight doesn’t show stronger in the above category, as our readers tend to agree unanimously on the place’s niche status. Four Seasons and Green Grocer also made a strong case here for food you should actually eat.


Best Record Store (Used)

1. Last Vestige Music Shop

2. Divinyl Revolution

3. River Street Beat Shop

Nothing beats thumbing through crates of vinyl and these three are keeping that joy alive. It just makes us happy that this category still exists at all.


Best Video Game Store

1. Pastime Legends Video Games

2. GameStop

3. Jay Street Video Games

With a new(ish) storefront in Troy, Pastime Legends is adding sequels faster than the Final Fantasy franchise. BTW, you’ll be able to find all those titles at any of these winning game shops.