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Best of Good and Services

by The Staff on July 25, 2013 · 1 comment


The Mary Jane crew, starring Gizmo. Photo by Erin Pihlaja.

Best Women’s Clothing Store


Stuyvesant Plaza

Circles is a woman’s-clothing dream. With their spectacular hard-to-find clothing section, sexy store design and experienced and attentive sales team, Circles is a store you’ll be pampered in. Hard-to-find items from top designers abound, plus a full-service cosmetic department with a knowledgeable and creative staff. No need to go to Manhattan to find your clothes. There is touch of Manhattan right in Albany.

Best Women’s Clothing District

Saratoga Springs

Saratoga really just has this one all sewn up. The variety and quality of all of the stores here is impressive, plus walking from shop to shop is an experience all by itself. Yeah, the horses are great, but do yourself a favor and head up to Broadway and just start exploring.

Best Men’s Clothing Store

Mark Thomas Men’s Apparel

5 Metro Park Road, Albany 

Would you rather buy off-the-rack, mass-produced sweat shop clothes at a big box store with no service, or would you like to buy the highest quality clothes with the best service possible in the business? Mark Thomas is the region’s best men’s clothing store for a reason. The shop is like a page out of GQ or Esquire—they carry classic lines such as Pal Zileri, Corneliani and Jack Victor, and also a great collection of men’s sporty clothing, shoes and accessories. Do yourself a favor and make yourself the best-dressed man in town. You only live once.

Best Jewelry (East)

Annick Designs

269 River St., Troy

Annick’s shop is relatively new to the downtown scene. Drop in to check out her shop and designs, and we’re pretty sure you’ll find a reason to make your way back. A lifetime jewelry maker, she finds the coolest specimens of stones, gems, minerals and crystals and turns them into wearable, sparkly pieces of art.

Best jewelry (West)

Elissa Halloran Designs

229 Lark St., Albany

“Elissa has the best stuff and more,” fan from Facebook. We couldn’t agree more.

Best Place To Get Glammed Out


Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany

Most people know about the great clothing and jewelry at Circles, but you’ve got to check out the other half of the store—the make-up side. They carry so many great brands that professional artists use, and if you’re overwhelmed, the in-store artists will sass your face up on the spot. Honestly, you’ll leave looking like a celebrity, and not the Amanda Bynes type either, unless that’s your thing.

Best Outlets

Manchester, Vermont

If you’re going out to hunt for great stuff at amazing prices, why not do it in a beautiful setting?

Best Consignment Shop

The Closet Shop

337 Delaware Ave., Delmar 

We really like this place, because we like to wear designer goods that don’t have fancy price tags. Can you blame us? Even if we aren’t out to shop, this place is fun place just to dig.

Best Vintage Shopping


Real vintage clothing is pretty hard to come by. The shops in Hudson are well curated and there are plenty to choose from. What are you waiting for?

Best Antiques 

Ballston Spa

Antique districts in the Capital Region shift locales often. This tiny village boasts some killer shops that seem to be doing really well.

Best DIY Retailer

Troy Cloth & Paper

291 River St., Troy

Formerly Design It Together, Troy Cloth & Paper gives you the tools and the instruction to make T-shirts, posters, wedding invitations, you name it. Plus, they’ve got some pretty cool Troy-centric original designs of their own to choose from.

Best Record Store (New)

Fuzz Records

209 Lark St., Albany

In Albany, Fuzz Records have single-handedly revived that Christmas-morning feeling you used to get when you ran down to the local record store to pick up the brand new LP by your favorite band. We get the same feeling just thinking about what Fuzz’s new record label will be putting out in the future.

Best Record Store (Used)

Last Vestige Music Shop

173 Quail St., Albany

An Albany institution, Last Vestige has literally thousands of classic vinyl LPs, as well as listening stations to check them out. On top of this they carry new vinyl, used cd’s, DVDs and Blu-ray discs. It’s a swell place to kill an afternoon, just be prepared to walk out with a sackful of goodies.

Best Bookstore

The Book House

Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany

This independent bookstore has thrived as the chains continue to fade away. Great selection and customer service are the hallmarks of Susan Novotny’s wonderful book shop.

Best Children’s bookstore

The Little Book House

Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany

Don’t believe us? Bring your little ones and let them decide.

Best Bookstore (Textbooks)

Mary Jane Books

215 Western Ave., Albany

This is the place for students get their textbooks and avoid the university book mills. Mary Jane has flexible options—buy or rent—and also sells a variety of neat stationary and novelty lit items.

Best Bookstore (Small Town/Independent)

Chatham Bookstore

27 Main St., Chatham

New owners have turned what was already a near-perfect gem into something even better. A new art supply section, regular author readings/signings and art exhibitions now enhance the excellent stock of adult and children’s books.

Best Wine Store

Empire Wine

Target Plaza, Colonie

You’ve been in here, right? There is so much (very reasonably priced) wine the staff has to use those really cool warehouse ladders to get to it all. We’re so jealous of those ladders.

Best Neighborhood wine store

Capital Wine & Spirits

348 State St., Albany

We have seen the retail come and go on Lark Street, and this little jewel has become an anchor of the neighborhood. They’ve got wonderful window and store displays and a knowledgeable and friendly staff, and the service is second to none. We can’t forget about their home delivery and reasonably priced product. Again this is how a small privately owned business should be run.

Best Skate Shop


211 Lark St.,  Albany

This gem of a store on Lark Street in Albany is what all privately owned small retail should be like. Owned and run by lifelong skaters who project a zest for the sport and the culture. The fact that the store is not limited to skateboards makes the store a retail knockout. The inventory consists of the coolest clothing, accessories, sneakers and hats. This lively and colorful store that makes the mall stores staid by comparison.

Best Barbershop

Patsy’s Barber Shop

3 Howard St., Albany

They claim to be Albany’s oldest barbershop, though Tragedy (the newest owner) has definitely made some modern changes. You can still ask for the old-school treatment like a straight razor shave, but we’ve seen one or two Mohawks walk out of the door too.

Best Optician

Buenau’s Opticians

228 Delaware Ave., Delmar

If you can read this, you may have already had your eyes checked by the amazing crew over at Buenau’s.

Best Optical (selection)

Hughes Opticians

411 Kenwood Ave., Delmar

You can’t give up your passion for designer accessories and you don’t have to. Hughes has all of the best designer brands.

Best Toy Store

The Parent Teacher Store

515 Troy-Schenectady Rd. Latham

Everything is changing near the Latham Circle it seems. We love that this store isn’t. We don’t know how we’d survive toy shopping without it.

Best Bike Shop

Downtube Bicycle Works

466 Madison Ave., Albany

We can’t get enough of this shop. They keep us outfitted with the best in cycling.

Best Kitchen Supply

Different Drummer’s Kitchen Co.

Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany

Even if you don’t need any of their super cool cooking gadgets, you may need one of their awesome cooking classes. Be honest, you know you could improve.

Best Farmers Market

Troy Farmers Market

Listen, there are lots of awesome farmers markets—we like any excuse to buy from local growers—but Troy just does it right. And not just right, it’s like drive-from-far-off-places right and bring-out-of-town-visitors right.

Best Food Co-op

Honest Weight Food Co-op

100 Watervliet Ave., Albany

We didn’t think they could get any better either, and then they moved to a super-cool, spacious and shiny new building. It took us a bit to get used to it—but trust us—it’s better.

Best Food Market

Guido’s Fresh Marketplace

1020 South St., Pittsfield, Mass.; 760 S. Main St., Great Barrington, Mass.

Besides the most heavenly produce displays in the region, both of the locations have terrific meat, seafood, cheese and bakery sections, bulk, packaged and tasty prepared foods, and wine. They’ve been around a long time now, and they’re only getting better.

Best Butcher

Rolf’s Pork Store

70 Lexington Ave., Albany

No frills at this old-school store: meat, plain and simple. Fresh cuts of meat, brought to you by an expert and friendly staff.

Best Neighborhood Market

Cardona’s Market

340 Delaware Ave., Albany

Honestly, just thinking about Cardona’s has us salivating. Is it dinnertime yet?

Best Bakery 

Our Daily Bread

116 Hudson Ave.,  Chatham

Not because they specialize in gluten-free—but simply because their breads, cakes, brownies, scones, you name it, are just so damn good. Look for their goodies in the bakery or café in Chatham, but also at farmers markets.

Best Beer Selection

Oliver’s Beverage

105 Colvin Ave., Albany

Sure you can mix-and-match craft beers at the local supermarket—we do that too. But if you really want a selection and to glean some brew knowledge, check out Oliver’s.

Best Community Center

Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center

340 Whitehall Road, Albany

Remember that heat wave we just had? Well, in addition to all of their other services, these guys have three, yes three, pools. Winners!

Best Home Theater

Hippo’s Home Entertainment Center

Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany

We’ll be honest. We like cool home entertainment stuff but please don’t ask us to program your remote thingy. Or install that other thingy. The one will all of the cords and stuff. We like Hippo’s because they do this like it’s their job. Thanks, guys.

Best Video Game Store

Pastime Legends


We’re proud of these guys. They’re still doing their thing on Lark Street and they do a damn fine job of it.

Best Comic Book Store


412 Fulton St., Troy

Hands down, still the best.

Best Art Supply

Arlene’s Artist Materials

A57 Fuller Road, Albany

The inventory here is awesome, the staff is super helpful, and have you ever actually tried to custom frame something? It’s a horrible job, and the guys in the framing department here are the best. Period.

Best Yoga Studio

Heartspace Yoga and Healing Arts

747 Madison Ave., Albany

They’ve got the largest class offering in the area and guess what else? They are expanding to Troy. We’re all winners now.

Best Tattoo Parlor

Lark Tattoo

278 Lark St., Albany

This is truly an Albany institution. Kind of makes us want to get another one right now.

Best Musical Instruments

Parkway Music

1777 Route 9, Clifton Park

We’d be hard pressed to find another winner for this category—Parkway still puts a song in our hearts. Even after all these years. Awwwwwww.

Best Large Appliance Store

Cocca’s Appliances & Home Electronics

158 Railroad Ave., Albany

Cocca’s still has best the selection and service around, and good sales. And that unbeatable three-year warranty.


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