Best of Buffalo
Best Bike Shop
Located at 55 Allen St. between Delaware Avenue and Main Street, Rick's Cycle Shop has over 500 new and used bicycles for sale. The shop also has a repair shop on location that services all bikes.
With brands ranging from Raleigh to Diamond Back and a selection of racing and off-road bikes, Rick's offers bikes for all budgets. The 110-year-old shop moved from Main Street to the corner of Franklin Street and Allen Street and is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Need to pick up a novel for your English class? Or maybe you're a bookworm that needs a fix of literature.
Don't give in to corporate America and head to your local Barnes and Noble, but instead check out Talking Leaves Books at 951 Elmwood Ave.
"Independent and idiosyncratic since 1971," Talking Leaves is Buffalo's oldest independent bookstore. Nestled in the heart of the Elmwood Village, this bookstore offers the same products as a chain bookstore, yet it has a certain charm that only small bookstores can have.
As soon as you enter Talking Leaves, books surround you. The store is laid-back and homey, inviting you to find a new world in its pages. The small space looks a bit disheveled, but don't let it fool you. There's a science to this madness and you can find anything you need with ease. Popular and eclectic titles alike, there's a book for any and every reader.
The workers are helpful and ready to find what you're looking for and can even place orders for things not carried on the shelves. You can sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee while diving in to the latest novel—Café Aroma is conveniently attached to the store and offers light menu items along with its coffee fares.
Talking Leaves is also proud of its origin – the store exclusively carries many Buffalo authors and also sells works by local artists. Memberships are also available – a great way to buy the books you love and save money.
Instead of heading to your local Barnes and Noble or Borders, support local businesses and the dying breed of corner-store book shops and head to Talking Leaves.
Best Fitness Store
Every athlete has the desire to win, but only champions have the desire and drive to prepare. Fleet Feet Sports has the desire to outfit Buffalo runners and athletes with the finest products available to enhance performance and everyday lifestyle.
Equipped with athletic apparel, shoes, bags, custom insoles, and many running accessories, Fleet Feet is a one-stop shop to handle any need.
One of the many reasons Fleet Feet stands out among other Buffalo running and athletic stores is because of its extreme dedication to customer service. Operating from a certain "Fitlosophy," owner Dan Loncto explains why they are so successful.
"Here at Fleet Feet Sports, everything we do is geared toward fitting the individual. Whether it's footwear or apparel, every individual has a fit that best suits them, and we're here to help you find it," Loncto said.
Fleet Feet offers various training programs for runners, and every Wednesday night at 6 p.m. the store organizes four-mile runs around the city for all levels of athletes.
Fleet Feet Sports is located at 2290 Delaware Ave. just before Hertel and is locally owned and operated.
Best Head Shop
College students love inhaling their plants. Before you can consume your favorite sticky icky, it is necessary to get the perfect piece of glass to fit your circle. And when you are in Buffalo, Headin' to Hertel at 1251 Hertel Ave. should be the first stop in your quest.
Headin' to Hertel sports the best variety of glass in Buffalo. While most head shops in Buffalo order their pieces from a wholesale website, Headin' to Hertel almost exclusively sells American-blown glass.
From inexpensive metal pipes to water pipes that cost your first-born, Headin' to Hertel has it all. Headin' to Hertel is one of the few stores that sell Toro bongs, and anyone that is in the know is aware that Toros are the Rolls-Royce of water pipes.
Whether you are trying to find a quick replacement after breaking your pipe or looking for your next huge investment, Headin' to Hertel is the best place to find your new contraption to consume burning plants.
Best Liquor Store
While buying beer and a loosey at any bodega may fulfill any college student's desire, those interested in an extensive wine and liquor selection and a knowledgeable staff should visit Premier. With locations in Kenmore, Williamsville, and Orchard Park, Premier provides its patrons with the cheapest wine and spirits selection in Buffalo.
Founded in 1943, Premier Liquor has expanded its store online, where customers can purchase their selection and have it mailed anywhere within New York State. The store offers wine tastings, staff picks of the month, and a long list of holiday specials.
This month, Premier offers $5 bottles of Barefoot wine and $4 bottles of Yellow Tail. Handles of Smirnoff Vodka for $12.99 and $22.99 bottles of Crown Royal are also available.
Best Men's Fashion
It's time for men to graduate from American Eagle and Aéropostale. Buffalo is home to a number of small, privately owned shops that are worth a glance. Therefore, this designation goes to LU Modern Classics, located at 715 Elmwood Ave., and Krudmart, found at 212 Grant St.
LU prides itself on offering classic pieces with a modern twist, such as traditional loafers with fine detail, patterns and colors, or soft, thick sweaters with a unique patch or design. The only downside is that it's rather expensive, as button-downs hover around $100 and coats can cost around $350, but this may be the best place to go for those staple pieces, wearable for years after purchase.
Krudmart, on the other hand, appeals to men that want trendy street-wear or skater looks. Don't let the name affect your opinion; this store has style. At more reasonable prices, men can purchase New Era hats, graphic T-shirts and fitted jeans, among many other options. Krudmart has lots of specialty clothing at the same place, making the search for that signature piece that much easier.
Best Piercing and Tattoo Parlor
There are so many quality places in Buffalo to get pierced or decorated with a new tattoo, so The Spectrum decided to separate this award into two separate categories. Cowpok, found at 177 Elmwood Ave., wins the best piercing venue, while Hand of Doom at 500 Elmwood Ave. is the best place to get tattooed.
Cowpok is famous for its cleanliness and professionalism. Prices vary depending on the service rendered, but it is very competitive in terms of cost. Additionally, it offers numerous monthly deals to make the experience more affordable. For instance, Cowpok offered $15 off any piercing with the donation of two canned goods on Nov. 6 and apprentice nose piercings for $25 every Monday, Wednesday or Friday.
Hand of Doom was an obvious choice after Jon Mirro's work was featured in the Mass Appeal fashion show, during which eight fully-tattooed individuals displayed the artwork on the runway. The three artists, Mirro, Josh Schlageter and Chris Lombardi, consistently show their intricate designs and attention to detail and color in their work. More commonly known as H.O.D., this establishment has produced impressive realistic and fantasy images for its clients.
Best Record Store: Record Theatre
While many local record stores have shut down in recent years, the Record Theatre outlet near South Campus is still going strong. With a convenient location at 3500 Main St. as well as a wide variety of music to choose from, it's not hard to see why the store has remained so popular.
One thing that sets Record Theater apart from its contemporaries is its selection. While many record stores tend to trade exclusively in vinyl or exclusively in CDs, Record Theatre has a wide array of both. When a new album is released on vinyl, customers can be assured that it will be on sale at Record Theatre on the day of its release.
Equally important to Record Theatre's success is that it both sells and purchases used CDs and LPs. People who want to trim the fat from their CD collection can do so at Record Theatre knowing they'll be getting a solid price for their albums.
In addition, anyone who wants to pick up a few classic albums or start a vinyl collection but is short on cash could rummage through the store's used section and have a field day.
Finally, Record Theatre stands out because of its strong service. Filled with cashiers who are friendly and very passionate about music, going to Record Theatre makes buying music really feel like a true experience, which can't be said too often anymore in the iTunes era.
Best Hair Salons
Catering to men and women alike, the Capello flagship store is a full service salon and day spa.
John Lauricella, the owner, and his son John Lauricella Jr., head a skilled staff of stylists, colorists, nail and make-up artists and massage therapists.
With the look and feel of a trendy New York City hair salon, Capello has three locations: Delaware Avenue downtown, Main Street in Williamsville, and Transit Road in East Amherst.
The hair salon has a modern feel and is covered in mirrors with steel-trimmed stations, while the spa has a warmer atmosphere, featuring beige and browns with fireplaces and large comfy chairs and couches.
The price point for Capello Salon is on point with most of the nicer salons in Buffalo, with a haircut and style starting at $45 for a senior stylist.
The spa portion of Capello is a bit pricey – $45 for a pedicure and $20 for a manicure – but the staff is professional and the experience as a whole beats that of any plaza or cornerstore nail salon.
Chez Ann, located in the Tony Walker Plaza on Main Street in the village of Williamsville and on Deleware Avenue in downtown Buffalo, offers a younger vibe than Capello and also serves a generally more youthful crowd.
A little more casual than Capello, Chez Ann still matches the content and quality of finer Buffalo salons with a relaxed and comfortable feel.
Services range from facials to sugar brow treatments and hour-long massages.
The nail service at Chez Ann is second to none; each patron has their own curtained off area and a wide selection of the trendiest nail colors and brands to choose from.
Senior stylists draw in quite a following and it is often necessary to book appointments one to two weeks ahead of time. One of the first local salons to feature the Keratin Complex Protein treatment, Chez Ann offers this and other revolutionary hair styling treatments like the Brazilian Blowout and Thermal Ionic Hair Straightening.
A hair cut costs around $45 and hair coloring ranges from $20 for a partial head gloss to $90 for a double process color. However, Chez Ann frequently sends out text message and e-mail deals that offer free services with the purchase of another service or money off massages and hair productions.
Best Smoke Shop
Right across the way from Headin' to Hertel is Virgil Avenue Tobacconist. Located at 6 Virgil Ave., this smoke shop has the best selection of cigars and imported cigarettes in the Queen City.
Virgil Avenue Tobacconist has cabinets full of a wide variety of cigars. Any person who ventures over will be greeted with a lovely smell and a friendly and knowledgeable staff.
While it might seem a little overwhelming at first, the employees help patrons find the perfect stogie. With a lounge attached, Virgil is the perfect place to hang out with some friends and enjoy your cigar.
Many smoke shops claim to carry a wide array of tobacco, but those places are put to shame by the selection at Virgil Avenue Tobacconist.
Best Women's Fashion
There comes a time when Forever 21 and bebe just don't cut it anymore. Sometimes all a girl wants is a piece that isn't necessarily going to be found in everyone else's wardrobe. For this reason, The Spectrum suggests Half & Half, located at 1088 Elmwood Ave., and Urban at 736 Elmwood Ave.
Half & Half has been on Elmwood Avenue for over 30 years, and with its selection, it probably won't be going anywhere anytime soon. There are usually only a few of each piece of clothing, and the brands offered aren't known by the masses, so you won't see your new favorite shirt on a dozen other girls on a night out. Half & Half also has a great sale section for those on a budget.
Urban, not to be confused with Urban Outfitters in the Galleria Mall, offers a few select pieces from known designers such as French Connection, Miss Sixty and Ben Sherman. In a city like Buffalo, where such brands are a rarity, these few specially-picked pieces make a statement. Although the prices may make shopping here more of a special occasion than a regular stop, Urban certainly shouldn't be overlooked.