A recession that's 20 months old, and counting, means not everyone feels like rushing out to buy, buy, buy. But as always, we didn't just poll you about optional purchases. We asked about stuff you need, recession be damned. As in food. And clothes. And tattoos.
Madison's Favorite Place to Buy Music
Even as the record industry collapses and iTunes purchases surge, our good old-fashioned music stores hang on. In first place is B-Side, the shabby-chic State Street redoubt whose clerks know more about music than you do, so there's no sense arguing. Down the block on State Street, Exclusive Company notches the silver, while Monroe Street's Strictly Discs takes up the rear.
Madison's Favorite Bike Shop
1. Williamson Bicycle Works
Remember, all those bicycles flying through red lights had to get purchased somewhere. This year's balloting saw a photo finish between winner Williamson Bicycle Works and runner-up Budget Bicycles. Meanwhile, Atwood Avenue's Revolution Cycles peddles both bikes and a hearty message of social change, hence the name.
1. Capitol Kids
2. Happy Bambino
The toy scene is awash in cheaply made junk, but the good people at Capitol Kids, on the Capitol Square, take pride in selling high-quality playthings that, who knows, might make your children appreciate nice things. In second, Atwood Avenue's Happy Bambino has as its slogan "Bellies, babies, breastfeeding."
Madison's Favorite Men's Clothing Boutique
For most Madison men, dressing up means putting on a relatively clean performance-fleece anorak. But if you want to look your spiffy best, the stylish threads at Jazzman can't be beat, and the store won this category by a mile. In second is Context, the King Street boutique selling the fanciest jeans you ever did see.
Madison's Favorite Women's Clothing Boutique
1. Patricia Shoppe
3. Rupert Cornelius
Patricia Shoppe, just off State Street on West Johnson Street, is one of three outlets in a Wisconsin-based mini-chain (the others are in Milwaukee and Egg Harbor). The dresses, shoes and accessories for sale there made it your favorite.
Madison's Favorite Place to Buy Outdoor Gear
We Madisonians love our outdoor recreation, and the REI outlet, near West Towne Mall, won this category in a big way. Downtown, charming Fontana picked up second place, and paddle-centric Rutabaga came in third.
Madison's Favorite Car Dealer
2. Smart Motors
3. Don Miller
If you've lived in Madison for any length of time, you can sing that Zimbrick jingle in your sleep (Fish Hatch-er-y Road!). Can that be why Zimbrick clinched this category in a punishing landslide? Couldn't hurt.
Madison's Favorite Pet Supplies
1. Mounds Pet Food Warehouse
3. Bad Dog Frida
East side, west side, far west side, your beloved MadCat Pet Supplies has an outlet near you, making it a convenient place to pick up items for kitteh and other pets. Mounds Pet Food Warehouse comes in second, and in third is the charming east-side shop Bad Dog Frida, selling items for bad and good dogs alike.
Madison's Favorite Garden Supplies/Greenhouse
1. Jung Garden Centers
2. Johannsen's Garden Center
3. Willy Street Co-op
2. Whole Foods
2. Willy Street Co-op
2. Star Liquor
2. Gail Ambrosius Chocolates
3. Penzey's Spices
The folks over at Fromagination hit on a novel idea when the place opened a couple of years ago: Wisconsin is the land of good cheese, so maybe its state capitol needs a really good cheese shop across the street. The idea has stuck. The runner-up is Gail Ambrosius Chocolates, where the sweets are made with love.
Madison's Favorite Eco-friendly Merchandise
1. Willy Street Co-op
2. Happy Bambino
3. Hempen Goods
For decades, the Willy Street Co-op has been in the vanguard of an increasingly popular notion: Locally sourced food. The thinking goes that the when food travels shorter distances from farm to dinner table, less fuel is consumed. Simple. Willy Street also stresses another notion: food that's produced sustainably, without all those chemicals and so forth. Also simple. Judging by your voting, you like these notions.
Madison's Favorite Jewelry
1. Burnie's Rock Shop
2. Goodman's Jewelers
2. Little Luxuries
3. Orange Tree Imports
Pop Deluxe is a fitting name for the gift shop you chose as your favorite. The place is a pop-culture freakout, what with the Warhol wrapping paper, the mod handbags, the brightly colored kitchen gadgets.
Madison's Favorite New Furniture Store
2. Century House
It was a handsome victory for Rubin's, whose downtown location on East Wilson Street is a haven of chic. If you go to Steinhafels, down on the Beltline, you'll see a bunch of people lying motionless on a sea of mattresses. It's a little unnerving.
Madison's Favorite Vintage/Thrift Store
1. St. Vincent de Paul
3. Frugal Muse
3. Madcity Music Exchange
If you're low on dough - and these days, who isn't? - one good option is to sell some of your junk so you can buy other junk. Your favorite spot for unloading what you don't want is Preplayed, which has outlets on the far east and far west sides. In second is Frugal Muse, which cultivates a vibe that's somehow both thrifty and bookish.
Madison's Favorite Used Bookstore
1. TIE: Half Price Books
and Frugal Muse
You penny-wise bookworms know that if you wait long enough, you never have to buy a book new. For used books, equal numbers of you chose Half Price Books and Frugal Muse.
Madison's Favorite New Bookstore
2. Barnes & Noble
3. A Room of One's Own
The selection at Borders is sweeping, and you can shop there at East Towne or in the Hilldale area. Barnes & Noble bookends the city at East and West Towne, while independent A Room of One's Own holds court downtown.
Body Art and Piercing
1. Blue Lotus Tattoo