By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Readers' Choice: Jack's Surf Shop
Best Health-Food Store
The Living Temple
7561 Center Ave., Ste. 40, Huntington Beach
If you can get past the strange medieval architecture that characterizes the Old World Village shopping center in Huntington Beach, you're in for an unusual treat at the Living Temple, where you can munch on gogi berries or raw cacao while thumbing through the eclectic book and DVD collection maintained by owner and health guru Robin Arthur Jones. He's usually there to answer any and all questions, and he also hosts movie nights and monthly raw-foods festivals.
Best Place for Musicians
5752 E. Second St., Long Beach
Well, let's face it: eBay is slowly putting everyone out of business. And that includes specialty music equipment shops. But really: You can't test out that '59 Fender Tweed Amp, or see if that Gibson Ripper really doessound like Rick Danko's online. And why is it going for a $2,000 Buy It Now price anyway? Meet Gogo Guitars, the Orange County/Long Beach area's only answer to finding boutique pedals, amps and higher-end/vintage guitars that you'd have to normally make the journey to LA for. It's the type of place you go to when you want to seek refuge from the 12-year-olds showing off their skillz and often-too-helpful sales people with curtain haircuts who populate your local Guitar Center.
Best Record/CD Store
4612 E. Second St., Long Beach
In this dire age of freeloading downloaders, crap major-label product (okay, some things never change) and clueless RIAA machinations (suing potential customers = bad policy, generally speaking), massive respect must go to any independent record shop that's still in business. Since 2003, about 2,700 music emporia have become defunct. So it is especially heartening to visit Fingerprints, which seems to be thriving in its hip little corner of Long Beach's Belmont Shore district. Selling both new and used vinyl and CDs, as well as books, mags, band T-shirts, collectible figurines and other cool accouterments of the music-freak lifestyle, Fingerprints caters to folks with deep, exceptional taste (to thank them, it often holds in-store concerts). This shop is really tailored for folks who like to get their fingers dusty riffling through moldy vinyl, people who consider WaxPoetics their bible, DJs who have gigs in small venues, obsessives who take notes while they read music blogs. Fingerprints stocks a wide range of genres, and its staff seems to know a lot more than most record-store clerks (stellar DJ/musicians such as Elvin "Nobody" Estrela and Dennis Owens work there). You can satisfy your indie-rock fix, of course, but Fingerprints will also attend to your more esoteric needs, like vintage funk and soul, psychedelia, dub, reggae, jazz, experimental, electronic, and underground hip-hop. Tons of interesting releases from tiny indie labels crowd Fingerprints' shelves. It's a bit overwhelming to spend an afternoon browsing there, but ultimately rewarding for your music collection and education. When the White Stripes wanted to open their own temporary, SoCal-based record store to hype the release of the new Icky Thump album in July, Fingerprints received the call to set up and operate the makeshift establishment in the old Tower Records Sunset location. That's respect, brothers and sisters.
Readers' Choice: Second Spin
Best Skate Shop
Liberty Board Shop
330 N. Brea Blvd., Ste. B, Brea
Liberty may be pretty cozy inside, but the knowledgeable staff makes up for the cramped quarters. Unlike many other skate shops—or any other specialty shops, for that matter—the employees never exude that snotty you're-not-a-real-skater-and-I'm-better-than-you-anyway attitude: They are always friendly and helpful, whether you're a novice or pro. And as a bonus? Good music is always playing overhead.