Best of Knoxville 2013: Goods & Services

Suttree’s High Gravity Tavern

Photo by Shawn Poynter

Suttree’s High Gravity Tavern

Best New Business

Suttree’s High Gravity Tavern
We should count ourselves lucky that Suttree’s offers better drinks than the ones mentioned in the novel for which it’s named. The labor of love by former wine purveyor Matt Pacetti opened last year, and it’s named for the title character of a Cormac McCarthy novel about Knoxville’s noir-like early ’50s underworld. It’s just a simple long room with no frills, a noisy place with no table service—but any alleged deficiencies draw few complaints from people who like to try lots of interesting different styles of beer, from pints of lager to rich concoctions served in what look like sherbet glasses. It’s also the only bar we know of that’s catered daily by Holly’s Eventful Dining—the caterer to the big shots proves she can do pub grub better than anybody.

It draws college-age kids, by the scores, late in the evening, but more mature crowds earlier, including some noted local professors and environmentalists, as well as international literary sorts here from as far away as Australia who come just for the literary associations and a photo to put on Facebook. The friendly staff—including our old friend, professional actor, motorcyclist, and marital-advice author Steve Dupree, who may finally have found the ideal pulpit for his irreverent ideologies—is sometimes even more interesting than the clientele. (J.N.)
Runners Up: Battlefield Knoxville, Central Flats & Taps, Nothing Too Fancy

Best Gift Shop

Best Clothing Boutique

Best Furniture

Bliss/Bliss Home
If we had a category for “things that make you go ahhhh,” we’ve no doubt that Bliss and Bliss Home would win. Its Market Square and West Knoxville stores are chock-full of things you didn’t know you needed until you see them: vegan-friendly messenger bags, just-for-fun bracelet charms, and whimsical headgear. Whether you’re looking for that soft summer frock for yourself or scouting out fun fashions with a friend, you’ll see something you have to add to your wardrobe right this second. Bliss is also a one-stop shop place for all the things that make your house a haven, including well-made, green-friendly furniture and luscious linens and beddings. Bliss also has a gift registry and a reasonably priced interior design consultant available by appointment. Living well while not shopping in a cookie-cutter big-box outlet? That sounds like bliss. (T.H.J.)
Best Gift Shop Runners Up: Bradley’s, Earth to Old City, Nothing Too Fancy
Best Clothing Boutique Runners Up: Altar’d State, Crush, Fizz
Best Furniture Runners Up: Brown Squirrel Furniture, Knoxville Wholesale Furniture, O.P. Jenkins

Best Antiques Store

Best In-Store Pet

Nostalgia & Napoleon at Nostalgia
Nostalgia may indeed spark that particular sensation among some of its shoppers, but most customers of this emporium of mid-century artifacts are no doubt experiencing something more basic: a sudden lust for cool stuff. That’s because Nostalgia’s vendors seemingly find all the hippest, funkiest, un-stuffiest antique treasures in the area and put them on artful display—tempting visitors who previously had no idea they really needed a bowling-ball-shaped drink decanter. Combing through either of Nostalgia’s two locations (Bearden or near the Old City) is like an archaeological dig through layers of nifty ephemera, saved by thoughtful consumers for future generations to enjoy. And protecting them all is Napoleon, Nostalgia owner Amie Swanson’s sweet pug. (C.T.)
Best Antiques Store Runners Up: Bearden Antique Mall, Dutch Valley Antique Mall, Friends Antiques & Collectibles
Best In-Store Pet Runners Up: Henry at Lost & Found Records, Butch at the Board Room, Frank at Chop Shop Hair Studio

Best Jewelry Store

Markmans Diamonds and Fine Jewelry
Runners Up: Bliss, Kimball’s Jewelers, Rick Terry Jewelry Designs

Best Bookstore

McKay Used Books, CDs, Movies, and More
See Best Store in the Best of the Best section.
Runners Up: Cedar Springs Christian Books, Nostalgia (on McCalla), Union Ave Books

Best CD/Vinyl Record Store

The Disc Exchange
Digital downloads may be ever on the rise, but Knoxville is the Devil’s Triangle of physical media. We haven’t stopped buying it, as evinced by a healthy number of record stores around town that are no longer supposed to exist. The longest-lived shop is also the biggest in the region, still drawing music fans to South Knoxville despite a missing bridge and illegal online competition: the Disc Exchange. At this year’s Record Store Day, the house was full, the bands were rocking, and the cash registers were ringing—testament to the store’s continuing relevance to the community. (C.T.)
Runners Up: Lost & Found Records, McKay Used Books, CDs and More, Raven Records & Rarities

Best Hair Salon

Best Nail Salon

Salon Visage/ Spa Visage
Extreme makeovers are fantastic for homes, but not so much for people. Instead, you want your style team to access and enhance your own inner fabulousness. Oh, and make that look effortless while they’re at it. That’s all in a day’s work for the experts who staff the Visage Group, the local business dynasty that includes Salon Visage, Spa Visage, Studio Visage, and Frank’s Barbershop. From the soothing and smiling greeting you receive at the door to highlighting wizardry of your trained colorist, the staff is in the business of making you happy. Regularly named one of the country’s top salons by its own peers, Salon Visage also offers a coveted selection of beauty products and has downloadable phone apps that make mobile booking a breeze. See also: Best Licensed Massage Therapy in the Health & Medical Services section. (T.H.J.)
Best Hair Salon Runners Up: Belleza Salon & Spa, Chop Shop Hair Studio, Natural Alternatives Salon & Spa
Best Nail Salon Runners Up: Angel Nails, Belleza Salon & Spa, Chop Shop Hair Studio

Best Foreign Foods Grocery

Sunrise Supermarket
What makes Sunrise so alluring is that it’s not just the source for one kind of foreign food; it covers a couple of continents and several islands, too. Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Russia, parts of the Caribbean and a little bit of Mexico all have representation in this superstore. It may very well be the single most cosmopolitan spot in Knoxville and all of East Tennessee. The selection of the common, uncommon, and downright odd make it a great spot for whole lot of food shopping and a gracious plenty of sightseeing, too. (D.P.)
Runners Up: India Market, Holy Land Market & Deli, Three Rivers Market

Best Health Food Shop/Grocery

Best Green Business

Three Rivers Market

Three Rivers Market

Photo by David Luttrell

Three Rivers Market

Call it a true evergreen: Since its first incarnation as a food cooperative in the 1970s, Three Rivers Market has been devoted to the principles of living sustainably and buying and selling responsibly. Two years ago, Three Rivers moved to a roomy, well-lit location in North Central Knoxville and immediately became the hub of the neighborhood. Everything sparkles at Three Rivers, which includes a coffee bar, ready-made whole-grain treats and a vast array of products that are both eco- and human-friendly. The general public is welcome, but you can shop even smarter by becoming a bona fide member of the Three Rivers Cooperative, now almost 5,000-strong. (T.H.J.)
Best Health Food Shop/Grocery Runners Up: Eddie’s Health Shoppe, Go Nutrition, Just Ripe
Best Green Business Runners Up: Earth to Old City, Just Ripe, Random Acts of Flowers

Best Caterer

Holly’s Eventful Dining

Holly's Eventful Catering

Photo by David Luttrell

Holly's Eventful Catering

If you’re at a posh catered event with particularly appealing hors d’oeuvres, especially if they’re different from anything you’ve ever seen, the sort of thing that you know is amazingly tasty even before you know what it is, it’s likely you’ll hear her name, even if she’s not there in person. One visitor will say, “These are Holly’s, right?” There’s no last name necessary, because everyone knows you’re referring to Holly Hambright.

Knoxville’s lucky to have a caterer so interesting. She grew up in South Knoxville, but graduated from Baltimore’s Culinary Arts Institute, and spent her early career cooking in some of the most prestigious restaurants and hotels of the East Coast, preparing dishes for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, and the Queen of Thailand (not necessarily at the same party), among others. She returned home early in the century, frankly before we really deserved it. Even after 30-odd years at it, she’s a restless experimenter who prefers to try things she’s never done before. To sample her work, try her fun breakfast-lunch cafe in Homberg Place, where she works daily with her talented staff; word is she’ll soon open another place on North Central, next door to her little sister Peggy’s bakery, Magpie’s. (J.N.)
Runners Up: Big Fatty’s Catering Kitchen, Calhoun’s, Dead End BBQ

Best Outdoor Sports Store

River Sports Outfitters
Here in East Tennessee we are blessed with four distinctive seasons and many beautiful days in each one. Don’t spend them inside! The folks at River Sports Outfitters have the goods to get you out of doors, whether you are a stumbling novice or an adventure addict. Not only are their friendly, expertly staffed locations stocked with road-tested, acclaimed brands in outdoor gear, but the business also hosts a number of monthly, community-based events that let you try out new sports or meet up with fellow enthusiasts. Thanks to River Sports Outfitters, it’s easier than ever to see your friends on the trail, in the water, on the bike path, or at the campground. (T.H.J.)
Runners Up: 3 Rivers Angler, Bike Zoo, Uncle Lem’s Outfitter

Best Skate/Snowboard Shop

Pluto Sports
Still cool after all these years, Pluto Sports makes being a skater a timeless pursuit. (C.T.)
Runners Up: Alpine Ski Center, the Board Room

Best Adult Store

Adult Video Superstore
Runners Up: Cupid’s Outlet, Intimate Treasures, Romantic Escapades

Best Thrift/Consignment Store

KARM Thrift Stores
A thrift store is a thrift store is a thrift store, right?

Wrong.

When was the last time you found a mint condition (with just like three scratches) Heywood Wakefield five-drawer dresser in a thrift store? Huh? For like $60? No, seriously, for $60?

Well, it happened to me, one magical rainy afternoon at the KARM on Hall of Fame Drive. If you keep going there, maybe you’ll get lucky too. Or better yet, never go there at all so I can keep all the cool finds for myself. (C.W.G.)
Runners Up: Goodwill Industries - Knoxville, Inc., Planet Xchange, Repeat Boutique

Best Convenience Store

Weigel’s
Runners Up: BreadBox, Pilot, the Market (Knoxville)

Best Dry Cleaner

Prestige Cleaners
If you have spent a good portion of your life dealing with dry cleaners, you know they are not all the same. There are the cleaners that use too much dry-cleaning fluid. There are the cleaners who hang delicate sweaters on wire hangers, leaving them misshapen by the time you pick them up. Worst of all, there are the cleaners that ruin your silk garments, either with shrinkage or spotting or other damage, rendering your $300 dress you only wore to that one wedding completely useless.

And then there is Prestige. I’m not lying when I say Prestige is the best dry cleaner I have ever encountered, not just in Knoxville, but anywhere. (And I’ve moved around a lot.) Prestige gets rid of the fuzzballs on your sweaters. They press things exactly right. They even pick up and deliver to your office downtown. They may be more pricey, but if you want your expensive clothes to look better than they did when you bought them, Prestige is the place. (C.W.G.)
Runners Up: Crown Cleaners, Farragut Cleaners, Kim’s Executive Cleaners

Best Eyewear Shop

Luttrell’s Eyewear
Stopping in at the easygoing Bearden shop is kind of like visiting a friend, except that Luttrell’s keeps a much nicer house than our friends do. Luttrell’s offers full service, from eye exams to hundreds of designer fashions, with occasional surprises. The staff is always cheerfully helpful when you find you’ve got a screw loose. With nice chairs, and Metro Pulses to read while you wait, you can check your new prescription by reading our fine print. (J.N.)
Runners Up: Clancy Optical, the Eye Group, Spex

Best Bank

First Tennessee
First in readers’ hearts, it’s first also in many of their wallets, a financial institution that is as suited to first-time checking account holders as those with complex investments. The bank has physical branches staffed by friendly and accessible staff as well as convenient ATM branches and the latest in online and mobile banking apps. Its new technologies aren’t just to make you say “gee whiz”: They make it easier for you to control your money by combining new- and old-school style banking (like by letting you deposit digital snapshots of paper checks). (T.H.J.)
Runners Up: Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union, ORNL Federal Credit Union, SunTrust

Best Tattoo Studio

Saint Tattoo
The ink industry has been booming in Knoxville with an ever-growing number of competitors, but Saint Tattoo is still the go-to place for all your arcane skin-art needs. (C.T.)
Runners Up: Born This Way Body Arts, Synergy Tattoo, True Blue Electric Tattoo

Best Gaming Spot

Battlefield Knoxville
Hot girls wielding fake guns: every gamer dude’s dream come true? Possibly. (And maybe that’s why the staff at Battlefield Knoxville is predominantly female.) But the main attraction at Battlefield Knoxville is what they call a “simulated combat arena”—the first of its kind in Tennessee—and it’s something like a cross between Call of Duty and laser tag, complete with replica weapons like M16s and Uzis (and several more) that shoot infrared bullets. Battlefield Knoxville also has the biggest gaming lounge in town, with a dozen huge-screen TVs and a 16-foot movie screen. It’s so popular, the gaming center is moving to a bigger location next door. (P.H.)
Runners Up: CM Games, Game Haven, Organized Play

Best Tanning Salon

Sun Tan City
Runners Up: Beach Bums, Fusion Tanning Studios, Hot Bodies

Best Auto Service

Fisher Tire

Fisher Tire

Photo by Sheena Patrick

Fisher Tire

Fisher Tire has not only the best auto service in town, but the best human service, too. Courteous and friendly—just like it was during the golden era of car ownership. (C.T.)
Runners Up: Matlock Tire Service, Harper Auto Square & MF Auto (TIE), RT Clapp

Best Bike Shop

Tennessee Valley Bikes
Its social-realist motif makes it seem revolutionary to shop for bikes, and a little rebellious just to get your flat fixed. For TVB, bicycling is a manifesto, and they promote it with special events, especially rides and drawings. Specializing in unusual brands—Surly, Kona, Breezer, Salsa, Scott—they offer high-end bikes that can do about anything, even in the context of Knoxville’s punishing hills and traffic patterns.

There are a lot of good bike shops in town, but this shop’s location is one big advantage. Before TVB, if your bike broke down downtown, you’d have to get a car and drive it somewhere. But it’s right there on the ragged edge of downtown, along Magnolia between Gay and Central, almost under the highway, as if to remind you of what happens when automobiles get out of control. It’s so laid back, it seems to suggest the presence of a beach nearby. Down there you’ll find a lot of the people who liked Market Square before it got popular, hanging out at the Public House or Marie’s, perhaps waiting for their bikes to get fixed. (J.N.)
Runners Up: Bike Zoo, Cedar Bluff Cycles, Greenlee’s Bicycles

Best Pet Supply Store

Agri-Feed Pet Supply
If Agri-Feed doesn’t stock a treat, toy, or food for your dog or cat, chances are your pet’s better off without it. That’s not an exaggeration—Agri-Feed prides itself on researching the pet-healthiest everything, from chewies to diet food, and they sell it and nothing else. They’ll aid and abet you in being a friend to wild birds and pond fish, too, and their stuff is both stylish and affordable. If you haven’t been following their ever-changing sign on Middlebrook Pike, you may not know they are devoted partners with all kinds of dog rescues—our favorite name, Belly Rubs Basset Rescue—and even operate a kitten and, um, guinea pig rescue out of the store. (R.K.)
Runners Up: Natural Pet Supply, Pet Supplies Plus, River Dog Bakery

Best Lawyer

Stephen A. Burroughs

Stephen A. Burroughs

Stephen A. Burroughs

Are there any other lawyers in town who inspire their own Internet memes? No. (C.T.)
Runners Up: Don Bosch, Allison Easterday, Katie Harp

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