Best of Knoxville 2011: Goods and Services

Best New Business

Frank's Barber Shop

Lest you wonder what's so special about a place with so prosaic a name as "Frank's Barber Shop," just look online at the Frank's Barber Shop website. Notice the photos of the interior—loads of stylish, super-comfy-looking furniture—and the well-appointed men's lounge, where you can "enjoy a complimentary beverage … and watch ESPN" on one of many flat-screen TVs while you wait for your haircut. Or you could play billiards. That's right, there's a billiards table. In the shop. As for the haircuts, there are old-school barber-shop services (shave and a lather with hot towels, for instance) or contemporary styling. One can also investigate "executive hand detailing" (manicuring, etc.) and "gentlemen's facials." Even the basic service is pretty swank—$25 for a standard cut, which includes a hot towel neck shave, scalp massage, and shoulder and neck massage. But once you realize the eponymous "Frank" is Frank Gambuzza of Salon Visage fame, it all becomes clear. (M.G.)

Runners Up: Bearden Beer Market, Black Market, the Public House

Best Gift Shop


(See Also: Best Store in the Best of the Best, and Best Furniture Store)

Runners Up: Earth to Old City, Rala, Wild Pineapple

Best Antiques Store


To call Nostalgia an "antique market" simply isn't good enough. It's so much more than that. Rather than focusing on the usual assortment of defunct household items (ice boxes and foot-trestle sewing machines), collectible tableware (old china and carnival glass), and quaint knickknacks (figurines and salt shakers), this throwback attack features the fabulousness of our own American childhoods. There's lot of plastic in here, with a strong emphasis on mid-century design and a groovy googieness about everything. Think plastic flamingos, Charlie Brown lunch boxes, 1982 World's Fair paraphernalia, garish pendant lamps, and the like. The name is an apt one—for anyone born prior to 1980, a walk down the aisles will take you right back to the time when you wanted nothing more than your own Holly Hobbie doll or Donny Osmond LP. It's like a museum of slacker youthdom, with an almost fetishistic emphasis on the '70s. Whether you're shopping or just browsing, it's worth a special trip just to see everything, to remember the past … and to imagine a hideous future when our own children will look at their Hannah Montana dolls, Crocs, and Ikea toddler beds with a similar softhearted sense of "Remember when?" Nostalgia, after all, is in the eye of the beholder. (See Also: Best In-Store Pet) (Hillari Dowdle)

Runners Up: Bearden Antiques, Dutch Valley Antique Mall, Friends Antiques & Collectibles

Best Jewelry Store

Markman's Diamonds and Fine Jewelry

How can an establishment that's so glamorous inspire so many warm fuzzies? Markman's staff manages to always maintain a knowledgeable and friendly air—never overbearing, never snobby, even if your budget isn't up to one of their stunners designed in-house. Go on, browse, or see what it looks like on your finger—you're among friends here. And guess what? This is 17 years in a row that Markman's has scooped up this glittery award. Bet that will make Harold smile. (Rose Kennedy)

Runners Up: Bliss, Kimball's Jewelers, Lamon Jewelers

Best Bookstore

McKay Used Books, CDs, Movies & More

The bookstore business is in turmoil. Technology has finally caught up with the printed page, taking brick-and-mortar stores right out of the consumer buying equation. National chains are in deep financial trouble and, locally, we recently lost the fine Carpe Librum new-books store and the one-of-a-kind Book Eddy used-books store (now both resurrected in smaller forms as Central Street Books and the soon-to-come Union Avenue Books). Thus, it's altogether shocking to visit McKay Used Books, CDs, Movies & More, especially on a weekend: It's usually jammed to the rafters (literally!) with people buying good old-fashioned physical media. McKay has created an anomaly in the retail time-space continuum: Massive success in a business that trend-watchers say shouldn't even exist anymore. But their scientific formula is quite simple, honed after 26 years in business: They offer things that customers want at reasonable prices. And they do so on a large scale, making every visit a treasure hunt. (C.T.)

Runners Up: The Bent Corner, Cedar Springs Christian Bookstore, Central Street Books

Best CD/Record Store

Disc Exchange

Record stores are supposed to belong in the 20th century, right? News travels slow in South Knoxville, where the venerable Disc Exchange is still doing a brisk business—and still doing a lot of traffic in vinyl. In the past year, Disc Exchange made a fateful decision: to hold out, in spite of the closing of our main way to get there, the Henley Street Bridge. Luckily, it's also still near the Gay Street Bridge, and its location near downtown remains a plus. (J.N.)

Runners Up: Lost and Found, McKay Used Books and CDs, Raven Record & Rarities

Best Hair Salon

& Best Nail Salon

Salon Visage

(See Also: Best Day Spa, Best Licensed Massage Therapy)

Hair Salon Runners Up: Belleza, Natural Alternatives Salon, Tease

Nail Salon Runners Up: Nail Bar, Natural Alternatives Salon, Tease

Best Liquor Store

Bob's Package Store

Knoxville has fancier booze boutiques with fancier monikers, and we're happy for all of them. But for breadth, depth, and—let's face it—convenience near where a lot of Knox Countians actually live, the store with the simplest name comes out tops again. But Bob's doesn't win just because it's near the mall—it wins because it has a whole lot of everything, from Vinho Verde to vodka, and a staff that knows their stuff. (J.F.M.)

Runners Up: Ashe's Wine and Spirits, Downtown Wine and Spirits, Toddy's

Best Foreign Foods Grocery

Holy Land Market

Runners Up: Mi Pueblo, Oriental Super Mart, Sunrise Supermarket

Best Health Food Shop

& Best Green Business

Three Rivers Market

This is a landmark year for Three Rivers; after 30 years in a quaint and beloved creaky old house on Broadway, the store is moving this summer into a big modern space on the reviving "Downtown North" part of Central Street. It's still a co-op, but operates like a regular store; now, though a membership gets you special deals, it operates pretty much like a grocery, but one where you get just as much tarragon, or coffee beans, or basmati rice, or split peas, as you want—plus an assortment of packaged health foods hard to find in other outlets. The place once had a hippie reputation; today, you can occasionally spot a Republican risking his or her reputation to tote a Three Rivers basket. But the unique store still cherishes its reputation for favoring the local and the organic. On a Saturday afternoon, it's not unusual to see farmers' market farmers shopping at Three Rivers. (J.N.)

Health Food Shop Runners Up: Eddie's Health Shoppe, (three-way tie) Benefit Your Life, Go Nutrition, Sunflower Health

Green Business Runners Up: La Costa, JulieApple, Tomato Head

Best Caterer

Rothchild Catering & Conference Center

Runners Up: All Occasion Catering, Big Fatty's Catering, Holly's Eventful Dining

Best Yoga Studio

Glowing Body

Yoga still hasn't quite caught on here the way it has in nearby sister/rival cities, Asheville and Chattanooga, but the Glowing Body is doing its best to put Knoxville's yoga scene on the map. The studio has expanded its workshop offerings and is even sponsoring a summer trip to Guatemala for traveling yogis. Although they closed down their cafe and pre-packaged meal service, Glowing Body recently brought back healthy lunches, with soups, salads, sandwiches, and hummus plates ready to grab on the run. They've also increased the number of Karma (or pay-what-you-can) classes, ensuring that even Knoxville's financially struggling yogis can work to attain nirvana. (C.W.G.)

Runners Up: Gypsy Hands, YMCA, Yoga Haven

Best Fitness Center

The Rush

From the blasting Top 40 music to the spandex-clad hotties to the screaming-loud color scheme, The Rush might invite suspicion among the workout-wary—except that everyone there is super nice, the equipment up-to-date and clean, the classes fun, the trainers smart, the childcare attentive and engaging, the lounges comfy and inviting. Sure, it's huge, but you never lack for personal attention or sources of motivation. There's always something going on, and new things to try or do—but no real pressure. You can hit the elliptical hard, or just stroll leisurely on the treadmill; you can break a sweat in spinning, or lift some light weights. You can do a few laps in the saline swimming pool, or check out the unique power yoga classes (they're called Centergy). But look past all the gloss, and you'll see a gym filled with folks just like you, logging their workout time in the best way they can. It's a great place to do it. (H.D.)

Runners Up: Court South, Fort Sanders, YMCA

Best Outdoor Sports Store

River Sports Outfitters

Runners Up: The Board Room, Earth Traverse, Little River Trading Co.

Best Furniture

Bliss Home

(See Also: Best Store in the Best of the Best, and Best Gift Shop)

Runners Up: Braden's Lifestyles, Knoxville Wholesale Furniture, O.P. Jenkins

Best Clothing Store

Black Market

Runners Up: Bliss, M.S. McClellan, Planet Xchange

Best Thrift/Secondhand Clothing Store

Planet Xchange

So, these folks are like that friend you have who is so stylish and so with it and isn't afraid to tell you, "Um, no, that isn't doing a thing for you." If a trade-in isn't hip, name-brandy, and cool, they aren't going to take it. But it all works in your favor, 'cause by the time you get there, they've done all the legwork, and you just pick up the semi-formal dress, couture bag, great jeans, and so forth—at mad savings. Plus, the staff is super-nice about helping you find what fits and what fits your look—even if you're not sure what that is just yet. (R.K.)

Runners Up: Goodwill Industries Knoxville Inc., KARM, RERUNS Boutique

Best Dry Cleaner

Prestige Cleaners

Prestige founder Eddie Mannis has been in the news a bit lately as a possible Knoxville mayoral candidate. But in our readers' hearts, he's already the Sultan of Starch, the Dean of Clean. With its nine locations (including our favorite, downtown in the Phoenix Building, where you can get a latte while you drop off your dress shirts), Prestige might be our greatest local practitioner of the freedom of the press. (J.F.M.)

Runners Up: Crown Cleaners, Executive Cleaners, King Cleaners

Best Eyewear Shop

Luttrell's Eyewear

Runners Up: Clancy Optical, the Eye Group, Spex

Best Day Spa

& Best Licensed Massage Therapy

Spa Visage/Travis Jackson

Day Spa Runners Up: Belleza, Natural Alternatives, Pure Luxe Salon & Spa

Licensed Massage Therapy Runners Up: Belleza/Gina Holt, Gypsy Hands/Elodie Lafont, Natural Alternatives/Fanita Overstreet

Best Tattoo Studio

Saint Tattoo

Runners Up: Alter Ego, Mythical Markings, Synergy

Best Tanning Salon

Sun Tan City

Runners Up: Fusion Tanning Studio, Northshore Sun, Tropic Tans

Best Auto Service

Fisher Tire

Runners Up: Auto Technicians, Dennis Hall's Auto Service, MF Automotive

Best Bike Shop

Greenlee's Bike Shop

Runners Up: Bike Zoo, Harper's Bike Shop, Tennessee Valley Bikes

Best Pet Supply Store

Agri Feed Pet Supply

Thirty-five years of local ownership later, you still can't find anything at Agri Feed that isn't good for your pet ... or your pond ... or even wild birds. But even more lovely at this spacious, ultra-clean pet supply showcase is the community service: Nary a week goes by without a rescue group holding an adoption fair. Then there's our personal favorite: They're also the occasional outlet for the guinea pig rescue; adoptable cavvies live at the store until the right owner comes through the door. (R.K.)

Runners Up: Critter Barn, PetSafe Village, River Dog Bakery

Best Place to Board Your Pets

PetSafe Village

It's Knoxville's only ABKA-accredited facility, and it offers a lot: 24/7 drop-off and pick-up, a webcam to watch your pup from afar, scheduled playtime, exercise, pampered grooming, bathing, and heated floors. Sure, those are all nice. But it's impossible to separate the facility from its president and CEO Randy Boyd's reputation—in a good way. Boyd, who earned his money the hard way as the entrepreneur behind Invisible Fencing, has donated the big bucks to help build several off-leash dog parks in Knox County, with the next targeted for South Knoxville. He's also been key (along with the Young-Williams Animal Center) in getting the soon-to-open Animal Village in place, which, along with being an attractive adoption center, will offer free and low-cost spays and neuters to reduce the numbers of animals that end up euthanized in the area. If PetSafe's the best place to board, Boyd may well be the local dog's best friend. (R.K.)

Runners Up: All Kreatures Pet Care, Barkside Lodge, Hush Puppies Pet Services

Best In-Store Pet

Napoleon at Nostalgia

Way to go, pup! Napoleon, an 11-year-old rescue pug, is the first animal of record to repeat as winner of Best In-Store Pet. Nostalgia owner Amie Swanson says Napoleon's as "ecstatic as he gets" about the news, but it won't change his life much. He'll still pick a few treasured items to feature on the Nostalgia website every now and again, and he'll still be allowed on any furniture he decides to favor with his furry little self. "He'd be able to get on the furniture even if he lost," says Swanson. Last year, Napoleon was the first pet to come to the BOK awards gathering, and he'll probably show again this year, although he pretty much has to stay on the patio. After all, even though none of his many admirers precisely believe it, he is, ahem, still a dog. (R.K.)

Runners Up: Butch at The Boardroom, Henry at Lost & Found Records, Sullivan at Ironic