BEST OF JAX 2013

Shopping, Health & Beauty

The best businesses and services in Northeast Florida

Photo: Dennis Ho, Photo illustration: Chad Smith
Jacksonville Farmers Market (with Greg Tison) won Best Farmers Market.
Dennis Ho
Deep Search Records (with Rich Rapp and Miles the dog) won Best Record Store.
Dennis Ho
Chamblin’s Uptown (with Caron Schellenger, Niki Coplin and Jennifer O'Donnell) won Best Bookstore.
Dennis Ho
The Riverdale Inn (with Eric Waln) won Best B&B in Jacksonville.
Dennis Ho
Fifi’s Fine Resale Apparel (with Audrey Mill and Kaitlin Hancock) won Best Vintage Store.
Dennis Ho
Big Fish Yoga won Best Yoga Studio.
Dennis Ho
Aqua East Surf Shop won Best Surf Shop.
Dennis Ho
Atlantic Pro Divers (with Bob Bunkley, Rich Fegeley and Sam Bonner) won Best Dive Shop.
Dennis Ho
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Best B&B on Amelia Island

Elizabeth Pointe Lodge

Your worries will drift away with the sea foam from the moment you check in at Elizabeth Pointe Lodge. While away the hours in a rocking chair on one of the porches of the three-building oceanfront compound, on South Fletcher Avenue in Fernandina Beach, or curl up for an afternoon nap in one of the many rooms with an ocean view. The main building's Nantucket shingle style speaks of turn-of-the century New England, but the hospitality at this bed and breakfast is all Southern. — CG

 

Best B&B in Jacksonville

The Riverdale Inn

One hundred years ago, only the crème de la Jacksonville would have had the luxury to peek inside The Riverdale Inn, which was then a private Riverside residence. A few steps from local attractions such as The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Five Points and Memorial Park, to name only a few, this bed and breakfast is an ideal spot to stow those pesky in-laws and win brownie points in the process, or to enjoy a decadent staycation with your nearest and dearest in one of 10 elegantly appointed rooms. — CG

 

Best B&B in St. Augustine

Casablanca Inn

Casablanca Inn in St. Augustine is the epitome of Old World influence in Florida. Check in and relax on one of several porches facing shimmering waters at this bright, airy bayfront spot. Then hit the streets and explore the mazes and cobblestones of Historic St. Augustine. Perfect for a romantic weekend or even a small business retreat, with three buildings and more than 20 rooms, Casablanca Inn offers a variety of options, be you out-of-towners, honeymooners or corporate revelers. — CG

 

Best Bike Shop

Trek Bicycle Stores of Jacksonville

Trek Bicycle Stores of Jacksonville owner Jeff Kopp says he prides his stores on having “the largest selection, best value and awesome staff.” Two locations (Jacksonville Beach and Mandarin) sell everything from kids’ bikes to mountain bikes, all made by Trek, the best-selling bicycle brand in the U.S. Kopp, a former linebacker for the Jacksonville Jaguars, hosts a weeknight football radio show and coaches football for the Providence School when he isn’t busy giving back to the community by sponsoring charity rides and sharing his passion for cycling. — MT

 

Best Bookstore

Chamblin’s Uptown

For some, it’s a dream come true; for others, it’s overwhelming. Packed with piles and piles upon rows and rows of used and new books, Chamblin’s Uptown is nothing short of a treasure trove for book lovers (and book hoarders). Whatever topic or genre you're obsessed with, there’s surely a book, DVD or CD for you. Located on Laura Street near Hemming Plaza, the two-story stockpile also features a café serving coffee and lunch items. It’s the sister store to a former Best of Jax winner, Chamblin Bookmine on the Westside. — HL

 

Best Clothing Store

Rosenblum’s

Frank Rosenblum opened one of the first men’s clothing stores in Jacksonville in 1898, beginning with “only a pushcart full of wares and a heart filled with determination,” according to Rosenblum’s website. More than a century later, Rosenblum’s is still a local favorite spot for men’s — and, since the 1960s, women’s — upscale fashions. The stores carry well-known brands and offer the type of personalized customer service one might expect from a third-generation family business. Two locations, in Lakewood and Jacksonville Beach, are operated by Bob and Richard Rosenblum, grandsons of the business-savvy patriarch. — MT

 

Best Dive Shop

Atlantic Pro Divers

Once again, Atlantic Pro Divers has gone deeper than the competition. So whether you’re planning a trip to explore the depths of the Great Barrier Reef or just want to snorkel with the manatees in the St. Johns River, this mainstay in Jacksonville Beach has the gear and the knowledge to help you swim like the fishes. Just, please, don’t repeat the lesson one Floridian learned the hard way last year: Manatees are for admiring, not for riding. — CG

 

Best Doctor

Loren Clayman

Best Plastic Surgeon

Loren Clayman, Dr. Clayman’s Plastic Surgery Center

Best Day Spa

Dr. Clayman’s Miracle Spa

Best Nurse

Nancy Gladden

Some people achieve academic success, while others excel in athletics … and then there are those who dedicate their lives to helping others. Rarely do these three life pursuits come together as they have for Loren Clayman, who is not only the Best Plastic Surgeon for the 15th year in a row, but this year’s Best Doctor and owner of the Best Day Spa. Clayman was an All-American track and field star in his days at Harvard University before going to medical school. He later put his healing hands to work, performing complicated facial reconstructions on returning soldiers who'd been prisoners during the Vietnam war. For each of the 15 years that the board-certified doctor has held the title of BOJ Best Plastic Surgeon, Surgical Technician Nancy Gladden has been his first mate, assisting with everything from suture removals to extensive surgeries. Gladden, this year’s Best Nurse, became a surgical technician in 1967 at the recommendation of an unemployment office staff person. “I wasn’t qualified to be a secretary,” she said, “so somebody told me I should be an operating room tech.” Gladden said she is dumbfounded but quite honored by the BOJ distinction. In addition to plastic surgeries, Dr. Clayman’s Miracle Spa, located in Riverside, offers a variety of skin care treatments designed to rejuvenate and reduce stress. — MT

 

Best Farmers Market

Jacksonville Farmers Market

The oldest farmers market in Florida invokes an air of an Old World bazaar, albeit one that accepts paper money or those new-fangled plastic cards more readily than handfuls of grain or salt. With hundreds of vendors hawking thousands of items every single day of the year, this sprawling market just west of Downtown Jacksonville on Beaver Street has all the fresh, local produce you’d want, plus a litany of hard-to-find ethnic and exotic items you didn’t know you needed. — CG

 

Best Florist

Kuhn Flowers

Long before the days of online-ordered apologies and I love yous, the Kuhn Flowers truck was delivering fresh flower arrangements and live plants for every occasion to happy Northeast Florida recipients. Kuhn Flowers, serving Jacksonville with consistent quality flowers and gifts since 1947, now has additional locations for folks in Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine. Many locals love the main Kuhn Flowers shop on Beach Boulevard in St. Nicholas for its elaborate themed window displays, which change for every holiday and season. Make it a stop this Halloween and Christmas. — MT

 

Best Hair Salon

Hawthorn Salon

Owner-stylists Jim Stracke and Lea Laskowitz dreamed of creating a salon with an atmosphere that was “design-driven, appealing to clients and stylists and just flat-out cool.” Now, their clients love Hawthorn Salon’s relaxed Five Points environment and its nine well-trained stylists’ expertise on the latest hair products and methods. Chat it up with your stylist over some hair therapy, or take advantage of Hawthorn’s free Wi-Fi if you’re feeling a little shy. Either way, you’ll love your hair. — MT

 

Best Hairstylist

Jon-Michael Hall, Aura Salon Spa

As Flannery O’Connor once wrote, “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” A good hairstylist is arguably harder to find – especially one with color expertise and an artistic eye for consistently making you look and feel your best. The search is over for clients of Jon-Michael Hall, senior designer at Aveda Aura Salon in the Tinseltown area. Hall trained at the Aveda Institute in Charlotte, N.C., and has styled hair for New York Fashion Week for several years, and our readers consider him the best around. — MT

 

Best Health Club/Gym

YMCA

From fitness classes to youth sports and after-school care for kids, there’s one tried-and-true facility that Northeast Florida residents trust to meet their lifestyle needs: the YMCA. First Coast YMCA’s self-professed goals of youth development, healthy living and social responsibility are carried out through these and other programs offered in 13 locations from Macclenny to St. Augustine. If you won’t listen to us, take it from the Village People: “You’ll find it at the YMCA.” — MT

 

Best Health Food Store

Grassroots Natural Market

For those who care about what goes into their pie-holes, one local market rises above the rest, according to FW readers. They note the quality organic, local and non-GMO product selection at Riverside’s Grassroots Natural Market, founded in 2006 “by two brothers, born and raised in Jacksonville and passionate about health, well-being and culinary adventures,” according to the company’s website. Grassroots offers freshly squeezed juices, fresh, seasonal deli selections and aisle after aisle of the good stuff a healthy bod craves. The company is endorsed by Slow Food First Coast and affiliated with the Natural Products Association and Non-GMO Project. — MT

 

Best Hookah Lounge

The Casbah Café

The current hookah craze was just a novelty when the Casbah first opened for business 14 years ago. It quickly became an anchor of the Avondale scene, and a perennial Best of Jax winner. It has remained that way for three main reasons: 1) The café’s classic Middle Eastern cuisine; 2) the packed line up of live music (including Goliath Flores and the Von Barlow Trio, and we can’t forget the belly-dancers) performing throughout the week; and 3) the hookahs, not bazookas. — SH

 

Best Hospital

St. Vincent’s Medical Center

With campuses in Riverside and on the Southside, St. Vincent’s opened a third facility Oct. 1 in Clay County near Middleburg. St. Vincent’s operates centers of excellence in stroke, orthopedics, heart failure and spine care. It's one of 26 hospital organizations selected by the Department of Health and Human Services to take part in a program designed to reduce millions of preventable injuries from accidents and infections. — RW

 

Best Jewelry Store

Underwood’s Jewelers

It’s no accident that Underwood’s has been voted the top jewelry store by Folio Weekly readers for more than 20 years in a row, just as it’s no act of chance that the quality and craftsmanship of Underwood’s jewelry has been trusted in Jacksonville for more than 80 years. “We use science to make it happen, employing every weapon in the gemological arsenal to make sure our diamonds are beautiful,” touts the Underwood’s website, explaining that great care and years of training and expertise go into every jewelry selection before it is deemed fit to sell at one of Underwood’s four locations. For everything from Rolex watches to engagement rings and anniversary gifts, visit Underwood’s in San Marco, Ponte Vedra Beach, Avondale or The Avenues mall. — MT

 

Best Lawyer

Best Righteous Crusader

John M. Phillips

For three years in a row, John M. Phillips has been named the best lawyer in the city by our readers, but this year marks the first time the host of “Courts & Sports” has been recognized for his commitment to truth and justice. In a market that’s rife with pencil-pushing champions of all things morally unsavory, Phillips practices law with a conscience, with humility and, always, with pizzazz. Of being recognized for the quality of work he's performed representing Aria Jewett and the family of Jordan Davis, Phillips said, “After the year that I’ve had, it’s kind of apropos; it’s still more than flattering.” — CG

 

Best Liquor Store

ABC Fine Wine & Spirits

Unlike some other states — we’re looking at you, North Carolina — where Big Brother rules ABCs with an iron fist and laws by the list, in Florida, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits brings a feel-good vibe and some killer service to the trade. Once again floating to the top of the field this year, ABC offers wine tastings, knowledgeable staff and a dizzying array of beer, wine, liquor, smokes and snacks of the local and imported variety at many locations. — CG

 

Best Place to Buy a Car

Tom Bush

The search, the negotiation, the financing, the warranty – let’s face it, car shopping can be akin to the stress and pain of getting a root canal. That’s why the local Tom Bush family of dealerships, with more than 40 years’ experience serving Northeast Florida, deserves extra props for winning this category. Tom Bush not only offers new Volkswagens, Mazdas, BMWs and Minis at its seven hassle-free locations, it boasts a wide range of quality pre-owned cars and in-house service and repairs. — MT

 

Best Record Store

Deep Search Records

At a time when record stores are scarce, it’s a relief — some say a miracle — that Jacksonville welcomed a new one in late 2012. Selling new and used vinyl released by independent/alternative artists (and some mainstream stars), Deep Search Records in Five Points quickly became a favorite spot for people who want to hold something solid when they purchase music. Featuring tidy, well-organized displays, walls covered in album and tour posters, and even occasional live shows, it’s like a candy store for music geeks. What naysayers may not realize is that new records come with free digital download codes, so it’s not like buyers live in the dark ages. — HL

 

Best Skate Shop

The SB Skate Co.

Since it catapulted into the mainstream in the 1970s, skateboarding has never gone out of fashion. Girls will always swoon for a kickflip; guys will never get tired of watching a sweet Ollie. The SB Skate Co. (formerly Skate Bomb) in Jacksonville Beach has been putting wheels under the city since the mid-’90s. Don’t be fooled by the size of this shop: The selection is as gnarly as some of the scars you’ll see on the sport’s most dedicated athletes. — CG

 

Best Staycation

Best Tourist Trap

St. Augustine

According to the official city of St. Augustine website, some 2 million visitors make their way to the Nation’s Oldest City annually. It makes sense. With a nearly 450-year, culturally rich history, rapidly developing live music scene, art community, the new Ice Plant and miles of white sand beaches, St. Augustine is the perfect place for both tourists and locals to get stuck. Founded in 1565 by Spanish admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the Ancient City served as the capital of the Florida Territory until 1824 and some 60 years later, a winter resort for the wealthy Northern elite. Today, St. Augustine boasts popular destinations like the lighthouse, Castillo de San Marcos, Lightner Museum, Flagler College, annual Rhythm & Ribs Festival, Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, Alligator Farm and Anastasia State Park. The city just successfully hosted Mumford & Sons’ Gentlemen of the Road festival. While many tourists visit to learn about St. Augustine’s past, the people of the city are looking toward a bright future. — KP

 

Best Surf Shop

Aqua East Surf Shop

Those geniuses within the state government report that Florida, the world’s top travel destination, boasts 663 glorious miles of beaches (that’s more than Switzerland and Azerbaijan put together!). This year, Aqua East Surf Shop has triumphed over the competition as sand and sea lovers’ favorite source of beachwear and gear in Northeast Florida. Offering an insanely extensive selection at two locations — Neptune Beach and St. Augustine — you could show up in Brooks Brothers and leave looking like a member of the cast of “Riding Giants,” or at least dressed like one. — CG

 

Best Tattoo Studio

Inksmith & Rogers

A short stroll down any one of Northeast Florida’s beautiful beaches is all it takes to understand the vibrancy of the local tattoo culture, though the artists at Inksmith & Rogers would probably agree that ink should never be exposed to the sun. With its 30th anniversary coming up in 2014, we can probably guess how founders Eric Inksmith and Paul Rogers, whose several studios again top the list this year, will choose to celebrate the momentous occasion. With cake, of course. — CG

 

Best Vintage Store

Fifi’s Fine Resale Apparel

With a name like Fifi Queen, it seems the founder of Fifi’s Fine Resale Apparel was destined for the finer things in life. The Asheville, N.C., native settled in Jacksonville in the early 1980s, bringing with her a love of beautiful but affordable clothing that became her business philosophy in opening the first Fifi’s store on Amelia Island, according to the company’s website. Fifi’s boutiques put vintage designer finds within everyday shoppers’ reach by offering gently used, highly sought brands at bargain consignment prices. You can find Fifi’s self-described “Florida’s largest and finest consignment shop” in 22 Florida and North Carolina locations, including six in Amelia Island, Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine. — MT

 

Best Veterinarian

San Juan Animal Hospital

When pets are the patients, they can’t speak up and say what’s ailing them. Furry (or scaly) creatures need veterinarians who can pinpoint their problems without verbal clues, and Folio Weekly readers say the San Juan Animal Hospital is the best place in town to take them. The full-service medical facility has five veterinarians catering to four-legged loved ones, with services including vaccinations, dental care, acupuncture, stem-cell therapy and pain management. The healthcare team also includes two adorable feline "employees," Simon and Essiemae. — HL

 

Best Wi-Fi Spot

Starbucks

Coffee and Wi-Fi go together like Norah Jones and the early 2000s, so it’s no surprise that Starbucks is once again the BOJ Wi-Fi favorite. With 33 locations offering free Wi-Fi in Jacksonville alone, you’re never far away from a chance catch up on that NSFW blog in a comfy, nicely lit Starbucks living room environment while listening to trendy music. You can even Google this year’s BOJ winners while reading about them in this issue and sipping your seasonal PSL (which we hope, for the love of all things scenester, you didn’t order that way). — MT

 

Best Wine Store

Total Wine

There really is no better way to describe this winner than the very name of the store itself. Recently revamped and reorganized, Total Wine offers so many bottles of wine, in addition to mixers, spirits, beer and more, that it’s nearly impossible to leave empty-handed. In fact, you’ll probably walk out with at least twice as much as you came in for. Whether you’re a box wine enthusiast or a Napa purist, Total Wine has at least one bottle (but probably more like 100) of the vintage you’re looking for. — CG

 

Best Yoga Studio

Big Fish Yoga

Yoga might be the only workout in the world that inspires its tight and taut practitioners to be better people. So if you’re looking to find some spiritual oneness or just want to fit into your college jeans again, hit the mat with the gang at Big Fish Yoga, a Baptiste-inspired studio that will have you ohmming like a yogi in weeks. If you’re inspired to channel that good energy into good deeds, owner Mary Lyn Jenkins will gladly direct your chi in the right direction. — CG

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