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Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 10.25.07



BEST OF EUGENE 2007: Tightrope Walkers and Trapeze Artists | Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll |Eat Freaks | The Incredible Shrinking Wallet | Sights, Sounds, Scribbles Everything Else Under the Big Top | Trap Door | We're So Vain | Staff Picks | Best of the Ballots

 

The Incredible Shrinking Wallet

BEST OUTDOORS/RECREATION STORE

1. McKenzie Outfitters

2. Joe's Sports, Outdoor and More

3. Backcountry Gear Ltd.

It was 30 years ago in August that Jerry Godfrey opened McKenzie Outfitters; the business now has two stores in Eugene and another in Medford. Outdoor nuts go ga-ga over the huge selection of top-brand gear and the high level of customer service. There are plenty of places to buy camping, hiking and climbing equipment, but our readers pick McKenzie Outfitters as the best locally owned store. (Yes, many of you voted for Seattle-based REI – and we like it too — but we try to give these awards to businesses at least based in Oregon, if not Eugene!)

 

BEST INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE

1. Smith Family Bookstore

2. Tsunami Books

3. J. Michael's Books

 

BEST FOOD PRODUCER

 

1. Nancy's Cultured Dairy and Soy/Springfield Creamery

2. Hey Bales! Farm

3. Horton Road Organics

Mmmm … Nancy's cottage cheese. Mmmm ... Nancy's organic whole-milk yogurt. Mmmm … Nancy's sour cream. If you gotta do dairy (though they also do soy yogurt), this is the way to go. After all, the factory's in Eugene (despite its name), and the family certainly has its roots and influences throughout the town, from Ken Kesey's multivalent legacy to Kip Kesey's ventures into musicland. The dairy advertises its products as "Real Food for Real People," and EW readers surely believe the (locally focused, pretty calm in marketing terms) hype. You're cultured … with all of the live acidophilus, bifidum, thermophiluis, bulgaricus, casei and rhamnosus (aka probiotics) in the yogurt and the cottage cheese. True, the first taste of Nancy's cottage cheese might shock you, but once you're used to the culturey tang, ain't no other cottage cheese gonna do. Springfield Creamery, we heart ya! And we also heart the CSAs and local farms like Hey! Bayles and Horton Road Organics (last year's CSA co-winner). Mmmm … chard and yogurt! Squash and cottage cheese! We like our local combos.

 

BEST ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY BUSINESS

1. Down to Earth

2. TIE: SeQuential Biofuels / Sundance Natural Foods

3. BRING Recycling

For the third year in a row, locally owned Down to Earth's blend of natural products for the garden, tchotchkes and gifts for the home has inspired Eugeneans to vote the store the best enviro-friendly business. Where else can you go to buy organic worm compost, a decorative poster featuring seasonal mixed greens and a Fiestaware coffee cup all in one stop?

 

BEST HIPPIE BUSINESS

Sweet Potato Pie

1. Sweet Potato Pie

2. Sundance Natural Foods

3. Saturday Market

"What's a hippie business?" some of you asked, and others of you gave us the answer: Sweet Potato Pie! And also Sundance, with its array of natural foods, and Saturday Market, with all its lovingly made crafts, foods, performers and more. When asked what "hippie business" means to her, Sweet Potato Pie owner Elizabeth Thompson replied cheerily, "I'm totally not digging the title of BEST HIPPIE BUSINESS, so I'm changing it (officially, pie-style) to BEST HEMPY BUSINESS." And what does that mean? "1. Offering products to make the world a better place — saving the Earth one hemp/organic cotton T-shirt at a time. 2. Educating consumers about the benefits of conscious consumerism — knowing where your stuff is made and who made it ... putting a person behind each product we sell. 3. Selling simplicity — why buy three chemical cotton T-shirts when you can buy one organic cotton tee you're going to wear every day anyway...? Living proof that LESS IS MORE. 4. Having a good time and laughing at ourselves along the way! Hemp! Hemp! Hooray!" Damn! That's not a reply, that's a manifesto! And one we approve of fully — though we do think it's pretty hippie. In the good way!

 

BEST BOUTIQUE/CLOTHING STORE

1. Sweet Potato Pie

2. Deluxe

3. Infinity Mercantile

 

BEST GROCERY STORE

1. Market of Choice

2. Sundance Natural Foods

3. Capella Market

 

BEST RECORD/CD STORE

CD World's Ceiling

1. CD World

2. House of Records

3. CD/Game Exchange

We are living through the Great Decline of the Brick-and-Mortar Movie/Music Store (Goodbye, Tower Records! Sayonara, Music Millennium! Bon voyage, Flicks & Picks!) and yet here in Eugene, out in a strip mall along West 11th, resides a keeper of the torch: CD World. While its name is dated (they've been around since 1989, so we look the other way), the stock on hand is always exhaustive and definitive; the staff always willing to point out the trends in new music to clueless parents; the website (www.gotocdworld.com) always jam-packed with good information (if presented in a clunky format). Additionally, the store regularly offers free stuff, stocks a "local" section and has in-store performances of hot up and coming bands. Hard to go wrong with this winning combination of everything disc-related.

 

BEST DOWNTOWN BUSINESS

1. The Kiva

2. Sweet Potato Pie

3. Lazar's Bazaar

The letter writer who recently told us s/he wouldn't "darken the doors of downtown" — and that only thuggy teenagers would — clearly doesn't know squat about downtown. Luckily, our readers do, and you voted the little natural foods store that could Best Downtown Business. Kiva, with its combination of bulk foods, wine and yummy, yummy cheese, has been around for decades now, weathering the mall-driven destruction of downtown, the pedestrian mall and the Connor-Woolley dead space. Though the early closing time on Sunday challenges many of us, and though some of the newer, younger employees could use a course in customer service, owner George Brown and longtime staff members like Kate, Holly and Megan charm the money right out of the pockets of everyone who walks through the doors. Whole Foods be damned (seriously, we think it might already be damned), EW readers vow to stay loyal to the little store on the corner of 11th and Olive.