Goods & Services
Best place to audition for the apocalypse
You don’t get to hear them struggle through “Stairway to Heaven” as much these days, but the phenomenon of all those weekend guitar heroes trying to hear their own fractured riffs above the din of fellow customers still can be a wonderful thing. Position yourself at just the right spot and close your eyes, and the convergence of industrial-strength dissonance is almost like a Glen Branca/Sonic Youth double bill. Afterward, chill out in the drum room (or not) and then head over to the keyboard department, where actual playing often can be heard amid the loop-driven bravado of tweakers in backward baseball caps.
2120 Alta Arden Expressway, (916) 922-2132.
Best walk into the pages of Metropolitan Home
Stripes and polka dots, clean lines and chrome, stripped-down chic next to bulbous and bold, Atmosphere Home brings you, in all three dimensions, the furniture and accessories featured in the glossiest modern-design magazines. Sacramento doesn’t always celebrate international style concepts, so when a local boutique with every blocky, stocky, sleek and slender, plush and poofy thing comes to town, it’s time to tip your bowler hat to the owner—in this case, Michelle Dennis.
2122 J Street, (916) 446-4054.
Best place to get beaded
The Bead Fetish
This tiny Midtown boutique has everything the serious bead artist needs—and more than enough to keep an amateur occupied. Beads range from colored pieces of plastic that cost a few cents to pendant-sized gems worth considerably more. In between, there are beads of Indian and Czech glass, semi-precious stones, natural materials—not only wood but also bone and horn—cloisonné and freshwater pearls. Advice and jokes are free, and books and patterns are for sale. The Bead Fetish is open Tuesday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Here’s to art you can wear.
1729 L Street, (916) 447-7979.
Best place to put your feet up
A trip to Waa’s Nails is like a visit to an old friend’s place. Upon entering the converted five-room house in East Sacramento, you’re greeted and then seated in a lounge chair covered by sheets and towels. Your feet are plunged into a relaxing massage bath to soak while one of the five employees—all of whom are related to owner Waa Nguyen—prepare to give your tired old dogs a makeover. As the pedicure progresses, muscles and manners relax. Friendly banter can give way to a gentle scolding for having left polish on your nails for too long. But you might also hear a serenade sung softly by the staff member rubbing your calves. Twenty bucks and nearly an hour later, Waa-la! You’ll emerge refreshed and feeling as if your circle of friends has grown a little larger.
5400 H Street, (916) 455-7380.
Best place to get Downtown Plaza parking validated
There you are, leaving the spectacle of glittering consumables and two-for-one blowouts and descending back into that subterranean diaspora of stagnant fumes and misplaced vehicles. But then, as the gentle whiff of carbon monoxide caresses your senses, you come to a stark realization: Your parking ticket is not validated. You pivot, pushing past small children as you leap back up the down escalator. And then what? Well, you could drag your pathetic shopping-mall ass up to one of many fine dining establishments with a look of embarrassed forgetfulness. But why not just go to Doubleday Bookshop, which is literally crawling distance from the central escalator, and buy yourself the reasonably priced San Francisco Chronicle? You’ll be on your way in no time, with validated parking and a decent newspaper for a quarter, tax included. Just make sure to leave one for us, OK?
545 Downtown Plaza, Suite 1095; (916) 442-7609.
Best place to buy used books
Friends of the Sacramento Public Library annual book sale
Though there are a plethora of used-book stores in Sacramento, all too often, they aren’t much of a bargain compared with buying new. Oh, there are occasional treasures—like that first edition of Robert Bly’s 1968 National Book Award winner for $3—but generally, used-book dealers know what they have and charge accordingly. Not so at the Friends of the Sacramento Public Library annual book sale, usually held in May, which is a bibliophile’s nirvana. Rows upon rows of folding tables, all stacked to overflowing with books, fill the Clunie Clubhouse at McKinley Park. And there are cardboard boxes full of books beneath the tables. On the last Sunday of the sale, I filled two grocery-sized brown paper bags for just $10 and went home with such delights as a nice hardcover edition of Stephen Vincent Benét’s Western Star. This year’s event had more than 120,000 books, all priced reasonably. Even better, proceeds go to support the public library.
(916) 264-2880, www.saclibrary.org/about_lib/friends.html .
Best place to pick up offbeat journals
It looks like any other newsstand at first; most of the patrons are there for the Bee, Snickers bars and chewing gum. There’s Le Monde on the rack, in case you want to brush up on your college French, and there are all sorts of so-called “news” magazines to bring you up to speed on Laci, Jessica and Kobe. But Newsbeat also has the most eclectic collection of journals this side of a good university library’s collection. From Critical Inquiry to Raritan, this small shop stocks reading material for the thinking class, in spite of being located right across the street from the state Capitol. It’s also a poetry lover’s dream. Not only does Newsbeat have the basics, from Poetry to Ploughshares, but it also has plenty of truly “little” magazines: Witness, the Clackamas Literary Review and Rattle, and those are just the appetizers. Pick up one of these literary gems, wander around the corner to a café on K Street, sip your coffee and read poetry at one of the sidewalk tables. It might even inspire some Sacramento-flavored poetry of your own (see SN&R’s Poet’s Corner).
1005 L Street, (916) 448-2874.
Best indie record store
Sacramento has never been hurting for decent record stores, from such chains as Tower and Dimple to single-store outlets like The Beat. But what the area has lacked, until now, was a good place to find a concentrated cross-section of the American indie-rock-and-pop revolution’s prolific output from recent years. Owners Dan and Heather Sostrom have packed their living-room-like hole-in-the-wall space on J Street with plenty of harder-to-find items, the kinds of CDs (and vinyl!) that exist outside of the big distribution channels. Tone Vendor also carries electronica and some indie hip-hop and has a mail-order service if you can’t bear to leave Carmichael.
1812 J Street, No. 1; (916) 551-1597; www.tonevendor.com.
Best vintage clothing for men
Just because you’re living in the 21st century, that doesn’t mean you have to dress like it. Ed’s Threads is a rare oasis of style in a landscape of prefab disposability. It’s the second coming of an era in which menswear still involved excellent workmanship, fine fabrics and quality design. The small Midtown shop is packed with perfectly preserved, eternally stylish men’s clothing, from classic fedoras to that Carnaby-era sweater that will make you the envy of every mod. There’s also a tasteful Sinatra shrine in the front of the shop and a bookcase in the back that’s full of used tomes, mostly from Edward A. Castro’s eclectic personal collection—we picked up a hardbound copy of Walter Mosley’s Workin’ on the Chain Gang: Shaking Off the Dead Hand of History—so you can look good and read good, too!
1125 21st Street, (916) 446-8138.
Best place to subvert the overpriced-wedding industry
Veils are kind of creepy. The whole thing about the bride’s father presenting her to the groom and then lifting the veil so the groom can tell he hasn’t been duped is pretty disturbing. Still, the accessory has remained an American tradition, and many a modern woman looks forward to the moment her beautiful, delicate veil is flipped over her perfect up-do. Yes, many empowered and very rational women are happy to wear one. Many such women aren’t happy, however, paying $100 for something they know should cost a tiny fraction of that. For do-it-yourself veil materials and other budget-wedding essentials, Michaels is the place. Download a pattern off the Internet and then head to Michaels for ivory tulle, ribbon, clear plastic combs and tiny satiny flowers. All told, your project should end up costing less than $15, with no more than three or four hours of labor. Take that, Modern Bride.
3691 Truxel Road, (916) 928-9777; and 4241 Marconi Avenue, (916) 481-6617.
Best way to avoid bankruptcy
Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Greater Sacramento Valley
We all seem to have at least a couple of credit cards in our wallets, which is why Americans owe a total of $1.7 trillion in consumer debt. We’d never ask a bank-loan officer for $60 to go to dinner, but we readily fork over a piece of plastic that allows us to borrow that much at interest rates that are often nothing short of usurious—and lenders make one-third of their money from late charges alone. For folks who’ve gotten so far into credit-card debt that it will take decades to get out, there are solutions that stop short of bankruptcy. Operating in Sacramento since 1964 and part of a national association of nonprofit credit-counseling services, Consumer Credit Counseling Service can help negotiate repayment plans at lower interest rates with most credit-card companies, and that often leaves clients debt-free in as little as two years. The service also provides credit and money-management education at astonishingly low fees.
8795 Folsom Boulevard, Suite 250; (916) 379-3600; www.cccssacto.org.
Best purveyor of this and that
Lee Hardware & Mini Market
With few exceptions, once you’ve been in one mini market, you’ve been in them all. They all sell just about the same items at more or less the same prices—no surprises. Lee Hardware & Mini Market is an exception, though. You just never know what you’ll find. The most oddly convenient convenience store in all of Sacramento, it has the boxed, canned and frozen foods you’ve come to expect, but it also carries hardware, painting and plumbing supplies; small toys; and random household items. The proprietors sell many items in unusual quantities, too. Potential purchases: a Chinese newspaper, single tampons out of the box (25 cents each), a package of shower caps, bacon, pipe fittings, baby bottles and a toy police-paraphernalia set complete with cheesy sunglasses. The Lees also make keys.
930 S Street, (916) 447-9081.
Best place to buy a gift for the friend who has everything
The lovely little round-bellied statue of the Buddha cuddles up to the lanky stone representation of St. Francis of Assisi. Bitch brand hand soap rests on a shelf next to Shadow & Light massage oil’s anti-stress formula. There are oversized but sleekly designed coffee cups, candles of every variety—including Blessed Herbal Candles for everything from meditation to seduction—incense, wall hangings and kitchen-sink strainer baskets with a pair of ruby slippers on the grip as a reminder that “there’s no place like home.” The bookshelves have volumes on topics that include spirituality, healing, self-empowerment and spicing up your love life—including one called Sex Tips from a Dominatrix. Bumper stickers and T-shirts include old favorites (“Visualize whirled peas”) and the always-timely (“I bet Jesus would have used his turn signals”). No matter how much stuff your friends already have, there’s bound to be something they can’t live without.
2231 J Street, (916) 448-6742.
Best place to find an alternate mode of transportation
The Vespa scooter, one of the great symbols of the British Mod movement, is fast becoming a popular item for the American masses. Listening to The Who and wearing a really smart suit are no longer prerequisites for driving one of these mini-motorcycles. And though the streets of Sacramento may not resemble those of Quadrophenia’s Brighton, England, they provide a perfect backdrop for scooting. Ralph Sattelmayer, owner of the Vespa Haus, is a scooter expert just waiting to share his knowledge of, and love for, all that is scooting. His shop offers an array of scooters, new and vintage, from such brands as Kymco and Bajaj. Not one to skimp on safety, Sattelmayer will even throw in a free helmet with the purchase of a Kymco or Bajaj scooter.
316 16th Street, (916) 444-9976.
Best place to part with hair and stress
Akimbo salon spa
A haircut at Akimbo isn’t something to be crossed off a to-do list. It shouldn’t be a lunch-hour errand or a stop on the way home from work. It’s therapy, and it starts with a beverage, such as herbal tea, juice or wine. If a few sips of merlot don’t relax you, the aromatherapy scalp massage should do the trick. Soothing oils combined with kneading of the skull and neck leave your hair looking like a greasy rat’s nest, but you feel too good to care. The shampoo process also is pleasant, with the right degree of scrubbing and tension as the stylist lathers and rinses. Now you’re ready for the mane event. Akimbo’s stylists can supply suggestions for trendy cuts appropriate to your hair type and facial features. Cuts include styling and range up to $60. If time permits, your stylist can touch up your makeup before sending you on your way, preferably to a night on the town.
2015 J Street, Suite 201; (916) 443-2710.
Best place to wash (or wear) your Kings jersey
If, like many people, you lack both cable TV and a washer and dryer, City Suds is the place to go if you have to do your laundry on a game night. The laundromat is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week, and managers and siblings Nicole and Josh Winn are sports fans who are happy to put at least one of the place’s two televisions on TNT or ESPN on game nights. You probably won’t even have to ask. You’ll get to see the game, you’ll have clean clothes (for about $2.75 a load), and the weird camaraderie you’ll feel among the other laundromat strangers/Kings fans will make doing your chores seem almost fun.
1830 L Street, (916) 443-1914.
Best never-ending new-clothes sale
The Attic Clearance Center at Gottschalks
Forget trolling through national factory outlets or department stores with seasonal sales, the best ongoing clothing sale is tucked away on the second floor of Gottschalks in Country Club Plaza on Watt Avenue. The Attic Clearance Center, a small section of the main store accessible through, and nearly hidden behind, the upstairs bedding department, is the real shopping deal. All men’s and women’s clothing is up to 75-percent off prices that already were marked down at least once when the merchandise was downstairs in the main store. A men’s golf shirt originally tagged at $32 goes for an eye-opening $4 in The Attic, and a women’s top that started out at $25 last season now can be had for $5.99. The selection can be slim at times, but the sale never ends. The only way to get clothes cheaper is to buy them used at a garage sale or to dumpster-dive.
2300 Watt Avenue, (916) 574-1000.
Best fancy-schmancy nursery and gift store
Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery
Outside, the nursery grounds feature life-sized metal giraffes rusted red; Japanese maples almost the same color; peach, plum and nectarine trees; every kind of flowering thing; ceramic pots big enough to bathe in; slate fountains; and ancient-looking garden sentries, all watched over by a cat who loves to have her tummy rubbed. On the inside, shoppers who’ve come to lower their blood pressure stroll through bouquets of bright silk flowers, rolled yards of fabric ribbon, imported soaps and designer furnishings, ceramic goo-gaas sitting on delicate scrollwork shelves, and everything of whimsy seemingly hand-crafted and chosen to delight the eye and ease open the wallet.
4681 Fair Oaks Boulevard, (916) 483-1830.
Best place to modernize your home
New York, London, Paris … Sacramento? Though Del Paso may not be one of the richest or most prestigious shopping areas in Sacramento, it is certainly home to one of the most stylish and world-renowned interior-design stores, Limn. The spacious interior consists of a series of rooms articulated not by walls but by the arrangement of design elements. The staff at Limn doesn’t mind if you poke and prod every item. In fact, they will respectfully stand back as you test the functionality and comfort of their stylish modern furnishings. Limn’s collection includes new and striking designs from internationally renowned designers such as Ligne Roset, B&B Italia, De Sede and Bulthaup. In addition to home furnishings, Limn offers lighting, carpets, home ware and accessories. Allow yourself to be inspired and to experiment and then allow your pocketbook some time to recover.
501 Arden Way, (916) 564-2900, www.limn.com.
Best dental work in a home environment
If it wasn’t for the sound of the whirring drill and the smell of burning tooth enamel, you might be able to imagine yourself at home in your recliner, with your loyal canine companion in your lap. Charlene Marie, who goes by Charlie, is a 3-year-old Jack Russell terrier who puts in nine-to-fives at the office of dentist Ernest Bock. While enduring a root canal, filling or other uncomfortable procedure, Bock’s patients have the option of utilizing the services of the “dental dog.” At your request, Charlie will sit soothingly in your lap while the doc and his staff work away in your mouth. Charlie works cheap, requiring only an occasional stroke on the head. But if ignored, the insistent terrier will trot off to the next exam room in search of a more accommodating customer.
1813 Professional Drive, (916) 482-4000.