Goods & Services

Writers’ picks

Stop into Suede Salon and Spa for a manicure and a proverb.

Stop into Suede Salon and Spa for a manicure and a proverb.

Best excuse to rethink happy hour

Suede Salon and Spa

Like bartenders, stylists are often listeners who know our secrets. But how often does your salon experience include Persian proverbs or wisdom from Rumi? Mitra Esmaili of Suede Salon and Spa is a gifted stylist whose lovely, humble presence never fails to uplift and inspire. Another reason to make an appointment at Suede: Tuesday through Friday, from noon to 2 p.m., and again from 5 to 7 p.m., it’s happy hour—salon style. Get a complimentary manicure with a purchased pedicure, a free scalp treatment or glaze with a purchased haircut, or an express microdermabrasion from the highly sought after esthetician Maggie Sobhani for only $49 (an $80 savings).

2648 Watt Avenue, (916) 487-2566,

Best place to begin your job search

Sacramento Public Library

Being out of work can make you feel like you’re out of luck, too. But remember this: The Sacramento Public Library has your back. The library’s website features free services for job seekers that would otherwise cost a few hundred dollars out of pocket. But all you need for access is a library card and a pin number (the latter is available online). The virtual service will show you how to assemble a first-rate résumé, give critiques of résumés from consultants within 24 hours, offer practice interview sessions and more. Those applying for a civil-service job can prep by taking practice tests at Learning Express. The library also subscribes to Internet job resources, local and national posting sites, plus personality and career assessments.

828 I Street, (916) 264-2700,

Best place to get fixed

Ace Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning

The people over at Ace seem to understand how to unclog a drain, fix an air conditioner, mend a gnarly septic tank, and do whatever else plumbers and electricians do. It’s because they’ve been in business for more than 40 years, which is older than Justin Bieber and Will Smith’s kids combined. And the owner Jerry Greenberg is super enthusiastic about what he created: a company that does residential and commercial plumbing, heating and air with the grace of a synchronized swim team. I’d also like to add that Greenberg is kind of a badass. He harbors exotic birds, for one. And he has an Ace motorcycle, which sports an Ace logo—and a utility sidecar that technicians can take on jobs. Enough said. Wait, maybe not: Ace serves the greater Sacramento area, Folsom, Fair Oaks, Davis, Woodland, Lincoln, Rocklin and Roseville.

3011 Academy Way, (916) 455-4548,

Best place to stock up for your own brewfest

Davis Food Co-op

The bad thing about brewfests is they only happen at random times during the year. The good thing, however, is you can host your own mini-brewfest any time, featuring exotic international varieties, without traveling farther than Davis. The Davis Food Co-op offers what can best be described as Wonkaland for beer lovers. It not only offers an extensive collection of imports, but also sells a variety of microbrews from local breweries. So buy a selection of bottles (maybe pick up a few kinds of cheese to pair with them), invite some friends to your house and celebrate the awesomeness of beer.

620 G Street in Davis, (530) 758-2667,

Best out-of-the-way footwear shop

El Rancho Grande Market

The historic small towns along the Delta are charming little gems. Walking into Isleton’s El Rancho Grande Market, it seems like it’s just another convenience store at first glance, but with a butcher counter, wines from nearby Delta wineries, household goods, toys, sombreros and ponchos, it serves as more of a general store. Hidden in the front corner of the shop—in a narrow aisle behind a rack of candy bars—is a selection of boots and sandals. The surprisingly diverse selection of footwear includes sandals—for women, children and men—which are rustic, made with leather and recycled rubber tire soles, and range from $12 to $28. So one can walk out of El Rancho with some new, pretty cool looking kicks.

24 Main Street in Isleton, (916) 777-5866.

El Rancho Grande Market in Isleton (yes, that’s you driving into the Delta) features a surprising selection of footwear made of leather and recycled rubber-tire soles.

Photo By SHOKA

Best place to get tuned

The Nicholson Music Co.

Don’t you hate it when someone leans your guitar up against a mirror, which shortly thereafter falls, and the reflective glass guillotines the instrument from the fretboard up? Yeah, me too. Luckily, the luthiers at The Nicholson Music Co. shop are masterful surgeons with loads of experience, and they’re genuinely nice. And that kindness is invaluable, because music stores can be intimidating, especially to novices. The staff at Nicholson is always generous about sharing knowledge with customers. The shop is also stocked with a substantial selection of instruments, from beginner to fancy-pants exquisite models.

636 E. Bidwell Street in Folsom, (916) 983-0763,

Best vintage clothing store

Vintage YSJ

When it comes to Sacramento fashion, a whole lot of vintage threads grace the streets. But keeping up with the latest trends can burn a hole in any avid shopper’s designer jeans. With very few clothing items more than $25, Vintage YSJ is sure to satisfy everyone’s urge for fashion on a tight budget. If you’re into ’70s-era prairie dresses, vintage wool blazers, or if you just need a new pair of leather boots to welcome the fall season, this store has it all. Vintage YSJ accepts trades, too, so bring in those gently used fashions and receive 50 percent off your trade in store credit. It’s a fashion win-win.

924 12th Street, (916) 442-4882,

Best no-excuses massage

Bryan College Massage Clinic

Bryan College gives its students a professional environment in which to complete the required 180 hands-on hours necessary to graduate. If you’re uncomfortable about a student kneading your knots, consider this: Most massage training programs only mandate 30 to 60 hours of real experience and only require 500 classroom hours. Bryan College students need 1,200 hours. Prices are yummy, too. From Thursday through Saturday, a one-hour relaxation, deep-tissue or shiatsu massage is only $30—or $45 for 90 minutes. Thai massage, hot-stone massage, body scrubs and mud treatments are also available at similarly affordable prices.

2317 Gold Meadow Way in Gold River, (916) 649-2400,

Best place to teach the kiddos a lesson

Safetyville USA

Safetyville USA is a prime location for elementary school field trips, but it’s good for families, too. If you want to give yourself a break and have someone else teach your kids valuable lessons, then this is the place to go. Equipped with a one-third-scale town, Safetyville leads tours that teach children the importance of pedestrian safety, fire safety and stranger danger, among many things. And if you’re worried about all the mini hooligans running around your neighborhood, bring all of the local kids for only $3 per mini person. The youngsters will have a blast, and you will get a nice break, too.

3909 Bradshaw Road, (916)-366-7233,

Best reason not to do your own taxes

House of Numbers

When Marybea Varvel started a home-based bookkeeping business, her husband joked that the family home was now a “house of numbers.” The clever name stuck when the former elementary-school teacher eventually became an enrolled agent and opened offices in Camino and Folsom. The most striking thing about Varvel is how well she knows her 250 clients, their family stories and life stories. Perhaps it’s the teacher in her, but no tax question is too dumb. “I love it that my clients are comfortable calling and touching base with me through the year,” she said. Reason enough to let her do your numbers.

Contact for directions to the offices in Camino and Folsom, (530) 644-2976,

Best neighborhood grocer

Compton’s Market

When I was a kid, my mother worked nights, often leaving my sister and I to figure out dinner plans after school. We’d walk the short block from our house to Compton’s Market, no doubt to pick out something microwaveable and sodium drenched. Many years later, while I’m not ecstatic to report I’m living with Mom again, I take comfort in that familiar walk to the same neighborhood store. A bit has changed over time, and for the better: The offerings lend themselves much more toward the (positive) trend of local, organic, fresh—as has my diet. Sometimes. For a small store with humble offerings, you’ll find an array of baked goods and desserts, and a ready-made deli case filled with sandwiches, sushi, salads—more often than not from local businesses. The wine choices are substantial, and the butcher is not to be missed—with lots of cheese-stuffed this and spinach-wrapped that, ready for you toss on the grill and claim the credit. Here’s to many more years of a one-block walk from Mom’s, hopefully just visiting.

4055 McKinley Boulevard, (916) 456-2443.

Best independent bastion of in-store video rental

Awesome Video

So, Internet killed the video store. Almost. In an age when Hollywood Video’s down and Blockbuster’s fixin’ to be voted off the island, Freeport Boulevard’s Awesome Video lives up to its name like no other moment in its existence. It’s truly an inspiration to see this local shop as a survivor of the online syndrome that helped kill both mom-and-pop and their corporate brothers and sisters. With a wide selection of films—among them, Japanese animation, Korean drama, adult and VHS (which surprisingly accounts for a decent chunk of their business)—and a loyal network of neighborhood renters, A.V. continues to shake the disease that no one else could manage. Much respect, you guys. You’re just plain awesome.

5000 Freeport Boulevard, (916) 731-4720.

Extravagant or not, your personal hair adventures might best be guided by the skilled hands of Amithyst (seen here) from Amithyst Boutique Salon in Midtown.


Best place to get your hair did

Amithyst Boutique Salon

Full disclosure: I knew salon owner Amithyst Bailey first as a friend, second as a stylist. But one only gets their hair done poorly so many times—“but it’s a friend”—before the botched bob job relieves of any guilt and it’s time to move on. So it should be testament to her talents, then, to say that I’ve followed Amithyst from Lush to Spanish Fly to finally, proudly, her own adorable salon. I’ve never met a haircut or color from her and her equally capable staff that I haven’t liked—and I’ve asked for some derring-’dos in my day. Faux hawks (yeah, I did that), shaved sides dyed navy blue and, most recently, the Farrah Fawcett megafeather. Loving it. Not that your hair adventures need be all that extravagant, but fear is no factor when you’re in skilled hands such as these. As if that wasn’t enough reason to check them out, two words: Moroccan. Oil.

1124 18th Street, (916) 930-0588,

Upholsterer worth the drive

Robles Upholstery

Located in an oversized tin warehouse by the railroad tracks in Woodland, Robles Upholstery is that hard-to-find mom-and-pop that gives wrecked or tired upholstery a splendid face-lift with a minimum of angst. The owner is friendly, accommodating—he sent us home with fabric samples upon first meeting—and his shop, a charming chaos, can handle anything from an ottoman to an SUV to a yacht. The costs are reasonable, and we were in and out in record time. What else do you need?

1111 Gibson Road in Woodland, (530) 406-1106.

OK, OK: We love the voluminous assortment of magazines and newspapers that can be found at Newsbeat. But secretly, we’re mostly into the gourmet candy selection.


Best random candy selection


Sure, gourmet, handcrafted chocolates have their place in our sugar repertoire, but sometimes we just want a cheap(ish), colorfully packaged piece of candy. For that, we head over to Newsbeat to peruse its mini store-within-a-store, chock-full of delightful bits of sugary confections. Some of our favorites include British exports such as the Cadbury White Chocolate Buttons and the Aussie Violet Crumble—a chocolate-covered honeycomb bar so sweet it might make your teeth jump ship. Oh yeah, and the spacious store also sells assorted tchotchkes, gifts, journals and, of course, a mind-boggling selection of newspapers and magazines.

1050 20th Street, Suite 180; (916) 448-2874.

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Best massage chair with bonus mani/pedi (or is it the other way around?)

Paradise Nails

Go for the nails, stay for the chairs. In fact, pray that it’s busy so you get to linger a while in one of those babies. Seriously. I’ve sat for more time at Sharper Image or Brookstone than many a customer-service rep would have preferred, and nothing comes close to the magic the massage chairs at Paradise Nails can do for my neck and shoulders. The only thing better would be a Swedish guy named Sven, but he’s at least $25 more for the hour and my toes don’t look all pretty afterward. The staff do a great job with the manicures and pedicures, taking their time with quality and precision, and (gasp!) yet another level of massage in the process. Light conversation, but not so much as to give a shy or irritable person any nagging sense of obligation, and friendly—I once called 45 minutes after the place had closed, and they still took me in to get my pampering fix for the month. I tipped accordingly. My only complaint is how the rest of the chair world disappoints for a couple of hours following, until the glow wears off.

1117 Alhambra Boulevard, (916) 736-3990.


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Everyone in Sacramento is kidnapped by aliens, and you’re the only person left in the city. What stores would you raid first?

SN&R’s Facebook friends respond:

“I’d figure the end is near and have a pleasure fest up in Goldies [Adult Superstore]!” —Katrina Sophia Torres

“Zanzibar [Trading Company]. I don’t have enough jewelry and Day of the Dead figurines.” —Kate Lenox

“Grab guns and steal a truck; then go to a solar power contractor, nursery for seeds, pharmacy, Home Depot, and then Smart & Final or Costco. Set up camp near water source.” —Shawn L. Somtin

“Two Rivers Cider, and I would take over their warehouse and drain as much of their huckleberry cider as possible.” —Michael Fleming