Goods & Services

Writers’ choice

Illustration By Terry Allen

Best place to buy local poetry

The Book Collector
Sacramento’s a poetry town, with readings almost as popular an activity as clubbing, so it stands to reason that there would be a healthy crop of locally published poetry books and chapbooks. The place to find these gems is at The Book Collector, where the staff has an old greeting-card rack converted to display an array of all that the area’s small presses have to offer. The store has books from Stockton-based Poet’s Corner Press, including Tom Goff’s Field of the Cloth of Gold and Jane Blue’s The Persistence of Vision. Signed copies of James Den Boer’s chapbook from Blue Thunder Press, Dreaming of the Chinese Army, exemplify the sort of beautiful work a small press can do, as does the first entry in Rattlesnake Press’ chapbook series, Anvil, by Danyen Powell. The Book Collector stocks a variety of self-published works, the general poetry section is worthy of a long browse, and the store regularly plays host to readings by local wordsmiths.
1008 24th Street, (916) 442-9295.

Best place to buy more than you came for

Trader Joe’s
Forget the handbasket; just grab a shopping cart. What—think you can come here for bread and milk and leave without $50 worth of wasabi peanuts and shrink-wrapped cucumbers? OK, but look at that bag of tortilla chips. It’s only $1.39—why not get two? How about those cheddar-cheese sticks? The kids would love them. They’re made from the milk of cows not treated with growth hormones. Can’t find that everywhere—might as well get a few. Hey, check out those marinated chicken breasts, only $4.99 a pound. You could throw them on the grill tonight. Of course, you’ll want some of that popular Two Buck Chuck to go with it—you know, the halfway-decent wine that’s only $1.99 a bottle. And look! Ben & Jerry’s pints for a buck less than at other grocery stores. You should stock up. Oh, sorry. Your basket’s getting full, isn’t it?
5000 Folsom Boulevard, (916) 456-1853; 2625 Marconi Avenue, (916) 481-8797;

Best fancy-schmancy toilet

The Washlet S300 at Zen Toro
Most public restrooms in Sacramento have your run-of-the-mill porcelain bowl with a simple lever flush—nothing worth waiting for in the long lines to which we women have grown accustomed. Still, there is one über-toilet that makes it all worth the wait: the Washlet S300 in the ladies’ room at Zen Toro. Let me just say that this baby has it all! With a heated seat, warm-water front and rear washing capabilities, and a warm-air dryer with a variable three-temperature setting, this is one fancy toilet. It pulsates, it oscillates—pretty much the only thing it doesn’t do is wipe for you, although it does give you the option to blow-dry! Sorry guys, the men’s room doesn’t have one, so if you want to take a ride on the S300, get in line with the ladies.
900 15th Street, (916) 442-4933.

Best permanent- makeup artist

Dena Guardino
They say that time is money, and American women are always on the lookout for time-saving tricks, tips and products, especially when it comes to beauty. There’s fast-drying nail polish, one-coat mascara and, of course, long-lasting lipstick. Still, some women spend hours applying their makeup every day. In less than 90 minutes—from consultation to tattooing—permanent-makeup artist Dena Guardino can remove eyeliner application from your beauty regimen—forever! Guardino, who has been tattooing eyeliner on women for the past two years, assured us that the topical anesthetics used minimize the discomfort of the procedure and that the eyeliner lasts a lifetime! So, if time is money, it’s worth spending $350 to save it, right? We think so.
Permanent Cosmetic Clinic, Etc.; 2417 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Suite 120; (916) 725-2161;

The Beat

Photo By Larry Dalton

Best place for aspiring media stars

Cosumnes River College
Some people just think of community colleges as places to get the basics out of the way for cheap, but looking at Cosumnes River College (CRC) that way would be to overlook the quality of its facilities and programs, especially when it comes to communications and media studies. CRC has associate’s or certificate-of-study programs in broadcast and print journalism, radio production, desktop publishing, photography, Web-page design, advertising and public relations, digital media, film and media studies, and television production. The school is one of just a few community colleges in the state with full pre- and post-production capabilities in those areas, and it’s always working to improve opportunities for students. CRC works closely with advisers from media in the community, and the school’s in the process of converting its television studio to being all digital. Not bad for $26 a unit.
8401 Center Parkway, (916) 691-7411,

Best DVDs for under a buck

99¢ Only Stores
There was a time when vintage video buffs could go broke ordering classic films and TV shows through specialty services like Shokus Video and Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee. They still can, of course, especially if they need to own every episode of the Korla Pandit show. But, for less-demanding folks, the proliferation of ever-cheaper DVDs has put all manner of ancient artifacts within easy grasp. And nowhere is that more frighteningly apparent than a trip to any of our area 99¢ Only Stores. A recent trip turned up Francis Ford Coppola’s first credited directorial debut (usually known as Dementia 13; it’s repackaged as The Haunted and the Hunted), TV shows too musty for Nick at Nite, and more Felix the Cat and Mighty Mouse compilations than you can stomach, each for—that’s right—99 cents. OK, so the packaging is flimsier than those product samples that come with your Sunday newspaper, and the illustrations on the cover may not match perfectly with what’s inside, but hey, they’re less than a buck.
Various locations,

Best outlet for wearable art

Sellout Buyout
In the year since its inception, this quarterly art show and sale has become an indispensable shopping venue for grid-dwellers who love fashion but hate the mall. Organized by local designer Olivia Coelho, Sellout Buyout features only functional items—clothes, jewelry, bags, journals, phones and household appliances—decorated or constructed by local artists. The triple lure of amassing an original (affordable) art collection, wearing clothing unique to Sacramento and supporting one’s artist friends has made Sellout Buyout tremendously popular, spawning spinoff fashion shows and parking-lot sales. These days, vendor spaces for the event are reserved well in advance, and steady crowds can make it difficult to see the merch. Sellout Buyouts are currently held at the Lotus Salon, located at 2114 P Street. Call for dates, and be sure to get there early, or some trendy chick will buy that one-of-a-kind crocheted mini-dress right out from under you.
(916) 442-4470,

Best source for oversized Britpop posters

The Beat
Forget those generic poster racks in which cutting-edge artists like Hilary Duff and Avril Lavigne compete for space alongside pouty Paris Hilton and those hilarious cat-in-toilet “Hang in there, baby!” posters. Now you can give your suburban hovel the authentic look of British bus shelters and tube stations with The Beat’s collection of sprawling U.K. rock posters. Although it won’t have that massive Gang of Four poster that dominated your bedroom wall throughout college (the Cure is about as vintage as they get), you’ll find the likes of Paul Weller, the Beautiful South and Blur, all of them big and bold enough to catch your eye from a speeding train. And though some might be a bit tattered around the edges, the price—most are around $15—can’t be beat.
1700 J Street, (916) 446-4402,

Best place to have a Happy Days-era shopping experience

Suicycle Xtreme

Photo By Larry Dalton

Compton’s Market
The cashiers know your name, and not because they looked at your “super saver” card. They’ll give candy to your kid and a bone to your dog, and rather than point you to the correct aisle, they’ll escort you to the shelf that holds the cake mix and frosting. Compton’s is low-anxiety compared with larger chain stores, too. It’s not the size of the Pentagon, and it doesn’t carry 25 varieties of every product, so you can spend less time comparing labels and more time getting to know the cashier.
4065 McKinley Boulevard, (916) 456-2443.

Best British antiques

The Antique Co.
Steve Sylvester, the charming shopkeeper with the British accent, takes himself over the waters a few times a year, shops ’til he drops and then has his wares loaded up on slow ships bound for America. Eventually, they dock in Oakland and spill container after container of old British goodies into Sacramento. You’ll find the odd biscuit tin, various marble-topped buffets, grandfather clocks and slightly sinister church pews. Also there are tiny telephone tables, armoires and dining chairs, plus stained glass windows and various incongruent things Sylvester fancies: ironwork for your garden, Indian table linens and reproduction deco tiles. Drop by and join his e-mail list for a weekly gander at what’s still ship-bound.
2100 X Street, (916) 457-1099.

Best motorcycle shop

Suicycle Xtreme
There are bigger, fancier and better-known motorcycle shops in town, but Suicycle Xtreme’s policy of meeting or beating Internet prices has made it a favorite with the local sport-bike crowd. It’s also a good place to talk bikes with people who know the topic. Salesman Cameron Beck is a pro stunt rider, and owner Bill Marshall has been in the bike biz for more than two decades. Plus, you can’t beat the name of the joint.
6005 Auburn Boulevard in Citrus Heights, (916) 726-3366.

Best downtown hotel

The Sterling Hotel
Sure, you can stay at one of those downtown high-rises—like the one where the governor who doesn’t want to make Sacramento his home stays—or you can go small, intimate, boutique. For that, we prefer the quiet elegance of the Sterling, a converted mansion that sits close to downtown. But because of the way they built mansions in 1894, you won’t get those paper-thin walls that let in the noise of the city. What you do get are large rooms with high ceilings in this Victorian, with its chandeliers and a touch of art deco, highlighted by Maxfield Parrish prints in the drawing room. When it’s time to dine, a winning menu awaits in the renovated butler’s room, now the Chanterelle restaurant.
1300 H Street, (916) 444-8085,

Best rehab

The Effort Inc.
Sometimes even the most serious party animal has to say, “Enough.” For those who are really done drinking and drugging, there are plenty of options, including cold turkey and outpatient treatment, but one of the longest-running and most successful programs for helping the seemingly hopeless is The Effort. Started in 1970 with a group of volunteers—some old-timers in recovery remember when it was called The Aquarian Effort—it’s still the place to go when you’ve run out of places to go. Among the programs offered are a detox facility, long-term residential treatment, and a counseling center that can handle anything from crisis interventions to after-treatment care. Trying to get clean and sober is a rough road; The Effort can at least point the way.
1820 J Street, (916) 325-5556,

Hair on Computer

Photo By Larry Dalton

Best hardware store for the urban and un-handy

Capitol Ace Hardware
It would be nice if we all could be as competent as our favorite uncle, the one with the toolbox in the back of his pickup who could find a way to fix anything we managed to break. Or even as competent as Schneider, the building super on One Day at a Time who always managed to keep things working for divorcée Ann Romano. For those of us who don’t have access to either a handyman uncle or a Schneider-like super and are stuck fixing our own mistakes, there are the friendly and knowledgeable folks at Capitol Ace Hardware. We’ve never gotten more than a few steps inside the door without someone asking if we need help—and we always do. They’ve got what we need, from the little stuff—the right non-scratch cleanser for the ceramic stovetop, or a hair trap for the shower that will fit inside the drain—to the big stuff, like a supply of lumber for serious do-it-yourselfers. The tall, well-stocked aisles also have an old-time, reassuring feel. With the right tools—and some free advice—we can fix it.
1815 I Street, (916) 446-5246.

Best store to broaden your wine horizons

Corti Brothers
Forget Napa and Sonoma. Here in Sacramento, you can find wines from areas as far flung as Romania, Hungary, Thailand and Georgia (that’s the former Soviet republic, not the peach state). Corti Brothers offers all these and much more, with a stock that’s especially strong in wines from better-known but often underappreciated regions, such as Germany, the Alsace region of France, Spain and, above all, Australia. From the latter, you’ll spot rare gems like aged semillon (be careful, though; a sign begs you not to buy “unless you have experience with mature white wines”) and toffee-like “stickies” (Australian for dessert wines; try one with pecan pie after Thanksgiving dinner). Best of all, the expert and approachable staff is there to talk you through the purchase of anything from a Kabinett Riesling from Germany’s last great vintage to the perfect cabernet sauvignon for dinner at your boss’s house.
5810 Folsom Boulevard, (916) 736-3800.

Best place to get bound in leather

Cal-Na Bindery
They come in from across town and across the country to get their books bound in Richard Calonder’s assortment of leather. For Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recent order, Cal-Na Bindery used a special imported German hide to bind the 2004-2005 state budget summary. In business for 32 years, the bindery practices a craft that began centuries ago, shortly after the printing press was invented. The staff will take your treasured hardback book, diary, journal or Bible, remove the cover and replace it with luxurious leather. They’ll also stamp the book title or anything else into the leather in gold for a final touch of elegance. On average, Cal-Na does 50 or 60 Bibles and books each week. Although technology has reduced the demand for old-fashioned bookbinding and forced many binderies to close, the ancient trade survives downtown at Cal-Na.
1508 S Street, (916) 447-4355.

Best place to outfit your kitchen

Economy Restaurant Fixtures
Sometimes you need kitchen stuff. Maybe you just learned to cook; maybe you’re getting married; maybe your house burned down, taking all your cutting boards with it; or maybe you just woke up one day and realized your cookie sheets are warped beyond recognition and your wooden spoons make everything taste like garlic. Whatever the case, we’re here to save you from bankrupting yourself at Williams-Sonoma. Head to Richards Boulevard instead, where plenty of wholesale restaurant-supply stores are open to the public. We especially love the enormous Economy Restaurant Fixtures. You won’t find cutesy spatulas color-coordinated with dish towels, but you will find a full line of pots and pans (including some All-Clad), cutting boards, serving platters, utensils of all kinds, stainless-steel mixing bowls and just about anything else you might need. It’s all ultra-durable, designed to take the abuse of a professional kitchen, and priced at about 20 percent to 40 percent less than what you’d pay retail. Get cooking.
801 Richards Boulevard, (916) 447-6600.

Best place to tell your own fortune

New World Co.
Tired of opening fortune cookies that predict a future that contradicts your plans for fame and fortune? Or perhaps they predict something so vague as to leave you wondering where life will take you. Then simply write your own destiny at New World Co. This company makes fortune cookies for any occasion, and you get to play soothsayer. (It just did a batch for Senator John Burton’s retirement party.) The classic cookies with custom fortunes are also popular for weddings, birthdays and bachelor-bachelorette parties. “Yes, we do X-rated ones. I’m sure it would be something you couldn’t print,” warned manager Kenny Lee when asked for a racy prediction. For the rookie clairvoyant with writer’s block, New World also offers a selection of ready-made prophecies suitable for any future.
1713 10th Street, (916) 446-9472.

Best company to go interplanetary

Sure, we’ve spent a lot of ink covering Aerojet’s shoddy environmental record. But we can’t ignore the rocket maker’s role in this exciting period of space exploration. It was Aerojet rockets that lifted Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity to the red planet last year. And those brilliant pictures coming back from the rings of Saturn now are brought to you, in part, by Aerojet, which built the thrusters that the Cassini probe used to park in orbit around the mysterious and beautiful planet. Aerojet technology also figures prominently in a new probe that promises the closest and most detailed look yet at the planet Mercury. The list is a long and distinguished one, stretching back to the beginning of the national space program. In fact, Aerojet has been part of every manned space mission in U.S. history, including Apollo 11, the first mission to put people on the moon. If we return to Luna anytime soon, it’s a good bet that Aerojet will do the heavy lifting. We’ll get back to bashing Aerojet’s environmental record soon enough. For now, we celebrate Sacramento’s unique connection to the space age.
Highway 50 and Aerojet Road in Rancho Cordova, (916) 355-1000,

Best hair salon for those afraid of commitment

Hair on Computer
Gwen Stefani looked simply stunning when she walked down the red carpet at the MTV Video Music Awards, her platinum-blond locks adorned with red roses. Alicia Keys wowed viewers with her soft, sexy curls (most of us were thrilled to discover that those horrid braids were gone!). Oh, and let’s not forget Ashlee Simpson, who traded in her blond tresses for a more dramatic, dark-chocolate hue. It’s ladies like these who inspire women everywhere to go out and “get the look.” I mean, what woman hasn’t longed for locks like Jennifer Aniston’s? But wait; before you rush to the salon with a photo of your favorite celebrity and his or her famous coiffure, head to Hair on Computer. Owned by hair designer Michael Joe Haddad, Hair on Computer offers computerized hairstyle imaging, meaning anyone can see the “after” photo before going under the scissors. Visitors can view as many styles as they like for $35. We think that’s a small price to pay to avoid a major hair catastrophe.
5133 Madison Avenue, (916) 473-4444,

Best toy store

Toys That Teach
Somehow, toys stopped being just toys—existing for the amusement and edification of kids—and became advertising instead. The shelves are crowded with “toys” that are really just part of the marketing campaigns for TV shows, Hollywood blockbusters and fast-food corporations. Thankfully, there are a few toy stores where you can still buy decent, time-tested toys, relatively free of movie tie-ins and other corporate media baggage. Toys That Teach in Rancho Cordova specializes in the educational stuff, and the selection of science toys—including grow-it-yourself butterfly gardens, basic microscopes and beginning electronics experiment kits—is a good start for the budding scientist in your house. And it has all the basic kids’ stuff too, from dolls to boomerangs and building blocks. The best part is that there’s not a leering ninja turtle, ring-bearing halfling or crime-fighting web-slinger in sight.
12401 Folsom Boulevard, Suite 209, in Rancho Cordova; (916) 351-9093;

Best ever-expanding nursery

Armstrong Brothers Capital Nursery
Since 1936, Armstrong Brothers Capital Nursery has been growing in and around Sacramento, expanding as far south as Elk Grove and as far east as Sunrise Boulevard. But it’s expanded farther still, into cyberspace. The nursery’s Web site includes planting tips, lists of underrated flowering plants that do well in our region and, best yet, essays compiled from the answers customers give to questions pertaining to World War II victory gardens and flowers and crops that were popular decades ago. All this on top of being a huge resource in the real world at its original Freeport location.
4700 Freeport Boulevard, (916) 455-2601; 5410 Sunrise Boulevard in Citrus Heights, (916) 961-9100; 8423 Elk Grove Boulevard in Elk Grove, (916) 684-2100;