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Editors' Picks: Goods & Services

Best Boots That Aren't Exactly Made for Walking
333 Santana Row, Suite 1010, San Jose 408.557.0320
Shoes have never looked so tempting as they do at Santana Row's Shoez. The store is illuminated like a bakery, with footwear in confectionery colors lining the shelves. But the most mouthwatering wares here are the boots, which light up the room like Salvador Dali paintings and seem just as practical. Hot-pink, yellow, red, thigh-high and with spiked heels, these boots are studies in the fantastic. The Italian designers showcased, most notably Roberto Cavalli and Giuseppe Zanotti, employ the gamut of materials, from feathers to leopard pelt to silk flowers. Sell the car, buy these boots and take the bus. (TV)

Best Artsy-Fartsy Fits
T-Shirts at Anno Domini
150 S. Montgomery Ave., Unit B, San Jose 408.271.5151
Urban Outfitters boasts some balls, reselling ironically logoed thrift-store shirts for $28. Screw them. Gallery Anno Domini has a better concept. In July 2000, A.D. began a fashion-forward tradition to reward gallery visitors who couldn't afford a $2,000 original watercolor: silk-screened T-shirts created by the exhibiting artist, priced at $20-$25. "If someone couldn't afford the artwork, they're still able to take something home that was original and unique," explains Gallery A.D.'s Cherri Lackey. The gallery stocks 31 shirts from 40 artists (some collaborate with each other), each limited to a run of 250. Conspirators like Dalek, Spazz, Shepard Fairey, Barron Storey, EMEK, David Choe, Fosik, KGBE, Simon Chow and Man One let loose with images that range from intricate bombs to sashimi-style whales, all tweaked with the radical Anno Domini aesthetic. It's the art-world equivalent of a concert shirt without the annoying tour dates. (TI)

Best Rock & Roll Rummage Sale
The Blank Club
44 S. Almaden Ave, San Jose 408.29.BLANK
Thrift stores, garage sales and yard sales are a crap shoot. There may be treasures, there may be, well, crap. That's what's cool about the Blank Club's new rock & roll rummage sale. Every second Saturday of the month, 11am-5pm, the club opens up for specialized area vendors dealing in used and vintage records, CDs, books, posters, clothing, toys and more for the discriminating rock & roll shopper. DJs spin the soundtrack of the sale, and the bar will be open for business. Make sure to bring enough scratch to take that hard-to-find vinyl home and have a couple drinks. (SQ)

Best Vinyl Records
Big Al's Record Barn
522 S. Bascom Ave., San Jose 408.294.7200
This is easy. While corporate mergers of communications companies are a matter of concern, the engulfing of Rowe's Rare Records by its crosstown competitor Big Al's Record Barn was nothing the FCC would want to look into. Mrs. Rowe, widow of the proprietor, sold out, and Big Al Farleigh--who'd been selling vintage disks for 30 years--closed his El Camino Real shop and moved the shebang over here. The new Big Al's is cleaned up and orderly, with vertical shelving instead of Rowe's old horizontal sprawl of bins. The store is a treasure trove of everything from cocktail jazz to vintage Dino to crepuscular psychedelic. It does a brisk eBay trade, particularly with Europe and Asia. Yet the store still welcomes the walk-in trade for a public seeking the audio warmth of analog, the divine meeting of the vinyl and the needle. (RvB)

Best Spot for Funky Little Beats
Knight Sounds
E. Santa Clara St., San Jose 408.926.DJDJ
Carlos Diaz has a promise for DJs: If you got all your records ripped off and have a gig that night, no matter what your specialty, Knight Sounds can restock the crate with records to rock the party. "This is almost like our mission: Anyone who walks into the store will walk out with their needs fulfilled," he says--and spinmasters like Steve Masters, Jay Espinoza, DJ Quest and 2-Fresh, Streak, Rocky Rock, Golden Chyld and D-Styles agree. As a mobile DJ and on KSJS's pioneering Radio Aztlan program, Diaz helped spark the late-'80s/early-'90s freestyle. Hence, his Knight Sounds speaks fluent freestyle, Hi-NRG, new jack swing, late-'80s, early-'90s hip-hop. The floor is waist high with vinyl crunched into milk crates, and the depth of the selections astounds. Who needs doubles of 50 Cent's "In Da Club" when you can blow people's minds with vintage 12-inch copies of Jermaine Stewart's "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off," Bobby Brown's "Every Little Step" or Connie's "Funky Little Beat"? Bring a list, an empty crate, a tablet of Claritin and commence to digging. (TI)

Best Thrift Store for Diversity
2222 Business Circle, San Jose 408.287.0591
Occasionally, Savers will seem bizarre: toys thrown everywhere, clothes all over the floor, screaming kids and male cross-dressers sneaking around the women's dress aisle. But for sheer diversity, the place is the best thrift store around. With Goodwill attempting to upscale itself these days, Savers is a refreshing opportunity to hunt out books, records, cheap jewelry, old suitcases, Hawaiian shirts, obsolete computer parts, TVs, musical instruments bad sport coats or whatever junk you happen to be looking for. Of course, like any other thrift store, the stock fluctuates. Sometimes, there's nothing; other times, it's a gold mine. They even have special sale days on which everything in the store is half off. (GS)

Best Source of Alternative Media
Alameda Archives
2251 The Alameda, Santa Clara 408.249.3400
A repository of hipster bookshelves and DVD racks, Alameda Archives stocks hard-to-find independent magazines, DVDs and art books. Titles like Chunklet, Readymade and Giant Robot share shelf space with independent, cult, foreign and documentary films. Co-owner John Fenton was used to picking up his favorite magazines and videos in San Francisco, and when he came to San Jose he noticed the dearth of Leather & Tongue, Le Video or Naked Eye-type stores. "We're basically trying to provide a bunch of stuff we saw was lacking in the South Bay," says Fenton. Alameda Archives came at the right time for the 24-year-old, who was sweating out jobs at restaurants and cafes while doing his own artwork, when he noticed the empty storefront and convinced his dad to take a chance. In November of 2002, when the Archives first opened, they had 400 video titles; today, there are more than 1,500 highly specialized picks. Eventually, Fenton and family foresee complete director collections, a larger book selection and music. Most of all, Fenton wants Alameda Archives to stick around for the future: "A lot of independent stores are fly-by-night. They pop up and go away before they can be part of a community," says Fenton. "We just want to be here." (TI)

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From the September 25-October 1, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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