BEST VIDEO STORE New Concept Video 1671 Meridian Avenue

Miami Beach

305-674-1111

and

959 West Avenue

Miami Beach

305-674-1113 With its expansion to a second South Beach site -- and Blockbuster's drastic elimination of VHS tapes, including tons of films that have yet to be issued on DVD -- New Concept has become an even more important oasis for cineastes. While New Concept has also fully embraced the DVD format, they've kept around plenty of foreign and gay-themed VHS tapes. That supply is supplemented by plenty of new releases not found elsewhere, as well as a full rack of movie magazines (this is one of the few local places to consistently stock Film Comment). And there's also a neatly arrayed adult section (gay and straight), which is something not found at Lion Video (the only competitor for this award) or, obviously, at any Blockbuster outlet.

Mack Cycle and Fitness
BEST BIKE SHOP Mack Cycle & Fitness 5995 Sunset Drive

South Miami

305-661-8363

www.mackcycleandfitness.com Here's the problem with selecting a "best" bike shop: These days no single retailer carries all the major manufacturers -- Cannondale, Giant, GT, Raleigh, Schwinn, Specialized, Trek -- much less even a fair sampling of the hundreds of boutique brands. Blame it on a form of commercial bullying: Competing suppliers force retailers to choose among a limited number of brands in order to get the best prices. You choose your supplier and take whatever he carries and that's pretty much it. So the criteria for "best" must include more than simply brand names. This is where Mack Cycle & Fitness comes in -- it's trustworthy, reliable, and reasonably priced. The family-owned shop has been in business more than 47 years and is abundantly staffed by a crew of knowledgeable people who are quick to lend assistance. Sometimes, perhaps, too quick. If you want to browse undisturbed, be advised to make that fact known at the outset. But there is no staff more experienced anywhere in Miami. Currently the store's main brands are Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, and Schwinn -- each of which offers numerous models.

Readers´ Choice: Fritz´s Skate, Bike and Surf

BEST TOILET GRAVEYARD Bargain City 1160 NW 79th Street

North Miami-Dade

305-691-1000 Buy Anything, Sell Everything is the motto at Bargain City. While that may be the goal at this down-home alternative to Home Depot, the inventory is dominated by sinks, stoves, refrigerators, doors, windows -- all used. Out back: the biggest collection of pre-owned toilets in town, lined up like so many tombstones in the subtropical sun. Get them while supplies last, which is likely to be a good long while. Or instead of just tossing your old toilet out, haul it to Bargain City and get a few bucks out of it. Open Monday to Saturday (8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.).

BEST FURNITURE STORE FOR CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS

Details at Home

BEST FURNITURE STORE FOR CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS Details at Home 1711 Alton Road

Miami Beach

305-531-1325 In 1988, when Perry Tortorelli and Rick Raphael opened their home furniture and design store, South Beach was not quite the glamorous destination it is today. The first incarnation of their store reflected the vibe of the era. "It was on Twelfth Street, near the Marlin, and it was only 500 square feet. I was actually sewing sundresses in the back," Tortorelli laughs. "We were selling incense, director's chairs, handmade clothes, and the cheapest stuff, because the Beach was really bad back then." The little business thrived mainly because of the design savvy of the owners, but thanks in part lie with their celebrity connections. Raphael was Gloria Estefan's traveling hairstylist in the heyday of the Miami Sound Machine, and Tortorelli made his name in advertising and the fashion industry. As South Beach became bigger and hotter, these business pioneers shifted gears. In 1994 the store moved to Lincoln Road and Tortorelli began interior designing for famous people. One of his first jobs was for retired MTV founder Les Garland. Other customers: Rosie O'Donnell, Lenny Kravitz, and shoe designer Donald Pliner (a beloved regular). Tortorelli: "Gianni Versace used to buy Rococo mirrors like they were going out of style. Gloria and Emilio love anything related to Cuban nostalgia. And recently Iggy Pop came in. The guy is such a rebel, it's unbelievable. He bought this really beautiful Italian cowhide dining suite. He just sauntered in, no shirt, cowboy hat, big ol' Bentley convertible outside, and said, öI want that.'" When the Dalai Lama came to Miami, Tortorelli designed his personal spaces. "He wanted coral, and he bought an amazing bronze statue of a horse running," Tortorelli says. At Details' 7000-square-foot space on Alton Road, high rollers can plunk down credit cards for high-end furniture, like a 1948 Eames La Chaise ($6200). But plebeians can also pick up chic (but affordable) items like scented candles, soaps, or a Burmese hand fan ($18). Part gift shop, part furniture store, Details has something for just about everyone.

BEST COMIC-BOOK SHOP Outland Station 12540 SW 120th Street

Kendall

305-252-1176

and

Outland Station Annex

Shops at Sunset Place

5701 Sunset Drive

South Miami

305-668-3515

www.outlandstation.com For more than ten years Outland Station was situated in a brick-and-stone storefront on Red Road, two blocks east of South Dixie Highway. Dusty cardboard boxes overflowed with almost every comic book produced by D.C., Marvel, Dark Horse, and those Image guys, whose independent imprint gave birth to Spawn, the Savage Dragon, and The Maxx, antiheroes on quests for redemption. Over the years Outland's owners added action figures and memorabilia to their stock, becoming one of the few comic-book stores to offer customers advance orders for collectibles based on forthcoming releases. Earlier this year Outland relocated its fantasy realm to West Kendall, doubling its space. (The recently opened Annex is located near the old Outland spot.) Outland Station's venerable line of products remains intact. Displays reveal that this place still stays a step ahead, with items keyed to movies like Sin City and Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Twelve-inch dolls of sadistic movie slashers Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Leatherface stand on one of the counters. Hard-to-find Batman figures designed by Jim Lee and Kia Asamiya hang on one wall. If you can't find what you're looking for, simply ask Eric or Frank, Outland's congenial apprentices, to take a special order. Both Outland locations also host trading-card competitions Friday nights and weekends.

BEST MUSICAL INSTRUMENT STORE Sam Ash Music 5360 NW 167th Street

Miami Lakes

305-628-3510

and

11421 NW 12th Street

Miami

786-331-9688

www.samashmusic.com Sometimes bigger is better when it comes to a great music store, as it's all about selection, a place where both newbie guitarists who don't know the difference between nylon and steel strings and dudes who have Flying Vs older than said newbies can get their hands on anything and everything required to rock out. Crobar meets New World Symphony meets Churchill's in this 46,000-square-foot space, which houses everything from orchestral instruments and sheet music to DJ gear to all the drums, guitars, basses, and amps your inner Metallica can handle. The store also holds periodical clinics -- guitarist Alan Holdsworth and bassist Jeff Berlin are on the schedule -- and yes, you are allowed to play "Stairway to Heaven" (if you must).

BEST PLACE TO GET A USED BIKE Victor's Bicycles & Supplies 3434 NW 27th Avenue

Miami

305-638-1443 Grease cakes Osvaldo Rojas's fingers. His stained, callused hands are the mark of a meticulous man who takes pride in refurbishing bicycles. Rojas is part of a family-owned business that has sold used bikes for more than 30 years. Open Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Victor's has a wide selection of used bikes ranging in price from $30 to $75. The shop's selection includes children's bicycles by Huffy, professional racing bikes from Cannondale, and most everything in between. Victor's is easy to find: It's the big royal blue building with the billboard-size black sign with gold lettering.

BEST SPORTING GOODS STORE Play It Again Sports 9019 SW 107th Avenue

Kendall

305-596-6380 Yes it's a chain, and yes it's a repeat Best of Miami winner, but that only reinforces the fact that most of the nonspecialized sporting goods stores in town are even bigger chains, generally employing high-school age salespeople who barely know a bowling ball from a lacrosse stick. This Kendall franchise carries the goods to perfectly reflect the range of Miamians' sporting goods needs because the gear comes from other Miamians. Buy, sell, or trade your equipment here if you like to deal with knowledgeable clerks and prefer bargain prices. Does it really matter if your shin guards have been broken in by someone else?

Readers´ Choice: Sports Authority

BEST GAY GIFT SHOP Lambda Passages 7545 Biscayne Boulevard

Miami

305-754-6900 The problem with finding a good gay gift shop in Miami is that most of them have packed up and moved north to Broward. There are gay-owned shops lacking a worthwhile selection of gay merchandise, and straight-owned gay sex-toy shops, but not much in between. John Drew has owned and operated Lambda Passages Bookstore (named "Best Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Bookstore" in 1994) since 1983, and he still has the best selection of books, DVDs, and sexy greeting cards sans some raunchy display of cock rings, anal beads, and such. If you're looking for the naughty bits, there are plenty of tacky shops on the Beach, but if it's literature and friendly service you desire, Mr. Drew will be happy to oblige.

BEST SHOE-REPAIR SHOP Marquez Shoe Repair 2281 NW Seventh Street

Allapattah

305-643-9962 Amuary Marquez has been cobbling shoes in his quaint little parlor since 1987, heeling luminaries like Xavier Suarez and Tito Puente. The raw smell of treated leather and shoe glue fills the air as he works away six days a week (Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.). Prices for standard repairs of leather dress shoes range from $26 to $36. Marquez also fixes leather belts, purses, and anything else made from animal skin. You'll find his repair shop on NW 22nd Avenue between a Salvadoran restaurant and a pharmacy.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®