Best Locals Gameshop
After a South Ogden Game Crazy store closed, a few die-hard employees decided to start their own store. But for cash-strapped gamers Joseph Graber and Andrew Patten, getting the store up and running required them to use their own personal game collections to stock the store’s inventory. In a gesture as touching as Frank Bailey using his honeymoon cash to keep the bank from folding in It’s a Wonderful Life, Patten and Graber’s sacrifice paid off: It cemented the duo’s reputation as being gaming gurus dedicated to providing the best games.
4300 Harrison Blvd., Ogden, 801-689-2397, GameVaultStore.com
Best Computer Repairs
These guys know what they’re doing: They’ll replace your laptop’s broken screen, solder on a new DC jack or recover your lost data. “We do repairs A to Z, fix broken computers, get rid of a nasty virus or rogue anti-malware agent or do data recovery when others have given up,” says James Gingras of the West Jordan store. They also sell custom-built computers that start at $899 that come with a lifetime service warranty. And check out Geekbox bargain prices: a 22-inch brand-name monitor is $180, a keyboard is $20.
3078 W., 7800 South, West Jordan, 801-566-4335; 8912 S. 700 East, Sandy, 801-233-9333, GeekBox.com
Best Camouflage Duds
General Army-Navy Outdoor
If you are a hunter, SWAT team member, survivalist or a wannabe soldier, you’re going to need some camouflage duds in your closet. This Army-Navy surplus store offers one-stop shopping for everything from do-rags to backpacks. Choose between desert and forest camouflage patterns. Buy a can of camo-green spray paint or camo cloth by the yard. Think of what environmental artist Christo could do with a few bolts of camouflage cloth.
4974 S. Redwood Road, Salt Lake City, 800-433-9185, GeneralArmyNavy.com
Best Housecleaning Done Green
Being messy and concerned about the environment are not mutually exclusive. Greener Cleaners provides cleaning services for your home and business that use only gentle, natural cleaning products. The Greener Cleaners offers affordable rates and can tailor ongoing service to meet specific jobs and budgets. The small, family-operated business offers peace of mind for customers looking for regular cleaning, one-time deep cleans, post-construction cleaning, move-in and move-out cleans and other solutions that are Earth and wallet friendly.
Best Celtic Shapeshifters
Gypsy Moon Emporium
If Celtic blood is racing through your veins—or even if you just wish it did—few places evoke the Celtic soul like Gypsy Moon. Browse through a book collection specializing in folklore and mythology, or find specialty jewelry and clothing that will make you feel as though you’re wandering over the mist-covered moors. Come in for a henna tattoo, or find everything you need to plan a Celtic-themed wedding or a tour of the British Isles. Tá fáilte romhat—that’s “you’re welcome.”
1011 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-521-9100, GypsyMoonEmporium.com
Best Hardened Case
Hard Case for iPad
Park City plumbing contractor Daniel Schulz shuddered at his $500 iPad’s vulnerability. Schulz looked around his van and saw the menacing copper pipes, fittings, power tools and building materials just lying in wait for a chance to crush his technological wonder. So he fashioned a hard case made of durable aluminum that looked like a clipboard on the outside. Open it up, and you’ll find high-density foam with a space carved out for the iPad. Not only is it nearly indestructible, Hard Case also keeps his expensive device out of sight, or at least camouflaged as a nondescript clipboard. Next thing he knew, all his friends wanted one, and now you can buy one, too.
Best Homemaker Inspiration
Hip & Humble
So, you haven’t used your oven in months. So what? You still need that flower-shaped serving bowl, or this ingenious fuschia cutting board. Every nook and cranny of Hip & Humble’s cozy shop is packed with colorful items for your home—stuff that’s useful and stuff that’s just plain cool. Browse for just a few minutes, and you’ll suddenly feel compelled to head home and get reacquainted with your kitchen.
1043 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-467-3130; 559 W. 2600 South, Bountiful, 801-298-3373, HipAndHumble.com
Best Record-Setting Timepieces
Hour Place Clocks
The march of technology consigns much of our old-school media to the landfill. There are some who don’t give up that easily, however. Karen and Craig Russell, for example, have repurposed vinyl records into ornamental clocks. Choose from a wide variety of themes, from your favorite professional sports team to wildlife and nature scenes to pop stars. Decorate your home with a unique wall clock, knowing that you’ve also saved one more old record from the garbage heap of history.
Best Born-Again Furniture
Jacobsen Restoration & Art
There comes a time in every old table or dresser’s life when you have to save it or chuck it—what’s it gonna be? If your furniture is on life support, the talented folks at Jacobsen Restoration know how to give it a second (or third) life. Not only can they restore wood finishes, but they can also re-create missing ornamentation and trim that may have been lost or damaged over the years. They work with every budget and strive to meet your highest hopes for your cherished antiques and sentimental furnishings. Best of all is working with Nan, Abi and Judd, craftspeople who love what they do, are conscientious about every detail and won’t waste your money.
150 W. 1400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-486-6331
Best Anatomically (& Socially) Correct Shoes
Buying a good running shoe doesn’t seem like something you’d want to do over the Internet, but this Salt Lake City-based operation offers about as much peace of mind as you could hope for. Testimonials from around the world attest to the designed-in-Utah ergonomic qualities that reduce heel and foot problems common to runners. They offer free exchanges on all products that don’t meet your needs within 35 days of purchase. And with each purchase, you get to select one of several charitable enterprises that will receive a percentage of the company’s profits. Your feet and your conscience will be more comfortable for the experience.
Best Stylist Heartthrob
Best Divinely Green Architecture
LDS Green Meetinghouses
Like a revelation of greenness, the LDS Church has unveiled a new prototype for green and eco-friendly meetinghouses that are LEED-certified, energy-efficient and conserve water down to the most needed drop. The flagship is the Farmington stake center, which is completely powered by rooftop solar panels and is fitted with plumbing fixtures that reduce water use by 50 percent. It also has Low-E Solarban 70 Windows that block 78 percent of the sun’s heat. The house is not a one-off, either—it’s a pilot for similar meetinghouses planned for sites across the United States.
347 S. 200 West, Farmington, 801-451-1900
Best Place to Spend Money on Your Own Bad Self
Whether you need spa pampering or shoe shopping therapy, Got Beauty is your one-stop. Here, you’ll find fragrant candles, luxurious bath bubbles, glamorous makeup and every type of hair potion and tool, as well as an ever-changing selection of adorable shoes and handbags. And among all that beauty lies frilly, funny, quirky and girly gifts for every persuasion.
900 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-474-2090, GotBeauty.com
Best Bulls Eyes
Lina’s Dart Shop
The art of the dart is not just for British pubs. If you fancy throwing sharp objects in a socially sanctioned form, visit this South Salt Lake purveyor of all things dart-y. Pick up a board of your own, or adorn the ends of your old-fashioned steel-tipped darts with a favorite specialized flight design.
3149 S. State, Salt Lake City, 801-467-0577
Best Gear For The Active Local
Locals Have More Fun
An ex-Coloradan who disdains city life, Brian Kahn moved to Park City in 2006 and soon had a vision for celebrating—and sustaining—the ski-, bike- and other activity-friendly environment that we may take for granted. Teaming up with artist Bob Commander, he created a line of clothing to help remind those of us who live here of our good fortune, while using materials like organic cotton, bamboo yarn and EPA-approved inks. The resulting shirts and jackets are vibrant reminders of our state’s beauty, and the need to make choices that keep it that way.
Best Haircuts for Modest Women
In the West, the notion of women being required to wear scarves, hijabs or even burqas is a charged one. But the reason for it, Muslims say, is simple modesty: Muslim women do not seek unwanted attention. However, just because she is modest in public doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to look beautiful for her spouse and family in private. The question is, where does such a modest woman get her hair done, away from the eyes of strangers? In recent years, Cheree Aldrich began offering salon services to Muslim women in a private room at Malstrom Salon. Soon, she built up a following as word of mouth spread. Beginning with the shampoo, through the cut, color and style—all the way through to the final hiss of hairspray—she takes care to guard the modesty of her clients.
535 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City, 801-537-5313, MalstromSalon.com
Best Way to Be Beautiful
Mandi Nuttall’s Beauty Campaign
Pleasant Grove photographer Mandi Nuttall thinks every woman should have a photo to give to her kids and spouse. But more importantly, she needs a photo of herself to see her own beauty, regardless of her age, shape or size. Nuttall started her Beauty Campaign photography sessions as more than a photo shoot. She gives her clients preliminary “homework” to build their self-esteem. Then, on the day of the shoot, her clients enjoy a day of beauty styling and spa pampering. During the shoot, Nuttall provides her clients exercises to help them relax and bring out their personalities. These aren’t boudoir sessions, but rather journeys to a woman’s soul.
Best Gals & Guys Boutique
Mary Jane’s Shoes
Don’t be fooled by the name or the pink exterior—this is a shop for the coolest gals and guys. The boutique, tucked away on historic Main Street in Park City, sells items you can’t find elsewhere in Utah, so your style won’t be duplicated. The store was originally envisioned for sexy fashionistas to craft their look, but in recent years, the shop has added men’s clothing and accessories—stuff “real men” actually want. So make it a date: With each shopping trip, you can double your pleasure as you both find something you like. 613 Main, Park City, 435-645-7463, MaryJanesShoes.com
Best Designated Driver
My Sober Guy
No need to contemplate driving drunk (or even tipsy) because you don’t want to leave your car parked downtown at the bar. The unique taxi service offered by the entrepreneurs at My Sober Guy can handle that logistical problem. For about the same expense as a cab, they will drive you home in your own vehicle. Your driver—your sober guy—will get a ride back from another driver. That way, you can drink to your heart’s content (and your liver’s regret) and wake up the next morning—or afternoon—and take comfort knowing your car will be parked out front where your sober guy left it.
Best Shopping Karma
In a challenging economic climate, shopping secondhand has become a smart choice for more and more Americans. And if you’re going to support the idea of giving used goods a second life—whether as a donor or a buyer—you might as well do it while supporting a great cause. Our Store offers appliances, electronics, clothing, books and much more, and does so with all proceeds going to support the People With AIDS Coalition; individuals with HIV/AIDS also have the opportunity to receive vouchers to shop in the store.
358 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City, 801-819-7884, YourThriftAlternative.org
Best Warehouse Discounts
No matter the weather, there will be devoted discount shoppers lining the periphery of the Overstock.com warehouse at least an hour before the mayhem begins. Drinking coffee or coddling babies, people seem peaceful enough, but it’s merely the calm before the storm. Every Saturday at 8 a.m., the doors open to the general public to buy what didn’t sell that week on the liquidator’s Website. So that means even deeper discounts on linens, couches, eyewear, you name it. Imagine Black Friday-esque frenzied running every Saturday—but the deals are worth getting trampled over.
955 S. 3800 West, Salt Lake City, 800-843-2446
Best Meat for the Masses
Palace Meat Company
Palace Meat is a little-known secret that meat-lovers should file away. For over a century, this Salt Lake City business has offered premium cuts of steaks, roasts, chops, sausage and deli meats—all at wholesale prices. Its custom cutting and portioning of beef, pork, lamb and poultry is just the ticket at any family reunion, barbecue or company party. Palace even does curing and delivery. It’s all cut fresh and exactly the way you want it. So for your big meat needs, just phone in your order.
715 E. 500 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-5621, PalaceMeat.com
Best Electrical DIY-ers
If a recession’s good for one thing, it’s reminding us that we can fix our widgets instead of just buying new ones—but when it comes to electronics, that may be a little daunting. Luckily, the brain trust at the family-run Ra-elco Electric shop has got all the wires, cables, fuses, amp tubes, doodads and assorted gadgetry you might ever need to repair your appliances and electronics. Better yet, they’ve also got the know-how to show you how their wares can fit right into that electronics project of yours.
2780 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-487-7749
Best Gifts for Perfect Strangers
Where do you go to find a gift for your future mother-in-law whom you’ve never met? How about the biggest gift store in the state? Located at the mouth of beautiful Ogden Canyon, Rainbow Gardens was formerly a hot springs resort, with indoor pool, ballrooms and a bowling alley. Now, the sprawling complex encompasses themed boutiques, where you can buy kitchenware, holiday décor, gourmet foods and candies, cards, stationery, Utah souvenirs … no matter whom you’re finding a gift for, Rainbow Gardens is sure to have something that’ll please. 1851 Valley Drive, Ogden, 801-621-1606, RainbowGardens.com
Best Locally Made Golf Tools
Ever wish you had a stylish wet towel in your back pocket to wipe your golf balls with? Local entrepreneur Joe Borgenicht did and he fashioned ruletwentyone, a handy, stylish clip-on towel that’s wet on the inside and dry on the outside, allowing golfers to think more about their putt than cleaning their golf balls. On that success, he came up with rulesixteen, a unique slide-action ball marker/divot tool that allows golfers to mark their putting line and then read their putt after moving their ball. And finally, ruleeleven is a reusable, distance tee made from recycled materials—all made by a golfer who dreamed about clean balls.
Best Wedding Scent of a Woman
In Utah—where the wedding industry nears the GDP of some small countries—wedding planners and services abound, offering everything from gowns to documentation. But how many offer the bride a chance to design her own signature scent for the Big Day? She can pick the fragrance itself, the color and the bottle to create something as unique as any other part of the event. The bride can then keep it for herself or make it a special wedding-party gift.
Signed & Numbered
Many worried what would become of Signed & Numbered when it packed up and moved from below Slowtrain to the east side of town. But those worries were quickly quashed once her shop’s big cartoon-dog sign made its appearance in Sugar House. Residing on the corner of 2100 South and 2100 East (next door to Blue Plate Diner), the traffic from hungry patrons and art lovers alike has helped Leia Bell’s place flourish and exposed many print artists to a new audience.
2105 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City, 801-596-2093, Signed-Numbered.com