Atlas Tree Service
With a degree in English from the University of Utah, Johnny Atkin is not your ordinary chainsaw-massacre tree guy. His 4-year-old company Atlas Tree Service relies on the knowledge of a certified arborist, the skills of a free-climber and the poise of a dancer—all Atkin—along with a measure of Hemingway’s “grace under pressure” when power lines are close by. All that’s lacking is a tympani-and-horn soundtrack as Atkin ascends. In the crown of the tree—Baryshnikov balanced on a branch—he one-hands a snarling chainsaw. The tree yields piecemeal, its big limbs eased to the ground with nylon rope. You pay for the rigging, cutting, dragging and chipping. No charge to watch an artist at work.
412 E. 1700 South, 801-484-8733, AtlasTrees.net
BEST FULL-SERVICE STATION
A long, long time ago—when gas was 30 cents a gallon and doctors made house calls—corner gas stations were “full service.” Check the oil, fix a flat, wash the windshield, change the sparkplugs, adjust the points—services long-since eliminated by corporate efficiency and engines with electronic components. Horner’s Chevron station, a family business dating to 1964, is the exceptional exception, a place where full service remains the order of the day. Sure there’s a self-serve pump for those who want to fill their own tank, but a Horner will happily pump your gas, fix your brakes, change your oil—whatever you need. And, like doctors of yore, they’ll come to your house to minister to your sick car.
1688 E. 1700 South, Salt Lake City, 801-466-7571
BEST SALVAGE SERENDIPITY
George’s Architectural Salvage
In the floor-to-ceiling jumble of stuff salvaged from old buildings, you’ll discover things you didn’t realize you needed. Light fixtures, locksets, lead-glass, thingamajigs, whatchamacallits—all from the good old days—packed into a storefront adorned by a faded “Boyer’s Radio & TV” sign. The dark interior is a labyrinth filled with serendipitous delights for homeowners, This Old House fans, yard-sale junkies, craftspersons, self-styled artists and idlers of every stripe. Open for exploration on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bring a flashlight if you’re looking for doors.
470 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-539-1140
BEST LEAK CONSULTANTS
England Plumbing Supply
While not as urgent as a backed-up sewer pipe, a leak is like a bladder full of 3.2 beer. You can ignore it only so long. Trickles tend to turn into torrents. A better strategy is to drive to England Plumbing Supply, a Salt Lake City plumbing fixture for 60 years, where you’ll get a patient instructions on how to fix your leak along with the parts to do the job. Most of England’s business is do-it-yourself types—thrifty or intrepid or both—so they’ll stay with you from beginning to end. Unlike the wander-the-aisles Home Depot experience, the England staff engages you just inside the front door and escorts you though the small, unpretentious place, selecting parts while explaining how to use them to stop your leak.
1009 E. 3300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-485-3371
BEST BASKET BOUNTY
Gift Basket Affairs
The fruit basket has become a holiday staple—but healthy though it may be, one cannot live by fruit alone. Gift Basket Affairs branches out from more conventional options to include specialized packages for new parents (plush toys, picture frame), movie lovers (candy and a movie rental gift certificate) and much more. And the Taste of Utah basket provides a terrific sampler of locally made goodies, including honey, snacks and salsa.
170 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City, 801-363-1251, GiftBasketAffairs.com
BEST SKI SWAP
Rowland Hall Ski Swap
It only comes once a year, but for all you legitimate powder hounds, illegitimate wannabes or Lycra-sporting old-schoolers, this is the place. It’s the largest ski swap in the state, and incredible finds can be discovered in all types of lightly used equipment. The skis alone nearly fill a high school gymnasium, while the boards take up nearly half of a cafeteria. It’s not just for skis and boards, however—there are plenty of new and used jackets, goggles, bindings, and snow wear. Not to mention the hunky bearded mountain men and bouncy little ski bunnies. Held every October.
843 Lincoln St., Salt Lake City, 801-355-7494, Rowmark.org
BEST DIAPER DANDIES
We all know the reality that landfills are overflowing—yecchh—with disposable diapers. Green Peas is dedicated to baby products with an earth-friendly vibe. That means plenty of reusable diaper products from Drybees, Knickernappies and Monkey Doodlez. And they’re not just functional—look for the color or design that’s just right for your little one.
BEST UNDERGROUND GALLERY
Sure, you can buy incense, handmade glass and even coffee upstairs, but what really makes Artopia Gifts a must-stop on downtown Gallery Stroll nights is the art and the music down below. The basement doubles as a small gallery and performance space for bands and DJs; sometimes following a theme (hip-hop for a graffiti art installation, etc.) sometimes accompanied by another band or DJ upstairs. Owner Lee Cano is all about the art, and more shops like Artopia Gifts could help Exchange Place become the next Broadway.
60 Exchange Place, Salt Lake City, 801-486-6175, MySpace.com/ArtopiaGifts
BEST ALTERNATIVE TO HALLMARK
A soft-focus photo and a maudlin verse, or a simplistic gag—welcome to the greeting card options available at your local Wal-Mart. Aim a bit higher when you’re sending a message on a special occasion, with Card Sharks’ unique offerings. Individually or in box sets, they offer innovative designs by quality illustrators including Felix Sockwell, Steven Guarnaccia and Michael Bartalos. And while most are blank and ready for your own wit and/or wisdom, some are fairly clever in their own right (check out the reindeer series for next Christmas).
1797 Aintree Ave., Draper, 801-495-3061, Card-Sharks.net
BEST CONDUCTIVE KEEPSAKE
Bingham Canyon Mine Copper Postcards
When you visit a unique locale, you’d like the “wish you were here” message you send to loved ones to last as long as your memories. So after a trip to Kennecott Utah Copper’s awe-inspiring deep-pit mine in Magna, visit the gift shop for a chance to purchase a postcard made out of pure copper. Sure, sending it out will cost you a little extra postage—even more come May—but chances are good that the shiny item won’t end up in someone’s recycling.
BEST MAGIC DEMONSTRATION
House of Chuckles
It’s really the way every business should get things done: You want to see the product in action. If you’re thinking about trying out a little sleight of hand, check out this West Valley novelty retailer and its comprehensive catalog of tricks, instruction books and informational DVDs. And if you really want a sense for how it all works, just wait for the man behind the register to show off coin, card and wand tricks. They may be moving to downtown any month now—but they’re not planning to disappear.
3528 W. 3500 South, West Valley City, 801-966-0520, HouseOfChuckles.com
BEST UNCOMMON SCENTS
The Incense Sampler
Every aroma is unique, and you never know just which one might be in the greatest harmony with your world. And would you be surprised to learn that one of the largest lines of imported Indian incense is made right here in Utah? Quality ingredients are combined to produce more than 200 varieties of incense, with an environmentally conscious mission to recycle packing materials. All the more reason for that scent that works for you to put you at peace.
3326 S. 275 East, Salt Lake City, 801-363-3487
BEST ROCK SHOW
Everybody needs minerals—sometimes to grow, sometimes for show. Step through the door of this lapidary’s lair and you’ll find a display case that provides a veritable museum of Utah’s mineral wealth, from malachite to gypsum. Browse through the bins of polished stones for something to create that special, unique piece of jewelry. Or if you’ve got your mind set on bigger things, outfit your own gold-panning adventure. Rock on.
1017 S. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-355-7952
BEST I-SPY DOG BOARDING
Pet owners, we know you worry about leaving your special companion with just anyone, just like a parent wouldn’t trust a random babysitter. So wouldn’t you like to peek in on your pooch while taking that trip? This boarding spot offers all the amenities and a big off-leash common area. But it also provides a Webcam so you can check out that area and feel just a little closer to your animal friend in absentia.
4030 S. 210 West, Murray, 801-261-2665, DogMode.com
BEST “FUR SURE” STORAGE
Alaska Fur Gallery
Fur is murder … on your wallet if you don’t take proper care of the pricey garments. Those who choose to clothe themselves in pelts don’t need them during Utah’s summers, and the temperature and low humidity can reduce their lifespan. Take a seasonal trip to Park City, and stash your fuzzy over-things in a climate-controlled vault, where it will stay safe until the chill returns to the air.
537 Main, Park City, 435-649-1241, AKFur.com