Don't let a flat tire or busted chain slow you down. Mike's Bikes has what you need to get you back on the road in no time. With new bikes and repair service, Mike's has everything the rapidly growing bicyclist population could want. Whether it's a recommendation or a repair, Mike's has the friendly service and expertise that will get you back on two wheels with a smile on your face. 3001 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, 650-858-7700; mikesbikes.com
As Kepler's, one of Menlo Park's longtime bookstores, enters a new phase of life under the leadership of entrepreneurs Praveen Madan and wife Christin Evans, it retains a hold on the community's hearts, raising more than $750,000 in three months — and winning another Best Of Palo Alto award. Peace activist Roy Kepler opened Kepler's in 1955, and it earned a reputation in the 1960s as a place where countercultural minds could gather to share ideas. His son Clark took over in 1980, managing the store through times good, bad and ugly, with the launch of online juggernaut Amazon.com. The new transition team is working hard to keep the community feel of Kepler's alive while updating the store with e-technology and a broader range of events and inventory. The next six months will give the store's supporters a glimpse of the future at Kepler's. 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, 650-324-4321; keplers.com
It's not surprising that Shady Lane took the gold in three categories: Boutique, Gift/Novelty Shop and Jewelry Store. The array of gold and silver — plus wood, glass, textiles — in the window lures in customers seeking that perfect gift; many simply cannot resist a little something for themselves. (OK, I couldn't resist: I found a perfect pin for my musical cousin, but my husband nailed a ring made from watch innards: How cool is that?) This is a place that's hard to leave empty-handed. (P.S. My cousin loved her gift.) 441 University Ave., Palo Alto, 650-321-1099
Cool people wear glasses. In addition to popular staples like Oakley and Ray-Ban, Lux Eyewear stocks stylish, harder-to-find lines such as the German IC! Berlin, Face a Face of Paris and the L.A.-based Oliver Peoples. This one-of-a-kind shop owned by opthalmologist Thomas Tayeri marks its fifth anniversary Saturday, Aug. 18, with a 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. celebration featuring food, music, raffles, corporate presentations and, of course, glasses. 1805 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, 650-324-3937; luxpaloalto.com
Hall of Fame: Third Year
How sweet-smelling it is to be in the Hall of Fame. Just as roses are red, Michaela's Flower Shop is a true perennial in this category. 453 Waverley St., Palo Alto, 650-321-5390; michaelasflowershop.com
Midtown Palo Alto florist Nature's Alley scores many a medal with Weekly readers, run by longtime gardener (and former registered nurse) Karen Froniewski. Custom topiary arrangements such as ivy animals and door-framing plants are on offer along with more standard bouquets and flower assemblages. The shop also sells garden statues and fountains, and hosts classes on floral arranging and topiary. 2675 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 650-326-3632; naturesalley.com
Palo Alto treasure Shady Lane was also honored for its jewelry and as the best boutique. See the complete listing under Boutique.
Hall of Fame: First Year
With solar panels on its roof and low-energy lights on its ceiling, Palo Alto Hardware cemented itself in the Hall of Fame this year for its green-business practices. Palo Alto Hardware has long shone for its environmental approach, from supporting Palo Alto's "Zero Waste" initiative to featuring a strong recycling program. And, naturally, the store also stocks a trove of environmentally friendly products. 875 Alma St., Palo Alto, 650-327-7222; paloaltohardware.com
Mountain View's REI is a mean, green, outdoor-equipment-selling machine. Ninety to 95 percent of the store's waste is recycled or composted and 25 to 30 percent of its power comes from solar energy from the panels on its roof. It's a certified Bay Area green business and a gold-award winner as a bike-friendly business from the League of American Bicyclists. The employees put their money where their mouths are, with 25 percent of them biking to work every day. 2450 Charleston Road, Mountain View, 650-969-1938; rei.com
Where else can you get skin-care products and a high-speed drill? Palo Alto Hardware has dozens of practical and ornamental items for the home and garden, from tiny screws to hard-to-find vintage faucets (it can special order stuff, too). Palo Alto Hardware was one of the first businesses on the Peninsula to go solar, and customers can get solar and environmental products there as well. Check out the website for how-to information on everything from installing audio-video systems to repairing drywall, or go in and ask the friendly staff. 875 Alma St., Palo Alto, 650-327-7222; paloaltohardware.com
Home Decor & Furnishings
Trendy and affordable furniture store IKEA is Palo Alto's choice for best home decor and furnishings. A Swedish import, IKEA offers functional, sleekly designed European furniture and home decor at a bargain price. The massive store provides bright showroom displays featuring a variety of items. Moving, child-care services, and wardrobe-installation assistance are available at the store, in addition to a cafe and Swedish food market. Boasting an extensive selection of products ranging from textiles and living-room furniture to kitchen supplies and a large kids section, IKEA has something for everyone in the family. 1700 E. Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, 650 493-6553; ikea.com/us
Downtown retailer Shady Lane also shone for gift/novelty shop and boutique. See the complete listing under Boutique.
Hall of Fame: First Year
Nordstrom, the Hall of Fame winner for Men's Apparel, offers gentlemen a wide variety of high-quality threads to look and feel like champions. Shoes, belts, shirts, ties, slacks, jackets — if a man wears it, Nordstrom carries it. Nordstrom has been a staple at Stanford Shopping Center for years and features specialty shops for most occasions, including surf and skate, golf, sport fan gear and even suits and tuxedos. 550 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, 650-323-5111; nordstrom.com
Men eager to look sharp for a business dinner, keep it casual for a day at the park or get cozy for an afternoon at home can satisfy their clothing needs at Macy's. The apparel powerhouse features a variety of brands for men, be they young, old, small or tall. Polo Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Sean John, Adidas and Nike are just a few of the brands available at Macy's. Sports nuts can find plenty of athletic gear as well: tracksuits, t-shirts, hoodies and running shoes. Whether your style highlights skinny jeans or svelte suits, Macy's offers a little bit of something for everyone. 300 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, 650-326-3333; macys.com
New Retail Business
Whoever thought, for even a moment, that Los Altos is stodgy? The latest addition to Main Street, Apricot Lane Boutique, offers hip new brands, such as Naked Zebra, Promesa and Spoiled; chambray shirts by Bella Dahl; and knitwear by Bobi. "It's not unusual for three generations — daughter, mother and grandmother," to come in, noted Angela Forte, store manager. To go with the "contemporary style from L.A.," Forte points to eclectic accessories: belts and jewelry — even a "vegan" (faux leather) handbag. 315 Main St., Los Altos, 650-209-5961; apricotlaneusa.com
Stylish decor on the cheap. Summer Winds Nursery will provide you with everything you need to make your garden bloom. The knowledgeable, friendly staff will answer your gardening questions and help you navigate the rows of lush foliage. Selling planting supplies, plants and general gardening wares, this store provides you with all of the tools to create the garden of your dreams. 725 San Antonio Road, Palo Alto, 650-493-5136; summerwindsca.com
Pet Food Express has been serving California's pets for more than 30 years, providing top-of-the-line supplies and services for the Bay Area's pampered pets. Palo Alto's branch boasts exemplary attention to customer service and quality products for its local pets and their owners. The store offers a vaccination clinic, adoption events and high-end pet food and supplies. Its corporate persona is also giving back to those pets less fortunate than their Palo Alto cousins. In 2011 alone, Pet Food Express donated more than $1.3 million to programs including animal shelters and rescues, police K-9 departments and more than 100 schools. 3910 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 650-856-6666; petfoodexpress.com
Hall of Fame: First Year
Walgreen's aims to provide each of its customers with quality care and products while maintaining a commitment to the wider community through its dedication to corporate social responsibility, including environmental sustainability and diversity programs. Founded more than a century ago, Walgreen's continues to serve people all over the country, including three locations in Palo Alto. 4170 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, 650-858-2007; 300 University Ave., Palo Alto, 650-326-3876; 2605 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 650-566-9723; walgreens.com
CVS has been focusing on the innovation and reinvention of its pharmacy services. It also engages in numerous philanthropic endeavors such as its All Kids Can program, which aids community-based programs focusing on children with disabilities. CVS is a one-stop health-care provider, with products ranging from household items to medications. 2701 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 650-330-0132; 855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, 650-322-2554; 352 University Ave., Palo Alto, 650-324-3248; cvs.com
Many things under the sun. From glittery Toms and spiky gold-and-silver Steve Maddens to the high-end Jimmy Choos and classic Ferragamos, Nordstrom shoe department is the place to go for hands-on selection, including men's and children's footwear. A spacious display, plenty of comfortable seating and an attentive, knowledgeable staff ensure a pleasurable shoe-browsing experience. 550 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, 650-323-5111; shop.nordstrom.com
Sporting Goods & Apparel
Hall of Fame: Third Year
Year after year, REI has been blowing away the competition and helping its customers do the same. It doesn't matter if you rely on a kayak, a bicycle, a snowboard or a pair of running shoes to get to the finish line. This popular sporting-goods hub will help get you there. 2450 Charleston Road, Mountain View, 650-969-1938; rei.com
Whether you're gearing up for the new baseball season, revving up for a football match or looking to go for a swim, Palo Alto Sport Shop and Toy World will get you what you need. This popular downtown spot boasts a friendly staff and shelves full of the latest sports equipment, from swimming trunks to soccer jerseys. But as the store's name implies, you don't have to be an Olympic star to enjoy its offerings. With its wide array of games and toys, this perennial winner can be just as useful for planning a picnic as a pickup game. 526 Waverley St., Palo Alto, 650-328-8555; toyandsport.com
Village Stationers sells a variety of greeting cards, journals, and stationery supplies. The shop also boasts a sizeable selection of writing implements and office supplies, in addition to many gift items. Whether you're sending a love letter on pretty letterhead or scribbling a grocery list on a legal pad, this stationery store has you covered. And with locations in Palo Alto and Menlo Park, your stationery options are twofold. 310 S. California Ave., Palo Alto; 650-326-7970; and 719 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park, 650-321-6920
Toy haven Palo Alto Sport Shop and Toy World was also lauded for its sporting goods and apparel. See the complete listing under Sporting Goods & Apparel.
The fall collection is IN at Nordstrom, the go-to emporium for women's apparel. Nordstorm also stepped up as the best spot for shoes. See the complete listing under Shoe Store.
This story contains 2291 words.
Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.
If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.