Best Of 2006

OK, so it’s actually called the Salvation Army store — on MacDill in South Tampa. But with its Italian marble floors, lounge area with stuffed couches and juice bar, this is a Sal’s Army like you’ve never seen. OK, so it actually looks like pretty much any other Sal’s Army store — the point is that it’s in South Tampa, where many well-dressed, well-off people just might look at that couture gown or Armani suit and mutter, “Oh, this old rag,” and bring it down to the drop-off. You can find upscale stuff here — not all the time, but occasionally you can really score.2815 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa, 813-839-3730.

Goods & Services

Army Navy Surplus Market (Photo by Wayne Garcia)
Army Navy Surplus Market (Photo by Wayne Garcia)

These days, even the uber-Marts are charging boutique prices for the same Dickies work-wear that’s been hipdom’s Uniform of the Proletariat for decades. But fear not, dude who’s new to rockabilly or dudette who knows that butch can be chic — you can score the shirt, shorts or chapeau with all that built-in cred and still have money left over for beer the night of the Reverend show. Located right at the edge of downtown Tampa, longtime open retail secret The Army Navy Surplus Market has a great selection of Dickies merchandise hidden in there among the fatigues, tents and SWAT gear. And it goes without saying that those of you who know that broken-in camo cutoffs never really go out of style can always stock up there. 1312 N. Tampa St., Tampa, 813-229-2172.

Theoretically, you can get your dirty goods at any adult retail store, but why chance having to visit multiple sites when you can pretty much find anything and everything you need all in one place? Of the several XTC Supercenters located throughout the Bay area, we recommend the North Tampa location for its clean showroom and friendly staff. In addition to row upon row of shelves jam-packed with pretty much every genre of porn you could ever want, there’s a huge selection of vibrators and dildos, harnesses and strap-ons, penis pumps, lubes, lotions and love kits. Looking for a transsexual blow-up doll, or perhaps a glow-in-the-dark pussy? The place has these and more. The best feature? The video arcade is separate from the retail space, so you don’t have to worry about any awkward run-ins with flustered customers. 330 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, 813-930-0069,

Various Bay Area locations,

Runners Up: Mike’s Auto Repair, Bob Lee’s, Pinellas Auto

Best car salesperson? An oxymoron, you say? Doesn’t have to be. Aretta Sevastakis sells at Crown Mercedes with style and panache, combining just the right amounts of feistiness and humor. With Aretta, the car-dealer experience is like hanging out with a friend — albeit a friend who just happens to want to sell you an expensive German automobile. Please understand — no one at Creative Loafing has actually bought a Mercedes from Aretta. Didn’t seem to have that extra $80K laying around. We happened across her during another story and she really charmed us. Let’s just say that we can hope and dream to someday shop for a Mercedes, and when that time comes, we’ll be asking for Ms. Sevastakis. 6001 34th St. N., St. Petersburg, 727-526-3738.

La Herencia de Cuba (Photo by Wayne Garcia)
La Herencia de Cuba (Photo by Wayne Garcia)

It’s no surprise, given its history in the cigar industry, that Tampa is blessed with an abundance of great options to buy the coveted sticks. Edward’s Pipe and Tobacco in Tampa and Tampa Sweethearts in Ybor City are two longtime fixtures. But we like a relative newcomer: La Herencia de Cuba, where Cuban immigrant and master torcedo Roberto Ramirez rolls them daily while his son takes care of the business side of things. Unlabeled bundles are the authentic deal; who needs fancy boxes and cigar bands anyway? Ramirez’s Giant Torpedo is a rare find and a strong blend. But it is the smaller Perfectos that score at the top of the card: Tapered at both ends, they have a throwback shape that smokes so well you’ll want to put a roach clip on it to get every last puff. 1817 E. Seventh Ave., Ybor City, 800-324-9803.

Best CL Staff Colonoscopist

This year, three CL staffers and one life partner of a staffer had to get colonoscopies. That’s where they stick a long tube into your rectum and, once in the intestine, take pictures, remove polyps and that sort of stuff. Decorum and oppressive HIPAA laws prevent us from giving you names and details, but suffice to say that two of the procedures were routine, two were because of pain symptoms. Dr. Stauffer (affectionately known hereabouts as Dr. Stuffer) was our man in each instance. He takes time and care with each patient and is a master with the scope. Here’s the best part: The two diagnostic procedures turned out fine, and the two sick people got better. That’s some fine doctorin’, if you ask us. Stauffer is aided by the excellent nursing and support staff at Memorial Hospital (which – full disclosure – includes CL staffer Eric Snider’s wife Bonnie), where he does about a gazillion colonoscopies a day — and yet it never feels like a production line. Stauffer’s actual specialty is gastroenterology. But to us, he’ll always be Dr. John Stuffer: Colonoscopist. Memorial Hospital of Tampa, 2901 Swann Ave., Tampa, 813-873-6400.

Various Bay Area locations,

Runners Up: Dillards, Nordstrom’s

Various Bay Area locations

Runners Up: Chico, Nordstroms

220 N. Howard Ave., Tampa, 813-253-2032,

Runners Up: Safety Harbor Spa & Resort, Tranquility