Best Of 2013

Best Apple repairman especially if you’re like Mitch and knock a bottle of water  into your computer

Who among us hasn’t knocked their coffee/water/wine onto their computer’s keypad and freaked out? Good news… there is a saint in our community, a savior of information who keeps us from slashing our wrists at the realization that we’ve been too lazy to back up our info for three months and that the project we’ve been slaving over is toast unless he works his miracles on our behalf. Steve Bush, at Screwbox, is the man for Macs. He epitomizes competence. Bless him. 3117 W. Columbus Drive, Tampa, 813-784-4178.

Best baby momma health center

Whether you’re looking to get a bun in the oven, already baking, or looking for post-bun delivery advice, Thank You Mama has you covered, from fertility and pre-natal acupuncture to massage, tinctures, teas and all that’s in between. There’s even a boutique of earth momma-friendly supplies. And the ladies that operate this network are incredibly connected goddesses, hip to the earthiest information on how to rear and raise in harmony with nature. 1511 4th St. N., St Petersburg, 727-289-7250.

Best big box
Larry Biddle

It’s where you’ll find the best little box, best medium box, and best you-didn’t-know-you-needed-it-till-you-saw-it-in-The-Container-Store box — itself a big shiny white box whose ambience is so bright and playful, its employees so genuinely cheerful, that it may make you rethink your anti-big-box-store bias. But the best part is the merch, a dazzling range of items in a variety of price ranges to meet all kinds of storage needs, like the find we made on a recent visit: an ingenious drop-down spice rack that solves once and for all the problem of shuffling through all those little jars from Savory Spice Shop. 4720 W. Spruce St. (corner of Spruce and Westshore across from International Plaza), Tampa, 813-774-4060.

Best body chains
Albisia’s Jewelry

Albisia Pojani’s artistic vision and delicate touch are set to work forming an array of shapely handmade jewelry, but body chains are a hot commodity and she puts her stamp on them beautifully. Wear them over a bikini or with jeans and a tank top and you’ll create something to talk about (in a good way). 1623 W. Snow Circle, Tampa, 813-505-2611,

Best comic book shop for Free Comic Book Day

The shop not only has a clever name, but is the best area location for Free Comic Book Day. The first Saturday of May is a holiday for the nerd crowd, and when it comes to getting the best free comics in the galaxy, Read More Comics is super-powered. Well stocked and efficiently run, the event that has potential to be a comic-cluster is here anything but villainous. The fantastic staff and volunteers really make the adventure worthwhile. 115 E. Brandon Blvd., Brandon, 813-655-7838,

Best consignment for divas

Divas of all ages, shapes and sizes shop at the Brandon boutique. With designer clothes and accessories galore, sales include Golden Diva Tuesdays — women 55 and older receive 10 percent off their entire purchase every Tuesday — and Blowout Saturday on the last Saturday of every month, when the whole store is 20 percent off, including sales items. Oakfield Square, 206 Oakfield Drive, Brandon, 813-681-5500,

Best consignment shop for girls

Thrifting is an artform, but a sometimes futile and taxing one. Enter Revolve in St. Petersburg (or the sister locations in Ybor City and Tampa). These ladies know their threads. No matter the occasion, be it fancy or schmancy, locals can find something unique and budget-friendly at Revolve. Lacking a fashion fund? Clean out your closet (vintage finds are welcome, too) and take them in for credit or cash. The St. Pete store posts adorable outfits daily (and in a variety of sizes) and takes pride in helping folks find just what they’re looking for. 2000 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg, 727-399-7788.

Best curiosity shop and craft lounge
Daniel Veintimilla

Just off a sleepy stretch of Indian Rocks Road that leads into posh Belleair, in the too-oft-overlooked strip mall known as Antique Alley, Roadside Attraction is a “Carnival of Creativity” that stocks Florida memorabilia, vintage Mardi Gras beads, tiki tchotchkes, handcrafted jewelry and much more. Meander past a menacing monkey statue, where a craft lounge invites customers to create mixed-media treasures as owner/bon vivant Carol Cortright pours mai tais and other mod cocktails. It’s all very fun and fabulous — and in Belleair Bluffs.

Best delivery with a smile (and a biscuit)
Larry Biddle

If one were to look for a reason Rogers Cleaners’ Jennifer Farr was named Sales/Driver of the Year in a competition with drycleaning pros all over the country, you could point to her reliability, her efficiency, or her personable, caring approach with customers. But really, it’s because she let her St. Pete delivery route go to the dogs. One customer’s canine now looks longingly upward whenever she sees a red Rogers drycleaning bag hanging from the front door; the dog knows that when her owner takes the bag down, he’ll find the biscuit Jennifer left along with the cleaning. (One woman’s pug has been known to drag the bag around the house, obsessed with the possibility of more hidden treats.). Jennifer says she’s “big on customer service,” and that’s true — for both the two- and four-legged customers she serves. (Plus, Rogers does a near-impeccable job cleaning clothes.) 2013 Fourth St. N., St. Petersburg, 727-894-0706.

Best fabric
Creative Loafing

Woven into the South Tampa community, Queen’s Fabrics sees gorgeous bolts fly in from around the world. A vivid selection, including designer fabrics as well as gorgeous prints created by the shop’s proprietress, fashion designer Marisu Miranda, add up to enough material to fill wardrobes fit for royalty. 1724 S. Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa, 813-258-2805.