Best recycled home improvement stuff
Habitat for Humanity Home Store
2105 N. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-426-7192
This place is like a giant garage sale; you just never know what you’ll find. That’s because all the merch is donated, and proceeds from sales support Habitat for Humanity. But you can be sure there will be something you need, be that cat food, weed killer, a new toilet, bolts, plumbing supplies, furniture, appliances or whatever. It’s great fun just to go pawing around, and the prices are right. Go on a Thursday and you get 10 percent off everything.
Barneys New York Outlet
8200 Vineland Ave., 407-239-9400
Men’s socks are a mixed bag (and frequently come in mixed bags), often sacrificing the glory of expression for purposefulness. Not so at Barneys New York Outlet, where – for significantly slashed prices – gentlemen with saucy ankles can find glorious sheaths to house them: pink ones, polka-dotted ones, yellow and blue, all racked up for the persnickety picking. You don’t have to be gay. It just helps if you are.
Best video store
Stardust Video & Coffee
1842 E. Winter Park Road, 407-623-3393
The cinephiles at Stardust would probably love to live in a world where art-house video rental was a thriving, competitive business; but they’re also probably glad that nobody in Orlando has really given them a run for their money yet. Thus, the eclectic (and surprisingly diverse) selection of movie fare at Stardust has survived and thrived in a world of Blockbuster, Netflix and GreenCine, making it a perennial (and largely unchallenged) winner in our “best video store” category. In fact, there was so little competition we didn’t see the point of even putting the category on the ballot this year.
Best place to buy graveyard dirt
500 State Road 436, Casselberry
When you have an urgent need for fresh graveyard dirt and can’t be bothered to stop by the cemetery and dig it up yourself, what to do? Take a trip to Enchanted Botanica, where bags of the fresh stuff will set you back only a few bucks. Less time skulking in graveyards means more time to cast spells, you know.
Best new souvenir shop
Hart & Huntington Tattoo Company
CityWalk, Universal Orlando Resort, 407-373-0718
Our CityWalk bar-crawls (strictly research, of course) can reach a whole new level, now that a full-service ink parlor is on Universal property. Next stop: laser removal of the Harry Potter lightning bolt you got tattooed on your forehead.
Best handmade purses
2021 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park
Stop by for an afternoon (it may take that long to go through all the fabric choices) and by the time you leave, you’ll have designed a one-off purse. This trendy spot lets you choose the style, handles, fabric and embellishments for an average price of about $50. Then they’ll call in a few weeks when your spiffy new bag is ready.
Best place for a Botox party
936 N. Mills Ave., 407-898-6636
Because sometimes a hot-glued weave foil-wrapped in globs of bleach isn’t enough humility to elicit the required “I’m still 30, dammit!” from your more superficial side, ViMi beauty newbie Copperhead Salon – itself something of a mutiny endpoint for the old Wave scissor set – occasionally raises the bar (and the brow) with little pricks of agelessness. Local Oriental medicine/aging expert Dr. Anthony Beck, of SaJune Medical Center and Spa, pops in now and again with his magic juice for a foray into wrinkle reduction. Think of it as a Tupperware party with less regret.
Best place to stretch a dollar
1840 E. Colonial Drive, 407-898-6846
While poverty may be adorable in a screenwriter’s context notebook – pursue “happyness” all you like – on the periphery of downtown Orlando’s cobblestoned, upmarket bungalow thoroughfares, pinching pennies is the sport of iron-on ironists. Enter the Dollar Tree, a supermarket for everything you never needed presented to suggest that you just might require a hot glue gun. A stocking stuffer’s wet dream around the yuletide, this longtime clearinghouse for the over over the counter remains an unlikely sociological experiment of pith and pity, ice cube trays optional.
Best sneakerhead haven
2219 E. Colonial Drive
“Each shoe has its own story,” says Craig Rosen, owner of the three-month-old boutique Culture Kings, an offshoot of the year-old Miami store of the same name. Orlando has ’heads, but until now they’ve been relegated to skate shops and the one shoe resource Orlando is rich in: outlets. Local sneaker pimps Diversitile have already done a customizing gig at the store; if you want a place to flaunt your Jordans or pick up a new pair, this is it.
Best not-cheap thrill
Florida Exotic Car Rental
5555 Hazeltine National Drive
Let the tourists rent a Camry. You, Central Florida resident, deserve something more … exotic. Perhaps a 552-horsepower Bentley Continental Flying Spur ($1,495 daily; $10,465 weekly), or maybe a Dodge Viper V10, capable of sailing down I-4 at about 190 mph ($595 daily; $4,165 weekly). Just a few months ago, you’d have to get such heavy metal delivered from South Florida, where the exotic car rental industry is flourishing. But now there’s Florida Exotic, a fledgling homegrown contender. As of June the company only had the Viper and the Bentley in its fleet, though co-owner Amal Popat says he can get his hands on anything from a Ferrari to a Lotus. “Whatever you dream of, you can have it,” says Popat. Just bring your credit card.
Best new addiction
Doma Acid Sweeties
Park Ave CDs
2916 Corrine Drive
480 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park
Doma Acid Sweeties are the sickest “limited-edition designer vinyl toys” ever to suck dollars out of pockets. Unlike Smorkin’ Labbits or Dunnys, which are identically shaped items in various colors/patterns, Bomb Eater, Egg Patrol, Punky Box and the rest of the psychedelic gang are all distinct personalities. They’re sold blind assortment, but thanks to Park Ave CDs’ informal exchange program, the obsessed can stand at the counter swapping boxes trying to score Sicky Barrel (one out of every 100 boxes) like a Lotto scratch-off junkie in a convenience store. Those more skilled in delayed gratification can visit one of Überbot’s monthly trading parties.
Best independent, mostly local boutique
1010 N. Mills Ave., 407-895-6363
Katie Reynolds, the bubbly proprietress of Etoile Boutique, brims over with such enthusiasm for her mission it makes you want to … give her money. Her vision of a boutique selling only independent, handmade and vintage goods is a direct outcome of the Etsy generation: Handmade doesn’t have to mean earthy-crunchy. Local labels A Rare Bird, Cocobaby and Cripplecreek rub shoulders with cool-girl lines Built by Wendy, Naughty Secretary Club and Tatty Devine. Come for a one-of-a-kind dress, vintage jewelry or locally made organic bath salts.