Sephora is the ultimate wonderland for makeup enthusiasts, beginning with its glossy displays and chic black-and-white color scheme. The store carries brand-name as well as Sephora store-brand beauty products for eyes, lips, face and body, plus a variety of nail polishes and a selection of makeup brushes and tools. Sephora’s in-store beauty experts offer custom makeovers, consultations and personal shopping sessions by appointment and 15-minute transformations on a walk-in basis for a feature of choice.
355 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, 650-327-5180; sephora.com
Nabbing its third consecutive Best Of award, Mike’s Bikes is on a roll. Whether cyclists are looking for an upgrade or a repair, friendly and knowledgeable staff aim to put as many people in seats as possible. In addition to an extensive supply of components, clothing and accessories, Mike’s Bikes features an impressive array of road, mountain, electric and BMX bicycles.
3001 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, 650-858-7700; mikesbikes.com
Local bookworms have much to feast on in the clean and well-lighted Town & Country shop, Books Inc., which is part of a small Bay Area chain that brands itself “the West’s Oldest Independent Bookseller.” At a time when the bookstore industry is going through an existential crisis thanks to online competition, this bookstore remains relevant and popular thanks to its up-to-date selection of books and periodicals, its calendar of author readings and its book clubs. By fostering the social aspects of reading, Books Inc. has maintained its status this year as Palo Alto’s most popular bookstore.
74 Town & Country Village, Palo Alto, 650-321-0600; booksinc.net
Whether one calls Shady Lane a boutique, gift shop or jewelry store, it’s the one-stop shop for finding that perfect gift — or self-indulgence. Alice Deutscher has been showcasing local artists for more than 35 years. Jewelers offer intriguing takes on silver, gold, copper or pearl; woodworkers create works for holding that jewelry or even business-cards. Netsukes, blown-glass vases, recycled-glass housewares, exquisite scarves: It’s entertaining just to browse — but very tempting, too.
441 University Ave., Palo Alto, 650-321-1099; shadylanegallery.com
“Define your individual style” — that’s what Lux Eyewear sees itself offering to Palo Alto customers, who have chosen it as the best purveyor of eyeglasses. Look elegant in eye frames made from precious metals, buffalo horn and woods; go Chanel, Fendi or Ray Ban for that trendy look. You’ll have it made in the shade with sunglasses from Shaun’s Shades with quality Carl Zeiss lenses. Whether it’s that Southern California surfer-dude look or a throwback to the look of 20th-century movie stars, hip or futuristic, you’ll find it here. High-quality lenses are finished in their own lab. Lux has a wide selection of popular contact lenses, and you can book an eye exam, too.
1805 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, 650-324-3937; luxpaloalto.com
Since the 1980s, Michaela Dieffenbach has assembled boutonnieres for prom-goers, bouquets for brides and arrangements for anniversaries in the skinny, pink building on Waverley Street in downtown Palo Alto, Michaela’s Flower Shop. She and business partner Steve Wong, who met decades ago when the shop was known as Stapleton’s, have dedicated their lives to helping people say “I love you” through all things flora. With pricing that fits the pocketbooks of even non-venture capitalists, the store is consistently cited by Weekly readers as the florist who really knows how to put petal to the metal, producing spectacular results.
453 Waverley St., Palo Alto, 650-321-5390; michaelasflowershop.com
See complete listing for Shady Lane under Boutique.
When Whole Foods Market first opened its doors in downtown Palo Alto in 1989, few could have predicted that its stores would one day become choice destinations for lovers of organic produce and high-end delicacies nationwide. Today, the Emerson Street store is popular both for the quality of its offerings and for its eco-conscious practices, which this year garnered a “Best Of” award for being a top green business. Dubbing itself the “nation’s healthiest grocery store,” Whole Foods tries to take care of the environment by offering compostable packaging, purchasing wind-energy credits to offset its energy use and implementing aggressive recycling programs. When Palo Alto banned plastic check-out bags in 2009, Whole Foods didn’t offer a word of protest for a simple reason: true to its mission as a green leader, it had already stopped using them voluntarily.
774 Emerson St., Palo Alto, 650-326-0539; wholefoodsmarket.com
For those looking to repair a faucet, install a ceiling fan or add to a toolbox, ACE Hardware Menlo Park is well-equipped to handle the job. “Customers walk in, and we solve their problems,” manager Vasile Oros said. In addition to stocking shelves with tools, outdoor essentials, electrical equipment and more, the store offers repair and installation services. Recently, a gardening department was added next door, which, Oros said, has gotten “a really good response.”
700 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park, 650-325-2515; acehardware.com
Home Decor & Furnishings
While people may joke about the challenges of putting together a Dagstorp or a Grundtal/Norrviken based on those baffling pictorial instructions, Best Of voters were clearly willing to overlook the blood, sweat and aggravating leftover parts when they voted Ikea the best place for home decor. And who could blame them? Nothing good comes without sacrifice, though your wallet doesn’t need to in the case of the Swedish purveyor of both chic and cheeky trappings for one’s humble abode.
1700 E. Bayshore Road, East Palo Alto, 650-323-4532; ikea.com
See complete listing for Shady Lane under Boutique.
With a wide range of clothing and shoes to choose from in a variety of styles, Macy’s Men’s Store has once again been voted the best place to shop for men’s apparel in Palo Alto. The store carries styles ranging from casual to dressy, and features a variety of brands including Levi’s, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and more. The Men’s Store’s elegant layout — with its high ceilings and swooping staircase — make for an enjoyable shopping experience, and the staff, which includes experienced tailors, can help you find the right outfit for any occasion, all without breaking the bank.
300 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, 650-326-3333; macys.com
New Retail Business
The Container Store feels like paradise for those of us who fantasize about having a neat, orderly, even color-coded home. You can find nifty organizing tricks for your pantry, bathroom, office, laundry room and garage, plus all manner of boxes and baskets in every size and finish. If you’re looking for something to store your stuff, it’s hard to beat the choices in this new retail outlet, which replaced the old Andronico’s at Stanford Shopping Center.
500 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, 650-300-4879; containerstore.com
Just because there’s a drought, it doesn’t mean one can’t garden. At SummerWinds Nursery, gardeners and homeowners will find a full array of xeriscape plants that don’t suck up water, and a choice of mulches to keep moisture in the soil. Readers have voted SummerWinds best many previous years, including in 2013. Garden Coach professionals can visit the home to help choose the best foliage and flowers for every soil type and garden condition, from blazing sunshine to dense shade. Loyal customers earn discounts for future purchases. From landscaping the indoor environment to fruit trees, vegetables and flowers, visitors will be hard-pressed to leave without a wagonful of plants.
725 San Antonio Road, Palo Alto, 650-493-5136; summerwindsca.com
Have a demanding Fido or Fluffy? Is the cat tearing the house apart because she can’t find her catnip mouse? Pet Food Express offers everything from B to T: from beds and bird supplies to treats and biscuits. This pet store offers a product quality-assurance program that tests for lead and monitors ingredients to keep pets safe. There’s a self-service pet wash, dog training and a community veterinary clinic offering affordable vaccines, de-worming, flea control and standard laboratory testing.
3910 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 650-856-6666; petfoodexpress.com
Claiming this year’s honor of best drug store, CVS continues to please patrons, in part by keeping up with the times. The chain is smartphone friendly, with apps that allow customers to upload and print photos from their devices (free, same-day pickup), schedule appointments for immunizations and scan bar codes to request prescription refills. And of course, the store also offers the convenience of all kinds of goods just at the corner, from household and nutrition to personal care and sexual wellness products.
2701 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 650-330-0132; Town & Country Village, Palo Alto, 650-322-2554; 352 University Ave., Palo Alto, 650-324-3248; cvs.com
Footwear etc., which specializes in pairs of things, has held the Best Of award for a couple of consecutive years. With its merchandise, the store aims to blend comfort and style. The knowledgeable and friendly staff helps to pair up customers with suitable shoes from top brands such as MBT, Mephisto, Clarks and New Balance. Whether you need running sneakers, dress shoes or a comfortable orthotic insert, Footwear, Etc. just might have what you need to make your feet happy.
463 University Ave., Palo Alto, 650-328-1122; footwearetc.com
Sporting Goods & Apparel
REI fell off the Best Of last year following three years in Hall of Fame status, but the sporting goods haven has climbed back to the top. The chain stocks gear for climbing, cycling, paddling, camping, hiking, snow sports and travel. REI’s mission is to get people outdoors; and with helpful staff and affordable prices, when you walk out the door, you might have a canoe in hand.
2450 Charleston Road, Mountain View, 650-969-1938; rei.com
From greeting cards, ink stamps and colored envelopes, to pens, notebooks, nametags and wrapping paper, Village Stationers on California Avenue never fails to fill the Palo Alto shopper’s stationery needs, whether they’re in the market for birthday presents or office essentials. With its clear and spacious interior, friendly service and expansive selection, it’s a clear favorite among Weekly readers. And don’t forget the Menlo Park location.
310 S. California Ave., Palo Alto, 650-326-7970; 719 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park, 650-321-6920; villagestationer.com
Cheeky Monkey Toys is the store to visit, say readers, not just for children, but anyone young at heart. Its shelves are stocked with quality, interactive toys for people of all ages. Currently, favorite toys include the popular family game Set and the Shrinky Dinks 3-D Fairy Garden. Cheeky Monkey recently hosted a Creativity Can event, where children and adults were challenged to imagine, create and share, after being given cans and simple materials such as feathers and wood sticks.
640 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park, 650-328-7975; cheekymonkeytoys.com
A “vintage feminine” vibe permeates Anthropologie, where you might stumble on a beaded sweater, a quaint quilt or a porcelain teacup that could’ve come straight from your great aunt’s attic. A small book selection targets style and food, conjuring up kitchen savvy and icons of elegance like Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn.
999 Alma St., Palo Alto, 650-322-0435; anthropologie.com