Best Beauty Supply
Mandana Navi got her start in the beauty business in her own kitchen, testing out recipes for skin products and sharing her results with friends before opening Essentique on California Avenue in 2016. Navi's line of hair, skin and body care products are available on site and at Essentique's online store.
2417 Park Blvd., Palo Alto; essentique.com; 650-800-7375
Best Bike Shop
Palo Alto Bicycles
With an array of bicycles, dependable repair and exemplary customer service, Palo Alto Bicycles is homegrown and staffed by people who love bikes just as much as their customers. The shop also sells electric bikes, clothing and other accessories.
171 University Ave., Palo Alto; paloaltobicycles.com; 650-328-7411
Best Book Store
Books Inc. offers an array of joys for local bookworms: old classics, new hardcovers, newspapers, magazines and gift ideas galore. Founded in 1851, Books Inc. has weathered wars, depressions, earthquakes and more than one pandemic. During the pandemic, the bookseller pivoted to curbside pickup, online ordering and virtual author events.
Town & Country Village, #74, 855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto; booksinc.net/PaloAlto; 650-321-0600
Best Boutique, Best Gift Shop, Best Jewelry Store
For more than four decades, Shady Lane has been offering one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces, intricately woven scarves, artisan glass sculptures, wood carvings, handcrafted soaps and an array of other items handcrafted by local and international artists and designers. The boutique is open for in-store shopping as well as online shopping and curbside pickup. The store also offers gift wrapping.
325 Sharon Park Drive, Menlo Park; shadylanegallery.com; 650-321-1099
Best Children's Store
Cheeky Monkey Toys
Cheeky Monkey Toys is a family-owned shop that specializes in finding <0x201C>just the right toy<0x201D> for each customer. Since opening its doors in Menlo Park in 1999, the shop has provided interactive toys designed to stimulate children's minds to generations of local families. When all nonessential businesses were ordered to close in March 2020, Cheeky Monkey Toys quickly pivoted to a direct delivery-only service, dropping off toys within a 10-mile radius of the store. Cheeky Monkey has reopened for in-store shopping and also offers onsite pickup and delivery.
640 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park; cheekymonkeytoys.com; 650-328-7975
From eye exams to the treatment of ocular disease to contact lens evaluations and fittings, Cambridge Optometry provides full-service eye care. The facility has state-of-the-art equipment, and offers more than 1,000 designer frames.
250 Cambridge Ave. #102, Palo Alto; cambridgeoptometry.com; 650-323-6772
Best Flower Shop
Since opening in 1903, Mills Florist has provided fresh flower arrangements for special events spanning the past 100 years. The longtime florist also offers balloon bouquets, fine crystal, stuffed animals, dried swags and wreaths, and chocolates and other sweets. According to its website, the shop is open for phone and online delivery orders as well as limited pickup service.
235 University Ave., Palo Alto; millsflorist.com; 650-326-3443
Best Frame Shop
Richard Sumner Frames
Richard Sumner Frames has been serving Palo Alto from its downtown location for more than 30 years. The shop offers a full range of framing services, including hand-painted and closed corner frames. Visiting the showroom is like a trip to a museum the shop also features hand-selected framed vintage posters, antique artifacts and Chinese antique country furniture. During the pandemic, the shop expanded its services to include private appointments online.
628 Emerson St., Palo Alto; sumnerframes.com; 650-322-3330
Best Hardware Store
Hassett ACE Hardware
From hardware, tools, key cutting and knife sharpening to phone repair, garden supplies and barbecues, Hassett ACE Hardware in Palo Alto has it all. Family-owned since 1957, Hassett is a Palo Alto institution known for its focus on customer service.
875 Alma St., Palo Alto; hassetthardware.com; 650-327-7222
Best Nursery/Garden Supplies
SummerWinds has everything you'll need to make your garden pop, including compost, potting mix, outdoor decor and tools (like trowels and gloves), bare-root fruit trees, native grasses, veggie plants and flower hats. The center is open for onsite shopping and also offers home delivery and curbside pickup.
725 San Antonio Road, Palo Alto; summerwindsnursery.com; 650-493-5136
Best Pet Store
Pet Food Express
Pet Food Express features everything almost every pet needs: a line of high-quality food, toys, grooming tools, bedding, a self-service bath facility and veterinary services. The California-based chain also facilitates adoption and rescue events. The store is now offering same-day delivery service.
3910 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto; petfoodexpress.com; 650-856-6666
Best Shoe Store
Footwear Etc. has been helping customers find comfortable yet stylish shoes since 1986. The shop features Vionic, a podiatrist-created brand for men and women that includes built-in arch supports iall of its shoes.
463 University Ave., Palo Alto; footwearetc.com; 650-328-1122
Best Stationery Store
Letter Perfect has made personalized customer service its trademark. The store offers greeting cards and stationery for all needs, from modest to lavish. But that's not all. The store offers numerous toys, games, leather goods, journals, writing instruments and other special gifts.
384 University Ave., Palo Alto; letterperfect.com; 650-321-3700
Best Women's Apparel
From vacation wardrobes to date night outfits, Cassis has offered customers a wide selection of carefully curated women's clothing, jewelry, footwear and accessories since 1996. The staff is known for its attention to detail and great customer service, according to Yelp reviewers. The shop also offers online shopping.
206 Homer Ave., Palo Alto; lpetal.com; 650-327-2997