Adult store

1st Place
Diva Passion Boutique
3431 Telegraph Rd., Ventura
658-8011

2nd Place
Three Star Books & News
359 E. Main St., Ventura
653-9068

3rd Place
Aphrodite’s Lingerie & Gift
477 E. Main St., Ventura
652-0082

Antique store

1st Place
Times Remembered
467 E. Main St., Ventura
643-3137

2nd Place
Attaboy Vintage
2470 E. Main St., Ventura
648-1668

3rd Place
American Home & Garden
64 S. Oak St., Ventura
648-6818

Arts & crafts

1st Place
Anacapa Fine Yarns
4572 Telephone Rd., Suite 909 Ventura
654-9500

2nd Place
Ventura Creates
2037 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
641-2555

3rd Place
Cottontail Creations
1744 E. Main St., Ventura
643-1700

 

Bicycle shop

1st Place
Avery’s Open Air Bicycles
2386 E. Main St., Ventura
653-1100

2nd Place
Trek Bikes of Ventura
4060 E. Main St., Ventura
644-8735

3rd Place
Ray’s Bike Shop
2991 Loma Vista Rd., Ventura
628-3209

 

Book store

1st Place
Bank of Books
748 E. Main St., Ventura
643-3154

2nd Place
Bart’s Books
302 W. Matilija St., Ojai
646-3755

3rd Place
$5 or Less Bookstore
1157 E. Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley
584-8979

 

Bridal shop

1st Place
Camarillo Bridal
2121 Pickwick Dr., Camarillo
389-1515

2nd Place
Kay’s Bridal
4420 Alpine St., Simi Valley
522-3031

3rd Place
Sew What Tailoring & Design
427 E. Main St., Ventura
653-1920

 

Children’s clothing

1st Place
Blooms Children’s Store
2538 E. Main St., Ventura
648-6744

2nd Place
Ciao Bella
401 E. Main St., Ventura
643-3415

3rd Place
Drool
2959 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks 557-1177

 

Cigar shop

1st Place
Smokers’ Castle
1824 E. Main St., Ventura
643-7894

2nd Place
Old Oaks Cigar Company
3006 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 494-1886

3rd Place
Mandalay Tobacco
565 W. Channel Islands Blvd., Port Hueneme, 985-9130

 

Comic book store

1st Place
Ralph’s Comic Corner
2379 E. Main St., Ventura
653-2732

2nd Place
Seth’s Games and Anime
2379 E. Main St., Ventura
653-5890

3rd Place
Jon’s Comics, Cards and Collectables
1039 S. Ventura Rd., Oxnard
985-2766

 

Dive shop

1st Place
Ventura Dive & Sport
1559 Spinnaker Dr., Suite 108, Ventura
650-6500

2nd Place
Channel Islands Scuba
3200 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 818-225-1616

3rd Place
Peace Dive Boat
2419 Harbor Blvd., Suite 131, Ventura
650-DIVE

 

Florist

1st Place
Passion Flowers
920 E. Main St., Ventura
641-1076

2nd Place
Sweet Peas Flowers & Gifts
2855 Johnson Dr., Suite Q, Ventura
644-9992

3rd Place
Ashwood on Main St.
Florist 3051 E. Main St., Ventura
653-6929

 

Formal wear

1st Place
California & Main
481 E. Main St., Ventura
643-6200

2nd Place
Mission Tuxedos
3615 Telegraph Rd., Ventura
339-0000;

140 W. Fifth St., Oxnard
483-8888

3rd Place
Sew What Tailoring & Design
427 E. Main St., Ventura
653-1920

Gardening store

1st Place
Green Thumb Nursery
1899 S. Victoria Ave., Ventura
642-8517

2nd Place
Oasis Garden & Patio
33 S. Palm St., Ventura
641-9909

3rd Place
Nopalito Native Plant Nursery
4107 E. Main St., Ventura
844-7449

 

Gift shop

1st Place
B. on Main
337 E. Main St., Ventura
643-9309

2nd Place
Plum Accessory Gift Boutique
401 E Main St., Ventura
641-0113

3rd Place
Fusion Home
418 E. Main St., Ventura
652-7017

 

Best homegrown organic coffee

Café Altura

760 E. Santa Maria St., Santa Paula, 933-8328, www.cafealtura.com 

The best things in life are often found in one’s own back yard – case in point: Café Altura Coffee, a certified organic fair trade brew from the deepest darkest … Santa Paula?

Now that the Santa Paula Coffee Company has closed, after its founder’s recent tragic passing, someone there has to fly the black flag of independent caffeine. Founded in Ojai in the ’70s, Café Altura produces some of the richest Arabica coffee around, utilizing a steam-water extraction process that effectively pulls 97 percent of caffeine from the coffee bean. Exploring the discipline of biodynamism – a pioneering technique by which the Chiapas farm that supplies Café Altura produces the coffee beans in a way that uses every part of the environment in which the coffee is produced – the company has remained at the forefront of taste without tastelessness and with an energy borne of pure caffeine, not wasteful guilt.

Regular roast, French roast, dark roast — low in acidity and pesticide-free — these are certified organic coffees that give the coffee conglomerates a run for their money. And with so many chain coffees from which to choose, it’s a relief to have the option of a local coffee company, especially when the perception of Ventura County generally precludes the possibility of that option. The brand is seen increasingly up and down the coast, from Santa Paula’s Whistlestop Café to renowned Santa Barbara grocery Lazy Acres. And as far as the “all-natural” signifier goes, it doesn’t get much more natural than coffee cherries that are grown under canopies of shade trees, rainwater-washed and sun-dried, then roasted in modest batches in … Santa Paula? Yes, it’s a little difficult to get over that fact, but it helps to have a cup and breathe in that growing satisfaction that something is good and simple, as it is nearby.

— David Cotner

 

 

Home furnishings

1st Place
Fusion Home
418 E. Main St., Ventura
652-7017

2nd Place
Urban Home
2801 Paseo Mercado, Oxnard
604-7445

3rd Place
For Your Home Furniture
443 E. Main St., Ventura
641-1919

 

Jeweler

1st Place
Joseph’s Fine Jewelers
3301 E. Main St., Suite K-106, Ventura
650-0808

2nd Place
Fox Fine Jewelry
210 E. Main St., Ventura
652-1800

3rd Place
Lynn’s Jewelry Studio
6100 Telegraph Rd., Suite C, Ventura
642-5500

 

Lingerie store

1st Place
Aphrodite’s Lingerie & Gift
477 E. Main St., Ventura
652-0082

2nd Place
Diva Passion Boutique
3431 Telegraph Rd., Ventura
658-8011

3rd Place
Althea’s Corset Shop
2320 E. Main St., Ventura
643-3537

 

Men’s clothing

1st place
wetSand
446 E. Main St., Ventura
652-1706

2nd place
Patagonia
259 W Santa Clara St., Ventura
643-8616

3rd place
Parts Unknown
394 E Main St # A, Ventura
648-4654

The Wharf
980 E. Front St., Ventura
648-5035

 

Best place to mix magic and meds

Merlin’s Science and Magic 

699 Mobil Avenue, Camarillo, 388-7669, www.magicmagicmagic.com

Just like in the movies, in Ventura County, magic can be found in some unexpected places – like Merlin’s Science and Magic, conveniently located in Merlin’s Medical Supply in Camarillo.

Past the wheelchairs, contour pillows and canes, one corner of the pharmacy/medical supply/magic shop is devoted entirely to the magician’s craft: guides, magazines, DVDs, kits for card and coin tricks, mystic smoke and juggling. It’s probably the only place you can buy cast protectors and brain seltzer at the same time. Wands, ropes, self-tying shoelaces and ventriloquist dummies are available for the budding magician; or for the less mystically inclined, beakers, test tubes, science kits and ant farms fill another shelf.

The store’s owner/pharmacist/resident magician, Paul Dwork, learned magic from his bunkmate in the army, and when he started doing business in Camarillo in 1977, it was natural that his magic would follow him.

“Rather than putting a regular sundry and gift store, I put a magic store,” he said. He performs his mixture of science and magic at parties and events, and holds workshops in his studio next door.

He says he finds full enjoyment in doing magic and entertaining. “It’s a breakaway from reality, like playing a good instrument.”

The store has an old-timey feel, with dark wooden shelves lining the walls. Behind the counter of the magic shop is a mural of horse-drawn carriages and men in top hats outside of an 1800’s version of Merlin’s. A real-life carriage sits in the middle of the store, decorated with green paint that reads “Drugs,” now a display for Vic’s steam vaporizers and exercise equipment. The sign on Dwork’s office on the other side of the store is labeled clearly, “Pharmacist/Magician.”

“Those that know me understand, and those that don’t, question it,” he said. But for the most part, his many talents are a hit. “Some people will ask, after I get done fitting them for a brace, ‘Oh, will you do a magic trick?’ ”

— Shaunacy Ferro

 

 

Motorcycle store

1st Place
RPM Cycles
1495 Palma Dr., Ventura
644-7159

2nd Place
Cal Coast Motorsports
5455 Walker St., Ventura
642-0900

3rd Place
Ventura Harley-Davidson
1326 Del Norte Rd., Camarillo
981-9904

 

Musical instrument

1st Place
Instrumental Music
3171 E. Main St., Ventura
654-9388;

1501 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks
496-3774

2nd Place
Henson’s Music
2291 E. Ventura Blvd., Camarillo
482-6115;

301 S. A St., Oxnard
486-8742

3rd Place
Guitar Planet
1822 E. Main St., Ventura
648-4633

 

Organic food

1st Place
Lassen’s
4071 E. Main St., Ventura
644-6990;

2857 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks
495-2609;

3471 Saviers Rd., Oxnard
486-8266

2nd Place
Rainbow Bridge
211 E. Matilija St., Ojai
646-4017

3rd Place
The Farmer & the Cook Market & Café
339 W. El Roblar Dr., Ojai
640-9608

 

Pet store

1st Place
Ventura Pet Barn
3203 E. Main St., Ventura
654-0345

2nd Place
Linda’s Claws & Paws
1865 E. Main St., Ventura
648-6060

3rd Place
The Wharf
980 E. Front St., Ventura
648-5035

 

Produce store

1st Place
Underwood Family Farms
3370 Sunset Valley Rd., Moorpark
529-3690;

5696 Los Angeles Ave., Somis
386-4660

2nd Place
A & F Country Market
4550 Olivas Park Dr., Ventura
644-5470

3rd Place
McGrath Family Farms
1012 W. Ventura Blvd., Camarillo
983-0333

 

Record store

1st Place
Salzer’s Records
5777 Valentine Rd., Ventura
639-2160

2nd Place
Buffalo Records
92 S. Laurel St., Ventura
648-3345

3rd Place
Grady’s Record Refuge
2546 E. Main St., Ventura
648-5565

 

Seafood market

1st Place
Andria’s Seafood Restaurant & Fish Market
1449 Spinnaker Dr., Suite A, Ventura
654-0546

2nd Place
Ocean Pride
2894 Bunsen Ave., Unit B, Ventura
644-4310

3rd Place
Sea Fresh Seafood
533 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai
646-7747

 

Best rubber stamps

StampCo

1754 E. Main St., Ventura, 648-4410, stampco.com

Once upon a time, Ventura County was a rubber stamp wonderland. I don’t mean for lawmakers who never saw a development they didn’t like – I mean for the people. With the last decade’s shocking collapse of Rubber Stamps Tools, South Coast Rubber Stamps and Violet’s Rubber Stamp Inn – all in Ventura – there’s only one place to turn to when you want rubber stamps made. StampCo’s motto, “Everyone needs at least one rubber stamp!” couldn’t be timelier.

stampStamps, when you design them yourself, are as much a statement about who you are as a person as they are statements of fact. What does it say about the psyche of a person who repeatedly uses an “Urgent” or “Original” stamp? And, of course, there’s something satisfying about the thump of stamp on paper as you exercise your power in the most viciously officious way possible. I needed a stamp recently – just a little something that said BLACK LOVE on it in big fat capital letters. I went in, they sized it up, charged me a phenomenally nominal price and, in a day or two, I was stamping faintly scandalizing text hither and yon.

So whether it’s pre-inked stamps, refill inks for your old stamp pads, signature stamps for when you’re too lazy to pick up a pen, hand stamps for your next all-ages concert or shiny date stamps for those perfect days you want to remember forever, StampCo is the absolute best in Ventura, if not the absolute last in Ventura.

— David Cotner

 

 

Shoe store

1st Place
Wild Planet
560 E. Main St., Ventura
643-5238

2nd Place
wetSand
446 E. Main St., Ventura
652-1706

3rd Place
Inside Track Multisport
38 W. Main St., Ventura
643-1104

 

Skateboard shop

1st Place
Five Points Skateshop
2787 E. Main St., Ventura
652-1432

2nd Place
One Way Boardshop
4300 E. Main St., Suite B, Ventura
642-6927

3rd Place
Revolution Surf Co.
1775 Daily Dr., Suite C Camarillo
383-1288

 

Smoke shop

1st Place
Salzer’s Records
5777 Valentine Rd., Ventura
639-2160

2nd Place
Pipeline Smoke Shop
228 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
643-4420

3rd Place
Wild Side Smoke Shop
1750 E. Los Angeles Ave., Suite D, Simi Valley
577-8298;

1861 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks
371-4941;

2850 Johnson Dr., Suite C, Ventura
644-4060;

608 E. Main St., Ventura
652-0882

 

Surf shop

1st Place
Ventura Surf Shop
88 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura
643-1062

2nd Place
wetSand
446 E. Main St., Ventura
652-1706

3rd Place
One Way Boardshop
4300 E. Main St., Suite B, Ventura
642-6927

 

Swimwear store

1st Place
Ventura Swimwear
1559 Spinnaker Dr., Suite 102, Ventura
642-6281

2nd Place
wetSand
446 E. Main St., Ventura
652-1706

3rd Place
Tiki Girl
451 E. Main St., Suite 4, Ventura
643-4800

 

Thrift store

1st Place
Goodwill
3351 Telegraph Rd., Ventura
650-9339;

404 E. Main St., Ventura
641-1101;

330 W. Sixth St., Oxnard
483-2511;

476 W. Los Angeles Ave., Moorpark
531-0314;

530 E. Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley
526-5570;

858 E. Main St., Santa Paula
933-3020;

267 Arneil Rd., Camarillo
455-9196;

745 W. Ventura St., Fillmore
524-4708

145 W. Hillcrest Dr., Thousand Oaks

2nd Place
The ARC Foundation of Ventura County Thrift Store
1-800-228-1413
265 E. Main St., Ventura
653-0271;

625 N. Oxnard Blvd., Oxnard

3rd Place
Salvation Army Thrift Store
4100 Telegraph Rd., Ventura
658-7671

 

Toy store

1st Place
Serendipity Toys
221 E. Matilija St., Suite E, Ojai
646-2585

2nd Place
Wild Planet
560 E. Main St., Ventura
643-5238

3rd Place
Harbor Wind & Kite
1575 Spinnaker Dr., Ventura
654-0900

 

Video gaming store

1st Place
Salzer’s Video
5801 Valentine Rd., Ventura
639-2169

2nd Place
Mero Games
2510 Las Posas Rd., Suite F, Camarillo
987-7070

3rd Place
Fillmore Video
359 Central Ave., Fillmore
524-4588

 

Video store

1st Place
Salzer’s Video 5801 Valentine Rd., Ventura
639-2169

2nd Place
Movie Town
1880 E. Main St., Ventura
643-3400

3rd Place
A View to Video
3757 W. Hemlock St., Oxnard
984-4900;

4807 S. Rose Ave., Oxnard
488-2553

 

Women’s clothing

1st Place
Blue Moon
600 E. Main St., Ventura
643-2553

2nd Place
Le Monde Emporium
542 E. Main St., Ventura
648-7463

3rd Place
wetSand
446 E. Main St., Ventura
652-1706