Shopping and Spending

your choices for the Chippewa Valley’s best in Shopping and Spending

V1 Staff, illustrated by Erik Christenson

BEST THRIFT STORE

1st Place: Savers
2nd Place: Hope Gospel Mission (tied)
2nd Place: Goodwill (tied)
3rd Place: My Best Friend’s Closet

The Chippewa Valley is a proverbial powerhouse of secondhand shopping. And if the Valley is the Roman Empire of frugal spending, then Eau Claire is Rome itself. It has massive amounts of garage sales, but its joie de vivre is the thrift stores. Savers (2833 Mall Dr) tops your list of favorites, likely due to its clothing options or the revolving colored tags that dictate your savings. Hope Gospel Mission (2511 W Moholt Dr), tied for second, is a juggernaut of selection with a furniture showroom, tons of clothes, and walls of home décor. Goodwill (3605 Gateway Dr, Eau Claire, and 2500 Hils Ct), also tied for second, may look small in comparison to Hope Gospel, but don’t let that fool you; there are some serious gems waiting to be discovered here. My Best Friend’s Closet (3001 London Road), a fairly new store to Eau Claire, placed third, and I’m told it’s the place to go if you’re looking to buy (or sell) name-brand clothing. – Trevor Kupfer


BEST DVD RENTAL PLACE

1st Place: Family Video
2nd Place: LE Phillips Memorial Library
3rd Place: Netflix

When it comes to renting flicks, the Chippewa Valley likes a nice, wide selection to suit all possible moods and, perhaps more importantly, we like ’em cheap. As your favorite rental facility, Family Video (2706 Golf Rd and 10 W Madison St) satisfies both requirements with loads of educational, kids, “favorites,” classics, and new movies, many of which are about $1. Never in my life have I encountered a library with the multimedia selection of LE Phillips Memorial Library (400 Eau Claire St), which has thousands of movies from documentaries and classics, to rare arthouse finds and even new releases. Netflix, meanwhile, is the internet-savvy way to go, with thousands of titles at your fingertips for browsing and even ones for instant viewing, all for a reasonable monthly rate. – Trevor Kupfer
 

BEST PLACE OPEN 24 HOURS

1st Place: Kwik Trip
2nd Place: Walgreens
3rd Place: Perkins

For the second year in a row, Kwik Trip, Walgreens, and Perkins have been voted the best places in the Chippewa Valley open 24 hours. Known for a variety of always-fresh Café Karuba coffee, Kwik Trip is a Midwestern convenience store chain whose locations throughout the Chippewa Valley mean that residents never have far to go for a late-night caffeine fix or a quick run for dinner (Take n’ Bake pizza, anyone?). Coming in second, Walgreens on South Hastings Way is one of the only places around where you can get photos developed and prescriptions filled at two in the morning … and while you are waiting for those items to be ready, drive a few blocks north to the third-place winner and enjoy a plate of blueberry French toast dripping with cream and sugar in the family-friendly dining atmosphere that is Perkin’s Restaurant & Bakery (2025 Highland Ave.) – Emily Thierfelder


BEST GROCERY STORE

1st Place: Festival Foods
2nd Place: Just Local Food Co-Op
3rd Place: Mega Foods

Apparently, their “boomerang theory” is working – for the second year in a row, Festival Foods (3007 Mall Dr.) is officially the best grocery store in the Chippewa Valley. Whether you’re there to enjoy the store’s Sunday-morning special on hot ham and rolls, browse two full aisles of organic foods and other products, or pick up some freshly made sushi rolls, this place really has “great stuff … for not a lotta money.” Coming in second is Eau Claire’s own Just Local Food Cooperative (new location at 1117 South Farwell St.), a worker-owned business that offers fairly traded meat, produce, dairy products, and even beer from local and regional suppliers. Rounding out third place is Mega Foods. With two locations in Eau Claire and one in Chippewa Falls, this supermarket has expanded from a co-op founded in 1935 to a company that has divisions in the car-care industry (Mega Oil & Lube and Mega Splash car wash) as well as convenience stores (Mega Express). – Emily Thierfelder

Menomonie Pick: Menomonie Market
 

BEST WOMEN’S CLOTHING STORE

1st Place: TJ Maxx
2nd Place: Kohl’s
3rd Place: Sandy’s Clothing and Art

If you are in a rush, the first choice for Best Women’s Clothing Store is probably not the option for you. But if you’re willing to dig a little, then TJ Maxx (4070 Commonwealth Ave.) will prove to be a treasure trove of brand-name women’s clothing, shoes, and household items – all at prices much less expensive than typical retail stores. If wallet-friendly shopping is your thing, then the second choice is just as good as TJ Maxx. It seems that there is always a sale at Kohl’s (3711 Gateway Dr.), no matter what day you decide to shop... and with their new line of Simply Vera Vera Wang clothing, it is easy to find stylish pieces at the right price. Finally, the third-place winner stands out a bit as it is hard to find brand-name items there. Rather, Sandy’s Clothing & Art (115 W. Grand Ave.) offers individually selected clothing, art, jewelry, and more; you are virtually guaranteed to find a unique piece of clothing to show off to your friends. – Emily Thierfelder


BEST MEN’S CLOTHING STORE

1st Place: Kohl’s
2nd Place: Savers
3rd Place: JC Penney

Well, that puts the argument to rest – the men of Eau Claire are clearly fashion-conscious, trendy, sharp-looking … we’re sorry, we are laughing too hard to finish that sentence. Seriously, though, Kohl’s (3711 Gateway Dr.) is a great store for clothes shopping – they carry some top-notch brands (Dockers, Sonoma, and many more), everything is on sale all the time, and you can buy every stitch of clothing you would ever need, from suit jackets to underwear. Savers (2833 Mall Dr.), of course, is one of Eau Claire’s premier second-hand clothing stores, where you can also buy everything from suit jackets to, well, underwear, we guess, but that’s up to you. JC Penney (4770 Golf Rd.) tends towards the higher-end clothing shoppers, but we’re still not talking DKNY. So, the men of Eau Claire are in fact spiffy, but in a thrifty sort of way. – Eric Rasmussen
 

BEST PLACE FOR SHOES

1st Place: Rogan’s
2nd Place: Macy’s
3rd Place: Kohl’s

If you need new kicks, the Chippewa Valley offers quite a few places where trained professionals can size you up and offer sound arch-related advice. While those places are nice, V1 readers appreciate a different shoe shopping strategy – head to one giant building with every type of shoe imaginable and constant buy-one-get-one-half-off sales and just go nuts. Rogan’s Shoes (3015 E. Hamilton) is a shoe lover’s nirvana, especially when they erect the giant circus tent o’ shoe deals out in the parking lot every summer. Macy’s (4800 Golf Rd.) stepped into second place this year, adding a little high-class fashion to our shoe locale list. The omnipresent Kohl’s (3711 Gateway Dr.), Wisconsin’s own one-stop department store for slick couture and stylin’ tennies, came in third. Lace ‘em up. – Eric Rasmussen

Really?: One clever person answered, “On my feet.”


BEST PLACE FOR GIFTS

1st Place: Eclectica on Grand
2nd Place: Truckers Union
3rd Place: Avalon Floral

Shopping for that special someone? Or maybe for someone not so special, but they have everything already, so what the heck are you going to get them? Then we’ve got three top-notch gift store gems for you. In first place: Eclectica on Grand (106 W Grand Ave.). The name says it all. It is has everything – antiques, jewelry from around the world, local art, and a dog to welcome you. (But he’s not for sale.) Not to mention, everything is unique, so you’ll be sure that whomever you’re buying for won’t already have it. Coming in second, Truckers Union (413 Water St) covers all your hilarious card, flower child, and poster needs. From carved boxes and wall hangings to rings and t-shirts, this place is great for your hard-to-buy-for cooky friends. Avalon Floral (430 Water St.) comes in third with elegant choices for not only flowers, but also decorative items for your stylish friends. The vases and candle holders come in rich, vibrant colors to match anyone’s mood. And you can always find a little something to add to your home. – Ashley F. Dziuk

Up-and-Comer: Cadeaux (312 S. Barstow St.) took fourth


BEST BOOKSTORE

1st Place: Borders
2nd Place: Crossroad Books
3rd Place: Wax Paper Etc

Nothing says knowledge like a good book, and when it comes to bookstores, the Chippewa Valley likes theirs new, bright, and full of variety. With its late-night hours for evening browsers, diverse selection of books and events, and on-site coffee shop, Borders (4030 Commonwealth Ave.) takes the top spot when it comes to good reads. Borders removes the guesswork, making it convenient for the person on a mission and fun for customers who want to spend hours wandering the aisles taking in the colorful covers. Adding to the flavor of downtown, Crossroad Books (301 S. Barstow St.) is the community’s second favorite bookstore. Housing more than 40,000 used and rare books, Crossroad Books specializes in literature about military history, American history, science and technology, theology, and Wisconsin and regional interests. And if you’re looking for a bit of a surprise along with a book, check out Wax Paper Etc (602 Water St.), the Chippewa Valley’s third choice for best bookstore. Mysterious and small, Wax Paper Etc holds huge piles of books and is a unique touch to Water Street. – JoAnna Haugen
 

BEST VETERINARIAN OR ANIMAL HOSPITAL

1st Place: Westgate Animal Hospital
2nd Place: Eau Claire Animal Hospital
3rd Place: Oakwood Hills Animal Hospital

Any veterinarian or animal clinic that has a real and sincere love for animals deserves some respect. Each of the three that earned kudos by V1 readers has been in town for a significant period of time, and many of the vets at Westgate, Eau Claire Animal Hospital, and Oakwood Hills are known for their community work and commitment to the animals of the Chippewa Valley. On the west side of town, Westgate (2135 N Clairemont Ave) — the Valley’s first choice for animal clinic — has undergone extensive facelifts over the years to accommodate newer technology, more examination rooms, and bigger boarding facilities. Readers chose Eau Claire Animal Hospital (2828 Mall Dr) as their second favorite veterinarian/animal clinic. Located on Mall Drive, this clinic is home to veterinarians who specialize in exotic animals and holistic medicine. And third, but certainly not last, is Oakwood Hills (4616 Commerce Valley Road), which has been honored with the prestigious Practice of Excellence designation from Veterinary Economics. All three truly are the cat’s meow. – JoAnna Haugen


BEST PET STORE

1st Place: Pet Food Plus
2nd Place: Tropic Waters Pet Center
3rd Place: Petco

In one incarnation or another, Pet Food Plus (3460 Mall Dr.) has been serving your kittie-, doggie-, birdie-, fishie-, and hamstery-based needs (and beyond) for over 20 years. The independently owned pet shop grabbed the top spot with their huge selection of pet food (duh), toys, and grooming products. Tropic Waters Pet Center (2513 E. Clairemont Ave.), another independent store, took second place, due in part to their selection of unique fish and other watery items. You voted chain store Petco (3731 Gateway Dr.) into third place, no doubt enjoying their wide aisles of merchandise – stacking everything from litter boxes to iguana treats – and in-store grooming service. – Mike Paulus
 

BEST TATTOO PARLOR

1st Place: Feed My Addiction
2nd Place: Artisan
3rd Place: A Brand New Tattoo

Feeling the itch to get inked? Feed My Addiction Tattoos (2614 London Rd.) trumps all the competition for the best place to get a tat. The award-winning parlor is home to two tattoo artists. Artist Mike’s custom portraits are so lifelike that you might try to start a conversation with one. Artisan (407 Water St.) is the Chippewa Valley’s next choice for sweet pain. The shop’s three artists and two locations offer custom and freehand tattoos. From floral to gothic designs, Artisan has something for everyone. For a fresh perspective, check out the most recent addition to the ink scene, A Brand New Tattoo (511 S. Barstow). The brand-new parlor is just approaching its one-year anniversary, and just relocated downtown. ABNT’s three artists have years of “skin time” under their belts, and offer the designs of leading artists, as well as very unique designs of their own. – Carrie A. Weiss


BEST MECHANIC’S SHOP

1st Place: Joel’s Water Street Auto
2nd Place: Rick’s Service Center
3rd Place: Happy Days Auto Body

It’s not an easy thing to hand your gas-guzzling, money-burning vehicle to just any old hack. You have to choose someone trustworthy enough not to stiff you on a simple oil change and one who will give you the necessary pointers to keep the thing running. And it never hurts to have a mechanic who can translate the problem when you simply make the sounds your car is making. Joel’s Water Street Auto (702 Water St.) is a great locale for those very reasons, not to mention the friendly donut man who signals you about the free donuts and coffee. Rick’s Service Center (718 S Barstow St) near the YMCA downtown and Happy Days Auto Body (1704 Spooner Ave., Altoona) also have the quality service and affordable prices you deserve, but sadly don’t have Fonzie. – Trevor Kupfer
 

BEST PLACE TO BUY A CAR

1st Place: Ken Vance
2nd Place: Markquart
3rd Place: Chilson

Despite what you may initially think, what makes a car dealership great is not the makes or models they carry. Sure, that’s part of it, but more importantly we look for their knowledge, negotiable prices, and customer service. And when you want to talk cars, you head to Ken Vance (2802 Lorch Ave), where they carry Pontiac, GMC, Honda, VW, Audi, Hyundai, Buick, and Caddies. Another solid choice, according to your votes, is Markquart (1111 W Clairemont Ave and 2191 S Prairie View Road, Chippewa Falls), where you can browse Toyotas and Chevies a-plenty. Chilson (3443 Hwy 93 and 2180 Hallie Road, Chippewa Falls), your third selection, is the place to be for a big selection of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Subaru, and Suzuki vehicles. – Trevor Kupfer


BEST FLORIST

1st Place: Avalon
2nd Place: Four Seasons
3rd Place: Brent Douglas

Flowers aren’t just for apologies. Whether it’s for nuptials, the office, or in-home design, first place florist Avalon (430 Water St.) knows what it takes to deliver an eye-catching collection of plant life. They even provide a local shopping service that will wrap and deliver anything sold locally. Second place goes to Four Seasons (117 W. Grand Ave.) for their impeccable array of floral arrangements. Like the greeting card section, they have every occasion and holiday covered. Brent Douglas (224 N. Dewey St.) takes third and offers a variety of set-ups for funerals, weddings, or any event that requires a professional touch. Plus they have a bathtub fish tank. Awesome. – Caitlin Heidbrink


BEST JEWELER

1st Place: Lasker Jewelers
2nd Place: Eric’s Diamonds & Fine Jewlery
3rd Place: Williams Diamond Center

All of your favorite local jewelers peddle an array of sparkly, shiny objects, from ankle bracelets to tiaras, but diamonds are on most people’s mind – and the Chippewa Valley has no shortage. Lasker Jewelers (3705 Oakwood Mall Dr.) is your No. 1 pick for the clear, caraty goodness, with their massive stone-faced store nestled next door to Oakwood Mall. Taking second place in local bling flinging is Eric’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry (111N. Bridge St., Chippewa Falls). They’ve been selling engagement rings and the like right in downtown Chippewa Falls since 1990. Known for their disarming Midwestern friendliness, Williams Diamond Center (2823 London Road # 4) grabbed third place. Mike Paulus


BEST SPA, BARBERSHOP, OR SALON

1st Place: Lotus Spa
2nd Place: The Hair Den
3rd Place: Starr’s Sister

Where can you relax, be pampered, and come out with a new look to boot? One of the Chippewa Valley’s top three locations for luxury is sure to offer a service to satisfy you. You voted Lotus Spa (4956 Bullis Farm Rd.) as the best in this category. The relaxation center invites members of both sexes to indulge in facials or body treatments, like the Look Better Naked Body Wrap. Another great option, according to your votes, is The Hair Den salon (201 Gibson St.). Totally devoted to luscious locks, The Hair Den offers a menu of pampering options like coloring, highlights, perms, and Aveda products. The full-service salon houses four stylists that keep their loyal customers coming back. Starr’s Sister (412 Water St.), who you voted into third, boasts an eclectically decorated interior. Enjoy the great tunes that are always playing while getting a new do that’s perfectly catered to your hair type. – Carrie A. Weiss

Chippewa Choice: The Garage Salon, 45 E. Elm St.


BEST CHIROPRACTOR

1st Place: Stucky Chiropractic
2nd Place: Wolter Chiropractic
3rd Place: Fall Creek Chiropractic

Your choices for the best chiropractors in the Chippewa Valley all have something in common (other than the fact that they’re chiropractors): their mission is to provide the very best care possible. Well, they’ve apparently succeeded. Stucky Chiropractic (2105 E Clairemont Ave and 3032 Commercial Blvd, Lake Hallie) houses seven chiropractors, the leader of which is Dr. Stucky, whose family includes 16 other chiropractors. In short, they know their stuff. Wolter Chiropractic (824 S Hastings Way) isn’t exactly a slouch, either, as he landed your second-place vote. As for the six friendly chiropractors at Fall Creek Chiropractic (237 W Lincoln Ave), well, you’ve got their back, too. – Trevor Kupfer

Up-and-Comer: Schleppenbach Family Chiropractic, 302 N. Barstow St.


BEST PLACE FOR A MASSAGE

1st Place: Lotus Spa
2nd Place: Sans Souci Massage
3rd Place: Gaia Massage and Yoga

Feel like you’re living in the lap of luxury and let reality melt away for 60 minutes. A great massage could be all you need to de-stress, but finding the perfect touch takes some narrowing. Retreat from the real world at the Lotus Spa (4956 Bullis Farm Rd.), a refuge for those seeking muscle relief or simply pampering. From Hot Stone massage to Deep Tissue, this spa has something for everyone. Sans Souci Massage (927 Loring St., Altoona) strives to relieve everyday aggravations. Offering a range of health-promoting massages, like Swedish massage and Ashiatsu, Sans Souci focuses on natural well being, without worries. Also centered on general well being is Gaia Massage and Yoga, (412 ½ Water St.). Stress reduction, flexibility, and improved Zs are just some of the benefits of a massage or yoga class at Gaia. – Carrie A. Weiss

Really?: “My back.”

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