Goods & Services - Staff Picks
Published: July 18, 2012
Best indie convenience store
522 E. Amelia St., 407-423-8954
In the brave new world of Aldis, Super Targets and Walmarts (not to mention 7-Elevens), Handy Pantry, located in the middle of Lake Eola Heights, recalls the charm of old-timey corner stores like those still found up in New Jersey or Massachusetts. Literally a mom-and-pop shop – a mother and father practically live there seven days a week – Handy Pantry offers a decent selection of wine and beer to accompany your typical snack-bag fare. But the real treat is the homemade sandwiches; the deli counter offers a variety of them named after downtown streets (our favorite is the Cathcart!), which you can eat there or rush home with in your laundry-day sweats. They also play host to the neighborhood association's annual block party, which is more fun than it might sound.
Best museum store
Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
445 N. Park Ave., Winter Park
Technically, there are probably more adventurous museum gift shops out there – ones that sell a wider variety of the tchotchkes and trinkets and coffee mugs and so forth that have become de rigueur at most museum gift shops. We like the gift shop at the Morse because, like the Morse itself, it's true to form. It focuses on American arts-and-crafts inspired pottery, glassworks, jewelry and bowls, stained-glass panels and accessories modeled on the designs of Louis Comfort Tiffany, to whom this museum is dedicated.
Best place to buy local art in your underwear
Twelve21 Gallery online store
Twelve21, already rockin' it since 2010 with exhibitions of local art stars and lesser-known discoveries, has added online shopping to the mix with their new website. Check the store, put some art in your cart, and choose shipping or local pickup: easier than Amazon. (Actually, there's no good reason you couldn't go to one of the openings in your underwear. Just don't tell them it was our idea.)
1800 E. Colonial Drive
We were sad when we heard last year that Sam Flax was moving out of its longtime location on the corner of Shine Avenue and Colonial Drive. In our minds, that was the Sam Flax building: Quirky and loud from streetview, complete with a portrait of the business' founder and a mural by Orlando artist Andrew Spear painted on the side, and packed to the hilt with paints, easels, pastels, canvases, portfolios – a working artist's store if ever there was one. But then we saw what they had in store for the new space, just up the road in an old furniture gallery on Colonial. Lots of room to browse, an expanded retail space for gifts and stationary, plenty of floor space for demos, workshops and classes and art markets in the parking lot on weekends. And if we missed the artwork on the old building, the new artwork is even more impressive: Spear's company, Metro Finishes, painted the facade of the building to make it look like it was inspired by Mondrian, and three more murals by local artists – Spear, Swamburger and Charles Marklin – grace the wall next to the store entrance. It's a welcome jolt of color and energy on an otherwise dull strip of Colonial Drive.