In the first division of Best of Long Beach 2015, we asked you to tell us about your go-to stores and services that make life in Long Beach more manageable, more fun, more stylish and just all around better. These people and businesses have captured the hearts of Post readers, and represent the wide variety of shopping and service offerings thriving in our diverse, unique city.
These businesses will cater to your every whim, whether it means shaping those pesky eyebrows or providing a place for you to find the beautiful mid-century table you’ve been yearning for to outfit your stylish house.
So read on, Long Beachers. These 2015 Best of Long Beach 2015 winners are at your service.
Queen Mary Couture
Best Long Beach Boutique
By Stephanie Rivera
Photo courtesy of Queen Mary Couture.
In tune with its namesake, Queen Mary Couture boutique in Shoreline Village says its vintage-like products are what keep it popular.
Among the trendiest items are the shop’s dresses styled in the era of the ‘40s and ‘50s—a hot commodity among the rockabilly community, according to shop owner Martha Chacon.
However, the shop caters to other folks and other styles, too, she said. Having been situated aboard the Queen Mary for about nine years, they had to cater to locals and tourists alike.
“We really represent what Long Beach represents,” Chacon said. “The eclectic styles, everybody’s different tastes in Long Beach. We’re a little bit of everything.”
The store was originally opened in 2006 by Chacon’s late son Ernie Chacon Jr. When he died, she and her husband took over, continuing Ernie's vision with the same recipe for success, she said.
“It totally represents his style,” Chacon said. “He had an eye for fashion.”
Queen Mary Couture is located on 429-I Shoreline Village Drive in Shoreline Village where it has been since January 2015.
Best Eyebrow Artist in Long Beach
By Stephanie Rivera
Photo courtesy of Perfect Brows.
Eyebrows can be a very delicate matter. Not everyone has the same taste in style, and when it comes to removing those tender hairs... well, it can be painful, to say the least. With these factors in mind, Long Beach Post voters made their decision and named Perfect Brows their go-to place.
The key is in the artists themselves, said supervisor Ameet Toor, who are licensed and “among the best talent in the industry.”
“[The clients] know we put quality over everything else,” Toor said. “No matter who you get, you get one of the most talented artists from Southern California.”
The 3-and-a-half year-old business is known for its custom brow shaping—by threading or waxing—and tinting, according to Toor. Even though appointments are not offered for eyebrows, you won’t have to wait more than 15 to 20 minutes, even during peak hours, he said.
Perfect Brows is located at 203 Argonne Avenue in Belmont Shore. Eyebrow threading will cost you $9. Check out the Perfect Brows website for more information.
Long Beach Cyclery
Best Outdoor Recreation Business in Long Beach / Friendliest Bike Mechanics in Long Beach
By Asia Morris
Image courtesy of Long Beach Cyclery.
According to our readers, not only is Long Beach Cyclery the Best Outdoor Recreation Business in Long Beach—a city that loves to get out and enjoy some fresh air, and has a thriving outdoor recreation economy to match—but it is also home to the Friendliest Bicycle Mechanics in the city. Readers love Long Beach Cyclery for not only providing top-of-the-line mechanic services, but for making their customers feel welcome, too.
Brian Keate, nine-time state champion and owner and operator of La Habra Cyclery, opened Long Beach Cyclery in 2011.
“I feel honored to have won this,” he told the Post. “We were in a category with some other good shops. I have been doing this for about 28 years, and it's nice to see that people have taken notice on the good and honest service that I take pride in providing.”
The spot serves one of the country's most bicycle-friendly community's cycling endeavors by hosting their own early morning ride out of the shop on Saturdays, and by always welcoming the little pedalers of Bixby Knolls’ monthly Kidical Mass.
Long Beach Cyclery is also the main sponsor of the locally-coveted El Dorado race series, which runs Tuesday evenings starting in March through September. The shop continues to take pride in serving everyone’s needs, from the beginner to the most elite, both inside and outside of the shop’s doors.
For more information about Long Beach Cyclery, click here. Long Beach Cyclery is located at 3750 Long Beach Boulevard.
MADE in Long Beach
Best Place in Long Beach to Find Something for Everyone
By Jason Ruiz
It’s been just over a year since DW Ferrell shouldered the task of transforming some 12,000 square feet of vacant Pine Avenue shop space into a melting pot of creativity for local makers to sell their goods.
Whether you’re looking for locally-produced avocado oil, a beard brush for a hirsute friend or have a yearning to quell the afternoon lull with a locally-roasted cold brew, MADE in Long Beach is a one-stop shop.
“We really listen to our customers and what they ask for and we also have so many creative individuals and businesses with products that are continually evolving and it’s almost like we’re making a match,” Ferrell said.
The store is set up in a classic department store fashion, however, instead of the wares being mass-produced by global conglomerates, the aprons, soaps and jewelry found inside MADE are crafted by people from the community.
The idea to open the store was kind of a no-brainer Ferrell said, as it was his belief that the supply in terms of consumers was there, they just needed an avenue to allow them to more easily locate goods from local crafters.
“I think in Long Beach there’s already amazing pride for the community but there just wasn’t a place where all those goods from local makers were under one roof,” Ferrell said. “When we opened, it was very clear that there was some pent up demand to support the local economy and local makers.”
Ferrell said the future of MADE is bright, as he continues to get multiple applications per day from businesses hoping to co-locate inside the brick and mortar store on Pine. Last month, it served home to a 300-pound gingerbread house, and in late February, it will host a Snoop Dogg photography show focusing on the Long Beach legend’s early years.
Best Place to Work Up a Sweat
By Keeley Smith
Long Beach's Barre Relevé is a hit with the local, mostly—but by no means exclusively—lady, crew of workout aficionados.
Barre Relevé co-founder Shayla Taylor Dunfee attributes their wild success after just two years in the business to their sense of community and combination of cardio with toning.
“Not only is Barre Relevé an awesome workout, with high-impact cardio and toning, people are friends here,” said Barre Relevé co-founder Shayla Taylor Dunfee. “They hang out after class.”
Founded in 2013 by Taylor Dunfee and her husband, Mike, the workout style was meant to focus on the dancing and cardio element of ballet barre exercises—not just toning.
“The classes I was attending had very little to do with actual ballet,” said Taylor Dunfee about getting started in the boutique barre workout craze. “My husband and I decided to found something with a ballet base.”
So far, so good. Cementing a partnership with the local dance community, especially the dance program at Cal State Long Beach, Taylor Dunfee said the response has been phenomenal, allowing women who weren’t dancers in the past to commit to a new routine that makes them feel beautiful.
“If a woman always wanted to dance as a kid but never had the chance, she can become the dancer she was always meant to be,” said Taylor Dunfee.
What’s probably even more entertaining is when unsuspecting men try their hand at the workout.
“It’s interesting... when guys come, they get their asses kicked,” said Taylor Dunfee, laughing.
Photos courtesy of Barre Relevé.
El Dorado Nature Center
Best Place to Get Your Mind Right in Long Beach
By Asia Morris
Image courtesy of El Dorado Nature Center.
El Dorado Nature Center is an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Long Beach’s urban clash of noises. Walking the trail is a breath of fresh air in a quiet space, aside from the sounds of birds chirping or other visitors enjoying the path.
If you’re looking for a place to gather your thoughts or to simply find the space to think them, two miles of dirt trails, two lakes, a stream and a forested area will welcome you with open arms (or branches).
Not only is the nature center a place to find solitude, but it’s a spot for families to spend time, as well. Local Sheila Parker posted recently on the center’s Facebook wall, saying “Our Mom took most of her grandchildren here from 1981 on. She adored this place, this refuge, a place to show the wonders of Nature to her grandkids. Mom was a kid at heart and was filled with wonder always. Wonderful place for families to experience together!”
If you’re looking for a more organized experience, the nature center also offers tons of programming where you can learn a thing or two about the Long Beach sanctuary, including the birds and other creatures that have made their habitats there. The nature center’s next class will be Birdwatching 101 on Saturday, February 6 at 9:00AM.
Pussy and Pooch
Best Pet Shop in Long Beach
By Stephanie Rivera
Though Pussy & Pooch Pethouse and Pawbar won for best pet shop in Long Beach, its services extend far beyond any normal shop. In fact, the place offers customers (and their furred, feathered and scaled friends) a certain lifestyle with each product and service it provides.
Customers look to Pussy & Pooch for high-quality pet products and everyday pet essentials, including ultra-premium organic, raw, dehydrated and traditional pet food and pet treats, organic pet grooming and spa products and eco-friendly toys at its boutique and retail stores, according to its website.
It’s unique in-store pet cafe, Pawbar, serves freshly-prepared raw meals or treats to order, and pet companions can eat it to go or at the store’s patio. There are also pet grooming and pet spa options tailored for every budget.
The business is also very active with and in the community, offering training classes, Monthly Mutt Mingles and Monthly Meow Mingles, taking part in pet adoptions, DLBA special events and annual dog parades.
Pussy & Pooch is located in Belmont Shore at 4818 East Second Street and in downtown Long Beach at 222 East Broadway. For more information, visit their website, here.
Bixby Knolls Car Wash
Best Car Wash in Long Beach
By Keeley Smith
Photos by Keeley Smith.
Long Beachers overwhelmingly trust their ride a winner that is as much focused on its customer service as it is on a clean car—inside and out.
The Bixby Knolls Car Wash has served many a Long Beach elected official, including former Long Beach Mayor Beverly O’ Neill, multiple members of Congress, and various police officials, a veritable who’s who of Long Beach figures, according to the manager Ramon Paz.
Paz has been with the car wash for 35 years, since its infancy. Prior to its founding on Wardlow Road, it was just a simple Exxon Mobile gas station.
“[Owner Shell Grossman] build a coin-operated car wash, and built from there,” said Paz, expanding to their full-service car wash in the mid-70s and early 80s.
Paz said it was their service that sets them apart from other machine-operated car washes in the area.
“It’s definitely our attention to the customer,” he said. “If there is any customer complaint—there is no argument. The customer is always first.”
Paz said the care the company takes with employees also puts it in good standing with the community.
Cars going the full-service route are treated to a vacuuming, a car wash done by hand, and a tire shine. Other options include waxing and detailing.
For more information, visit the car wash’s website, here. The Bixby Knolls Car Wash is located at 577 East Wardlow Road.
Best Place in Long Beach to Decorate Your Home
By Keeley Smith
Sitting near a Walgreens and Alex’s Bar just off of Anaheim, Urban Americana is an almost-hidden gem that serves up Long Beach’s favorite home decor.
Vintage fireplace? Check. Industrial rolling cart? Vintage industrial bar stools? Check and check. There’s even a vast supply of super-trendy mid-century furniture relics, waiting for you to deck out the mid-mod pad of your dreams.
“I think that we offer something that has been hard to find in Long Beach, which is a large selection of vintage furniture & decor for you home,” said Urban Americana Owner Chris Geer. “When I bought my first home, I found myself driving to LA to find furnishings and I wanted to change that.”
In an article written a few months after the store opened, Geer elaborated on his inspiration for the space.
“We wanted to create an urban space that harkens to antiques—just a little different with wider aisles, higher ceilings, and skylights,” Geer said. “The skylights pretty much make it so that we don’t have a single light on in here. It’s urban but it’s welcoming.”
Urban Americana has it all, Brian Addison wrote of the opening, from early 1900s photographs to apothecary remnants, taxidermy art to Victorian sconces, space after space showcases the individual style of the vendor.
“My favorite part of the store is actually the building itself,” said Geer. “We restored a 16,000 square foot Mid-Century warehouse and I enjoy being here everyday. I have a few things from my personal collection here that are not for sale, and those are probably my favorite items. I have a collection of approximately 200 vintage skateboards from the ‘50s and ‘60s and people respond really well to those.”
Urban Americana is located at 1345 Coronado Ave. For more information, visit their website here.
Tune in tomorrow, when we'll reveal your top picks in the Food & Drink division.