The Readers’ Choice for favorite bicycle shop is Menlo Velo Bicycles, an old school bicycle shop committed to the cycling community. Featured bicycles include those by Masi, Breezer, Specialized and Yuba. Owner Rainer Zaechelein says: “We do a quality job and take pride in our work,” emphasizing the shop’s dedication to consistently good customer service. He also adds that the shop’s newest addition of “more and more electric bikes ... that’s the exciting future of bicycles. More and more people are getting on bikes because of the electric bike.” Readers says that whether you are a racer, casual cyclist, or bicycle commuter, Menlo Velo Bicycles has the bikes for you.
433 El Camino Real, Menlo Park | 327-5137
Alys Grace, this year’s Readers’ Choice winner for favorite boutique, attracts customers with its distinctive selection of designer clothing and accessories, says owner Tiger Bachler, owner of this upscale women’s clothing boutique. “We strive to be your ’go to’ boutique, whether you shop locally or online,” the owner says.
899B Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | 322-5524
With more than 20 years of experience, Menlo Flooring and Design is a family-owned company that won this year’s Readers’ Choice award in the floor coverings category. “We have good old fashioned customer service,” which makes it easy for customers to design the flooring they want, says owner Eugene Perez. The business just remodeled the store with an easy-to-navigate showroom that provides a wide selection of flooring systems to accommodate the needs of customers, he says.
905 El Camino Real, Menlo Park | 305-1099
As The Great Frame Up approaches its 25th year, owner Marcy Magatelli says she continues to put service in the center of it all. In her third year on Santa Cruz Avenue, she says 50 percent of her customers are new. That’s because, many say, that they do not normally stroll down El Camino Real, where she was originally located. Ms. Magatelli has become an expert in needlepoint framing and has added a line of custom-designed molded frames.
865 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | 323-1097
NURSERY, GIFT & NOVELTY SHOP
Ladera Garden & Gifts won 2014 Readers’ Choice awards in two categories: nursery and gift and novelty. “Well, I think that’s wonderful. We have a very great community who support us,” says Mercedes Navarro, co-owner with her husband Juan. The gift shop carries a range of items, from $5 to $100, Ms. Navarro says, adding that the plant selection is diverse, more diverse than what you tend to find in a chain store.
3130 Alpine Road, Suite 380, Portola Valley | 854-3850
Richard Draeger, one of the owners of Draeger’s Market, says shoppers keep returning to the store because of “a really unique assortment of products that are made locally by artisans in the food industry.” Because the store is a small, locally owned and operated company, “we are probably best connected with the local producers,” Mr. Draeger said. The Draeger’s stores, which now are in four locations, “have strong relationships with local growers, wine makers and food producers,” he said. Richard Draeger is one of the 10 Draeger children in his generation, four of whom he “works with on a day-in, day-out basis,” he says. Some of their children are now working in the business, the fourth generation of family members to do so. The stores now have more than 600 employees. Richard Draeger says he was only about 12 when he started working at the Menlo Park store. “We all started as baggers and checkers,” during summer and other school holidays, he says. “That’s how we got our start.” Draeger’s was founded in 1925 by Gustave Draeger, who emigrated from what is now Poland. Gustave’s sons, Frank and Gustave Jr., expanded the stores, with Frank, who is Richard Draeger’s father, eventually buying out his brother. Frank Draeger operated five stores in San Francisco, but sold them and decided to concentrate on the Peninsula after World War II. When Frank’s children got involved in the store they once again expanded operations.
1010 University Drive, Menlo Park | 324-7700
Winning in the category of hardware store for the ninth year in a row is Menlo Park Ace Hardware. Manager Vasile Oros credits the store’s success to its efficiency. “Customers walk in and we solve their problems,” he says. In addition to stocking shelves with tools, outdoor essentials, electrical equipment, and more, the store offers repair and installation services. Recently, a gardening department was added next door, which, Mr. Oros says, has gotten “a really good response.”
700 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | 325-2515
HOME DECOR & FURNISHINGS
For 22 years, the Almanac’s readers have given Flegel’s Home Furnishings a Readers’ Choice award. The business, which has involved three generations of the Flegel family, is celebrating this year the 60th anniversary of its founding in 1954. The store’s quality, including prestige furniture lines, such as Stickley, Baker, McGuire and Henredon, attracts not only Silicon Valley titans, but a world-wide clientele for both home and office furnishings. Professional interior designers are available to help shoppers, at no additional cost, find exactly what they are looking for.
870 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | 326-9661
Tom Wing & Sons in Menlo Park has a very different character from that of a typical jewelry store. The Menlo Park location, where Tom Wing & Sons moved in 2007, is a place of serenity, in the words of George Tom, who is president of the business. Kuan Lin (Chinese goddess of mercy) overlooks cases filled with fine jades, cultured pearls, diamonds and gemstones. Each piece is unique and has its own character that becomes a part of its customer’s life. George Tom and his four siblings carry on the tradition started by their father, Tom Wing Kee, in San Francisco in 1961.
888 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | 326-0888
For high quality European lingerie, readers say they prefer Ela Lingerie, a full-service boutique with a large inventory of elegant lingerie and sleepwear in a wide range of sizes. Co-owner Marcia De Lima says the shop specializes in personal service and carefully selects merchandise from manufactures and designers. The store is designed with antiques and soft lighting to create a relaxing environment. Customers with special needs can special order merchandise to their liking.
1139 Chestnut St., Menlo Park | 796-0768
NEW RETAIL BUSINESS
The winner for favorite new retail business is Traditionally Derby, which many readers say is Menlo Park’s new go-to place for furniture and home accessories. Taking over the site formerly occupied by Traditions, Traditionally Derby features a wide selection of traditional and transitional household items, including Kindel Furniture, works of art from Dorothy Draper, and painted Italian urns. Owner Eileen Bocci says the staff is made up of friendly customer service employees and experienced interior designers. “If you have a vision for what you want to achieve,” the store’s website says, “our goal is to help you accomplish that vision.”
850 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | 521-0778
The Pet Place owners Lynn and Marc Macy are devoted to serving both animals and their human companions. The store offers a wide selection of products and goes the distance in helping solve problems and meet needs, from finding the right diet to referring a customer to a veterinarian, sitter or trainer. The Pet Place hosts rescue groups and shelters, and helps with adoptions and in finding temporary and permanent homes for animals.
777 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | 325-7387
Receiving an already opened package of dried mangos as a gift might raise some eyebrows (something this writer experienced), but knowing that it came from Sigona’s Farmers Market makes it more acceptable. And wow, so many choices — more than 250 kinds of artisan cheese alone — all fresh, organic and locally grown. The open-air market offers fresh-cut flowers, seasonal olive oils, and microbrews and wine, in addition to fruits and vegetables. It can be hard to resist.
39 Stanford Shopping Center, 180 El Camino Real, Palo Alto | 368-6993
Jim Gothers, co-owner with wife Lisa Taggart of Fleet Feet Sports, winner for best shoe store, says customers “love the personalized attention, the inclusive, non-judgmental approach, and education that our people provide.” The staff genuinely cares about helping people get into the right gear to help them achieve their fitness goals, he says. The store offers weekly fun runs and training groups, including two starting in August: training for the Nike half-marathon and the “No Boundaries” program for beginning runner who want to finish a 5K. “We make all runners feel welcome, whether they are trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, training for an ultra, or simply looking to get off their couch and trying to complete their first 5k,” says Mr. Gothers.
859 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | 325-9432 |
Readers again chose Beltramo’s Wines and Spirits as their favorite specialty store — the place to go when they want to find a wide range of beers, spirits, and wines from around the world. The Menlo Park institution was founded in 1882 by Giovanni Beltramo, and it remains a family-owned business. “I think what keeps our customers coming back is our staff,” says co-owner Diana Beltramo Hewitt. “We have one of the most knowledgeable staffs around, ... they’re tasting wines five days a week, and not depending on what somebody else says about the wine.” The same goes for the beer and spirits specialists, she says. “They all have the personal knowledge so they can help people find good matches for what they’re looking for in any price range.” The store has wine tastings every Saturday, and beer and spirits tasting every other Friday. Look for some “really good wines from Bordeaux” coming in over the next few months, Ms. Beltramo Hewitt says.
1540 El Camino Real, Menlo Park | 325-2806
Cheeky Monkey Toys is the store to visit, say readers, not just for children, but anyone young at heart. Its shelves are stocked with quality, interactive toys for people of all ages. Currently, favorite toys include the popular family game SET and the Shrinky Dinks 3-D Fairy Garden. Cheeky Monkey recently hosted a Creativity Can event, where children and adults were challenged to imagine, create and share, after being given cans and simple materials such as feathers and wood sticks. The store has held its title in the Readers’ Choice awards for 14 years.
640 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park | 328-7975
The eclectic taste of Atherton Fine Art owner Mark Gallagher shows in the gallery’s diverse range of featured artists, including Daniel Bayless, Larry Calof and Mark Dubovoy. Mr. Gallagher says he is excited about the gallery’s upcoming exhibit of works by Marty Ricks, whose oil paintings reflect memories of time spent in California hills and riverbeds. In addition to showcasing artists, the gallery does framing. Mr. Gallagher says the gallery offers the latest technology in matte-cutting, with the Wizard 8000 computerized mat-cuter and a large format Bienfang mounting press.
700 El Camino Real Suite #165, Menlo Park | 324-4278