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That Jay Parrish of Renaissance Auto Care must perform some miracles, winning best mechanic hands down.

Readers and, we assume, well coifed customers helped Von Kekel rinse away the competition in best hair styling.

It's a little too late to add emphasis on the words local in the best local bookstore and best local pharmacy categories. We were looking for something, uh, local—that means CVS and Barnes & Noble don't qualify. Sorry.

Best Local Bookstore: Quail Ridge Bookstore
Honorable Mention: The Regulator Bookshop

Best Clothing Boutique: Uniquities
Honorable Mention: Modern Times, Stomping Grounds, Fantasia

Best Retail Beer Selection: Peace Street Market
Honorable Mention: Sam's Quick Mart, The Fresh Market, Harris Teeter

Best Retail Wine Selection: Total Wine and More
Honorable Mention: Seaboard, A Southern Season

Best Vintage Clothing: Time After Time
Honorable Mention: Goodwill, Beggars and Choosers

Best Thrift Store: Goodwill
Honorable Mention: Bargain Box, PTA, E Z Elegance

Best Video Store: Blockbuster
Honorable Mention: Visart, North American Video

Best Antique Store: Father and Sons Antiques
Honorable Mention: Carolina Antique Mall

Best Bicycle Shop: Spin Cycle
Honorable Mention: All Star Bike Shops, The Clean Machine

Best Flower Shop: Montgomery's Florist
Honorable Mention: Fallons Creative Flowers, Whole Foods Market

Best Place for Shoes: SRI Shoe Warehouse
Honorable Mention: Nordstrom, Rackroom

Best Jewelry Store: Bailey's Fine Jewelry
Honorable Mention: Godfrey's Fine Jewelers, Jewelsmith

Best Place to Buy Lingerie: Adam & Eve
Honorable Mention: Victoria's Secret, Priscilla's

Best Auto Mechanic: Jay Parrish of Renaissance Auto Care
Honorable Mention: Marvin Capps of Cary Honda

Best Hair Stylist/ Salon: Von Keckel Salon Spa
Honorable Mention: Cherrybomb Hair Studio

Best Local Pharmacy: Hayes Barton Pharmacy
Honorable Mention: Sutton's Drug Store

Best Photo Lab: Wolf Camera
Honorable Mention: CVS

Best Tattoo Artist: Warlock's Tattoo Inc.
Honorable Mention: Blue Flame, Dog Star

Best Veterinarian: Petsmart
Honorable Mention: Parkway Animal Hospital, Quail Corners, N.C. State vet school

Best Little Nonprofit Gig with Bikes: Pedals for Progress

In the category of "each one, do something," here's what UNC computer lab guy Dan Gatti did. He read about Pedals for Progress, a project started in New Jersey by a former Peace Corps volunteer, and he said: "That sounds like a cool idea. Maybe I can help them."

P4P, as it's called, is simple enough. It collects the old bicycles that are collecting dust in American barns and basements, and ships them to places in the Third World where bikes are a useful, much-appreciated means of transportation. In the Triangle, P4P is Dan Gatti. Several times a year, he sets up in a public place--a church, a shopping mall--and takes in our unused bikes. Good condition, bad condition, whatever. Then he rents a van and drives the bikes to a P4P storage place in Washington, D.C. From there, it's into a shipping container and onto the high seas.

Repairs are done by P4P's various nonprofit partners in the receiving countries, where bike repair know-how is also a useful thing.

Gatti, who lives in Durham, averages 50 bikes per collection day, which strikes us as a good haul. We get a note from him to our "Act Now" column whenever he's about to go into action, and we always assumed he had some help, but no--"it's pretty much just me," he says. He makes all the arrangements, does the publicity, collects the bikes, stores them in a shed, then drives them up to the van. Anyone want to help him? "If there's anybody out there who would," he says, "I'd love to hear from them."

Look for Dan Gatti Saturday, April 24, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the REI store in Cary's Crossroads shopping center. On Saturday, May 1, he'll be in Wake Forest at North Wake Church, 1212 S. Main St., also 10-2. P4P asks for a $10 donation to help with shipping costs. None of that goes to Dan, by the way. His phone number at home: 602-1445.

Best Bargain in Dry Cleaning: Dry Clean Warehouse

We've often wondered if The News & Observer's tendency to lead off every article about Chapel Hill with some reference to its "cozy village-like atmosphere" is secret code for "everything is more expensive there." Because, frankly, lots of things are. Compare a draft beer on Franklin Street to one in almost any Durham bar. Looking for cheaper gas? It's worth driving to the edge of town. Even services like veterinary care carry premiums with their Chapel Hill ZIP codes.

So what a pleasure, then, to find a real bargain in dry cleaning smack dab on Airport Road, just north of downtown Chappie. Dry Clean Warehouse, in the little retail complex at the corner of Airport and Homestead, will clean any garment for $1.87 each. Yes, you read that right. Any garment. $1.87 each. No minimums, no limits. It's a dry cleaning revolution. Gone are the days of paying $5 to clean a silk blouse, of women paying ridiculously higher prices for girl clothes than men do for similar shirts and trousers. Not only that, but they'll do it in a day. If you drop off before 8:30 a.m., they promise you can pick up after 5:30 p.m. They also clean other items at more-than-reasonable prices. Sleeping bags, comforters and blankets cost $9.95 each, for example. Visit their Web site at drycleanwarehouseinc.com for details--you can also sign up for free coupons.

Best place to buy a screwdriver in Raleigh: Marc's Hardware

No, it's not the cheapest place, but Marc's Hardware, the new place in Ridgewood Shopping Center (off Wade Avenue) has one big thing going for it: It's actually inside the Raleigh Beltline. With the demise of Ferguson's Hardware last year, downtowners were looking at long car trips to Cary or even, gulp, North Raleigh whenever a key needed copying. In stepped Marc Scruggs, whose family owns Briggs Hardware, which is up in the Northland somewhere. He's got a pretty good supply of the basics. He's convenient. And the place isn't chock full of customers, so it's fast, friendly and it could use your business. Too bad Marc won't see our plug for him, by the way. He told us once he doesn't read the Independent because we have dirty ads in the back. Still, we owe him one. Former City Councilor Scruggs cast the deciding vote against the dreadful Coker Towers project before he stepped down to devote more time to his kids, soccer coaching, etc. It was a gutsy move, given that all his conservative friends were in bed with the developer crowd on it. If you agree, why not stop in and say thanks.

Best Waiting Room: WASP Auto, Meadow Drive, RTP

Since WASP's Sovereign Street garage had to close due to construction on nearby I-85, the locus of activity has moved to its larger car-repair facility near the intersection of N.C. 54 and 55. While it lacks the oil-stained, potholed charms of the inner-city location, this site features a plush waiting room complete with Picasso-like prints on the walls, window-seat cushions, gourmet coffee and Internet access. The magazine rack offers the likes of Utne Reader, as well as the latest local daily newspaper. There's a kid-sized table and chair set supplied with drawing tools. A jazz station plays soothingly in the background. There's even a decorative rock garden. The garage, as its Web site explains, is named after the 1955 Hudson WASP, which "represented reliability, moderation, common sense and all at a reasonable price." That's also the ethic of the shop, which specializes in Japanese makes. WASP offers a generous ride service and is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For appointments, visit www.waspauto.com .

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