Like so many others, we took it hard when news broke earlier this year that two favorite local shops were closing: Irvington Vinyl and Bookmamas. Our sadness was, thankfully, short-lived. Lucky for us, and everyone else, both shops now continue under the ownership of Elysia Lucinda Smith.
After only three months at the helm, Smith has managed to keep what’s best about both previous stores and add her own spin on things—primarily, adding a hefty dose of programming that involves the neighborhood and creating a space where her neighbors feel welcome to buy, browse, or simply “be.”
“People can only use the tools they have access to; and I want to help make those tools available,” says Smith about the shops plentiful in-store resources and programming.
In addition to an ongoing zine project generated by visitors to the shop, Irvington Vinyl & Books hosts the For Colored Girls Book Club, a “space for Black women to discuss texts that reflect their lives, their stories, and their legacies,” lead by Gizelle Fletcher the fourth Tuesday of the month.
On the last Wednesday of the month, the store hosts Poets Attack and works to pair local poets with visiting writers from out of state. Each event lasts 90 minutes and admission is free. Scheduled poets for October include Bree Jo’Ann and Devon Ginn from Indianapolis and NYC poets Ariel Francisco and Kristine Esser-Slentz.
Irvington Vinyl & Books will be celebrating the annual Halloween Festival along with the rest of the neighborhood this week, and that includes Graveyard Smash on Saturday, Oct. 27, starting at noon. Billed as a “spooky, collaborative zine making event” the finished product will be printed soon after. Art-making supplies will be provided, and artists of all abilities are welcome.
The best way to support local shops is by making purchases of course, and Irvington Vinyl & Books will keep you captivated for hours browsing both. If you can’t find time to make it down to the shop, you can still support the programming via a subscribers program through Patreon.
In a world, and a neighborhood, where far too many business owners have very little interest or appreciation for the community, Elysia Smith has more than earned her Best of Indy title.
Now please do your part, and help keep her in business.
--Laura McPhee, Editor
BEST OF INDY WINNERS 2018
Best Bike Shop: BGI (Bicycle Garage Indy)
- A repeat winner from last year, NUVO readers are sticking with a good thing. With three locations BGI has you covered no matter which side of town you’re biking around and a staff of people who pride themselves on customer service and are always willing to help with whatever you need.
- Honorable Mention // Indy Cycle Specialist, Free Wheelin’
Best Bookstore: Indy Reads Books
- Indy’s only downtown bookstore, you’d barely know this one was made up of mostly generous donations from those who want to help support local literacy programs. Newer books as well, but mostly a chance to help others while also helping yourself to great reads. Go when you have time to browse.
- Honorable Mention // Irvington Vinyl & Books, Kids Ink
Best Comic Book Store: Downtown Comics
- Another repeat winner, Downtown Comics has been around longer than the movie franchises of the comics it so faithfully sells. Seriously good selection and helpful staff, plus a ton of stuff you didn’t even know you needed until you got there.
- Honorable Mention // Comic Carnival, Hero House
Best Gifts/Home Goods: Silver in the City
- Almost an institution at this point, Silver in the City is the go-to place for the perfect gifts and jewelry for everyone you know, including yourself. We couldn’t imagine Mass Ave without the goodies or good folks we’ve come to love at Silver in the City.
- Honorable Mention // Homespun Modern Homemade, Rustic Root
Best Women’s Fashion: Sage
- This little shop on Mass Ave keeps a relatively low profile. You won’t find a website, Facebook or Twitter feed to keep you up to date, though there is some Tumblr and Instagram activity. Mostly, you just have to drop in Wedsday through Sunday and check out the beautiful clothes and accessories in person.
- Honorable Mention // Urban Gypsy, The Toggery
Best Men’s Fashion: James Dant
- James Dant takes top spot once again with some of the most badass men’s clothing and accessories in town. Be prepared to shell out some dough when you’re here, but realize the pieces you’re bringing home are going to last you a lifetime.
- Honorable Mention // Leon’s Tailoring, United State of Indiana
Best Record Store: Irvington Vinyl & Books
- Owner Elysia Smith carries on the tradition of two great shops now under one name and ownership. In addition to a great selection of music and books, Smith has also created a community space offering poetry readings, book clubs, and lots of workshops so neighbors can create their own works. No wonder she’s taken top honors this year.
- Honorable Mention // Luna Music, Indy CD and Vinyl
Best Flower Shop: Rosebud Flowers and Gifts
- Beech Grove shops made a great showing this year, including this longtime florist in the heart of the village. For more than 29 years, Rosebud has been providing some of the freshest flowers and prettiest arrangements in Indy.
- Honorable Mention // McNamara, Gillespie
Best Fresh Grocer: Goose the Market
- No doubt, Goose has become one of the finest butcher shops in town since Chris Ely opened almost a decade ago. Throw in all the local produce, the great wine selection, the cheese selection, and the nicest staff in town, and you’ve got a true winner.
- Honorable Mention // WIldwood, Tyler Pond
Best Liquor Store: Kahn’s Fine Wines and Spirits
- Kahn’s will occasionally take 2nd or 3rd in this category, but more often than not NUVO readers recognize the stellar selection of wine, beer, and spirits at Kahn’s as second-to-none. With lots of free tastings and workshops, plus a helpful staff, don’t hesitate to try something new at one of the best.
- Honorable Mention // Big Red, Mass Ave Wines
Best Music Gear/Instrument Shop: Main Street Music
- Since 1994, this family-owned music shop in Beech Grove has provided a full selection of instruments, amplifiers and accessories. A great place if you need to rent an instrument for school kids just starting out, our make a major purchase.
- Honorable Mention // Arthur’s Music, Paige’s Music
Best Animal Hospital/Vet: Brookville Road Animal Hospital
- We all love our furbabies as members of the family, so it’s no fun when they are injured or sick. Thankfully, the good folks at Brookville Road provide excellent care at affordable rates. An increasingly rare find these days.
- Honorable Mention // Noah’s Animal Hospital, Mass Ave Veterinarian
Bsst Aracade: Tappers
- Ever wish you could drink a great craft brew and play Ms. PacMan at the same time? Pine no more. Head to Fletcher Place and discover the city’s first retro arcade that also happens to be an excellent bar. Games are free to play, and they have all your favorites. Just don’t knock me off that Tron leaderboard.
- Honorable Mention // Punch Bowl, Pin Vault
Best Bowling Alley: Beech Grove Bowl
- Once upon a time, the city was full of bowling alleys. Now they’re being gentrified into office spaces and condos. But we digress. Recently renovated, Beech Grove Bowl is open 24 hours a day and offers open and league bowling. Plus there’s a dang good selection of food to keep you going until it’s your turn to throw a strike or strike a pose.
- Honorable Mention // Action Duckpin Bowling, Pinheads
Best Barber/Hair Salon: The Vault
- If you’re still getting your hair cut anywhere else, you’re a fool. NUVO readers have voted The Vault No. 1 more times than you can shake a stick at. Another Beech Grove small business that’s getting lots of love this year, any one of their seven stylists is ready to provide your next favorite haircut.
- Honorable Mention // Tru Reflections, Urban Gypsy
Best Gym/Fitness Center: Invoke Studio
- Yoga is all the rage, even the goats are doing it. And according to NUVO readers, it’s the number one way to stay in shape if you’re doing yoga at Invoke. Also voted the best yoga studio in town, Invoke offers a variety a classes including Pilates and something called the Bar Effect (which isn’t nearly as intoxicating as it sounds).
- Honorable Mention // Cityway YMCA, Planet Fitness
Best Yoga Studio: Invoke Studio
- Have you been meaning, for one thousand years, to take up yoga? Invoke is the place to do it. Both beginners and experts are welcome as Invoke offers 100 classes a week from the basics to advanced vinyasa, with or without the heat turned all the way up. Check out their teacher training workshops.
- Honorable Mention // Hot Room, City Yoga
Best Spa: Studio 2000
- One of the most gorgeous places in town is also one of the most relaxing. Studio 2000 can be found in the Art Deco masterpiece known as Circle Tower. Built in 1929, the space first operated as a men’s barbershop for most of the last century, before being transformed into a spa in 2000.
- Honorable Mention // Indy Massage, Evan Todd
Best Smoke Shop: Magic Bus
- Their name is still as rad it was last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. If you’re looking for pipes? They got it. Papers? They got it. Hemp clothing? Incense? Jewelry? They got those too. Just want to stop in and chat with the cool ass employees? That’s fine too.
- Honorable Mention // 20 Past 4 and More, Obadiah’s
Best Tattoo Parlor: Salty Siren
- We’re thrilled to welcome Salty Siren to the winner’s circle! This female-owned tattoo shop opened last year and has already garnered a ton of fans and repeat customers. Head down to Greenwood and find out what all the fuss is about (but visit the website and make an appointment first).
- Honorable Mention // Fountain Square Tattoo, Artistic Skin Design