Springfield Illinois Pawn Shops
United Community Bank
1900 West Iles Ave., 787-3000
700 Stevenson Drive, 529-3000
617 Bruns Lane, 787-3001
A bank is a bank is a bank is a bank, right? Wrong. United Community Bank, as the name implies, really is a community bank, and they prove it with the number of branches in communities throughout central Illinois. There are more than 30 physical locations, including three in Springfield and two apiece in smaller burgs such as Bunker Hill, Macomb and Auburn. Even Roodhouse, population 1, 800, has a branch. It’s hard to go anywhere in central Illinois without spotting a UCB branch or ATM.
Runners-up: Illinois National Bank, Marine Bank
BEST BIKE SHOP
Ace Bicycle Shop
2500 S. MacArthur Blvd., 523-0188
The folks at Ace genuinely love bicycles and bicycling of all kinds, from racing to leisurely spins around town. They pride themselves on BMX, which is too often forgotten in today’s world of triathlons, mountain biking and stage racing. With a used inventory that turns over in a hurry, they always have just the right bicycle whatever your needs or price range might be, and if they don’t have it in stock, they’ll get it in a hurry. Most repairs are completed overnight. But what we really love about Ace is the Monday night rides that depart from the shop and take riders along the area’s best cycling routes. No one gets left behind and there are at least two mechanics on the outings that start in March and end in September. It’s a great way for neophytes to learn the finer points of riding in a group without fear of getting left in the dust.
Runners-up: R & M Cyclery, BikeTek
3005 Great Northern Road., 787-9443
Best known for barbecue, Nelson’s is more than brisket and a puff of smoke. In addition to some of the finest ribs, chicken and pulled pork available anywhere, Nelson’s also offers lasagna and – gasp – a vegan burger. Before diving into main courses that feature a dizzying array of potatoes, pastas, beans, salads and other side dishes, they can start you off with fresh fruits, deviled eggs, wings and some meatballs, either Swedish or, of course, barbecue. Bacon-wrapped water chestnuts? No problem, Nelson’s has ’em. They also offer nearly 20 desserts. Great food and variety is only part of the equation. It has to be fresh and on time, and Nelson’s wins high marks in these departments. There’s a reason that this place has been in business since 1995. One bite and you’ll know why.