Best Of :: Shopping & Services
Mountain and road bikers have long competed for attention, products and services at cycle shops. At Landis, salespeople won't choose sides; its philosophy is equality for all, whether you've got mud in your spokes or highway beer bottle shards in your tire.
This cover-both-sports philosophy won't confuse new bikers: Signs and a helpful staff make clear what each item is intended for. Salespeople can tell you exactly why one mountain bike breaks the bank at more than $2,000, while another sets you back only about $300. If you're female, they'll show you a line of bikes built for women. There are even baby-buggy bikes, so you can tote your tyke. Each of Landis' four stores offers bicycle repairs, and out-of-stock items are happily shipped from other locations. So get your bike, helmet, shoes, gloves or inner tube here, but take the feud outside -- on the pavement, or the dirt trail.
Best Bike Shop
330 West University, Tempe
Best Bookstore -- New Title
Borders Books & Music
several Valley locations
Best Bookstore -- Used
Bookman's Used Books, Music and Software
1056 South Country Club, Mesa
Best Secondhand Store
227 West University, Tempe
730 East Missouri
Best Video Rental Store
several Valley locations
A few years ago, Charles Nolan quietly opened his shop in the basement of the venerable Luhrs Central Building across from Patriots Square downtown. He had a concept -- the hippest men's shop in town, and that was about it. Advertising budget? Hardly. Neon signs? Not in this lifetime. Word of mouth? You betcha. These days, Charles -- who doesn't even have a phone in his downtown haberdashery -- counts several Phoenix Suns as regular customers, and his clientele is growing by the month, eager to buy his primo Italian suits, his slick shirts, his excellent selection of ties. But Charles isn't just a clotheshorse. A major league jazz fan, he collects CDs, then sells them to his customers for a mere 10 bucks apiece. Finding this gem of a store isn't easy. But once you find Charles in Suite M, around the bend from Tony's Barber Shop, you're in for quite a sartorial treat.
The aromatic world that exists behind the plain-looking façades of this local chain stimulates all five senses, and possibly even your sixth. In what's best described as organized chaos, bins of exquisitely scented candles beckon you to dig and sniff and explore. The on-premises craftspeople work endlessly to turn out high-quality candles with new and unusual fragrances to suit every taste. Explore the nooks and crannies for an eclectic selection of candleholders and treasures brought back from the owner's frequent buying trips. And check out the shop's "container fill" program, which allows you to design your own creation for the price of the wax. Plan to shop early during the holidays, as lines have been known to form at the door of these popular gift-buying destinations.
Although lots of ladies only shop for a new swimsuit once a year, foxy Phoenician women consider bikinis a year-round wardrobe staple. This shop on North Scottsdale Road has the most fun, edgiest collection in town, ranging from modern-day Gidget florals to the barest Brazilian string bikinis, from brands like Body Glove and Bebe. It's hard to pick just one style when you have to choose among satiny blue leopard, neon flames or sparkly camouflage prints. The prices are reasonable enough to leave you with cash to buy a Hawaiian-pattern wrap and some sequined flip-flops, too. If you're feeling exhibitionist, you can even find something suitable for prancing around like one of the babes next door at Babes Cabaret -- a lace and rhinestone g-string with a pair of black patent platform stiletto mules, the classic frilly maid's costume or the naughty plaid schoolgirl mini-kilt, complete with matching plaid thong.
Who gets a rush out of visiting a fabric store? At SAS, the answer is anybody looking for the thrill of a good bargain, the delight of an unexpected find or simply to supercharge the creative juices. Stocked to the rafters with discounted merchandise, this labyrinthine shop is like a candy store for aspiring fashion designers. Dig through bolts of satins and silks, twills and tweeds of every hue. Let your mind wander as you consider 50 different types of lace. Then ogle the incredible assortment of trimmings. Boxes of vintage-look buttons, rolls of shiny ribbons and mesh, barrels full of straight-outta-the-'70s embroidered patches, and various zippers and snaps are there to hook you. We dare you to walk out of the store without a single new idea for a project.