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Best Of 2001

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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Place To Get Incensed
Hippie Gypsy

It's hard to get good incense now that Jerry Garcia is gone and the Grateful Dead aren't touring. We used to pick up a year's supply of our favorite cones and sticks from Deadhead parking-lot vendors, but those days are over. Well, almost. We've found a swell, smelly stash at Hippie Gypsy, an upscale head shop busting at the seams with black-light posters and clove cigarettes and water pipes. Entire walls of this fragrant shop are devoted to displaying incense and sages, along with a vast array of paraphernalia for safe burning. The store's homemade incense is of superior quality, and the commercial versions aren't bad, either. (There's even a line called Liquid Blue Grateful Dead Incense with fragrances like "Campfire Jam" and "Fractal Steal Your Face.") And unlike the Dead show vendors, the clerks at Hippie Gypsy can actually make correct change and focus on their clientele without seeing double. Whoa, dude!

601 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, 85281
MAP
480-858-0400
Readers' Choices

Best Bike Shop
Tempe Bicycle
330 West University, Tempe
480-966-6896

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
480-835-0505

Best Secondhand Store
Buffalo Exchange
227 West University, Tempe
480-968-2557
730 East Missouri
602-532-0144

Best Video Rental Store
Blockbuster
several Valley locations

Best Haberdashery/Music Store

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.

Best Place to Get Lit

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.

Best Swimwear

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.

Best Fabric Store
SAS Fabrics by the Pound

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.

1111 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 85014
MAP
602-279-2171
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Best Place To Get Incensed: Hippie Gypsy

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