Best Of :: Shopping & Services
The following nugget of wisdom was drilled into us the minute we signed our first mortgage: Take care of your house because, someday, it'll take care of you. Weeeelllllll, maybe. If you live in Connecticut. Or Monaco. Here in Phoenix, homeowners are shackled to the fickle fortunes of a Wild West, boom-and-bust economy. Yee-haw.
This nugget of wisdom was drilled into us pretty much the day after we dumped all our money into a house: Diversify. Don't be a boob and hold on to those two remaining shekels like grim death. Rub 'em together in the hopes they'll go forth and multiply.
A surprising number of the smart shekels these days are going into . . . movie posters? Yep, the burgeoning collectibles sub-genres known as ephemera and Hollywood have come together with a boom in recent years, escalating the Golden Age poster market to ludicrous heights. Crazy, perhaps, but when you think about it, posters exude a lot of natural charm as collectibles: 1) many are rare, because they were considered expendable (a.k.a. ephemeral) in their day; 2) the most coveted — Casablanca, The Mummy, etc. — contain archetypal pop-culture images that transcend eras and styles; 3) many people practice "theme living" these days, and a collectible poster or two can really spiff up that home-theater room; 4) it's Hollywood, baby; everything sells.
Mark, Sherry, and Brandy Goldberg of Femmes Fatales are collectors and resellers of the vintage beauties, which they display in a remodeled 3,000-square-foot building on Scottsdale's Main Street drag. (Much of the funding for the swank spot comes by way of Mark, a founding partner at the personal-injury law firm Goldberg & Osborne, a.k.a. "The Eagle." See how Mark diversified, students?)
About 200 of the clan's 1,500-poster collection — spanning the 1920s to the present — are on view at any given time. Prices vary, but the tags usually start at $200-ish and can run to five figures. Ouch, right? Well, that's not so out of whack with what the "real" art in downtown Scottsdale brings, and it's not even close to the six figures the rarest of the rare posters net. (The record, as of this writing, is $690,000 for a 1927 Metropolis.)
For their part, the Goldbergs play mostly to the "theme" crowd. Therefore, they stock common works powered by high-watt superstars like Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor, Errol Flynn, Brigitte Bardot, and Robert Redford. They can also hook you up with top-notch restorers and framers, and will even use their connections to help you find that highly elusive poster you didn't know you couldn't live without.
We tried to resist our newest obsession, vintage carnival chalkware, but we failed. It certainly didn't help that while we were out looking for end tables, we stumbled on a treasure trove of this cool stuff, which used to be handed out as prizes at carnival dime pitches in the '30s and '40s. Our shelves were already stacked with tiny chalk Pinocchios and big, scary-eyed kewpies covered in chalk's trademark hyper-colorful, randomly spray-painted way, when we tripped into Historic District Antique Mall, which has the best selection of vintage chalkware we've seen anywhere, hands down.
We spied a pair of sleepy cherub bookends; a super-rare (and really gigantic — is there such a thing as "too big" when you're talking chalkware?) Porky Pig; and not one, but three, majorettes, which were popular figurines in chalkware during the '30s. We ended up buying a chalkware lamp shaped like a fawn and a pair of really ugly schooners, simply because they were so cheap and because we'd never seen chalkware that depicted a boat before. Looking for a new obsession? You, too, can become infatuated with the joys of vintage chalk — and if you do, we recommend nursing your chalkware jones at Historic District Antique Mall.
Looking for that ultra-spicy ginger beer that they serve at your favorite indie restaurant? Come to Pop the Soda Shop. Not only do they have the elusive drink you've been searching for (as well every conceivable kind of ginger ale, ginger soda, and ginger beer out there), they have more varieties of "alternative, imported, and gourmet" sodas and non-alcoholic beverages than we ever thought possible. It's just plain fun to stroll the aisles of this specialty shop, where there's everything from cane sugar cola and exotic energy drinks to old-fashioned sarsaparilla, birch beer, and root beer. For the sugar-conscious crowd, check out the fancy bottled water, tea, and diet sodas of every flavor. Chocolate soda? Check. Moxie? Check. Purple Love Potion #69? Check. (Seriously, they really do carry an "arousing carbonated drink" with such an entertaining name.) It's hard to stump the folks at Pop the Soda Shop. But why would you want to, when discovering wacky new sodas is this fun?
Francine Sumner didn't mean to become a successful jewelry designer. She just didn't want to fork over a lot of money for that cute "mommy jewelry" she wanted, namely the hand-stamped silver discs with kid names that every mom worth her station wagon is wearing around town these days.
Sumner learned how to make her own, then started selling it at local stores like MADE art boutique and About Face.
And then she got into Twilight — Stephenie Meyer's vampire novel series for young aduts — and started making jewelry based on the characters created by Meyer, herself a local mom. The Twilight jewelry, like the books, has flown off the shelves. You can find it on her Web site or at Changing Hands bookstore. We love the "good vampire" and "bad vampire" necklaces, as well as the "Go Ask Alice" motif. And the "bite me" charms are, well, to die for.
Ten years ago, if a restaurant were to charge $5 for coffee, it would have been laughed out of business. That's why Toshi's Roast in Surprise nabbed our vote this year — because if a cuppa Joe is going to cost as much as a decent burger, than it had damn well better be imported from South America and roasted in-house using a $15,000 machine. Owners Randy Miller, a former California juvie probation officer, and his wife, Marie, were clever enough to create a niche market for themselves, offering Asian-themed blended drinks like the popular Black Dragon Mocha, plus a selection of Japanese teas. The result is an upscale and trendy coffee house that brews a solid cup of coffee, whether it's the cheapskate's Americano or a fancy latte that's actually worth the five bucks.
In our often-sheltered, middle-class world, nothing's worse than waiting in line for a cup of coffee. And though there are plenty of mainstream and mom-and-pop shops in town serving caffeinated goodness, there always seems to be a queue moving at a snail's pace. Grrr. That's until Conspire began serving coffee out of its off-the-radar house in the Evans-Churchill district. The indie biz, formerly known as C.O.L.A.B., is an artist-run store that sells all sorts of handmade fashion, visual art, and coffee with (yes!) zero to little wait. (At least, before 'Best of' hits the streets.) We're so happy every day knowing that we'll get our morning fix when we need it.