Best Of :: Shopping & Services
We ambled up to the counter at the House of Rice, tossed our Dutch cookies and "grow a Buddha" toy on the counter and asked a question that poor clerk must get asked a hundred times a day."Why Dutch and Asian products?"The one-word answer: "Indonesia." Oh. Indonesia was at one point a Dutch colony, which made Dutch food popular in Indonesia, so of course an Asian market in Scottsdale would include Dutch products.No matter — we're just happy it happened. And what success The House of Rice has had, this year celebrating its 33rd anniversary in the same spot. You can't say that about many Phoenicians.We could spend all day in this cramped store, exploring Japanese products (everything from tissue-paper beach balls to sake to sushi-making ingredients), Dutch jams and licorice and little clog magnets, and . . . really, we could go on (and on and on), but you have to experience this place for yourself. We were tempted to buy a bumper sticker that read, "It's Hard to Be Humble When You're Dutch." But we're not Dutch. Instead, we think someone should make a bumper sticker that says, "It's Hard to Be Humble When You're the House of Rice." That, we'd stick to our car.
In the summer of 2009, husband-and-wife team Liam James T. Murtagh and Emily Spetrino-Murtagh took over the old Art One space and opened this novelty shop that fuses two sweet things: vinyl records and candy. The Murtaghs, who play in a number of punk and ska bands, focus their records on those two genres as well as new wave. And there are all sorts of sugar-loaded confections, ranging from jars of eye-popping candy to edible mustaches. The space doubles as the couple's living quarters, so they're open only in the evening when they get home from their day jobs. BTW, don't be alarmed to see the Murtaghs' 2-year-old son, Iggy, running around the shop and being crazy playful. He won't bite.
Tucked behind the yummy Paisley Violin Café is this retail co-op that's housed in totally adorable structures that weren't so adorable at one time: The World War II-era cottages once held German and Italian prisoners of war. However, you won't feel anything weird or creepy when visiting the buildings that were moved from 19th Avenue and McDowell Road and remodeled by Gina and Derrick Suarez. Instead, you may very well experience local-art heaven in shops such as Urban Art Florist and Wicked Wear Studio and Gallery. The collective often unites to hold special events like the Paisley Town Art Festival as well as special dealios during Art Detour.
We shop. A lot. Which is why we figured we'd easily find a new winner in the "Best Boutique" category this year. No go. In good faith we simply can't stray from our favorite, Frances. Georganne Bryant doesn't just run the cutest boutique in town — she's started a cottage industry when it comes to community support. She gives well-earned shout-outs to other local businesses on her blog (www.francesblog.tumblr.com), supports the indie movement in all sorts of creative ways (from sponsoring movies like Handmade Nation to printing T-shirts that say, "Love Phoenix or Leave Phoenix") and she's the first to credit someone else with a good idea. But usually, truth be told, it's Georganne who has the good ideas. If you don't care about all that community building, buy-local hoo-ha, come to Frances because Georganne has good taste, along with good ideas. She stocks the sweetest collection of clothing, housewares, jewelry, and paper goods this town has ever seen. Now you can shop on Frances' website — and our pocketbook (super-cute, purchased at Frances) is really doomed. But be sure to sign up for Georganne's mailing list, because twice a year, she has a really good sale. Just don't go telling the whole world or anything, 'kay?
We'll follow Bunky wherever it goes. And we have. Owner Rachel Richards-Malloy has kept us on our toes since she opened — this is her third location. Today, her teeny shop is located across the street from the Phoenix Art Museum and shares a home with Matt Pool's Giant Coffee in the Merz building. The store is filled with designer clothing and accessories and is cleverly arranged to fit even more inventory than she had before — Bunky now carries books and housewares. None other than Hayes McNeil from Plus Minus Studio designed her modular space. The walls are lined with salvaged wood (you can even spy an old Pepsi can nailed into one of the wood panels). Bunky's got designer threads in a designer space with designer coffee, all in one spot? Oh, man, we are so there.
This cute girl named Olive needed a place to shack up, and turns out Paris Envy had some room upstairs, so a partnership of sorts was born. And we're so glad. This trend of sharing space is a wonderful byproduct of a slow economy, and we hope it keeps classy indie businesses like Paris Envy and Olive in Paris (the latest project from the ladies who brought us the sadly short-lived Olive Annie on Seventh Street) going strong. We drooled over a pair of vintage lamps at Paris Envy, a housewares shop with a shabby-chic French (obviously) vibe, and upstairs, we debated over a piece of handmade jewelry or a funky multi-colored belt. Both stores have so much style and personality and . . . sorry, but you'll have to excuse us because we need to go back and see whether those lamps are still there. Be right back!