Best Of :: Goods & Services
Some people have the Super Bowl. Others have Coachella. But for the literary junkies of the Southwest, there's the VNSA Book Sale. Short for Volunteer Nonprofit Service Association, the annual VNSA Book Sale is a treasure trove of gently used paperbacks, rare and unusual hardcovers, and the occasional audio-visual item, all organized neatly inside a warehouse at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. With only two days to shop and roughly a half-million books up for grabs, the February event sees its fair share of customers who not only camp out in line but carry their own suitcases for shopping. Better mark your calendar and set your alarm, because the book lovers who attend this sale mean business.
We know it's officially winter when it's finally time to put on a scarf, park at the AJ's on Central Avenue and Camelback Road, buy a dirty chai from a Dutch Bros. associate who is so busy he doesn't have time to be annoying, and knock out holiday shopping at Crafeteria. Every December, the handmade marketplace brings together around 50 specially selected vendors who set up shop in the Medlock Plaza parking lot for an evening of perusing, live music, and food-truck snacks. Expect letterpress cards, painted paper goods, jewelry, knitwear, toys for kids, and leather items. All of which equates to check, check, check, and check when it comes to that gift list.
If one man's trash is another man's treasure, then Junk in the Trunk is basically the vintage and resale equivalent of the Cave of Wonders in Disney's Aladdin. Seriously, this craft fair/antique mall hybrid takes over WestWorld of Scottsdale and turns it into a Pinterest addict's wonderland. Need an adorable wooden end table with paint chipped in such a way that gives it a rustic charm? Or how about the final Pyrex bowl that completes your Butterfly Gold set? Or maybe you just need one more sassy picket-fence-turned-wall-hanging piece to finish off your entryway. Well, grab those reusable bags, and bring plenty of cash, because Junk in the Trunk has everything you're looking for and a few more things you won't be able to live without.
When people imagine Phoenix, they don't really think of jewelers, carpenters, clothing designers, or leather workers. But, oh, are they wrong not to. Hidden within this desert valley are some incredibly talented crafters, and there's no better place to peruse and choose which maker is your favorite than Phoenix Flea. Thankfully, this "modern market" happens several times per year at different locations throughout the city.
Mall experts that we are, we know that a multi-level, multi-store day of shopping requires a, well, multitude of things. We also know that Scottsdale Quarter has all of 'em. Sustenance? The north Valley spot runs the gamut, with baked goods and caffeine by way of Press Coffee to easy lunches and light fare at True Food Kitchen and a full-blown fancy dinner at Dominick's Steakhouse. Shopping? There's your generic mall fare, including an Apple store, H&M, and Bath & Body Works; rarer finds like Warby Parker, Design Within Reach, and West Elm; and high-end offerings from Intermix and Suitsupply. There are places to unwind with beauty services (Drybar and Dolce), an American Girl store to keep the kiddos occupied, and when you're sick of hauling those bags around, the iPic Theater awaits, with room to mellow out for a few hours while cozied up in its plush seating. What more could you want?
Joshua Hahn and Kenny Barrett have, among other things, stellar taste. So when the duo behind downtown's community garden slash co-op vintage shop GROWop announced that they'd open a new store called Phoenix General, we counted down the days. And boy, we weren't disappointed. An aesthetic departure from its cozy sister shop, the General's scene is more streamlined, with clean lines, simple designs, and minimal frills. That means men's and women's wearables by Bridge & Burn, Hill-Side bandanas, and bags by Yield. More exciting still, Hahn and Barrett have launched an in-house label of covetable T-shirts and cushy cotton separates, with more options to come. Um, also? They carry Ace & Jig, the textile-centered label that makes the kinds of shirts, jumpsuits, and dresses that make you feel like you're on vacation (even when you're at work).
Georganne Bryant's Frances has fans, the kind of people who might not know what they want walking in but are confident they'll walk out with something they love. That sort of love is what's kept the shop going strong (and stylish) for a decade now. Stock your wardrobe with seasonal Toms, locally crafted jewelry by against the grain, and Free People's latest take on a flowy top. Nab home goods including Two Trees Botanicals terrariums and Standard Wax candles. And while you're at it, snag some one-size-fits-all gifts for upcoming holidays and unexpected birthdays: State Forty Eight shirts, Fishs Eddy mugs, and the latest goodies from Rifle Paper Co. We recommend repeating the exercise every few months, if not sooner.
We would've called it For the People with the Very Best Taste, but we get that brevity is fairly important when it comes to signage and marketing and other business-y affairs. And so we have For the People, formerly located at Biltmore Fashion Park's UNION. Now at home along the Central Corridor, the shop's increased square footage means more things to covet and, when we're feeling generous, buy for our nearest and dearest. Which is pretty easy when choosing between copper desk accessories by Tom Dixon, Iittala glassware, and a collection of Taschen books designed to make the heart skip a beat in the very best way.
A candle that looks as good as it smells? That's the dream. And for those who like to have it all, there's Standard Wax. The local company specializes in candles that not only make your home smell divine, but can also be repurposed as decorative storage, pots for plants — you name it. Their color-blocked ceramic containers, which feature a white exterior and bold interiors of red, green, yellow, and purple, can be purchased online or at local shops including Frances, For the People, and Urbana. Try the Whiskey and Fig for a smoky, floral aroma, or go for something light and clean like the Basil and Thyme. Either way, you won't be disappointed.
Yeah, we're aware that Queen Creek is about three trillion miles away from most of you.But we also promise that the schlep to Desert Horizon Nursery will be worth it for the Instagram posts alone, though it would be pretty silly to make the trek without a few things to pick up — or a few questions for the experts on hand at the sprawling plant store. We're talking citrus trees, an abundance of cactuses and succulents, and statues of dinosaurs (how could we even make something like that up?) to create the outdoor space of your wildest and weirdest dreams.
Pretty sure flowers work for any occasion, particularly when they're from Camelback Flowershop. From "sorry" and "thanks" to "I love you" and "I might be over it," the shop's got an option. Air plants, succulents, bundles of ranunculus, and towering clematis are just a few bloomers you'll spot (when they're in season, that is). To make a splash, custom arrangements are your best bet. Or, arrive on a Friday afternoon for flower happy hour if you're more the DIY type. You can even build a gift box — complete with chocolates or handmade soaps and a handwritten card tucked into a wooden gift box. And, hey, we've had the privilege of never receiving hate flowers, but we wouldn't mind a nastygram if it came with an arrangement of peonies from this place.
Though the title of her nail art blog, Chalkboard Nails, gives us pinching chills just imagining that dry screech, what Sarah Waite does with a nail bed often leaves us asking the annoying question, "How does she do it?!" Thing is, you can see how she does it — both through her online tutorials and by making an appointment with Waite to take you on as a client at The Spa at Camelback Village. Bring your own big ideas or let the artist have at it. After all, she's the one with experience painting perfectly spaced plaid, oozing galaxies, and whirling tie-dye on fingernails.