Shopping & Services

  • 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… More >>
  • Best Haberdashery/Music Store

    Charles Men's Clothes and Accessories

    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… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Lit

    Candle and Gift Factory Outlet

    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… More >>
  • Best Swimwear

    Triangles

    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… More >>
  • 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… More >>
  • Best Old Tools And New Telescopes

    Photon Instruments and the St. James Bay Tool Company

    This combination isn't likely to inspire a national chain anytime soon, yet it has the appeal of a toy-filled dream. Tucked inside an inconspicuous lab-like brick building, the wooden, glass-fronted cabinets give this place an Old World flavor that leaps from Galileo to This Old House. In one corner, old planes, chisels, saws, augers and plenty more are carefully displayed;… More >>
  • Best Barber Shop

    Simon's Barber Shop

    Good thing for us that Simon Nisanov left his native Uzbekistan in the early '90s and landed here in the Valley -- we'd hate to have to travel to the former Soviet bloc country just to get a shave and a haircut. And we're pretty sure that we couldn't get one we liked as well from anyone other than Simon… More >>
  • Best Hair Stylist

    Michelle Lombardi Applause Salon

    Michelle Lombardi knows hair. She'll quickly assess yours and, in short order, can turn what might be a mop into a functional, optimally attractive 'do. Michelle offers cuts based on what looks best on you, not on her latest whim, and her always-flattering cuts grow out nicely, too. We know people who fly in from L.A. and San Francisco every… More >>
  • Best Spa

    The Centre for Well-Being at the Phoenician

    To be perfectly honest, we wouldn't say no to any spa, anywhere, any time. But even in this rarefied category, there are places that stand out. Take your stressed and tired bones to the Phoenician's Centre for Well-Being (we had to shave points off their final score for the affected spelling, but they still win) and stay all day. Not only… More >>
  • Best Pedicure

    Carrie O'Hare

    For such an unnecessary indulgence, a pedicure can be an awfully routine, ho-hum affair, more like a visit to the dentist that must be patiently endured than a delightful way to play hooky. If one is to spend money on such things, one should leave feeling pampered and a bit guilty. Carrie O'Hare clearly understands this. Her pedicures are like… More >>
  • Best Wax Job

    Waxing by Jennifer Ann Tumolo

    Hair knows no shame. It's a wild and unruly creature that answers to no one and grows wherever it likes, without regard to appropriateness. Unwanted body hair has found a formidable (if gracious) foe in Jennifer Ann Tumolo. Jennifer waxes and tweezes anywhere you want, with a gentle hand and a firm technique, leaving behind a meticulously tended patch of… More >>
  • Best Art For Under $1,000

    Art One

    Scottsdale galleries can be daunting for the beginning art collector. But under the direction of Kraig Foote, Art One offers the rest of us wonderful works that don't require either a second mortgage or a working knowledge of who's who in the art world. Representing local artists and students (mostly college students, although pieces by talented high school artists also… More >>
  • Best Electronics Store

    Fry's Electronics

    There's no cooler place to be a nerd. A large computer section and a cafe serving espresso drinks cater to the techie crowd, though the wide selection of everything electric leaves no one empty-handed. Displays practically scream "Try me!" to shoppers searching for appliances, digital cameras, computers or musical instruments. A Fry's drone in a white shirt and tie can… More >>
  • Best Head Shop

    The Headquarters

    With big-deal bong brands such as Zong, Kaos, Chalice and Chong, this shop is a smooth smoker's paradise. Double-sided glass means high quality, and can mean high prices, too -- up to $200, but well worth it for a connoisseur. The shop also has less expensive and almost-as-cool water pipes in several media and an informative and friendly staff to… More >>
  • Best Antique Mall

    Brass Armadillo

    There's hardly an excuse not to make a day of it at Brass Armadillo, a 40,000-square-foot mall with a cozy diner on premises, plenty of research materials about antiques, and generous daily hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Each of the mall's 600 booths and cases has a distinctive character, and you can gorge your appetite for antiques on… More >>
  • Best Hidden Treasures

    Sage

    Nestled into a tiny brick building in downtown Phoenix, Sage is a new vintage/antique/junk shop for the eclectic collector tired of scrounging through hope-to-get-lucky thrift shops. The store is actually an old house whose rooms are packed with a collection of curiosities that change weekly, each of them priced to move. Few items cost more than $300, and most are… More >>
  • Best Massage Oil For Pregnant Women

    Lotions and Potions

    As soon as that EPT test shows up red, your girlfriends gather with reams of advice: Ginger for morning sickness, Maalox for heartburn, bags of frozen vegetables for swollen ankles. As for stretch marks? There's no scientific prevention, but that doesn't stop our girlfriends from offering up remedies. We're particularly fond of one concoction, passed along by a girlfriend who… More >>
  • Best Place To Be A Bobo

    Anthropologie

    Last year, the term "BoBo" joined "yuppie" and "Gen Xer" on the shelf of social labels, with the publication of journalist David Brooks' book BoBos in Paradise. BoBo is short for "bourgeois bohemian" -- newly rich people who cling to less moneyed, hippie-esque traditions. You've seen them -- day traders in incense-smelly coffee houses, bankers in Birkenstocks, lawyers in used… More >>
  • Best Magazine Selection

    Borders Books & Music - CLOSED

    Magazine junkies like us will go to great lengths to get a glossy fix. That's why Borders isn't just a pit stop but an essential destination for satisfying our craving for periodicals. Sheer variety fuels our shameless addiction. At Borders, we can plan our dream vacation, drool over sports cars, brush up on global affairs or preview Paris' prêt-à-porter, all… More >>
  • Best Comic Book Store

    All About Books & Comics

    Great Caesar's ghost! Did All About Books & Comics really win this category again? Hey, does Lois Lane have the hots for Superman? A contender long before anyone ever heard of Spawn, Sandman or Witchblade, Alan and Marsha Giroux's fortress of funny books continues to be one-stop shopping headquarters for two generations of Valley comic-book geeks. In addition to thousands of… More >>
  • Best Collectible Book Store

    Book Gallery

    When the much-loved but cramped Book Gallery moved across the street to its new location last year, it was as if a handsome prince had been released from a familiar frog. And handsome is the perfect word to describe Book Gallery's new space, which looks like a classic library, without the stuffiness. The staffers are laid-back and friendly, and knowledgeable… More >>
  • Best Collectibles Store

    Pop Culture Classics

    Memorabilia collecting is built on the sunny premise that yesteryear's omnipresent junk is today's rare gem. That premise implies that the junkier the item was in its own time, the more wondrous it is in the sweet glow of nostalgia. The fine people at Pop Culture Classics understand this. Where else are you liable to find an unopened can of… More >>
  • Best Adult Videos

    Castle Megastore

    Toto, I don't think we're in Blockbuster anymore. Actually, dogs and Kansas farm girls are two of the few fetishes you won't find on the video shelves of Castle, an XXX-rated Oz catering to every carnal whim this side of the sex-crimes ward. Straight, gay, bi, pre-op, post-op, even libidinous midgets -- if it's bigger, longer, harder and uncut, you'll find… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy Something For The Person Who Has Everything

    Scottsdale Center for the Arts Museum Store

    The gift shop at Scottsdale Center for the Arts is so entertaining that shows and exhibits at the center sometimes seem like a distraction from shopping. High-concept designs for traditional household items (ashtrays, flower bowls, trivets) fill one side of the store, while a children's section in the back invites exploration from all ages (check out the wacky marionettes!). Novelty… More >>
  • Best '70s Vintage

    Plush Living

    So what happened to the extra flared pants that didn't get snatched up in the rush when today's thirty- and fortysomethings were in high school? More than likely, they're on the racks at Plush Living, labeled "new old stock" because they still have the original tags on them. Plush specializes in Disco, Pimp, Hooker and all that is '70s Baaaad,… More >>
  • Best Audiotape Repair

    BCC2000 Tom Brightwell

    We were bereaved when our favorite cassette tape, an irreplaceable treasure, finally snapped. When we found no listings in the Yellow Pages for audiotape repair, we panicked. Our home repair job (which employed an old pencil and some Scotch tape) was a disaster and, just as we were about to cry, someone suggested Tom Brightwell. This one-man wonder, a retiree… More >>
  • Best Canine Day Spa

    It's a Ruff Life! Dog Daycare and Activity Center

    This is the spot for Spot when you can't bear to leave him alone all day or you think he just needs a friend who will sniff his butt. The fact that this daytime-only facility is sparkling clean and odorless is a bonus that greets you at the door. The friendly staff provides a cage-free social opportunity for dogs (the… More >>
  • Best Place To Find An Apartment If You Have A Big Dog

    Apartment Experts

    Got a golden Lab that ought to wear a drool bucket? A German shepherd that eats couch cushions for fun? Finding an apartment when you have pets, especially dogs, can be taxing. But Tom Mastromatto's company, Apartment Experts, specializes in finding a place in the Valley (as well as in Tucson) that will welcome your precious pooch. He'll even find… More >>
  • Best Way To Feed Your Pet Without Getting Up Off The Recliner

    The Pet Pantry

    You've just settled onto the couch for a Charlie's Angels weekend marathon when you realize that Rover will be out of food before Farrah Fawcett's 12th swimsuit change. You could get off the couch, get dressed and fight traffic all the way to the local pet-food monolith. Or you could pick up the phone and call the Pet Pantry, wait… More >>
  • Best Place To Watch Your Dog Foam At The Mouth

    The Dog Wash

    Try washing a large dog in your bathroom tub, and you'll find yourself sitting up and begging for Gina Zoppa's self-service shop. The Dog Wash, which also does conventional grooming, provides all of the materials you need to make Rover clean again: brushing and drying tables, full-size raised tubs, and professional-quality spray nozzles that quickly rinse out one of the… More >>
  • Best Ten-dollar-a-dozen Roses

    Community Florist

    Has your special someone been giving you that "why do you keep giving me these cheap roses that arrive wilted and die in a day" look lately? Community Florist can help you say "I love you" without also saying "I'm a cheap S.O.B." Its $10 roses are big, beautiful, and look like they cost about five times as much. The… More >>
  • Best Place To Get Your Goat

    Darlyn Pygmies

    Did you know that people breed lap goats? Goats that are small enough and so friendly that all they want to do is cuddle, follow you around like a puppy, and nibble at your feet? While we prefer to keep our livestock outdoors, we admit we're charmed by the darling critters at Darlyn Pygmies, a private ranch in Buckeye that… More >>
  • Best Blast-from-the-past Personal Shoppers

    Go-Kat-Go

    Go-Kat-Go, a time-warp of a department store, is the only retro shop around that will do time travel at your bidding. The husband-and-wife team who run this happening haven can fill your oddest vintage custom order from the '40s on up, often within weeks. We've asked them, just this year, to find very specific items -- from a clunky turquoise… More >>
  • Best Down-to-earth Yoga Teacher

    Instructor Candace Rose

    Everybody knows it's the yoga teacher who makes the class, and Candace Rose is a knowledgeable, well-trained and genuinely peaceful instructor. More important, she's a teacher with a sense of humor. Unlike some yoga instructors, who forget that this is Phoenix, not Katmandu, Rose doesn't take herself too seriously. She cracks jokes throughout the class and keeps the spiritual lectures… More >>
  • Best Way To Shop From Behind The Wheel

    Bashas' Drive-Through Grocery

    You've arrived at that interminable stretch of the calendar where the mercury has stalled above the 100-degree mark. The only chink in your scheme for never being away from air conditioning or shade for more than 90 seconds at a time is how to do your grocery shopping. All hail Eddie Basha, whose Bashas' at 40th Street and Thunderbird now… More >>
  • Best Thrift Store For Cool Vintage Stuff

    Unique Thrift

    Among all the predictable contemporary bargains at this former Disabled American Veterans Thrift Shop, we've discovered cool vintage dresses, nasty '70s Spanish-Med wall hangings, a silver potted plastic tree, and even a pair of blond wood '50s end tables. On our last visit, we found some swinging two-tone wingtips. (So what if they were golf shoes! We just yanked the… More >>
  • Best Bait Shop

    Liar's Korner

    When it comes to catching fish, you want big. But for a bait shop, forget the Wal-Marts of the world -- small is good. And small has worked for 20 years for Richard La Porte and his father, Dick, who run Liar's Korner, a bait shop that can barely hold more than a half-dozen customers at a time. Liar's Korner… More >>
  • Best Place To Outfit Your Inner Survivalist

    Larada's Army Surplus Store

    Housed in a bright yellow brick building with blue awnings lined with a long row of white stars, Larada's Army Surplus Store is hard to miss. But once inside, you'll find everything you need for disappearing into the woodwork -- or the woods. Larada's is filled with military gear and not-for-sale displays of military might such as bullets, holsters and… More >>
  • Best Hobby Shop For The Model Citizen

    The Hobby Bench

    Once upon a time, an excited youth with a new model airplane kit could visit any drugstore to purchase "hobby paint" right off the shelf. Today, thanks to social disintegration, such substances are kept under lock and key, lest they be stolen and used for nefarious purposes -- like paint-sniffing or marking buildings with gang insignia. But not at the… More >>
  • Best Costume/Novelty Shop

    Bert Easley's Fun Shop

    Chances are pretty good that you wouldn't know where to go to purchase a set of comedy bosoms or a papier-mâché turd. Take note: Since 1947, Bert Easley's has provided our great state with all variations of rubber vomits, fake cigarettes (great on airplanes!), and phony squished cats. October is the best time to visit, when Halloween masks, reasonably priced… More >>
  • Best Place To Re-range Your Gas Stove

    Appliance Service and Warehouse

    This is absolutely the place to find that long-sought antique Tappan range the color of scrimshaw, or the O'Keefe and Merritt in its birthday suit of chrome and white enamel. The peeling paint and yellowed window of this gray storefront reveal the shop's devotion to vintage. Words like re-porcelain and re-chrome fall from the tongues of the knowledgeable workers like… More >>
  • Best Bike Shop

    Landis Cyclery

    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… More >>
  • Best Women's Dressing Room

    Neiman Marcus

    We've been in dressing rooms that have sent us screaming out of the store and straight to the nearest Yellow Pages in search of a plastic surgeon. It's curious that the millions of dollars spent by retailers on marketing research has not led them to this simple shopping truth: If you look ugly in the mirror, you won't buy the… More >>
  • Best Men's Dressing Room

    Neiman Marcus

    Most dressing rooms leave us wondering why no one has bothered to mention our sagging chin and jaundiced complexion. Neiman Marcus, on the other hand, only sets the mood for some serious designer dud shopping. These dressing rooms are classically appointed and impeccably clean. An upholstered chair takes the place of the carpeted benches found in most other establishments. A… More >>
  • Best Athletic Shoes

    Runner's Den

    How far do you run? How often do you run? What shoes are you using now? Are you flatfooted? Count on questions like these from the salespeople at Runner's Den. Selling you the right pair from the Den's vast selection is serious business to these clerks, most of whom are runners themselves. (One salesman has logged more than 100 marathons… More >>
  • Best Comfortable Shoes

    Shoe Mill

    Sure, we're slaves to fashion -- but not when it comes to our feet. Give us a pair of clogs or some close-toed Birkenstocks and we're delighted, style be damned! Turns out, you can have both comfort and style. We were waltzing through life, happy in our brown clogs and our gray Birks, until we happened upon the selection at the… More >>
  • Best Thrift Store

    Savers

    A return policy at a thrift store? It's true. Savers has one and will issue store credit if you've made a fashion boo-boo. This comes in handy if you're costuming a kid's play, costuming a family, or costuming yourself and realized you should have gone to the dressing room after all, to make sure that spangly sweater set actually fit.… More >>
  • Best Zany Vintage Clothes, All Eras

    Spine

    The clothes here aren't just old, they're insane. Wonderfully, utterly insane. Amiable proprietor Louis Merisola is quick to tell you why: His wife, Linda, is a show-biz wardrobe stylist who outfits actors for films and TV commercials. Which explains why you're likely to find more than one hot-pink marabou peignoir on display at this hip downtown boutique. In addition to… More >>
  • Best Bead Shop

    Beads Galore International, Inc.

    For many crafty folks, bead parties have replaced paint-your-own-pottery as the creative outlet du jour. If you're looking for materials, head to Beads Galore International, Inc. Tucked into a small industrial park, Beads Galore is easy to miss -- and easy to skip, you might think as you enter the cramped foyer and are asked to hand over your purse to… More >>
  • Best Bridal Registry

    Crate & Barrel

    We've been to enough weddings to know that finding the perfect present for a bride and groom can be excruciating, far worse than buying an elusive Christmas gift for the "person who has everything." We've also seen the pained expressions of newlyweds as they unwrap some God-awful gift that they don't need or want. ("Oh, what a lovely set of… More >>
  • Best High-style Modern Furnishings

    Urban Ease

    If such names as Knoll, Herman Miller and Thonet weaken your knees, this Scottsdale franchise of the Seattle store offers plenty of swank seats and remakes of classic modern furnishings to swoon on. It's all posh, with prices to match -- chairs can run you anywhere from $350 for a molded, laminated wood-and-steel one by Arne Jacobsen to $2,300 for… More >>
  • Best Party Supplies

    Party City

    You say your idea of home entertaining doesn't go any further than a keg, a large bag of Cheez Doodles, and a mop? Well, thanks for asking but, uh, we're busy that night. If, on the other hand, you shop at Party City, consider this an RSVP. Where else in town will you find everything (okay, so you will have… More >>
  • Best Hardware Store

    Paradise True Value Hardware

    Let's be clear: The operative word here is hardware. Not gardening supplies, power tools, bathroom fixtures or wallpaper; there are stores that specialize in each of these. But when you really need honest-to-God hardware -- nuts, bolts, machine screws, ball bearings, nails and so on -- you could do no better than to go to Paradise True Value, with its… More >>
  • Best Piercing Studio

    HTC Body Piercing

    Nowadays, HTC owner Steve Haworth is better known as a "3-D Modification Artist," famous for epidermis-pushing experiments in extreme body modification such as subdermal implants and penis beads. But Haworth originally established his reputation as a pioneer of safe, sane and sterile piercing techniques. The instruments used at HTC were personally designed by Haworth to be less painful and more… More >>
  • Best Counter Help In A Copy Shop

    Lena Flores

    Plenty of print shops have color copiers out on the floor, but if you're looking for lifelike skin tones, Lena Flores will be happy to do your bidding. She's Alphagraphics' assistant manager and, when she isn't busy answering stupid questions ("Will your color copier make my black-and-white photos come out in color?"), she'll be delighted to assist you with your… More >>
  • Best Place To Please Your Pooch's Palate

    Three Dog Bakery

    Toys, dog accessories, books and novelty items fill this smartly appointed store, where our four-legged friends are always welcome to sniff barrels of bulk treats and sampler gift boxes. But it's Three Dog's baked goods that get your doggy drooling. They look so yummy, we want to taste them, too. The most endearing feature of Three Dog Bakery is the… More >>
  • Best Remedy For "I'm Too Pooped To Cook"

    Delicious Deliveries

    Sure, most newspaper food sections will tell you that you can make a great meal in 10 minutes or less using what "everyone" already has in the kitchen. But we can't figure out how to make five-star fettuccine with leftover ketchup packets from our McDonald's Happy Meal. So we just let the experts do their thing: We call Delicious Deliveries,… More >>
  • 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… More >>
  • Best Little Plastic Stuff You Didn't Know You Needed

    ABC Cakes, Decorating and Party Supplies

    More fun than a Toys "R" Us, the often-bizarre aisles of ABC Cakes are our favorite place to find party favors, stocking stuffers and just plain goofy weirdness. They've got the full range of cake pans, decorative icing tips, and those papery things called glassines (they go between your cake and the big pink bakery boxes sold on the same… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy A Shirt With The Name "Chet" Embroidered On It

    Johnny's Used Work Uniforms

    The sign says "Johnny's Used Work Uniforms," but we'll settle for "My Blue-Collar Heaven." A working stiff's dream haberdashery, this would-be New Wave warehouse is crammed to the rafters with industrial-style shirts, smocks, pants and jumpsuits, many emblazoned with "can-I-be-of-service-ma'am?" monikers like "Chet," "Billy Bob" and "Flo." All pants are $3, shirts are $2, and if your name doesn't happen… More >>
  • Best Bridal Bouquet

    Michelle's Design Company

    The name of Michelle Zekanis' shop may suggest architecture or interior decorating, but her appointment-only business is about creating fresh and silk flower arrangements for weddings large and small. Zekanis favors arrangements designed by the customer -- and within the customer's budget. Photo albums display flower-adorned ice sculptures, floating pool bouquets and elaborate flower arrangements that brides have designed themselves,… More >>
  • Best Nursery

    Berridge Nursery

    Imagine being a guest at an afternoon tea in the Hamptons, where your hosts happen to be a friendly, knowledgeable and accessible group of gardening professionals who are eager to share their love of flora. That's what a stroll through Berridge is like. It has all the traditional aspects of a well-stocked nursery: long flats bursting with annuals, herbs and… More >>
  • Best Place To Get Into A Lather

    Bailiwicks Soap and Sundries

    This relatively new addition to north Scottsdale is a quaint shop with a turn-of-the-century general store ambiance. Rows of self-serve bins display bath salts and beads, as well as potpourri and a whimsical line of bubble-bath confetti (a confetti that cleans up after itself -- what a concept!). Bailiwicks also carries a full line of perfumed and highly moisturizing soaps… More >>
  • Best Tire Store

    Discount Tire Co.

    No doubt there are many criteria that could be used to determine excellence in tire shops, but how about free tire repairs? While this particular Discount Tire outlet certainly charges for most of its services, the exceedingly cheerful and friendly staff has been known on many occasions to quickly patch tires without charging. This sort of gesture is sadly antiquated,… More >>
  • Best Kitchen Gadgets

    Sur La Table

    Super chefs like Julia Child and Jacques Pépin can't be wrong. If Sur La Table is good enough for their culinary contraption needs, then it's good enough for us. This is where the pros stop to shop, do demonstrations and share their secrets with regular home chefs like us. We fill our baskets with bread machines, coffee mills, waffle makers,… More >>
  • Best Laundromat

    Spin Cycle

    Laundromats are typically best approached with blinders on: Don't look too closely at the floor; try to ignore your surroundings and your fellow launderers; don't subject your clean laundry to the folding tables and counters without disinfecting them first. Although doing laundry may never be a pleasure, Spin Cycle at least makes it possible to clean clothes without lowering one's… More >>
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