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  • BEST PLACE TO GET BLING BLING

    Capri Jewelers

    It may look like your typical hole-in-the-mall diamonoid shop from the outside -- and even on the inside, if you only spend a couple minutes browsing the pricey engagement rings and watches in the display boxes. But loiter around the subdued Capri Jewelers for a while, and you'll see a clientele you usually don't expect in a mall jewelry store.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY LOCAL FASHION

    Mary Jane at Kontrive

    These days anyone who can deconstruct a tee shirt and sew it back together feels the need to label himself or herself a "designer." While it's nice to see the local fashion scene grow, it can be frustrating to weed through the plethora of faux designers to find quality. Luckily, Mary Jane at Kontrive, a funky boutique in downtown Tempe,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MAKE A STINK

    Illuminations

    Who would have thought that pineapple cilantro would be a best-selling candle scent? Or that some folks would rather light up a chardonnay than sip one? No matter what end you like to burn the candle on, this is the place for you. Illuminations' line of signature candles includes everything from the traditional (cherry, vanilla, sandalwood) to the obscure… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY VINTAGE VIDEO GAMES

    Games Plus Video Game Exchange

    Sure, it might be cool these days to get your vicarious vid-screen thrills as a gun-toting hit man or car thief, but sometimes old-school gamers long for a simpler time when all you needed was the Konami Code to advance to the next level. So the plentiful stacks of classic titles for sale or trade at Games Plus are like… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO RENT A MOVIE YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF

    Burton Barr Central Library

    Forget Hollywood Video and Blockbuster. And while you're at it, forget every rinky-dink indie video store in the Valley. The largest, most eclectic collection of videos is at Burton Barr Central Library, where you can rent everything from Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd and Robert Bresson's L'Argent to Luis Bu--uel's The Exterminating Angel and the complete PBS series… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO RENT CLASSIC FLICKS

    Scottsdale Video

    Is it just us, or does the cable channel American Movie Classics just suck these days? Not for nothing, but when tuning in to that particular cable station, it's nice to see some, you know, classics -- like maybe Citizen Kane or even On the Waterfront. Sixteen Candles or When Harry Met Sally . . . are… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO RENT A BOLLYWOOD FILM

    India Plaza

    Sometimes we need our tear-jerkers and melodramas interspersed with a few singing and dancing numbers, and after watching Chicago for the thousandth time, the Cell Block Tango gets a little stale. That's why we say hooray for Bollywood. We're not purists, mind you, and we're ashamed to admit we got into the genre after seeing Heather Graham's execrable The Guru… More >>
  • BEST ADULT RENTALS

    Castle Megastore

    The sign outside each of Castle Megastore's six locations in the Valley proudly declares, "Knights and Damsels Welcome." And unlike some adult shops in the Valley that are hardly hospitable to the fairer sex and where anyone should be rightly afraid of touching the merchandise without a pair of industrial-strength rubber gloves, Castle prides itself on catering to men and… More >>
  • BEST GROCERY STORE FOR PERVS

    Safeway

    Any red-blooded single young man who spends more than a semester in or near Tempe knows that there's plentiful eye candy to be found as you're strolling the aisles of the Broadway Safeway, the closest grocery store to the campus of Arizona State University. Short of the bar scene or wandering the campus itself, this place is your best bet… More >>
  • BEST HET EROTICA

    Perihelion Arts - CLOSED

    In just two years, partners in life and crime Amy Young and Doug Grant have transformed their corner of Grand Avenue into the metaphysical hub for all things eccentric, esoteric and erotic. Marry the X-Files to the Juxtapoz aesthetic and add in a liberal dose of the Suicide Girls and Octave Mirbeau's Torture Garden, and you've got a gallery/shop where… More >>
  • BEST NEW BOUTIQUE

    Toila

    We love to shop, but we love it even more when someone shops for us -- combing the world for just the right items, then gathering them together in one sweet spot for our perusal. That's what happens at a good boutique, and that's what happens at Toila. The owners of this tiny shop on Third Street have filled their… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET OLD

    Sage

    The place is packed with junk, but Sage is no junk store. Rather, we feel like we were in a cozy salon, with lighted candles and a gilt-framed sign reading, "Prices are firm but fair." Truth be told, the prices are a little high, but then, so is the quality. And really, when you're shopping for junk, who wants to… More >>
  • BEST HIP-HOP FASHION

    K-Momo

    K-Momo gets props for getting Roc-A-Fella, Ecko and G Unit into the Valley's urban communities. Thanks to the Arizona chain's eight spread-out locations, you don't need to travel far to find the essential hair products too often skipped over by the Wal-Mart product buyers. And suburbanites also have easy neighborhood access to Fat Albert pullovers and Baby Phat thongs --… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET NEW

    Haus

    We like Haus so much, we contemplated gutting our entire shabby chic decorating theme just for one Jonathan Adler vase. This modern mecca features furniture the buyers at Copenhagen can only dream about, and a line of fabulous products for the dog-obsessed. We are also particularly fond of the paper goods. So make a Haus call! … More >>
  • BEST ANTIQUES MALL

    Antique Market

    The Historic District Antique Market's 14,000 square feet are overrun with a colossal combination of high-quality antique furniture and irresistible vintage tchotchkes -- many of which have found their way into our home. Like the pair of massive plaster gold-leaf Grecian urn lamps we snagged for less than 20 bucks, and the French deco armoire we thought we couldn't afford… More >>
  • BEST TEE SHIRT STORE

    Shirts 'n' Things

    You might not expect to find a "Fuck you you fucking fuck" wife beater tank top in the heart of Mesa, but for 16 years this mom-and-pop shop has defied the town's lack of diversity by selling everything from Cannibal Corpse shirts to The Passion of the Christ posters in the 3,600-square-foot corner of a strip mall, which the owners… More >>
  • BEST VINTAGE LIGHTING

    Stuff Antiques

    You have to ask to be let into this grand gallery of artsy artifacts, but once you're inside, it's easy to see why. Less an antique shop than a museum of old-timey lighting design, Stuff Antiques provides a wonderfully illuminating trip into the history of vintage lighting. The place is mad with pole lamps and chandeliers, desk lamps and bedside… More >>
  • BEST VINTAGE SHOPPING ON A BUDGET

    Michael Todd's Furniture

    So what if your basement is bulging with all the stuff you already own and don't have room for? There's more to be had -- and at bargain prices -- at this collectibles mainstay on Indian School Road. Michael Todd's keeps expanding -- the store has taken over several small businesses on either side of it this past year --… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GO CHEAP CHIC

    High Society Resale

    In north Scottsdale, one woman's trash is another woman's fabulous new famous-label wardrobe. Inside High Society Resale's "3,100 square feet of bargain hunting paradise," shopping becomes a full-contact endeavor: We throw elbows for Escada and body-check for Chanel. Packed with everything from "blue jeans to ball gowns" -- plus Southwestern home decor items -- HSR scores new used merchandise… More >>
  • BEST BAKING SUPPLIES

    ABC Baking, Cake Decorating and Party Supplies

    We almost tossed our cookies when we walked into ABC for the first time -- we got that excited. This headquarters for baking, cake decorating and party supplies is all that it promises, and more. We found the pink bakery boxes we'd been looking all over town for, the super-sturdy, every-shape-imaginable cookie cutters we'd been coveting, and armloads of party… More >>
  • BEST KNITTING SUPPLIES

    Arizona Knitting and Needlepoint - CLOSED

    Whether you're a novice with the needles or a veritable machine, Arizona Knitting and Needlepoint has what you need to knit. This charming, tiny yellow house is literally packed to the rafters with a selection of unusual, high-quality yarn, and the prices are fair. The staffers aren't snooty, and they maintain a helpful attitude even when confronted by rank amateurs.… More >>
  • BEST NOTIONS

    Diane Ribbons & Notions Co.

    This place is like Michaels on acid -- and we mean that as a compliment. Settled in a warehouse just north of I-17 (beware of hard-to-navigate Grand Avenue nearby), Diane Ribbons started as a wholesaler to mom-and-pop craft shops. When those caved under the weight of Michaels, Diane (and we're told there really is a Diane) opened her doors to… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET STRUNG UP

    Beads Galore

    This is not your childhood Hobby Hut. Instead, Beads Galore is for the grown-ups, those of us serious about copying those expensive designs we see in the Sundance and Anthropologie catalogues. Okay, so we're not there yet, but we might be with a little help from our friends at Beads Galore; some days, it feels like there's a one-to-one ratio… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO OVERSTAY YOUR 19-MINUTE PARKING LIMIT

    La Grande Orange

    The signs out front ask that visitors park for no longer than 19 minutes, but we gladly risk trouble each time we visit this epicenter of cool. That's because it takes us nearly that long to decide among La Grande Orange's array of salads, sandwiches, sushi and pizzas. Waiting for one of the six precious indoor tables at this upscale… More >>
  • BEST FURNITURE MADE FROM PICKLE BARRELS

    Judy Blair's Rustic Collectible Furniture

    The Arnold Pickle and Olive Company opened its doors in 1905, when Van Buren Street was a dirt road. The Arnold family began delivering pickles, sandwiches and other products to Phoenix merchants by horse and buggy at first, and remained in business until 10 years ago when the Arnolds' grandson Phil Blair and his wife Judy found themselves with a… More >>
  • BEST FABRIC STORE

    Interior Fabric

    Our hundred-dollar sofa looks like a million bucks, thanks to this treasure trove of high-end upholstery and curtain fabrics, tagged at below-bargain prices. Before we discovered Interior Fabric, we thought "mill outlet" and "fine fabrics" were mutually exclusive. Then we wandered the wide aisles of this textile paradise, fingering top-dollar damasks and finally affordable watered silks -- most at right… More >>
  • BEST DOLLAR STORE

    99-Cents Only

    The most post-bang bang for your buck? Pregnancy tests at the dollar store. The 99-Cents Only Store, to be exact. We used to think ourselves too good for single-price emporiums, but this enclave of "primarily name-brand consumable general merchandise" has opened our eyes to a whole new world of retail -- what with its bright lighting, clean aisles, and… More >>
  • BEST JAPANESE DOLLAR STORE

    Banzai 99 Cent Plus

    The first time we walked into this central Phoenix bargain mecca, we were torn between the wall of pink plastic Hello Kitty goods and the table stacked with tastefully glazed Japanese pottery. But then it dawned on us that we can fill our basket with both, with cash to spare. This is no ordinary dollar store -- indeed, most items… More >>
  • BEST COSTUME SHOP

    Easley's Costumes

    Bullet wounds, severed heads and pet puke come in all shapes and sizes at Easley's Costumes, a department store of disguises and surprises. Easley's carries so many odd accouterments, it's amazing it got them all in such a deceptively small building. Here you will find chicken feet, clown supplies, crowns and tiaras, theatrical makeup, and eight varieties of fake poop… More >>
  • BEST NURSERY

    Tara's Garden

    We don't know a ficus from a philodendron, but we do know that we can't visit this groovy garden center without leaving a good portion of our paycheck behind. Situated in and around a restored Craftsman bungalow in downtown Phoenix's historic Roosevelt District, Tara's Garden isn't just a heap of horticulture; it's a series of artfully crafted outdoor garden settings.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET THE BIRD

    The Flight of Phoenix

    Alleviate the empty nest syndrome at The Flight of Phoenix, the pet project of Dale and Steve Madonick. Since 1996, the Flight folks have sought "to provide the finest in understanding and care for tropical birds." Services range from boarding and grooming to behavior modification, while the shop's finest feathered friends include macaws, caiques and parrots aplenty. A quick breakdown:… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY DOG ART

    Bullies in a China Shoppe Décor

    We stopped into this just-opened, ultra-hip shop in search of shabby chic furnishings, and found stacks of it, some of which we whisked away to our own shabby home. What we didn't count on was meeting the artist-in-residence, an English bull terrier named Tarquin who peddles his paintings between naps in one corner of the store. Each of Tarquin's paw-painted… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A GIFT FOR SOMEONE FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE

    Russian Market

    Times are tough in Russia these days, especially with newly self-anointed czar Vladimir considering a surname change from Putin to Lenin. So if you're friends with a Russki, a pick-me-up is in order. Matryoshka dolls are especially delightful, especially the comical versions available at Russian Market, with droll renditions of cowboy-hat-wearing Dubya or the more traditional babushka-clad female figure. If… More >>
  • BEST OFF-THE-WALL GIFT SHOP

    Great Arizona Puppet Theater

    Looking for some political party favors? Get your hands on the "Axis of Evil II" finger puppet set, packing tiny versions of Bush, Ashcroft, Cheney and Rumsfeld. The first "Axis of Evil" set -- more global, just as terrifying -- partners Dubya with Saddam, Kim Jong-il and Khamenei. Shopping for kids? More inspiring (and less frightening) finger puppets include "The… More >>
  • BEST BOOKSTORE

    Changing Hands Bookstore

    It takes more than a great selection of new and used books to get this honor. If that weren't the case, we could easily nominate Amazon.com. What truly sets Changing Hands apart from its competitors both real and virtual is the close-knit community it's nurtured. Aside from thoughtfully arranged shelves and tables of compelling reads (like the variety of titles… More >>
  • BEST COLLECTIBLE BOOKSTORE

    The Book Gallery

    It calls itself a bookshop, but Book Gallery is really more like a classy library where all the books are for sale. Rare and out-of-print treasures are neatly organized on towering mahogany shelves surrounded by comfy chairs and tables just like you'd find in Dad's study. The pricier, more rare titles are locked away in tidy glass cases, but… More >>
  • BEST PAPER SHOP

    AlteRnaTe: A Hands-On Paper Place

    Is it just us, or is there something a little creepy, a little Stepford Wives-ish, about scrapbooking? And since when is the word "scrapbook" a verb? If you love paper but hate scrapbooking, try AlteRnaTe: A Hands-On Paper Place. Not only does AlteRnaTe carry a wide selection of papers to drool over, including handmade, origami and hand-printed, it invites you… More >>
  • BEST ROLLING PAPER SHOP

    The Headquarters

    The Headquarters has everything you're looking for in a head shop: great smoking accessories, including plenty of rolling papers, alongside the requisite tee shirts and incense. Our favorite piece of merchandise, on a recent visit, was what we feel compelled to refer to as the Old Glory bong -- a hand-blown glass one with white stars on a blue background,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MAKE CHEAP COPIES

    Americopy

    We had to pull an all-nighter, but our 14-page manifesto on how to unleash global anarchy is finally done. All that remains now is to run off a few dozen reproductions and use some guerrilla-distribution tactics (i.e., handing it out in front of the public library). We've only got a 10-spot, so a place where we can get more toner… More >>
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