Shopping & Services

  • BEST PLACE TO RENT A SIX-FOOT PYTHON

    Reptile Adventures

    When we wanted to rent an Australian Jungle Carpet python, we knew where to go. Rich Ihle has been collecting, studying and breeding reptiles for more than 30 years, and he's happy to lend some of them out, for a fee — and with supervision, for which we're thankful. We're not sure we want a python all our own (who… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MAKE YOUR GARDEN GREEN

    Sea of Green Hydrogardens

    To be honest, we thought hydroponics was just a method to grow better dope plants inside your closet. That was before we stepped foot in Tempe's Sea of Green. Turns out it's actually a real science, dude. Who knew? Contrary to popular belief, hydroponics isn't about growing a plant in water. Heck, we all did that as kids with pineapples… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A DESERT PLANT

    Cactus Hut

    You'd think it would be easy to find good desert plants in the actual desert. Think again. We scoured nurseries (limited selection), souvenir stops (tacky) and gardens (pricey) before stumbling upon this little gem of a shop hidden in Old Town Scottsdale. Cactus Hut proprietor Jeffrey Shaw has been quietly importing and grooming desert plants for 30 years. His tiny… More >>
  • BEST USE OF A PRICKLY PEAR

    High Spirits Prickly Pear Flavored Vodka

    We're cheating a little, because the truth is that High Spirits Prickly Pear Flavored Vodka is actually brewed in Flagstaff, at the Mogollon Brewing Company. Yeah, we know, Valley sprawl being what it is, Flag is practically north Phoenix . . . Maybe by next year. In any case, we feel justified in giving this vodka a Best of Phoenix… More >>
  • BEST USE OF A PRICKLY PEAR NOT INVOLVING ALCOHOL

    Prickly Pear

    All year long, we keep a folder full of ideas for Best of Phoenix awards — menus, newspaper clippings, notes scribbled on cocktail napkins. This year, that folder also contains a bar of soap. Yes, it makes the folder a little bulky, but we've found it's not enough to keep a bar of Wild Women Soaps prickly pear on the… More >>
  • BEST REPTILE SHOP

    Arizona Reptile Center

    From giant pythons to tiny lizards, Arizona Reptile Center has everything you need to transform your living room into a world-class reptilian display. The friendly and knowledgeable staffers are quick to answer questions, whether you're an expert herpetologist or a novice who's a bit terrified about feeding a dead rat to your pet boa. The store has quietly developed a… More >>
  • BEST SMALL RETAIL MIRACLES

    99’ Only Stores

    It's the national chain with the huge purple-and-green logo. Accept no substitutes! Unlike most other soi-disant "dollar" stores, everything here is 99 cents — unless it's two, three, or four for 99 cents. Six big ounces of posh Yardley shower gel. Brilliant blue, red, or green cotton tea towels embroidered with adorable vegetables. Everything for the table: candles, vases, melamine… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A LIGHT-UP INFANT OF PRAGUE

    The Autom Company

    We weren't sure there was any better place than several of our favorite local dollar stores to buy religious accouterments, until we wandered into The Autom Company on Seventh Street one recent afternoon. We'll never get back the two hours we spent browsing there, but that's more than okay, since we now own a Saint Benedict Home Protection Kit ("For… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY FETISH/BONDAGE WEAR

    Smokin' Lingerie

    Looking for a "hooker-tight" black vinyl mini-skirt? Need a leather bustier with lots of zippers? Can't find a place that sells quality latex body paint? Stop in at Smokin' Lingerie, and you'll find every kinky thing you need for the next fetish ball or flash bash. At 12,000 square feet, Smokin' Lingerie has room for a massive selection of… More >>
  • BEST DRIVE-THROUGH LIQUOR STORE

    Melrose Liquors

    Phoenix has more than its share of drive-through liquor stores, but Melrose Liquors stands out for a couple of reasons: one, the building is situated between two popular lesbian nightclubs, zGirl Club (formerly Misty's) and E-Lounge; and two, the building is triangular and painted hot pink, fitting for a building situated on a strip of Seventh Avenue that's full of… More >>
  • BEST HEAD SHOP

    It's All Goodz

    That little clay or clear glass "tobacco pipe" might hit in a pinch, but pull it out at a party, and people will look at you cross-eyed for all the wrong reasons. If you really want to impress your fellow smokers, hook yourself up with a custom pipe from It's All Goodz. The shop presses and blows its own glass… More >>
  • BEST WIG SHOP

    Panorama Wigs - CLOSED

    The once and always champion among wig shops is fast becoming a Phoenix institution, especially among the follicularly challenged. Panorama only appears to be displaying all 3,000 of the wigs it stocks, because they're everywhere: auburn falls and bright blond switches and shiny Dynel Afros. Guys who aren't interested in dressing like girls will find a fabulous selection of men's… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PREPARE FOR THE APOCALYPSE

    Metal Devastation

    Some people get ready for an earthquake or a tornado by stocking up on the essentials for survival — extra food, batteries, and plenty of water. Serious death-metalers, on the other hand, spend their time preparing for Judgment Day by stocking up on the essentials of hardcore metal — that rare Dying Fetus Purification Through Violence picture disc, the latest… More >>
  • BEST CD STORE TO DISCOVER NEW BANDS

    Stinkweeds

    If you're looking for the latest Britney Spears or Kelly Clarkson tracks, look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you need indie ska, punk, reggae or anything alternative, Stinkweeds is the place to go. Owner Kimber Lanning personally trains the staff, and the turnover rate is low, so you can bet that the folks behind the counter will have the… More >>
  • BEST CD STORE ON A BUDGET

    Zia Record Exchange

    How much would you pay for that last Sheryl Crow CD you need to make your collection complete? $12? $15? How about $4.99? That's what we paid for one of her older discs on a recent trip to Tempe's Zia Record Exchange, the music mecca for starving artists and broke college students. The store carries thousands of used titles, from… More >>
  • BEST VINYL

    Eastside Records

    DJ-friendly wax copy of the hip-hop Gorillaz — check. Obscure Albert Ayler ESP 180-gram free jazz reissue — check. Nigel Peppercock punk rock gatefold — check. This is what a typical visit to Tempe's version of High Fidelity will look like for vinyl junkies and newbies alike. Since 1986, Eastside has carried aisles of dusty crates filled with new… More >>
  • BEST GUITAR REPAIR SHOP

    Beck's Guitar Specialty Services

    Nobody in the Valley can repair and rehab guitars and amps better, faster or with more character than Richard Beck. Beck has 25 years of experience in the guitar-repair game, and is known to musicians throughout the Valley as the only choice in skillful, high-quality guitar repair. The exclusive repair shop for artists such as Glen Campbell and members of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO TOOT YOUR OWN HORN

    Metro Music Center

    It seems like people are content to buy their musical instruments with their groceries and electronics these days. With mega-stores now selling cheapie beginner packages for the Valley's dilettante musicians, indiscriminate shoppers spend their hard-earned cash for inferior product without thinking about warranties or a guarantee of service. For the rest of us who think it's important that the people… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO ADOPT A HORSE

    WildHorse Ranch Rescue and Kitty City

    Looking to take a pretty little filly back to the farm? Then gallop down to Gilbert's safe haven for neglected horses and feral cats. Founded in 1995 by animal activist Kimberly Meagher, whose board of directors includes ex-Monkees dreamboat Davy Jones, the ranch works year-round to prevent horse slaughter by saving hundreds of animals from neglect and premature death. … More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET A PUSSY CAT

    Arizona Humane Society

    If you've got a fervor for felines or want to get into some heavy petting, peep the plethora of pussycats available at either of the Arizona Humane Society's two Valley shelters and help satisfy your particular cat fancy. For anywhere from $35 to $75 (based on the kitty's age and the length of time it's stayed at the facility), you'll… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CASH A CHECK

    M&M Kwik Mart

    It's Friday evening and you've got a paycheck burning a hole in your pocket. Since you wanna hit some bars tonight, you're gonna need some cash in a flash, pal. Too bad all the banks closed hours ago, leaving the option of either sitting at home watching South Park reruns, or hitting up one of the countless check-cashing stores dotting… More >>
  • BEST FAUX TOWN

    Kierland Commons

    Okay, it's in Snottsdale (as compared with Allwhitetookee), but for those of us who like a good bookstore (Barnes & Noble, in this case), a good restaurant or two (Zinc, and North, among others), plenty of comfortable places to sit outside, and absolutely fabulous people-watching, this is a cool spot. The centerpiece of this 38-acre development is a quasi-Main Street… More >>
  • BEST INSTANT STREET

    Seventh Street and Sheridan

    In the past several years, we've noticed several strips of Phoenix that have seemingly sprouted all kinds of cool, overnight. Just add water, and up pops the complex housing Pane Bianco, Lux Coffeebar and Passage. Prune a bit, and you have Roosevelt Row. We know the truth — these "instant" meccas of merch and coffee don't happen by accident,… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO COOK DINNER FOR TWO WEEKS IN TWO HOURS

    Entrees Made Easy

    Friends keep inviting us out to dinner — well, not out to dinner, exactly. More like out to cook. We took one up on the offer, and luckily landed at Entrees Made Easy, a place that lives up to its name. In just an evening's time — and with no small amount of assistance — we pulled together a dozen… More >>
  • BEST OUTDOOR MARKET

    Downtown Phoenix Public Market

    We were thrilled when this outdoor public market opened last year at the intersection of Central Avenue and McKinley Street. We're even happier that the market is still going strong and the number of vendors has doubled. Among our favorite new booths are Dave The Egg Man's assorted selection of chicken, goose, and duck eggs; Bread Basket Bakery's natural bread,… More >>
  • BEST MIDDLE EASTERN GROCERY STORE

    Baiz Market

    Thank goodness for word of mouth, because Baiz Market — discreetly nestled between the I-10 and a housing complex — is not the kind of place we'd likely stumble upon. Even at that, it's not too far off the beaten path, and it's certainly worth a visit on those days when only a piping hot platter of chicken shawarma or… More >>
  • BEST ASIAN MARKET

    Lee Lee Oriental Supermarket

    Whether you're a world traveler, a cook, or just a curious soul, head to this enormous international grocery store for an in-town adventure filled with new sights and smells. Anchoring the northeast corner of the Valley's most bustling intersection of Asian culture (Dobson and Warner roads in Chandler), Lee Lee could almost be mistaken for a Safeway — from the… More >>
  • BEST WINE SELECTION

    Sportsman's Fine Wine & Spirits - CLOSED

    In the local wine community, Sportsman's is a big deal. The biggest deal in the state, actually, boasting more than 3,000 bottles. It's a jet-setting collection of vintages from wineries across the globe, with boutiquey gems for bargain hunters and extravagant, obscure selections to please the pickiest connoisseurs around. But while size does matter, there's another detail we appreciate beyond… More >>
  • BEST CHEESE SELECTION

    Cheuvront Wine & Cheese Cafe - CLOSED

    Most of the time, we're at the mercy of the kitchen when it comes to ordering a cheese plate. The selection can be a total gustatory grab bag, and sometimes that stinks more than a plateful of Limburger. But at Cheuvront, nothing's left up to chance. Pick a familiar fromage, like powerful Parmigiano Reggiano or creamy Camembert, or go with… More >>
  • BEST BAKERY

    the Sweet Pea

    In most cities, you'll stumble on the best bakery in town just walking down the street. In Phoenix, you probably won't find it unless you've just gotten out of the nearby county jail — or gone to visit someone there. We're pretty sure the kind folks at the Sweet Pea won't bake a file into one of their dense chocolate… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET A GLASS OF MILK

    Milk n More Store

    This is as close to the cow's teat as you can get (or want to get, for that matter). The Milk n More Store is on the same property as those giant industrial vats filled with creamy milk that you might have passed on Hardy Drive and Broadway Road in Tempe. The kind United Dairymen of Arizona decided to let… More >>
  • BEST DOUGHNUT DEAL

    Bashas'

    Those of us who love doughnuts went into panic mode recently when all the Valley locations of Krispy Kreme closed suddenly. Where, oh where, will we go now to get our doughnuts? Fortunately, there is an alternative for all of you pastry junkies out there. For the best doughnut deal in town, go to Bashas' grocery stores. The trick is,… More >>
  • BEST BAGELS

    D.J.'s Bagel Cafe

    We searched far and wide, and finally found the best bagels in the northeast. No, not New York — Fountain Hills. D.J.'s bagels are big, hard on the outside, and soft but not fluffy on the inside. We'd swear they come from the Upper West Side of Manhattan, they're that good. Certainly worth the drive; and just think, at least… More >>
  • BEST ENGLISH MUFFINS

    La Grande Orange Grocery

    So much is made these days of comfort food — but really, all that steak and mashed potatoes (and don't get us started on the fried stuff) just gets us too full. And too guilty. For us, true comfort is found in the perfect English muffin, a simple creation made incredibly delicious by the talented folks at La Grande Orange,… More >>
  • BEST CHOCOLATE

    Chatham's Fine Chocolate

    If chocolate truly is the Food of the Gods — and you won't find anyone arguing that around these parts — then this little shop at the Hilton Village offers manna from heaven. The enthusiastic owner, Chatham, will chat about — and sample! — all things chocolate. His idea of a good time is to walk a novice around his… More >>
  • BEST CUSTOM CHOCOLATES

    Granny's Chocolate Creations - CLOSED

    For years, Colin Redding and his family have molded big names onto chocolates, making a business out of helping companies promote the good name of Neiman Marcus or America West Airlines. But recently, Colin has branched out, molding some rather interesting confections for galleries on Roosevelt Row. He made bugs for MADE Art Boutique's Roots show, and motorcycles for someone… More >>
  • BEST GELATO

    Arlecchino Gelateria

    We love the latest trend in dessert: gelato. Not long ago, we had just one or two spots to hit for the dense, allegedly healthier-than-ice cream treat. Now there are many choices, but the decision is not hard at all. We pick Arlecchino Gelateria, sample spoons down. Marina and Moreno Spangaro, who hail from Trieste, Italy, landed in the… More >>
  • BEST CHEWABLE BEVERAGE

    Black iced-milk tea with boba

    Though it's lip-smackingly delicious, our liquid refreshment of choice is probably a bit conservative given the wildly inventive menu at this fun little drinkery near ASU, which features a line of creative concoctions that includes Asian smoothies, ice crushes, snow bubbles, yogurt coolers, Italian crème sodas, and iced watermelon teas. But what makes our black-tea delight so appealing are the… More >>
  • BEST STARISTA

    Dan Bacon at Seattle Espresso

    Baristas and bad attitudes go together like coffee and cream. So familiar are we to having our morning java jump-start served up with a side of surliness that when first encountering Dan Bacon, the super-friendly Joe-slinger at Seattle Espresso in Tempe, we thought we must've caught him on an off day. Turns out he's just extremely good at what he… More >>
  • BEST COFFEE SHOP TO CALL YOUR OFFICE

    Gold Bar Espresso

    Longtime Tempe residents still lament the "old Gold Bar," a bigger incarnation of this hidden East Valley gem that was shut down years ago. But these complainers are missing the point — it wasn't the building that made Gold Bar the most comfortable coffee joint in Tempe, it's the atmosphere created by the mismatched furniture, the fiercely loyal regulars and… More >>
  • BEST NEW COFFEE HOUSE

    Drip Coffee Lounge

    Nestled in a charming group of new businesses in Seventh Street's Sheridan Square — including the Belgian bistro Trente-Cinq 35 and the Lisa G salad-sandwich lunch spot — is the irresistible Drip Coffee Lounge, owned by Vinι Saccento and ex-Lux Coffeebar barista Gina Bell Madrid. There's a vintage elegance about the place, with stained concrete floors, chic '70s-style furniture, and… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, NORTH PHOENIX

    Soma

    We're especially keen on this perfectly located, locally owned place because it really does encourage folks to mingle and hang around as long as they wish on the comfy sofas and chairs or out on the large patio. It's a terrific place to write, as long as you can find a nook somewhere and don't mind one of the friendly… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, CENTRAL PHOENIX

    Mama Java's Coffeehouse

    Look for neighborhood regulars perched at the outside tables, Wi-Fi-ing away with well-behaved pooches at their feet. Enjoy mellow musical and literary events, or just drink in displays of fine art along with your espresso drink, tea, or smoothie. It's a perfect break from the wildly diverse shopping opportunities of Gaslight Square, although, frankly, sometimes you'll want a break from… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, WEST VALLEY

    Copper Star Coffee

    Okay, okay, so Copper Star Coffee is barely a toe's length over the western edge of the city, into the avenues. But we have to tip our latte to this adorable coffee house, the best we've found in the West Valley — and tops on any Phoenix list, no matter how you map it. This onetime gas station has… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, SOUTHEAST VALLEY

    Coffee Talk

    It's no coincidence that this neighborhood java spot shares a name with the faux talk show created by Mike Myers for Saturday Night Live. It's exactly the kind of place his character, Linda Richmond, would find appealing — a charming, two-story historic bungalow, complete with winding ivy and two large gardens with wrought-iron patio furniture. New owners Betty Freeman and… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, TEMPE

    Three Roots Cafe

    Believe it or not, there's more to Mill Avenue than the main drag — you just have to know where to look. Half a block south, nestled into the Maple/Ash neighborhood, is one of our favorite Tempe joints, Three Roots Cafe. Hanging out in the tiny java house is like chillin' in your best friend's living room, and chances are,… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD COFFEE HOUSE, SCOTTSDALE

    The Village Coffee Roastery

    This joint is fresh. The coffee beans are roasted on-site, producing an intense, rich flavor that makes chain-store lattes look (and taste) like instant. There's a large selection of flavors, including macadamia nut and chocolate raspberry, a popular mocha java and a dark roast that's ideal for espresso. Somehow The Village manages to put as much effort into its sandwich… More >>
  • BEST CUP OF COFFEE AND LOAF OF BREAD ON ROOSEVELT

    Tammie Coe Cakes

    We've loved Tammie Coe's oversize cookies and fruity tarts forever, it seems, but we're not here to talk sugar at the moment — just good, old-fashioned artisan breads and steaming java. Finally, a storefront bakery in downtown Phoenix that we can really sink our teeth into. Tammie's husband and business partner, Michael, takes care of the pan component, preparing… More >>
  • BEST CUP OF COFFEE ON GRAND

    The Trunk Space

    There's something about JRC and Stephanie's little red espresso cart at the Trunk Space that's just so personal and accessible. It's like a car full of clowns, except the clowns are coffee, prepared with mad skills right in front of you. They also serve tea, snacks, fancy sodas, and even boba. Most things on the menu run $3 or less,… More >>
  • BEST SHOPPING OPPORTUNITY ON GRAND

    Red Door Gallery

    The vintage boutique in the back of Red Door is like three dozen estate sales on LSD, and we're drawn like magpies to the shiny, colorful objects on display. Artist Indigo Verton collects and prices the merchandise (mostly women's clothing and accessories) with a canny eye. If you want a little something for five or six bucks, it's here, but… More >>
  • BEST REASON TO GO TO MESA

    The Old JC Penney

    The name JC Penney doesn't usually conjure visions of shabby-chic treasures and super-cute baby clothes, but we make an exception for the shell of the former department store, at the intersection of Main Street and Robson in historic downtown Mesa. The original brickwork remains, but the rest of this building has been transformed into a two-story, high-end boutique mall housing… More >>
  • BEST NEW BOUTIQUE

    Frances

    We thought we had original taste, until we walked into Frances. Then the mixed emotions started. On one hand, we were delighted to see vintage cowboy boots alongside oilcloth, rhinestoned belt buckles next to the cutest lines of greeting cards we'd seen in a long time. On the other hand, we had to realize that not only is our taste… More >>
  • BEST BOUTIQUE, AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

    Purple Lizard

    We were bummed when The Gap on Mill Avenue went belly up, but it always makes us even sadder to see a small, independent business go under. That's why we're so happy to report that after many years in business, Purple Lizard is still going strong, tucked into a small, packed space at the intersection of 15th Avenue and Thomas… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A GIFT FOR AN OUTDOORSY TYPE

    Sportsman's Warehouse

    We've gotten to the point where we dread hearing the word "birthday." And "Christmas"? Don't get us started. In our overstocked, overstimulated, overdone world, the "perfect gift" just doesn't exist anymore — particularly when you're trying to buy for the type who thinks the word "shop" is the worst kind of four-letter word. That's why we're so happy we found… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A GIFT FOR AN INDOORSY TYPE

    Lush

    We love Lush so much, we gave this creative bath and body store a Best of Phoenix last year, even before the first Valley location opened. In the past year, we haven't been disappointed! In fact, we've gone back several times, to stock up on charcoal face soap, lemony flutter cuticle butter, and our favorite, bubbling bath bars with a… More >>
  • BEST HOLIDAY STORE FOR SANTA MUTINY

    Holiday Haus

    We may not have to deal with dashing through the snow during the winter holidays, but there are the usual retail disappointments when it comes to the aisles of monotonous Santa-themed gifts. Ditch the rabid shoppers fighting for cheesy fat-guy merch and stroll into this bright and bold contemporary gift shop created by the masters of campy pop-type home furnishings… More >>
  • BEST THEME PARTIES

    MADE art boutique

    It doesn't matter if we're picking up a gift for a friend, or just a pick-me-up for ourselves — we'll take any excuse to pore over the shelves of goodies at MADE. Ever since this minuscule shopping space expanded a few months ago, there's been even more to tempt us: pretty jewelry, yummy-smelling soaps, exquisite woodwork, and cute ceramics —… More >>
  • BEST MAGAZINE RACK

    Borders Books & Music

    Yet again we would have loved to give this category to a wonderful indie bookseller, but that would imply that Phoenix actually has one with a decent magazine rack. And since hell hasn't frozen over yet in the desert, Borders on Mill is still our top pick. Whether you're looking for gardening tips or interviews with world leaders, you'll find… More >>
  • BEST BOOKSTORE

    Changing Hands Bookstore

    We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Changing Hands offers the best in book shopping, hands down. That's partly because it has such an amazing selection of new and used books. (Last time we were there, we bought the latest Augusten Burroughs at a discount and a 100-year-old sex manual for two bucks — where else could we… More >>
  • BEST COMIC BOOK STORE

    All About Books & Comics

    Are your "Spidey senses" tingling? Okay, you didn't need superpowers to guess that AABC would be our pick. After 25 years of serving comic book junkies, this eight-time Best of Phoenix winner is still hailed as a geek's wet dream. The shelves are stuffed with more than a million back issues, from golden age originals like The Avengers and Green… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SCORE VIDEO GAMES

    Bookmans Entertainment Exchange

    For many video-game enthusiasts, the main topic of conversation lately on bulletin boards and AIM exchanges is the next-gen console war among the PlayStation 3, the Nintendo Wii and the Xbox 360. That means only one thing for those of us who don't give a crap: Cash-hungry kiddies everywhere will be throwing their old games and systems into hock to… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL ALTERNATIVE TO "SIGNING TIME!"

    Missy Keast

    You may have seen Missy Keast doing her signing story time on the first Thursday morning of the month at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, but did you know she's now got her own series of signing videos for kids? Signing is all the rage right now — don't worry, studies have shown your baby will still talk, but she… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET YOUR KID'S HAIR CUT

    Snip-its

    Sophie doesn't like to get her bangs cut, and don't even talk to Annabelle about her tangles. Sometimes, a parent is the worst person for the job when it comes to kid grooming. That's why we head to Snip-its when Sophie can't see, or Annabelle's locks are approaching the dread stage. Okay, so really, if we were nice, we'd comb… More >>
  • BEST MALL EXPERIENCE WITH THE KIDS

    Chandler Fashion Center

    The key to a pleasurable mall trip with the kids? Baby steps. Don't try to tackle the whole place. Save that for a day you've got a sitter, or give up entirely and shop online in the middle of the night, like we do. If the A/C and bright colors of the mall beckon, head to Chandler Fashion Center and… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO TAKE A CRAFTY KINDERGARTNER

    SAS Fabrics by the Pound

    The other day, our kindergartner announced she was in pre-production on a play, and desperately needed material for costumes. We know from experience that even a trip to JoAnn's can result in a bill over $20, for gauze and sequins that might never leave the bag. So we satisfied our thespian's thirst for threads with a trip to SAS. For… More >>
  • BEST TOY STORE

    Kidstop

    Our 5-year-old is obsessed with Calico Critters. If you've never heard of them, skip this category, and consider yourself lucky. These little pieces of fur-covered plastic are the bane of our current existence, and they're damn hard to find, which is why we're so lucky to have Kidstop, which stocks them in several varieties — from the Calico Critters Marmalade… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A KID BIRTHDAY GIFT

    Bears & More

    Walking through the door of Bears & More is like taking a trip back in time to an era long before Nintendo and Bratz dolls. Hundreds of lovable teddies perch on the shelves, each one with its own distinct personality. And we're not talking blue-light specials here. These are high-quality mohair collectibles from industry names including Canterbury, Steiff, and Cooperstown.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A BABY GIFT

    Crismon's Baby Boutique

    There are three categories that baby gifts fall into: essential, practical, and just plain cute. Crismon's Baby Boutique has it all. For new mothers, there are comfy gliders to rock you and your infant to sleep. Grandparents-to-be will want to check out the store's huge furniture inventory, from shaker-style pine changing tables to a black mission crib with smart… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY KIDS' CLOTHES

    Petite Chβteau

    If dressing for success gets you ahead in this world, then kids outfitted at Petite Chβteau are destined to be doctors, lawyers, and maybe even president. The shop carries True Religion jeans, Lucky Brand, and tons of Juicy Couture. Sure, not everyone is willing to pay $40 for a layette, but this is the kind of place you go to… More >>
  • BEST SIGNATURE CLOTHING LINE FOR KIDS

    This Little Piggy Wears Cotton

    We want the kids to look cute, but all those buttons and bows and tulle — and don't even get us started on the challenges of Juicy Couture — can get in the way of play. That's why we love the "piggy brand" at This Little Piggy Wears Cotton. Indeed, our little piggies wear it whenever we can get our… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY KIDS' USED CLOTHES, EAST SIDE

    Once Upon a Child

    A lot of moms scoff at the idea of buying used children's wear, picturing moth-eaten sweaters and stained onesies. Don't feel bad; we did too. That is, until we found this gem of a kids' shop hidden in a Chandler strip mall. The store is packed with rows of neatly hung apparel, from cute-as-a-button pink dresses to overalls for rambunctious… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY KIDS' USED CLOTHES, WEST SIDE

    Other Mothers

    Okay, admit it — you love to get a slamming deal on your kid's clothes just as much as you love them looking cute, but you don't have the time to scour through piles of semi-gross used clothes at the Goodwill or hit the garage sale scene every Saturday at 6 a.m. Never fear: Other Mothers is one of the… More >>
  • BEST HIGH-END BARGAIN CLOTHING

    Last Chance Bargain Shoes & Apparel

    This category was created and has been sustained for Last Chance by a certain New Times writer so thoroughly addicted to the store that he now has 13 barely different pairs of top-shelf Italian ankle boots. This writer wonders, as does his wife, if Last Chance itself has made this man gay. No, no, on further thought, this is simply… More >>
  • BEST STORE WITH A RESIDENT TAILOR

    Sunset Clothing Xchange

    The best thing about resale clothing is that you can get a Marc Jacobs blouse for less than $100 and True Religion jeans for about $150 less than full retail price. The worst thing about resale clothing is that the blouse you just dropped $85 on isn't exactly your size, and those jeans are two inches too long. Don't… More >>
  • BEST FUNKY FLIP-FLOPS

    Go Kat Go

    With the asphalt melting under our soles in the triple-digit summer, shoes start to seem less like a fashion statement and more like a necessary evil. Those cool-looking Chucks and Docs give us sweaty toes and stinky feet, but walking around barefoot just isn't an option. Fortunately, there are flip-flops, and for the fashionistas who won't settle for some boring… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY POINTE SHOES

    Barry's Capezio

    Don't try this at home, kids. Every little girl wants pointe shoes as soon as she sees her first Nutcracker, but not every little girl will have them — not if she has a good teacher, that is. Pointe is only for the right feet, the right body and the right student. If you're lucky (and hardworking enough) that your… More >>
  • BEST CUSTOM BOOTS

    Espinoza Boot Maker

    You can buy your jeans and flannel at Wal-Mart, cowboy, but when it comes to boots, you'd better find the best around. And we've found them for you, at David Espinoza's shop. It will take months, and it'll cost you almost $500, but you'll walk out of Espinoza Boot Maker with a pair of boots custom fit to your feet,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR A BASKETCASE

    Cost Plus World Market

    We don't recommend many chains in Best of Phoenix, but here's one we can't resist. Any time we feel our lives falling apart (and that's often), we head over to Cost Plus to find something to hold the pieces. We're never disappointed, particularly when there's a clearance sale. Even at full price, the enormous selection of imported baskets (big and… More >>
  • BEST UPSCALE ANTIQUES

    Antique Gatherings

    When you walk into an antique store and dust doesn't fly, you know you're not going to score any rusty tin signs or Beanie Babies. So it is with Antique Gatherings, an 18,000-square-foot mall that's packed to the rafters with high-end goods. Though the dealer wares are constantly changing — as with any antique mall — this is a great… More >>
  • BEST LOWSCALE ANTIQUES

    Retro-Redux - CLOSED

    We hate the "retro" look. We're gonna hold out for the real thing. This is why we love Retro-Redux. It's not an Antiques Roadshow — owner Beth Lipham is much more fun than that. Specializing in mid-century antiques, the store caters to the mod squad; lacquer lamps, laminate tables and fondue pots abound, without a Victorian armoire in sight. Not… More >>
  • BEST ANTIQUE STORE WHERE YOU COULD BREAK A HIP

    Antique Outpost

    Claustrophobics beware; this quaint little shop is so overstuffed with goodies that the merchandise overflows into the aisles, making patrons hold their breath, pull in the paunch, and scooch along sideways to navigate. The Antique Outpost is a throwback to the days when there were no such things as antique malls, just mom-and-pop shops like this one, which has been… More >>
  • BEST THRIFT SHOP THAT DOESN'T SMELL LIKE PEE

    Assistance League Thrift

    This place used to be tied on our list with the Florence Crittendon Thrift Shop on Central Avenue as our fave odor-free find-a-bargain hot spot, but now that Flo has closed, Assistance League tops our list solo. Roomy, well-organized, and always chock-full of fabulous finds, Assistance League is the cleanest secondhand store in town. Its recent expansion has added another… More >>
  • BEST MID-CENTURY FURNITURE

    Vintage Solutions

    We know someone who's taken to inviting people she only barely likes to visit her at home, just so she can show off the swank boomerang table she bought at Vintage Solutions, a shop we can barely stand to stay out of ourselves. We have yet to figure out whether the owners of the store formerly known as The Garden… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY A MOD DIVAN ON THE CHEAP

    Antique Plaza Annex

    If you want a '60s-vintage lounge chair yesterday, you need to hit one of the mod joints in the Seventh Avenue Melrose District. However, that's a fairly pricey option, as vintage furniture on Seventh tends to be expensive — at least in comparison to Antique Plaza Annex, a cool little furniture/antique emporium located in Old Town Mesa. If you've got… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY NAZI MEMORABILIA

    History by George

    If Commandant Klink of Hogan's Heroes was alive today and needed some fancy fascist dress epaulets for his National Socialist Party duster, he could find 'em at this little gem of a store in Old Town Mesa, known across the Valley — and the state — as the place to find antique and vintage militaria. While Nazi collectibles are not… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY WESTERN MEMORABILIA

    High Noon Western Americana Show & Auction Phoenix Convention Center

    Looking for cowboy/cowgirl collectibles? Good luck. They're getting harder and harder to find, even here in the West. But if you've just gotta have a Ranch oak end table, an old Gene Autry metal lunchbox, a mask worn by Clayton "The Lone Ranger" Moore, or an autographed Tex Ritter guitar, High Noon is the best "brick and mortar" place to… More >>
  • BEST ESTATE SALES

    Janet's Estate Sales

    The first thing you need to know about Janet's is that there is no Janet. The company namesake was bought out a few years back by a couple of characters named Ms. Sieni and Mr. Bill, and the duo kept the handle because of its recognition value among local estate-sale mavens. The second thing you need to know about… More >>
  • BEST CURE FOR IKEA FATIGUE

    The "As Is" Room at IKEA

    Enter IKEA and take a quick left turn before escalating into the twisting maze of kitchen and bedroom vignettes, past the Bistro (okay, you can stop for a frozen yogurt), and head straight to the "As Is" room — just on the other side of the checkout lines. Find discarded display furniture, overstock, and slightly dinged furniture and accessories. We… More >>
  • BEST FRAMING STORE

    422 Fine Furniture and Framing

    If you've been to a Valley gallery recently, there's a good chance that you saw some fine work, and we're not necessarily talking about the art — thanks to John Kitts' custom framing store. The store provides professional services for artists, galleries, and corporate and private collections. Frames are handcrafted and milled in the shop. These people are so good… More >>
  • BEST HIPSTER KNIT HANGOUT

    Jessica Knits

    Swatch out! There's a new kid in town, and "her" name is Jessica. This recent addition to Valley knit shops is a much-needed breath of fresh air with a warm, well-organized feeling. Yarns are attractively arranged in traditional baskets and bins throughout the store. Everywhere you look, the latest titles in knitting literature are prominently displayed, so you can gain… More >>
  • BEST KNITTING KNOW-HOW STORE

    Arizona Knitting and Needlepoint - CLOSED

    Packed to overflowing with cool yarns and fibercraft implements, this Old Town Scottsdale staple is to local knitting stores what Durant's is to Phoenix restaurants. In terms of yarn selection, you won't find a more extensive array of commercial and hand-spun fibers. And while that's a definite plus, the thing that keeps yarn fanatics going back to AZ Knitting is… More >>
  • BEST CERAMIC STORE

    Marjon Ceramics

    A trip around this under-the-radar west-side shop quickly puts those overpriced pottery stores scattered around the Valley into immediate and lesser perspective. You'll know a potter's truly devoted to ceramics if he or she mentions Marjon's. It's hard to imagine a better selection of pottery wheels, molds, bisque wear, glazes, and, of course, the magical clay itself. But this joint… More >>
  • BEST BEAD SHOP

    Beads Galore

    You'll want to leave your purse in the car before entering this bead store (no large bags are allowed for fear you'll "accidentally" drop a few beads inside), but don't forget your wallet! Putting a crafter without cash in Beads Galore would be like shoving a plate of tiramisu in front of someone who just had gastric bypass surgery. … More >>
  • BEST FINDINGS

    S II Findings

    If you actually know what the term "findings" means, then you've come to the right category — because our guess is that many of you won't, even if you've delved into the world of beading. It took us months before we figured out the term; we were too busy buying beads — at gem shows, bead shops, on eBay. Then… More >>
  • BEST GROOVY PAPER STORE

    The Paper Studio

    This place is a paper slut's dream — and if you don't think such a person exists, head over to the Paper Studio, and you'll see them wandering the aisles, fingering the handmade paper and super-cute stationery. This store is a cut above the rest, featuring a gallery with rotating exhibits, and classes on topics including letterpress, papermaking and Polaroid… More >>
  • BEST BASIC PAPER STORE

    Xpedx Paper and Graphics Store

    If you're looking for the basics — for hot pink envelopes with matching paper or brown paper bag cardstock — head to Xpedx, where we've found the biggest selection and the friendliest staff in town. Call ahead; this place keeps odd hours, probably aimed at big business more than the little person (the store opens and closes early), but even… More >>
  • BEST RUBBER STAMPS

    Phoenix Rubber Stamp Company

    We love stamps. Not the cutesy ones you can buy at the craft store, but the kind we make ourselves — sort of — with the help of the kind folks at the Phoenix Rubber Stamp Company. Did you know that you can take your kids' artwork (or your own, for that matter), Xerox a black copy and get a… More >>
  • BEST SCRAPBOOK SUPPLIES

    Mystic Paper at The Peddler's Wife

    Scrapbooking has practically eclipsed baseball as the national pastime. There are scrapbooking clubs, scrapbooking newsletters, even sold-out scrapbooking conventions. When's the last time you saw a full house at a Diamondbacks game? Mystic Paper may not be the largest scrapbooking store in the area, but it's always well-stocked, and with the antique store in front, you can pick up a… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY GROSGRAIN AND DOLL PARTS

    Diane Ribbon and Notions

    Just when you think you've seen everything Phoenix has to offer, you discover this towering maze of boxes stuffed with papier-mβchι teapots, tiny plastic feet, and soaring stacks of grosgrain. Diane Ribbon and Notions, founded by Diane Rust's family in the 1940s, is likely to awaken the inner crafter in anyone. There, you'll find everything you'll ever need to make… More >>
  • BEST VINTAGE CAR PARTS SHOP

    So-Cal Speed Shop

    There's something exciting about watching a fully restored classic car cruise down the street. In a sea of Hondas, Toyotas and other off-the-assembly-line cars, it's nice to see people putting thought into what they drive. And if you're into classic or custom cars, you've probably experienced the frustration of trying to buy a part from Pep Boys or any other… More >>

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