Shopping & Services

  • Best Letterpressers

    See Saw Designs

    Now that Phoenix has "made it," we're all searching for the little things to help round out our city's Mid-Century Modern aesthetic. And See Saw is here to deliver. Run by six young and talented designers and boasting two massive old-school letterpresses, See Saw is more than an Urban Outfitters-style paper factory. Its cards and calendars capture a clean, minimalist… More >>
  • Best Art Supplies

    Wet Paint Artist Supply - CLOSED

    So you've run out of gouache and if you don't get some fast, your artistic muse will leave you. No worries. Head to Ash Avenue in Tempe and talk to the good people at Wet Paint. Whether you're in need of blue Prismacolor pencils to lay down the sketches for your next Web comic or bamboo brushes to practice Japanese… More >>
  • Best "Out of the Box" Art Supplies

    The Town Dump

    Painters have it easy when it comes to sourcing materials. Paints and canvases are available at art shops, craft stores, even Wal-Mart. On the other hand, if you specialize in "found object" or recycled art, you'll likely be stuck scouring back alleys and diving through smelly dumpsters, unless you're in the know about The Town Dump, a funky backwoods store… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Creative on the Cheap

    Dollar Tree

    For those who lust after art and craft supplies, there is only one place you need to visit to completely load up. Sorry, but it ain't fancy. The good news, though, is that there's likely one in your neighborhood. Dollar Tree dollar stores (and we're not talking about just any dollar store; it's gotta be a Dollar Tree) are the… More >>
  • Best Place to Prep for Your Project Runway Audition

    Bernina Connection

    Ready yourself for Project Runway status by learning how to sew at this cute-as-a-button shop in Phoenix. Bernina Connection offers "bring your own project" open sessions on nights and weekends; just bring snacks to share and come ready to giggle with the local gals. Don't worry about the fact that you can't find a Jo-Ann Fabric in central Phoenix to… More >>
  • Best Fabric Store

    Tempe Sales

    Ready to bust out on a DIY project using some vintage or vintage-looking fabric? If you haven't been to Tempe Sales, get yourself over there. The store carries everything you need for your upholstery projects and then some — not only fabric, but also vinyl and leather in every groovy shade. They even have feathers, trims, and pompoms on string.… More >>
  • Best Bead Store

    Beads Galore

    We love that arts and crafts are in vogue, and we're always looking for fresh ways to get our maker fix. If you or a crafty friend want your pupils to dilate, just stop by the enormous Beads Galore brick-and-mortar store. Sure, its online shop probably has what you need with a click of a mouse, but a Web-based purchase… More >>
  • Best Scrapbook Supplies

    Crop Girls

    As one Crop Girls customer pointed out on our most recent visit, scrapbooking is the one crafty hobby that people seem to stick to — as evidenced by the fact the store is always packed. We'll travel clear across the Valley to go to Crop Girls, which has the best selection of vintage paper and stickers in town, and to… More >>
  • Best Late-Night Arts and Crafts

    The Craft Retreat

    It's 10 p.m. on a Saturday and your crafty self is stuck home with nothing to do. You've already thumbed through the latest Martha Stewart Living. Twice. You watched reruns of HGTV's The Carol Duvall Show until you wanted to hot-glue your eyes shut. Yeah, we've been there. Thankfully, there's The Craft Retreat, an adorable little scrapbooking and pottery-painting shop… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Art You Can Manhandle

    Practical Art

    Ever been "finger-wagged" by one of those serious-as-cancer security guards at the Phoenix Art Museum? You know, you sneak in for a closer look at one of the paintings, and the guard is in your face, index finger zipping back and forth like a windshield wiper? Hey, it's their job; we get it. It's just a bit Big Bro for… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Art You Can Afford

    Art One

    Kraig Foote had a brilliant idea. He invited students to sell their art at a gallery on high-end Marshall Way in Scottsdale. The students get a start, the customers get a bargain. Genius, right? We think so, and obviously so does the market — Foote has teetered, for sure, but he hasn't fallen, as so many of his fellow Marshall… More >>
  • Best Budget Flowers

    Half-price loose stems on Fridays

    Once we find a flower shop we like, we latch on as if it were our hairdresser. So we understand if you don't feel right about even reading this. But if you're new in town, or your florist moved to Vegas, or you're ready to cheat on whoever usually trims your stems, Phoenix Flower Shops is a worthy aspirant. The… More >>
  • Best Alternative to Sending Flowers

    Urban Cookies

    Flowers are overdone. Edible Arrangements look a little creepy. So when you care enough to send the very best, send cookies! Urban Cookies creates adorable care packages for any occasion under the blazing sun. Each brown box is customized with a design of your choosing and squared off with a fanciful ribbon. As for the contents, you can't go wrong.… More >>
  • Best Baking Supplies

    ABC Cake Decorating Supplies

    From the professional pastry chef to the neophyte fondant user to the 6-year-old looking for anything with Elmo on it, ABC has it — and a pretty pink bakery box to put it in. We're pretty sure this place carries every Wilton product on the market; you can find cake toppers for every holiday (and, yes, aisles devoted to cartoon… More >>
  • Best Cooking Supplies

    Le Gourmet Chef

    Don't laugh at us, but we needed a new meat thermometer. Our heart was set on the Redi-Fork Digital Probe Thermometer with Detachable Tines and Rapid Read TipTake, but who wants to pay retail for such a high-end item? We certainly didn't, so we headed out to Le Gourmet Chef and almost wished, once we arrived, that we hadn't. But… More >>
  • Best Knife Shop

    Phoenix Knife House

    The only confusing thing about this amazing pointy emporium is its name: Phoenix Knife House is located in Scottsdale. Geography aside, everything about Eytan Zias' knife shop makes perfect sense. Zias is a former chef whose love for all things sharp led him to open a store that also offers cookbooks, whetstones, and chef's uniforms. But it's the dozen specialty… More >>
  • Best Spice Shop

    Penzeys Spices - CLOSED

    After Googling the daylights out of "where to buy smoked paprika," imagine our delight in discovering that the most-recommended online spice shop boasts one of its 41 worldwide retail outlets right here in Scottsdale. With soft green walls and clever crate displays housing spices from around the world, Penzeys Spices has created a playground for cooks. From three varieties of… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Bulk Herbs

    Chakra 4

    If Viagra isn't your bag, maybe damiana leaf is. The Mexican-grown herb's one of many supposed aphrodisiac herbs available at Chakra 4, a shop chock-full of bulk herbs for just about any ailment. Patrons can pick from hundreds of herbs, including astragalus root (supposedly an immune booster), lycii berries (an alleged anti-inflammatory), chrysanthemum flowers (for tasty teas), and deer-antler powder… More >>
  • Best Oil and Vinegar

    Cucina Olive Oils

    There are just a few tasting grounds for serious gourmets in the Valley, and we've discovered a new hot spot. Cucina Olive Oils does just two things but does them with panache: gourmet olive oils and vinegars. Huge vats line this quaint, Tuscan-themed boutique, and there are tiny, plastic shot glasses for tastes. How about a Meyer lemon olive oil… More >>
  • Best Coffee Beans

    Cartel Coffee Lab

    Not only does this indie serve some of the best-brewed pick-me-ups in the Valley, but it also offers its bomb-diggity coffee beans for sale. Some of our faves include the fancy-pants Black Market Espresso, with its hint of grapefruit (sounds yucky, but it's fantastic), and roasts from Brazil and Guatemala. The shop, housed in a warehouse-like space, also sells goodies… More >>
  • Best New Coffee House

    Lola Coffee - CLOSED

    If Lola Coffee seems familiar, that's no surprise. It may remind you a bit of Lux, a coffeehouse down the street that originally was owned by Daniel Wayne, the same guy bringing you this latest offering. Lola's got big tables, comfortable chairs, lots of light and delicious, fresh-roasted coffee. The cherry on this coffee-flavored sundae? Fresh baked pastries from Danielle… More >>
  • Best Coffee House, Central Phoenix

    Hob Nobs

    We go there every Sunday morning, for a bunch of different reasons: We love the massive remodel of the place, which turned the former hippie-dippy Willo House into a sleek-but-still-cozy coffee shop that feels like someone's well-appointed home. We're crazy about the quiche and the tasty baked goods and the private rooms where we can drag a group of friends… More >>
  • Best Coffee House, West Valley

    Cabin Coffee

    Appearances, as they say, can be deceiving. For proof, look no further than Cabin Coffee. Before walking into this north Glendale java place, we expected the usual coffeehouse decor pastiche of leather easy chairs and faux cherrywood furniture, with maybe even a few Ansel Adams framed photos hanging on the wall for good measure. Boy, were we mistaken. As its… More >>
  • Best Coffee House, Northeast Valley

    Cave Creek Coffee Company and Wine Bar - CLOSED

    A bustling yet intimate gathering place that attracts an eclectic crowd of old cowboys (or city slickers pretending to be old cowboys), businesspeople, tourists, hipsters, and other riff-raff to the main drag in this small-town oasis. Open every morning at 6:30, the popular java joint offers a front porch with a great view of things, as well as leather couches… More >>
  • Best Coffee House, Southeast Valley

    Bergie's Coffee Roast House

    Oh, brother! There are a few reasons we fell in love with this place from the moment we saw it. First, it's run by easygoing 40-something siblings Bruce and Brian Bergeson, whose personable nature is kinda infectious. Then there's the fact they chose a deliciously enchanting cottage located smack dab in the middle of Gilbert's historic downtown (practically inches away… More >>
  • Best Coffee House, Mesa

    Inside the Bungalow

    The marriage of caffeine and yoga may seem strange. However, such a bold combination can make a traditionally comatose area worth visiting more often. This downtown Mesa spot formerly known as Coffee Talk pretty much looks the same — the wedding-day-like front patio still beckons visitors to come inside the historic two-story house — but the philosophy is much different.… More >>
  • Best Coffee House, Tempe

    SOLO Café

    Sure, there are a few indie coffee house options in downtown Tempe. But if you're willing to drive a bit south just past U.S. 60, you'll find the totally-worth-the-trek SOLO Café. Open for almost two years now, this seven-day-a-week space serves up some mean and tasty espresso drinks as well as a bunch of loose leaf teas. In case the… More >>
  • Best Coffee House, Scottsdale

    Village Coffee Roastery

    The best part of waking up is kicking that can of stale-ass "coffee" to the curb and getting a cup of the good stuff. Where do we go? In Scottsdale, you'd best believe it's Village Coffee Roastery, where the coffee isn't just delicious; it's scientific. The fine roasters at VCR have "combined art with modern science to produce coffee that… More >>
  • Best Japanese Convenience Store

    Fujiya Market

    Irashaimase! The best things in life aren’t free. In fact, they’re a little expensive. Still, a life without C.C. Lemon soda, miniature Gundam figurines or pre-packaged bento boxes is no life at all, or so says a true Japanophile. That’s why we frequent Fujiya Market when we need goods from Nippon. Feel like learning Japanese? Check out Fujiya’s collection of… More >>
  • Best Place to Give the Dog a Bath — and a Treat

    Wag N' Wash

    The thing about being a dog is that you're subject to the will of your owner. Sure, you can bark and whine, but you're going to be stuck wearing a pink fuzzy sweater and eating tofu dogs if your master demands it. Whimper. Good thing there's Wag N' Wash, where owners can pamper their pooches with a bubbly shampoo and bakery… More >>
  • Best Pet Boutique

    Oliver & Annie - CLOSED

    We have absolutely nothing against PetSmart. The local favorite is a good corporate citizen and a great place to shop for everything from dog food to a new pet fish. But Oliver & Annie is to PetSmart what a stylish little clothing boutique is to Target: a small, lovely complement. This tiny north-central Phoenix shop — tucked into the same… More >>
  • Best Boutique

    Frances

    Oh, Frances, how we love you. Actually, we never knew you, because you are Georganne Bryant's late grandmother and the namesake of her north-central Phoenix boutique, which in just three years has become a retail mainstay in that neck of the woods. Bryant stocks her little shop with cool women's clothes, gift-perfect baby goods, and irresistible housewares. We always swear… More >>
  • Best Retail Vision

    The Duce

    Steve and Andi Rosenstein are big thinkers, which is good, because they've got 15,000 square feet of space to fill, and the Anchor Manufacturing Building on Central and Lincoln is their new project. Built in 1928, this historic spot has housed everything from a car dealership to a garage for city buses to a beer distributorship. It's currently home to… More >>
  • Best Retail Bliss

    Domestic Bliss - CLOSED

    The plush linens, vintage baubles, and flirty sundresses at this chic boutique practically sell themselves, but owners Kristin and Dan Alber and their creative staff really want you to get "blissed out." They've got craft kits and supplies for domestic divas to make everything from felt cupcakes (these make adorable pincushions!) to fun printed aprons, and the store's Blissful Living… More >>
  • Best Retail Co-Op

    Pink House

    Don't let the cutesy name fool you — this fun shop is aimed at the tattooed, tough-as-nails set who adore vintage threads and elbowing each other on the flat track. Pink House started out as a furniture shop, but gradually transformed into a funky fashion-forward boutique with about a dozen vendors, including Happy Hippie Resale, Harley Quinn & Ivy, and… More >>
  • Best Reason to Shop in a Down Economy

    Bag Dayz at Rowdy Boutique

    We just assumed, based on the chic little cocktail dresses in the window of this two-year-old central Phoenix clothing shop, that Rowdy Boutique would be a bit too chi-chi for our tastes. Thank God for second impressions: A friend told us about Bag Dayz, and we've been regulars ever since. Buy something at Rowdy, and you'll get a free canvas… More >>
  • Best Shopping on Roosevelt Row

    MADE Art Boutique

    Ever notice how some boutique shops rotate stock so infrequently that their selection is as stale as a week-old doughnut? That's why we love MADE, whose fresh stock has yielded new treasures every time we've popped in for First Friday. This artsy little shop offers a unique collection of accessories, including huge bejeweled rings and vintage magnets that make us… More >>
  • Best Shopping on Grand Avenue

    Devious Wigs & Things

    Devious Wigs & Things is like the Cheers of vintage shops — after a couple of times pawing through their unpredictable selection, the entire Devious family knows your name and can point you to the leather bomber or Steve Madden purse your heart desires. The front room features a large selection of primping goodies — from jeweled eyelashes to quality… More >>
  • Best T-Shirts

    Brand X

    There's a screen-printed shirt inside Brand X on Mill Avenue that says "Custom T-Shirts Are the New Mix Tapes." We have to agree. In an era where it's all too easy to pop out a personalized mixtape or Photoshopped greeting card, getting a T-shirt printed still seems like a genuinely thoughtful gesture. No one does them better than the hip… More >>
  • Best Ruffles

    Contagious Boutique

    If you enjoy being a girl, this trendy clothing boutique in downtown Mesa is a must-visit. Step in the door and you're instantly transported to a frilly wonderland of pink. Everything is under $50, and though you won't find brand names like Guess or Bebe here, you can score a designer look without the huge price tag. On recent visits,… More >>
  • Best Kid Boutique for Moms

    Loveland

    Yes, Loveland — a new little boutique in that strip center at Mill and Baseline that we've always thought looks a little bit like the set for The Music Man — has adorable children's clothing. Appliqued T's, handmade tutus, teeny-tiny kiddy luggage and barrettes, and a few choice toys. But the real appeal for us was the women's section —… More >>
  • Best Resource for Phoenix Parents

    Raising Arizona Kids

    So many decisions, so little time, so much advice from possibly shoddy sources. What's a parent to do? Pick up a copy of Raising Arizona Kids. From schools to camps to where to throw your kid's birthday party, the monthly parenting magazine has your back. RAK recently celebrated its 20th anniversary — a feat in the journalism business — and… More >>
  • Best College Aid

    College Depot

    Arizona legislators (and governor!), take note. We're got a living, breathing example of just how much good a little bit of public money can do for students. Housed in a beautiful new center in the Burton Barr Central Library, designed by the library's original architect, Will Bruder, College Depot houses two full-time college counselors, 25 computers, a conference room, and… More >>
  • Best Supplies for an Earth Mama

    Healthy Baby Happy Earth

    If you're a mom who's serious about her eco-conscious rep, the recycling bin and the Prius aren't going to cut it. To really reduce your carbon footprint, head to Healthy Baby Happy Earth for all the environmentally friendly infant goodies you can possibly desire. The boutique stocks organic baby clothes colored using safe dyes, washable cloth diapers, and bottles that… More >>
  • Best Secondhand Clothes for Kids

    Kid to Kid

    Those in the know are aware — painfully, at times — that kids outgrow their clothes at a far faster rate than they wear them out. We're talking about clothes, but also about toys, books, and furniture. So what to do with all the leftovers (other than give them to Goodwill, stash them in the garage, pile them up outside… More >>
  • Best Vintage Boy Toys

    Smilin' Jack's Pedal Cars

    Remember pedal cars, those miniature metal machines that were foot-powered and looked exactly like Dad's classic Thunderbird? Take a trip back to the good old days at Smilin' Jack's and you'll find plenty of the real thing — vintage-style pedal cars with chrome accents and fins as well as its modern cousin, Big Wheels. Jack's also carries a large stock… More >>
  • Best Vintage Girl Toys

    Auntie Em's Miniatures

    The shelves of today's toy stores are stocked with plastic cell phones and dolls that make a Van Buren Street hooker look elegant. That's why we adore Auntie Em's, where old-fashioned dollhouses and fully clothed dolls reign supreme. The feminine yin to Smilin' Jack's Pedal Cars' yang, Auntie Em's carries everything a girl needs to build and decorate her own… More >>
  • Best Vintage Clothing

    Retro Ranch

    This funky store is stocked with a whole lot more than your typical coterie of furniture, barware, and velvet Elvis paintings. The owner's eagle eye has scored an eclectic selection of clothing so enticing it would make Carrie Bradshaw — and Sarah Jessica Parker — jealous. Cheery '50s skirts, prom dresses, '70s skiing sweaters, and straw handbags are waiting to… More >>
  • Best Vintage Jeans

    Blue Jean Buyer

    The Blue Jean Buyer is a magical place. You can walk in and pick out any pair of jeans, boots, belt and T-shirt, and you're about as close to being Keith Richards as you're going to get without having a few blood transfusions. With an astounding collection of vintage Levi's, T-shirts, cowboy boots, and jewelry for both guys and girls,… More >>
  • Best Clothing Exchange

    Sunset Clothing Xchange

    It's a shopper's dream come true to hit a hot streak in a store. When you find so much that you actually have to put things back to keep the total ticket down, you experience the glory of pure consumerism . . . and you're beautiful. This happens to us every single time we walk through the doors at Sunset… More >>
  • Best Retro Cocktailwear

    Hollywood Regency

    We finally wrangled an invitation to Lewis and John's annual snooty-boots cocktail soiree, only to discover that its hosts insist on "formal vintage eveningwear" in order to get through the door. We made a beeline for Hollywood Regency, because we knew that the proprietress, Heidi Owens, had a few years back turned her love of old-timey fashion — not to… More >>
  • Best High-End Antiques

    Antique Trove

    There's a booth among the many at Antique Trove that carries nothing but big, beautiful pieces from the south of France. We go there sometimes just to ogle the Napoleon armoire and the glass-and-mahogany wet bar. Don't get us wrong; sometimes we go to Antique Trove to actually buy stuff, like the little French Deco side table with a built-in… More >>
  • Best Antiques on a Budget

    Fat Cat Antiques

    The gal who runs this place loves to chat, but she'll also leave you alone to wander through this old house in the ghost-town stretch of East Indian School Road. You'll find everything from neatly arranged Barbie clothes (hey, everything is neatly arranged in this shop; no digging through boxes or poking around on shelves here) to unbelievably low-priced barware… More >>
  • Best Overhaul of an Old Favorite Antique Shop

    Historic District Antique Mall - CLOSED

    We cannot tell a lie: We stopped shopping at this, one of the biggest antique malls in town. Not because their stuff was expensive or because we never found anything we liked there, but because the guy who ran the place was a tyrant. We got tired of being yelled at for asking how much a floor lamp cost or… More >>
  • Best Mid-Century Furnishings

    Red Modern Furniture

    Jonesing for a rosewood and leather sofa by Hans Olsen? Dying for a pair of Eames chairs? Won't sleep 'til you own a Milo Baughman cocktail table? Have no idea what we're talking about? Even if it's the latter, we bet you'll appreciate a trip to Red Modern Furniture, if only for the sheer devotion these folks show to their… More >>
  • Best Modern Living

    haus modern living

    At haus, a Saarinen Womb Chair can be yours for a cool $2,943. Or you can pick up a Jack Spade messenger bag for $90. Either way, your impeccable taste will be on display. We first spotted Jonathan Adler's clever Prozac jars on the shelves at this modern-mainstay, and every time we visit, we find something new to drool over.… More >>
  • Best French Connection

    Paris Envy

    Wandering inside Paris Envy on Seventh Avenue is a bit like strolling through the Marché aux Puces St-Ouen flea market in Paris. You'll find ornate headboards, shimmering chandeliers, curvy vanities, and a host of other authentic and reproduced French-style treasures. Even the walls say, "Ooh la la!" thanks to a special shade of paint called "rainy day," handcrafted by owner… More >>
  • Best Dry Cleaner

    Krisply Kleen

    We always swore that whatever dry cleaner was closest was good enough for us. So why do find ourselves driving crosstown just to visit Michael and Kevin at Krisply Kleen? It's not just because they're charming, although that certainly helps. These guys run a tight ship, with brand-new, state-of-the-art equipment that just happens to be much more environmentally friendly than… More >>
  • Best Vintage Stove Repair

    805 Stoveworks

    We were feeling so smug about the cool 1940s Kenmore gas range we bought from a neighbor. All gleaming white enamel and chrome, it screamed to us from across the street to take it home and bake something in it. We did — or tried to. We knew, once we quieted the shrill shriek of the carbon monoxide alarm, that… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Your Time Machine Fixed

    Classic Automotive

    It's a bit of a mystery, but somehow, Classic Automotive in Queen Creek has become a go-to shop for the Arizona DeLorean Club, a group of enthusiasts dedicated to preserving the stainless steel coupes manufactured in the early '80s by a long-defunct company and used as Doc Brown's time machine in the Back to the Future trilogy. Only about 9,000… More >>
  • Best Car Wash

    Lindstrom's Family Car Wash

    We had rather an odd problem: Our former favorite car wash is owned by someone who's a little obsessive about keeping one's car clean. We grew tired of taking it on the chin every time we pulled up in our usually filthy two-door coupe, and went looking for someplace we liked as well. We ended up wishing we'd gotten wise… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy E-85 (Ethanol) for Your Flex-Fuel Vehicle

    Western States Petroleum

    We sometimes refer to ethanol as the conservative's alternative fuel. It's not a whole lot better for the environment, but buying it helps Midwest corn farmers and reduces the amount of oil needed from the Saudis and Hugo Chávez. Trouble is, we learned after purchasing a flex-fuel vehicle (one that runs on either gasoline or ethanol) that there are probably… More >>
  • Best Cab Company

    Yellow Cab Company

    We may not be afraid of writing about Sheriff Joe, but when it comes to drunk driving, we'll admit that we're terrified of the consequences. Forty-five days in jail for an extreme DUI? Yikes. Of course, that doesn't mean we've cut back on our drinking — but we have found ourselves getting downright anal about calling a cab. And for… More >>
  • Best Drive-Thru Liquor Store

    Melrose Liquors

    In other parts of the world, the concept of a drive-thru liquor store is probably illegal, let alone indulgent and mostly unnecessary. Here, it's one of the perks of living in the desert. Phoenicians know that turning off the air conditioner for even a second is unthinkable, even if it's to stop off for a cold one. Why would you… More >>
  • Best Old-School Liquor Store

    Tops Liquor

    We love a wide selection — particularly when it's of booze — but the last time we called one of those liquor mega-stores, looking for a particular brand, the guy on the phone sneered, "Look on our Web site," and practically hung up. We'd like our vodka tonic with a twist of customer service, please, so we vowed to stick… More >>
  • Best Selection of Airplane-Sized Liquors

    Chandler Liquors

    From the funky vintage sign to its dusty catacombs of shelving, we dig the vibe at this downtown Chandler liquor store. But it's the vast selection of airplane-sized liquor bottles lining the wall behind the cashier's booth that caught our eye. The answer was a curt "no" when we asked to go back and peruse the hundreds of colorful mini-bottles… More >>
  • Best Cigars

    Habanos Torres Cigar Factory

    Though he recently moved to classier digs in downtown Mesa (estimated square footage of the old store: 10), there are still much fancier cigar shops than Habanos Torres Cigar Factory. But how many other shops have a torcedore working on your smokes while you peruse the humidor? Timothy Torres, a fifth-generation Cuban cigar maker, knows how to roll, and he… More >>
  • Best Head Shop

    Paraphernalia Boutique

    Dude, where's the best place in Phoenix to pick up a hookah (besides Van Buren)? Paraphernalia Boutique, a charming little store with burglar bars on the windows and every possible accessory to help you get your smoke on. In addition to the expected stash of incense and shisha, Paraphernalia stocks measuring scales, rolling papers, vials, art-glass water pipes — even… More >>
  • Best Place to Stop and Smell the Patchouli

    Hippie Gypsy

    If you're looking for hard-to-find incense, follow your nose to Hippie Gypsy. The hookah and head shop carries a huge variety of smelly sticks, cones, and oil for your olfactory pleasure — or obfuscation. The store carries traditional scents like sandalwood, strawberry, jasmine, and vanilla, along with perpetually potent incense, like Nag Champa and patchouli. The latter scent is a… More >>
  • Best Nursery

    Harper's Nursery

    If you don't know your asarina from your elephant's foot, the über-friendly staff at Harper's Nursery is happy to help out. This family-owned nursery's been around since the victory gardens of WWII, and it's got it all: a garden club, discount days, landscape design services, garden accessories and gifts, an antique shop, open air markets with live music, and a… More >>
  • Best Exotic Nursery

    Tropica Mango

    We've heard of people growing fruit in the desert — yeah, like prickly pear. But bananas? Mangos? No way. Yes way, say the folks at Tropica Mango, a perennial favorite of Sunset magazine as well as local gardeners in the know. Located in the stretch of south Phoenix once reserved for flower and fruit farms and now replaced with cookie-cutter… More >>
  • Best Place to Spruce Up Your Porch

    Figs Home & Garden

    Yes, this is a "home" and "garden" place, but for us, the porch is the embodiment of both home and garden. It's the inside, but outside. A space you can furnish like a room and treat like a garden at the same time. Figs, located in the Melrose District of central Phoenix, is packed with a mix of European and… More >>
  • Best Gardener

    Dave Owens

    Do you ever notice that your urge to garden is strongest when you've been out of town? On a recent trip to Los Angeles, we marveled at a friend's ginormous zucchini and lusted after his squash. "If he can do it, so can we!" we told ourselves, only to return home to a brown lawn and dying rosebushes. Even if… More >>
  • Best Bookstore

    Changing Hands

    Believe it or not, we work on the Best of Phoenix issue all year long. This time around, when we dug up our file of potential BOPs, as we call them, we noticed that most of the ideas had one thing in common: Changing Hands Bookstore. We'd saved a notice about the store's outdoors program, which sends readers on hikes and… More >>
  • Best Collectible Bookstore

    Book Gallery

    Our holy grail since the early '80s was a copy — we'd have even settled for a dirty, torn, library discard copy — of Cornelia Otis Skinner's Dithers and Jitters. We despaired of ever finding this mid-century essay collection, but that's because we'd forgotten, somehow and however briefly, about the Book Gallery. We happen to have mentioned our long-held (and,… More >>
  • Best Budget Bookstore

    Thrifty Joe's Books & Music

    When you're looking for a new copy of Lolita in Tehran or the latest Stephen King thriller, there are a dozen big-box bookstores waiting to suck up your hard-earned cash. But if you don't mind a good treasure hunt for your new-release book, Thrifty Joe's is the place to go. This used bookstore is less picked-over than the competition and… More >>
  • Best Magazine Rack

    Borders - CLOSED

    It pains us to give this award to a chain store, but we are here to serve you, dear reader, and the truth is that there's no greater magazine selection in town than at the Biltmore Borders. We could lose ourselves for hours (and we have) in this store's magazine rack — testament that the publishing industry may be dying,… More >>
  • Best Budget Magazine Rack

    Bookmans Entertainment Exchange

    We stood at a magazine rack the other night, holding a $25 (we kid you not) design magazine in our sweaty hands, and had one thought: "Do they have this used at Bookmans?" If you've never been to the magazine section at one of the Bookmans locations in town, we suggest you drop this issue and head over. Bring your… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy a Graphic Novel

    Samurai Comics - CLOSED

    If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a graphic novel must be worth a billion. That's why when we want more than 24 pages of comic action, we head to Samurai Comics. If you're the sort of troubled soul who prefers gritty, graphic novels like 30 Days of Night, Samurai's got you covered. Do you prefer a 50-plus volume manga… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy a Comic Book

    Ash Ave. Comics

    We're not sure there's a reason to leave the corner of Ash and University. There, you have access to great coffee, pizza, piercings, Casey Moore's, and one incredible comic shop: Ash Ave. Comics. If single issues or superheroes are your thing, look no further. Ash Ave. has enough plastic-sleeved action comics to justify your overflowing collection as a "financial investment."… More >>
  • Best Adult Toy Store

    Red Hot Robot - CLOSED

    Paying hundreds of dollars for a vinyl figurine may seem like madness. We prefer to think of it as dedication. You never have to grow up as long as Red Hot Robot is around to surprise your inner child with wacky plastic toys, zonked-out artwork, and dozens of books full of vector art. Grab a Munny and permanent marker to… More >>
  • Best S&M Supplies

    Fetish Falls - CLOSED

    PVC dress. Check. Riding crop. Check. Gas mask. What?? If you've been trolling the 'Net to find good bondage wear or, God forbid, slumming it at Hot Topic, you clearly haven't visited Fetish Falls. What started as an at-home craft shop for making the colorful "Cyberlox" clip-on pigtails cosplayers and raver chicks are so fond of has transformed into a… More >>
  • Best Selection of Cheeky Greeting Cards

    Unique On Central - CLOSED

    Though most of Unique On Central's merchandise caters to the gay and lesbian community (rainbow jewelry, spandex swimwear, gay erotica), the store's greeting card selection is a hoot for heterosexuals and homosexuals alike. Owner Doug Klinge says that people constantly come in and giggle over the silly greeting cards. There are several racks and stands containing things like birthday cards… More >>
  • Best Party Favors

    Mona the Magnet Lady

    Ah, the Magnet Lady. First, Mona sets up shop in a corner of a wedding reception, a bar mitzvah, a quinceañera, or whatever special event you may host. Then, she asks passersby to pose for a photo or three, with whomever they like. Now comes the good part. Before you say your goodbyes, just drop by Mona's booth and pick… More >>
  • Best Nail Art

    Quality Nails

    Here in the Valley of the Flip-Flops, toes are all-important. And it's not enough anymore to simply sport a pleasing shade that hasn't chipped yet. You'd better deliver some bling on those toes, or at least a mini-mural. Good news: Quality Nails steps up toenail design to a new level. The small waiting area of this Tempe shop is filled… More >>
  • Best Skateboard Shop

    Cowtown Skateboards

    When it's time to hit the decks, there's no doubt that Cowtown is the only choice for us. There's just something about walking into the store that makes our heart race a little faster. While it could be the constant stream of the newest skateboarding videos showcasing the latest in Skate-or-Die prowess on their big-screen television, we think it might… More >>
  • Best Bike Shop

    Slippery Pig Bike Shop

    Cyclists can be really picky: The seat's too wide, the fork's too long, the wheels are too squishy, there's more than an ounce of fat on my body. With the exception of the latter, your bicycling needs can be met at central Phoenix's Slippery Pig, a serious bike shop for serious bikers. This full-service shop has everything you'll need to… More >>
  • Best Place to Sell CDs

    Zia Records

    In these tight times, it's time to cut away the excess. Do you really need all those Snoop Dogg CDs? Zia will be happy to consider taking them and any other CDs off your hands. Ever since Brad Singer founded the record store nearly 30 years ago, people have taken their unwanted music into the chain's stores, hoping to walk… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy CDs

    Stinkweeds

    If you're like us, it takes forever to take a trip to the record store. The experience is less a transaction than a balancing act: Which new releases to pick up? Which unheard classic to finally delve into? Once you have a stack of CDs, it's time to thin the herd with cash-flow considerations. That's why Stinkweeds is like our… More >>
  • Best Vinyl

    Revolver Records

    We don't just listen to vinyl records because they're retro cool. Their analog recordings capture the whole sound, while CDs and MP3s actually miss little bits and pieces of the sound wave. The only prob is that platters are hard to find and often in poor condition. When we want the best selection and a staff that doesn't think we're… More >>
  • Best Way to Get a Quick-and-Easy Demo

    Ray Reeves

    We know. Your band rules, but: a) you can't afford studio time; and b) no way can a clinical recording environment capture the energy and general awesomeness of your live performances. Well, guess what? There's a local drummer and professional audio engineer by the name of Ray Reeves who goes around to local music venues and documents live sets using… More >>
  • Best Dude Who Will Fix Your Broken Music Gear

    Matthew Averill of Field Services Audio

    Averil, employed by the locally owned repair shop that fixes speakers, amps, soundboards, mixers, Line 6 pedals, and P.A. systems, repairs gear (except instruments) for many of downtown's musicians. And since he's part of the scene and not a shady stranger, he'll tell you straight-up what needs to be fixed while trying his very best to keep repairs within your… More >>
  • Best Place to Do Your Laundry and Hear Live Music

    Washouse

    The in-shambles laundrette on the southeast corner of Seventh and Portland streets is the last place you'd expect to host live music. But thanks to Rocky Yazzie of local rock group Skinwalkers, you can be serenaded by live grooves as you do loads of whites and darks. Normally held on the first Sunday of each month, Yazzie's showcases feature locals… More >>
  • Best Advertising

    Michael Little

    If you've spent substantial time in downtown Phoenix, you've at least heard of Michael Little. At this point, the sometimes homeless, self-taught painter and musician is a legend among folks who live, work, or play in the Roosevelt Row arts district. Little hasn't had a day job in over 10 years. He lives off art sales and trades and was even… More >>
  • Best-Looking Bank

    JP Morgan Chase Bank

    Some people call it "The Flintstones Bank." Others call it "that strange VNB over on 44th Street." But whatever you call it, you gotta love this flagstone-studded Chase bank branch, which the city is trying to get listed as an historic landmark. Built in 1968, the unique structure and its park-like surroundings are situated in a high-profile, high-dollar location. One… More >>
  • Best Green Thumb

    Maya Dailey

    Farming in Phoenix is surely a labor of love. From the inescapable heat to the lack of rain, the deck is stacked against anyone who might dare to coax food or flowers from our desert soil. Maya Dailey does just that. From her 1.5-acre Maya's Farm at The Farm at South Mountain, Maya's hard work has turned her well-tended rows… More >>
  • Best Use of Vintage Bump Chenille

    Beatrice Moore, Kooky Krafts Shop

    She came to Phoenix meaning to paint, but Beatrice Moore, long considered the godmother of the downtown Phoenix arts community, instead wound up in charge. When she discovered there wasn't a local artists coalition, she formed one. That group, known as ArtLink, went on to create and host Art Detour, an annual tour of artist studios and galleries that's been… More >>
  • Best Collector

    Vyle Raven-Greyv, Curiouser & Curiouser - CLOSED

    "I spent the first nine months of my life in a Ziploc bag and have been clawing my way to freedom ever since." That's her life, in a nutshell, according to Vyle Raven-Greyv, the eccentric owner of the weirdest shop in the Valley, Curiouser & Curiouser. "I can't say more because it would ruin my mystique," Vyle maintains. (Everyone calls her Vyle.) All… More >>
  • Best Indie Spirit

    Hoodlums Music and Movies - CLOSED

    Out here in the West, the genes of independent spirit course through our dehydrated bloodlines. Our cuckoo-crazy relatives were so desperate for independence that they settled an inconvenient home on our spiky, dry land. Why? Because they wanted to go renegade and live by their own rules. We see that spirit at work at Hoodlums Music and Movies. The 11-year-old independent… More >>
  • Best New Shop

    Smeeks

    The first time we walked into Smeeks, we weren't sure whether to clap our hands in glee — or cry. We really did tear up a little, after months of hearing about Georganne Bryant's dream to open a candy/novelty shop in the same complex as her wildly successful boutique, Frances. This place is a dream come true. For us, too. Yes,… More >>
  • Best Style

    Rachel Richards and Jim Malloy, Bunky Boutique

    This year's most stylish Phoenix wedding took place not here but in lower Manhattan, just off the West Side Highway in an industrial building that houses artists and low-income residents. The groom, Jim Malloy, is a native Phoenician; his new bride, Rachel Richards, hails from the wilds of Montana but now calls downtown Phoenix home. Two years ago, Richards opened Bunky… More >>
  • Best Boutique for Kids

    Garage

    Katie Wilson rocks the kidswear hard in her sparkly boutique — complete with a candy bar that would make Dylan Lauren green with envy. You can embrace your kid's inner Elvis or Harley rider with a black leather coat and all the trimmings, go girly with the fullest tutus in town, or just monkey around with Paul Frank's latest. No… More >>
  • Best Retail Legend

    Last Chance Bargain Shoes & Apparel

    As shoppers here love to remind the rest of the world, "You only get one Last Chance — and it's in Phoenix." Yes, there's Nordstrom Rack, the discount arm of the pricey chain department store. That's not what we're talking about here. Last Chance gets the stuff that doesn't sell at The Rack, as well as items from other Nordstroms far… More >>
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