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  • Best New Shop

    Sweets & Beats - CLOSED

    In the summer of 2009, husband-and-wife team Liam James T. Murtagh and Emily Spetrino-Murtagh took over the old Art One space and opened this novelty shop that fuses two sweet things: vinyl records and candy. The Murtaghs, who play in a number of punk and ska bands, focus their records on those two genres as well as new wave. And… More >>
  • Best Retail Co-Op

    Paisley Town

    Tucked behind the yummy Paisley Violin Café is this retail co-op that's housed in totally adorable structures that weren't so adorable at one time: The World War II-era cottages once held German and Italian prisoners of war. However, you won't feel anything weird or creepy when visiting the buildings that were moved from 19th Avenue and McDowell Road and remodeled… More >>
  • Best Boutique

    Frances

    We shop. A lot. Which is why we figured we'd easily find a new winner in the "Best Boutique" category this year. No go. In good faith we simply can't stray from our favorite, Frances. Georganne Bryant doesn't just run the cutest boutique in town — she's started a cottage industry when it comes to community support. She gives well-earned… More >>
  • Best Move

    Bunky Boutique

    We'll follow Bunky wherever it goes. And we have. Owner Rachel Richards-Malloy has kept us on our toes since she opened — this is her third location. Today, her teeny shop is located across the street from the Phoenix Art Museum and shares a home with Matt Pool's Giant Coffee in the Merz building. The store is filled with designer… More >>
  • Best Roommates

    Olive in Paris and Paris Envy

    This cute girl named Olive needed a place to shack up, and turns out Paris Envy had some room upstairs, so a partnership of sorts was born. And we're so glad. This trend of sharing space is a wonderful byproduct of a slow economy, and we hope it keeps classy indie businesses like Paris Envy and Olive in Paris (the… More >>
  • Best Shopping on Grand Avenue

    Kooky Krafts

    Grand Avenue arty types can't get enough of Beatrice Moore's chenille wreaths and wildly colorful piñatas, so it's a good thing Moore has opened this zany art gallery/boutique/vintage craft supply shop in an old pharmacy. In addition to Moore's famously faboo Styrofoam wedding cakes, Kooky Krafts offers for sale work by other craft-centric local artists, all chosen by Moore herself.… More >>
  • Best Shopping on Roosevelt Row

    MADE art boutique

    Shopping at MADE isn't just retail therapy — it's a community happening. Cindy Dach curates a small but meaningful collection of crafts, books, and stuff you never knew you needed, along with a magazine rack filled with hard-to-find art mags. In so doing, she has made this little old house a magnet for Roosevelt Row mixing, mingling, and merchandising. Whether… More >>
  • Best Place to Find Local Fashion

    Local Talent

    We hear it all the time: buy local buy local buy local. But, darn, those local wares can be hard to find in these parts. So we're awfully glad Shannon McRae — a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising — had the idea to start a business in Old Town Scottsdale showcasing the work of local fashion… More >>
  • Best Mid-Century Everything

    Retro Ranch

    Okay, shop owner Indigo Nielsen, you've gone and wrangled a roomful of vintage wear (Look! A pink plaid circle skirt! Hey! Are those mint-in-box saddle shoes?) that has us yearning for 1957 all over again. And you've reminded us, with your gracefully displayed boomerang table and nylon frieze sofa set, that the '50s weren't just about kitsch. And you've given… More >>
  • Best Robots

    Red Hot Robot - CLOSED

    You know that Red Hot Robot has awesome designer toys. You know it's got a wide selection of vector art. It's not short on tiny trinkets, either. One of our favorite things to impulse-buy is Japanese busts hidden in cardboard boxes. Which Gundam robot will you get? Is it a Zaku Warrior? Is it a Force Impulse Gundam? You're going… More >>
  • Best Subversive

    Sebastien Millon

    Sebastien Millon had us at "hello." Really. As in his etsy shop greeting: "Hello! My name is Sebastien Millon and I draw bears (and because of my amazing artistic versatility, I sometimes draw other things, like rabbits and squirrels). Big-time news! I'm expanding into tote bags . . ."This guy — who hails from the Valley, lucky us — is… More >>
  • Best T-Shirts as Greeting Cards

    Brand X

    We love the fact that there's a friendly, reliable business in town that will print for us a batch of T-shirts for a school event or a sports team. But what we like even more is that the folks at Brand X give us the same wonderful custom service even when we just want one T-shirt. Prices are reasonable and… More >>
  • Best Alternative to Sending Flowers

    Fairytale Brownies

    What girl doesn't love getting flowers for a special occasion? A girl with severe allergies. When our best friend told her new sweetie that roses send her into a sneezing fit, he begged us to find an allergen-free alternative that wouldn't break the bank. After a little mouth-on research, we found our answer: Fairytale Brownies. The store has adorable mini-brownies… More >>
  • Best Florist

    Community Florist

    We knew we were going to love Community Florist when we spotted the shop's cat purring away near the cash register. But when we phoned in an order during a busy Mother's Day weekend, and one of the floral artists called back later to ask how Mom felt about snapdragons, we were really sold. Who makes that kind of effort… More >>
  • Best Independent Nursery

    Baker Nursery

    Let's face it: Most gardeners fight a losing battle in the war against Phoenix weather. We throw some gravel down, stick a barrel cactus or two next to a boulder, and call it a day. But Baker Nursery always seems to beat the heat. With an ever-changing selection of lush annuals, sturdy perennials, and a healthy supply of heat-tolerant shrubs,… More >>
  • Best Chain Nursery

    Lowe's

    Chain-store nurseries can lack charm. But when we see the display of blooming bougainvilleas and bushy lantanas at Lowe's, we know we've found a green-thumbed friend. You may not find at Lowe's that rare euphorbia you've been looking for (then again, you might), but you will find a sturdy selection of time-honored plants at prices affordable enough to re-create the… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Furniture

    Zinnias at Melrose

    Here's a little shopping secret: Go upstairs at Michael Todd's new vintage mall, to the wide terrace that overlooks the many bibelot-crammed carrels down below. Up there, you'll find practically a whole floor of old, newer, wrought-iron, and pot-metal outdoor furniture. A separate department, this space is filled with trellis benches and wire terrace tables and old tin shell chairs,… More >>
  • Best Home and Garden Shop

    Figs Home & Garden

    The urban home and garden fashion boutique Figs (Fine Interior Garden Space) has been around for five years, but it took owners Jon Douglas and David Coark four years of traveling beforehand to establish the shop's eclectic mix of European, Asian, French, Indian, Haitian, and Moroccan furnishings, antiques, and accessories. With home and garden goods covering nearly every square inch… More >>
  • Best Hostess Gifts

    La Grande Orange Grocery

    Not long ago, we were listening to a fascinating show on the Martha Stewart station on Sirius. The topic: what to bring your host or hostess. One caller told the tale of bringing a gift to a hostess, only to have the hostess ask the guest to take the gift home with her. "We don't like to bring anything more… More >>
  • Best High-End Hostess Gifts on the Cheap

    Stupid Cupid Gifts - CLOSED

    We didn't even know we needed a private-label soy candle until we were given one by a dinner guest recently. The sticker on the bottom read "Stupid Cupid," so we headed there and, well, sort of had our life changed. We bought a bunch of stuff for our own home — hand-pounded metal picture frames, a soap dish with an… More >>
  • Best Antiques on a Budget

    Cheap Thrills - CLOSED

    We hear it every time we visit Cheap Thrills at its new Indian School location: Some shopper spots something on a shelf or a rack in this boffo boutique and cries out, "My grandma used to have that!" But it's not just granny stuff that's stocked at this shop, where we recently bought a mint-in-box Big Jim Sports Camper (like… More >>
  • Best Boutique Thrift Store

    Ozzie's Furnishings

    We have a terrible confession to make. Phoenix, we've been keeping something from you. We discovered Ozzie's Furnishings years ago, but we haven't shared it with you because — well, because we're selfish. There's no other way to put it. We're sorry. To make up for it, we promise to stay out of Ozzie's for a while, to let you… More >>
  • Best Non-Boutique Thrift Store

    Goodwill

    We've been to pretty much every Goodwill store in the Valley, from Surprise to Queen Creek. On the right day, and with a little luck, there's always a treasure to be had at the remarkably professional nonprofit chain. Still, on the whole, we have to say we've had the very best luck at the Central Phoenix location on the southeast… More >>
  • Best Thrift Store for Small Appliances

    Flo's on Seventh

    Friends are sick of hearing us boast about how we bought a like-new Braun espresso maker for 10 bucks, but we can't stop talking about it. We found it at Flo's, where we're also proud to proclaim we've in the past found a fabulous still-working vintage 30-cup percolator, a portable CD player (for $7!), and a hot plate shaped like… More >>
  • Best Thrift Store for Amateur Paintings

    Savers

    It might be a fish. Or a horse. Someone who saw it thought it was a hat. But whatever it is that's depicted in this fabulous thrift-store painting from Savers, we got it at a steal. Aficionados of so-bad-it's-good art must be on to this place, because each time we drop by in search of a '50s prom portrait or… More >>
  • Best Thrift Store for Square Dancing Costumes

    Travel Thru Time

    If you're getting your Annie Oakley costume ready for Halloween or just have a hankerin' to go do-si-do with your partner, mosey on down to Travel Thru Time, a cluttered little gem of a vintage shop in Phoenix's Encanto district. From tame to downright tacky, an assortment of square dance regalia that would outfit a high school cast of the… More >>
  • Best Seasonal Clearance Aisle

    Hobby Lobby

    In February, we bought 32 sheets of leftover Valentine-pink felt for a quarter. The month before, we stocked up on all our holiday décor for next year — and got every last reindeer ornament and dreidel-shaped earring set for 75 percent off. We're fans of Hobby Lobby year-round, to be sure — we get all our art supplies, sewing notions,… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Creative on the Cheap

    Tempe Sales

    Far away from the bustle of chain craft stores is Tempe Sales, the little gem of a craft-slash-fabric-slash-furniture-parts store in a dilapidated old building near the railroad tracks. If you're searching for the perfect bun feet for a reclaimed chair project or need some braided trim for an apron you're sewing, this is the place to go. They even carry… More >>
  • Best Art Supplies

    Wet Paint Artist Supply - CLOSED

    There's a reason ASU art students flock to Tempe's Wet Paint for supplies, and it's not just because it's within spitting distance of the college. The family-owned store carries a large assortment of drawing pads and specialty papers, oil and acrylic paints, sculpting media, and screenprinting supplies. When we needed oil-based colored pencils for an art project, this was the… More >>
  • Best Scrapbook Supplies

    Scrapbook Barn

    If you're desperate to make bad vacation snapshots look like golden memories, try browsing through Scrapbook Barn's extensive selection of decorative papers and accessories. They've got ribbon by the yard. Decals. Die-cuts. Even machines that will crop, trim, and punch paper shapes out for you. Unlike other scrapbook stores with static inventory, supplies at Scrapbook Barn follow pop culture trends.… More >>
  • Best Stamp Supplies

    Stamp Works - CLOSED

    If you are a stamper, this little hidden gem at Old Town Market Square in Chandler should be your headquarters. Not only do they carry all the rubber stamps you'd care to own, this shop is filled with many other must-have cropping goodies. Look for markers, paper, and adhesives to serve your creative needs. They also offer a monthly class… More >>
  • Best Soap-Making Supplies

    Janca's Jojoba Oil & Seed Co

    DIY, it seems, will never die — not as long as the economy's down and Martha Stewart's still upright. If you're a soap-maker, or want to try it out, we've found your materials. Janca's Jojoba is the only local soap supply shop that also sports a storefront. (Most are mail-order only.) Known best for locally growing and processing the high-end… More >>
  • Best Bead Store

    Confetti: The Bead Place

    If you can actually find this store — tucked away in an industrial park near the three-way intersection of Grand Avenue and Dysart and Bell roads — you will be rewarded with beads in nearly every shape, size, color, and texture you can imagine.But there are rules before you can browse the seemingly endless selection of bead strands, findings, and… More >>
  • Best Knitting Supplies

    Arizona Knitting & Needlepoint - CLOSED

    We started going to Arizona Knitting and Needlepoint because we were addicted to needles. Knitting needles, that is. The store, owned by Rebecca Deeprose, is a Shangri-La of knitting supplies and needlework knowledge. Then we took one of Arizona Knitting's wonderful classes on beginning crochet and we were hooked all over again. Hundreds of blankets, booties, hats, socks, and scarves… More >>
  • Best Felt

    Knit Happens

    We're not sure what first attracted us to this crafty Scottsdale shop — the cheeky name or the crocheted bikini we spotted in the window. This ain't your granny's knitting store. While older folks are welcome to stop by and knit one, purl two with the shop staff, Knit Happens was created for the stitch-and-bitch crowd of bored singles and… More >>
  • Best Fabric Store

    SAS Fabric by the Pound

    We're all about remnants, so plowing through the big, waist-high cardboard boxes full of bolts of fabric at SAS is our idea of a good time. The thought of wholesale-priced silk and cotton blends that have been marked down makes us a little dizzy, so after grabbing some nice yardage, we move on to the long, long row of smaller… More >>
  • Best High-End Fabric Store

    Danese Creations

    It's tough to find good fabric in Phoenix. We don't have serious fashion design students (or the cast of Project Runway) to necessitate a Mood Fabrics store, and we aren't enough of a "real city" to have super high-end places like Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. Sure, you can order online, but colors are never the same on your laptop… More >>
  • Best High-End Bed and Bath Shop

    Valerianne of Scottsdale

    We always feel a little dirty when we step into one of those bed and bath superstores (nothing super about it, if you ask us, even with one of those ubiquitous 20 percent off coupons) so that's why we were so happy when a friend told us about Valerianne. This is a "chain" with just two outposts — the other's… More >>
  • Best High-End Antiques

    Willo Antiques

    There are plenty of antiques malls around town, but most carry odds and ends that appeal to a select audience — French lace doilies, Superman lunchboxes, garage-sale crap repainted and marketed as overpriced shabby-chic. Willo Antiques, on the other hand, always manages to get the cream of the crop from estate sales. You never know what you'll find here on… More >>
  • Best Antique Rugs

    The Rug Room at Antique Gatherings

    We found our room-size Persian Hamadan at this bustling, super-stocked local antiques mall, and if we told you how little we paid, you wouldn't believe us. There's an authentic and very old Iranian Isfahan there that we've had our eyes on for some time, but in the meantime, we're happy to have scored a hand-woven wool-on-cotton Bokhara runner for the… More >>
  • Best Vintage Haute Couture

    Fashion by Robert Black

    Robert Black's name was already synonymous with fashion in this city; he ran a popular modeling agency forever. Now he's sharing his good taste by dressing you in vintage wares. Housed in the landmark White Hogan building (once home to the famous silversmith), Fashion by Robert Black's got plenty of famous names on the rack — from Halston to Chanel… More >>
  • Best Used Clothing for Kids

    Love Child

    Love Child offers great finds for the stylish kid in your life. You'll find groovy treasures — a rainbow of kiddy sunglasses, brands like Justice and Gap, and baby gear — throughout the store, and the staff offers good old-fashioned service to all who walk through the door. Love Child is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and… More >>
  • Best Kid Consignment Sales

    Kid's Closet Connection

    Come close, because here's the bargain tip all the moms of the Valley are keeping to themselves: a twice-a-year indoor flea market filled only with kid goods. This is a two-day venue where you can sell your children's outgrown clothes, toys, and gear. If you are in need of wares for your peanuts, this is the place to pick up… More >>
  • Best Shopping on a College Girl's Budget

    Here on the Corner

    One of our favorite things about college towns is the shopping. Such spots tend to be havens for tiny boutiques, tucked away off busy streets, holding sweet one-of-a-kind treasures. There's not enough of that in the town that houses one of the nation's universities, as far as we're concerned, but we are lucky enough to have Here on the Corner.… More >>
  • Best Bargain Clothing

    Last Chance

    We are accustomed to running into friendly firefighters shopping for dinner at our neighborhood Safeway, but when we spotted a gaggle of firemen near the front of the line at Last Chance on a recent visit, we got a little uppity. "Jeez," we said (luckily only to ourselves), "the bargains are good here, but really, shouldn't those firefighters be adjusting… More >>
  • Best High-End Boutique for Kids

    Garage

    A while back, the rumor spread that Katie Wilson had packed up her boutique and candy bar for kids and moved the shebang to Scottsdale Fashion Square. We were happy to hear she was still in business, but a little sad to hear of another empty storefront in Old Town Scottsdale.We are happy to report that the rumor was completely… More >>
  • Best Bargain on Vintage Clothing

    Hollywood Regency Vintage

    Before her untimely passing early this summer, fashionista and paper curator Heidi Owens upgraded her already fabulous vintage clothing shop, turning it into a frankly jaw-dropping fashion emporium of the past. By moving into the large, linoleum-tiled boutique on West Indian School Road, Owens quadrupled her floor space and was able to fulfill her dream: creating a department store, circa… More >>
  • Best Vintage Clothing

    Butter Toast Boutique - CLOSED

    Phoenix is notorious for less-than-decent vintage shopping. Poor us. We're just too young a city. Thank the fashion gods for Butter Toast Boutique. Somehow, they know where to snag some of the best vintage threads we've seen. The racks are packed with delightful polyester prints and more gorgeous purses than you can shake a bag of mothballs at. Every time… More >>
  • Best Vintage Jeans

    The Blue Jean Buyer

    Recycled since 1987, The Blue Jean Buyer's selection of denim looks how we'd like our asses to look: small and tight. With American-made 501, 505, and 517 classic Levi's, in addition to '70s bellbottoms, cut-offs, old-school Wranglers and Lees, bib overalls, and designer jeans amped up by local artists, denim devotees can easily score a blue bargain. Want to personalize… More >>
  • Best Place to Unload Your VHS Tapes for Credit

    Bookmans

    Don't laugh. We found, in our basement, a box full of old VHS tapes we'd been saving for some reason, and we figured no one would want them. Wrong! We took them to Bookmans, where we swapped more than half of them for store credit. Then we turned right around and bought ourselves (for free!) a hardcover copy of Catcher… More >>
  • Best Used Bookstore

    Book Gallery

    Book Gallery's a throwback to what used bookstores were like before mega-secondhand bookshops came along: persnickety, idiosyncratic cubbyholes where you run across rarities chosen in part by the interests of the owner. Not that Book Gallery is a cubbyhole, size-wise. The store is spacious enough, but the densely packed shelves lend a feeling of intimacy, a place where you can… More >>
  • Best Budget Bookstore

    Half Price Books

    We were thrilled, thrilled, thrilled when the national chain Half Price Books decided to set out its shingle in the Biltmore area earlier this year. Yes, there are already plenty of good spots to buy used books in CenPho, and we adore most of them — but Half Price Books, we have to admit, is tops. It's not just the… More >>
  • Best Collectible Bookstore

    Charles Parkhurst Rare Books

    Okay. This is not a bookshop for the faint of heart. Parkhurst and company aren't offering for sale first-edition Clive Barkers here. This isn't the place where one goes to upgrade one's worn copy of Catcher in the Rye. This four-year-old bookseller is where one might, for example, go to purchase a pair of leather-bound volumes of Tobias Smollett's The… More >>
  • Best Bookstore

    Changing Hands Bookstore

    As more brick-and-mortar book retailers shut down around us, we take huge comfort in knowing that this homey bookshop continues to thrive. For decades now, Changing Hands has offered more than just great prices on new books and a vast array of rare and interesting used titles. This independent community bookstore has offered up workshops, writing seminars, book groups, poetry… More >>
  • Best Comfortable Shoes

    Shoe Mill

    So you scored a cheap parking spot over by the football stadium, but your classes are clear on the other side of Tempe's ASU campus, over by Gammage? Better ditch those Blahniks for some Danskos, sweetie. We know, it's not pretty, but your feet won't be, either, after weeks of hoofing it. And if anyone can make you look good… More >>
  • Best Shoeshine

    Jacques Brice

    So, you're getting your dusty ride washed, buffed, and dried, and you've got 20 minutes to kill before it's ready. You look down at your feet and see that those funky old loafers of yours are sorely in need of a shine. There, in the waiting area, is your answer, and his name is Mr. Brice. The dude has been… More >>
  • Best Car Wash

    Los Olivos Car Wash

    How many times have you driven away from the car wash, only to notice after a few blocks that crumbs are still clinging to your console, and that your windows are all streaky? Look, in this economy, we really all should be washing our own damn cars, so if we're going to splurge on a wash, we expect the royal… More >>
  • Best Place to Give Your Dog a Bath

    Wag N' Wash

    Our pup literally barks with happiness when we turn onto Seventh Avenue near Indian School Road — because this funky little section of town has become Doggy Central. There are a half-dozen awesome businesses on a one-mile stretch that will spoil your dog rotten, from doggy daycares to pet boutiques to puppy spas. La crème de la crème may well… More >>
  • Best Pet Boutique

    Shauna's Paw Spa & Pet Boutique

    Shauna Rosenbaum has been pampering and primping pets at Shauna's Paw Spa & Pet Boutique in Surprise since 2008. But she's no novice. Before that, she made house calls for nearly 10 years with Shauna's Mobile Grooming. Rosenbaum has a knack for putting her furry clients at ease with a gentle touch and seems to please even the most finicky… More >>
  • Best Bike Shop

    Tempe Bicycle

    Cranks, cogs, cassettes — if you know exactly what all that is, or even if it all sounds Greek, Tempe Bicycle is the place to roll in a beater or carry out one of the shiners on the floor. Bud and Yvonne Morrison have been selling, fixing and talking bicycles in Tempe for more than 30 years. They've moved a… More >>
  • Best Skateboard Shop

    Cowtown Skateboards

    Before trendy boutiques, hipster specialty shops, and Dutch Brothers found the northwest corner of Central and Camelback (We know! Why was this corner so hard to find in the first place?), there lived a humble little skate shop with a clever storefront sign. (That long-gone sign was made of old skateboard decks, but rumor has it that it "wasn't to… More >>
  • Best Knife Shop

    Phoenix Knife House

    Phoenix Knife House is a candy store for culinary professionals and wanna-be Iron Chefs. Owned by former chef Eytan Zias, who did stints at Kai and Circa 1900, the small shop is lined with knives in all shapes and sizes from the smallest paring blade to Santoku knives and cleavers. Zias treats each knife like a precious diamond, pulling selections… More >>
  • Best Multicultural Shopping Experience

    The House of Rice Store

    We ambled up to the counter at the House of Rice, tossed our Dutch cookies and "grow a Buddha" toy on the counter and asked a question that poor clerk must get asked a hundred times a day."Why Dutch and Asian products?"The one-word answer: "Indonesia." Oh. Indonesia was at one point a Dutch colony, which made Dutch food popular in… More >>
  • Best Japanese Market

    New Tokyo Food Market

    If you're looking for panko to bread your tonkatsu or masago to top your sashimi, you'll find it at New Tokyo. This mom-and-pop Japanese market has a wide selection of goods from household wares to wasabi paste.New Tokyo has storefront parking, chilled drinks, and munchies to grab on the go — all the features of a convenience store — but… More >>
  • Best Oil and Vinegar

    Queen Creek Olive Mill

    It's no surprise that the state's only working olive mill nabbed top honors in this category. The startling revelation is just how many gorgeous combos of flavored oil and vinegar you can put together in the Mill's expansive store. All of the oils taste incredibly light and clean, in part because the Mill doesn't use any pesticides in its olive… More >>
  • Best Spice Shop

    Sahuaro Spice Company

    When it comes to spices, we're all about ingredients — not fancy packaging. That's exactly why Sahuaro Spice Co. is one of our favorite culinary supply destinations, despite its inconvenient location in a shady industrial district in west Phoenix. You won't pay 10 bucks for frilly bows and decorative glass containers here. At Sahuaro, the spices are packaged in bulk… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Bulk Herbs

    SW Herb Shop and Gathering Place

    If you're trying to track down comfrey to soothe a bruise or valerian and dandelion root to combat an attack of the PMS Avenger, SW Herb Shop in Mesa has the herb you need. No, not that herb — SW's are strictly legal. Rows and rows of dried plants are stacked alphabetically in old-school glass apothecary jars on shelves throughout… More >>
  • Best Cooking Supplies

    Shar's Bosch Kitchen Center

    We never knew there were such things as corn zippers and frosting pens — or that we needed them — until we stumbled on Shar's. The store carries full-size Bosch appliances, as well as food processors, blenders, cookware, and myriad kitchen gadgets, all at bargain prices. Our favorite finds include an adorable insulated lunch bag that looks like a purse… More >>
  • Best Baking Supplies

    ABC Cake Decorating Supplies

    Shows like Cake Boss and Food Network's Challenge have gotten average folks off the couch and into the kitchen to bake creative cakes. It's not as easy as it looks on the small screen, but with ABC's help you can definitely pull off a bargain wedding cake or an edible SpongeBob SquarePants for your 5-year-old niece's birthday party. The shop… More >>
  • Best Candy Store

    Smeeks

    Yes, it's a candy store, but the goodies aren't all that's sweet about Smeeks. We've fallen hard for this little store — from the free gumballs on the front counter to the $5 photo booth in the back. The place is chock-full of guilty pleasures you never knew you needed, like squirrel underpants, bacon Band-Aids, and sparklers that burn so… More >>
  • Best Coffee House, Central Phoenix

    Lux Coffeebar

    Coffee houses come and go, and we're glad Lux stayed. Even with a change of ownership a few years ago, this packed-to-the-gills coffee bar earns its reputation as the place to see and be seen — and to sip — in Central Phoenix. No one minds if you bring over your Pane Bianco sandwich from next door on a hot… More >>
  • Best Coffee House, Downtown Phoenix

    Lola Coffee

    It's easy to see why there are now two Lola Coffee locations on the planet. This new hang is a spin-off from Lola's original location, and, much like the spot on North Central Avenue, the downtown coffee shop is an intimate place to share designer coffee that's roasted in-house, home-baked goods, and herbal teas. It's also the perfect venue for… More >>
  • Best Coffee House, North Phoenix

    Fiddler's Dream Coffeehouse

    We stumbled upon this one-of-a-kind coffee shop, on the grounds of the Phoenix Friends Meeting space at the southeast corner of 17th Street and Cactus Wren, on our way to a west-side concert. We were so taken with the cozy, SoCal-esque, post-hippie ambiance that we went back the following weekend to check it out more closely. Turns out that, in… More >>
  • Best Coffee House, West Valley

    The Bad Ass Coffee Co. - CLOSED

    This really is some badass coffee they are brewing up in Surprise, using 100 percent Kona coffee beans grown on Hawaiian volcanoes. It's a cozy shop with an aroma that will please any coffee connoisseur's taste buds.The store's name, so the legend goes, comes from the bellowing donkeys (a.k.a. asses) that hauled the delicious coffee beans down the mountainsides. The… More >>
  • Best Coffee House, Southeast Valley

    Coffee Rush

    The funny thing about Coffee Rush is how easily we stop being in a rush every time we come here. The staff is relaxed and friendly, without that don't-bother-me-I'm-gabbing-with-co-workers attitude found at certain other coffee shops with burnt coffee and myriad locations. If you're a regular, they'll start your favorite chai or Caramel Nut Latte before you even get to… More >>
  • Best Coffee House, Mesa

    Inside the Bungalow

    For the second year in a row, Inside the Bungalow gets our accolades for being the coolest place for strong, tasty coffee in Mesa. The java here is robust and potent, with house blends strong enough to put a spring in one's step without leaving a bitter taste in the mouth. But Inside the Bungalow's appeal doesn't end with the… More >>
  • Best Coffee House, Tempe

    Cartel Coffee Lab

    The competition for best coffee house is steep in Tempe, but really, for us there's no contest. We love Cartel first and foremost for its wicked-strong espresso — more than worth the laughably long wait — and then for the vibe. You won't find anything frap-like here, no smoothies or even much in the way of food. Just coffee and… More >>
  • Best Coffee House, Scottsdale

    Sola Coffee Bar - CLOSED

    We'd heard so much hype about Sola Coffee Bar that we didn't want to go. There was no way the place could live up to expectations. But it did. Simple and spare, serving our favorite Cartel coffee and spinning the Black Keys (literally — on vinyl) this is one groovy coffee house. There's organic agave nectar on the counter next… More >>
  • Best Cigar Shop

    Ye Olde Pipe & Tobacco Shoppe

    For Rick Hopkins, owner of Ye Olde Pipe & Tobacco Shoppe, cigars have been in the family for more than 30 years. Since beginning work at his father's downtown 'gar shop at 15, Hopkins smoked his first stogie at 19 and eventually took over the business in 1996. From best-value bundled cigars to premium puffs like Padron and Romeo y… More >>
  • Best Head Shop

    Traders Smoke Shop

    The sheer size of Traders Smoke Shop gives it an advantage over the competition — the shop's located in what was formerly a furniture store, so Traders has more than 500 square feet and two big showrooms to display their wares. Such wares include dozens of hookah-tobacco flavors, a stockpile of bladed weapons, and stoner T-shirts that say things like… More >>
  • Best Home Brewing Supplies

    Brew Your Own Brew

    The Brew Your Own Brew store isn't very big, but somehow it manages to have everything a home brewer needs in stock. It has the equipment (air stills, fruit mashers, fermentation vats), and it has a wide selection of ingredients, from fruit pastes for wines and yeasts for beers to "make-your-own" cheese kits and starter liquids for homemade sodas. BYOB… More >>
  • Best Place to Bottle Your Own Wine

    Su Vino Winery

    Scottsdale's latest twist on the wine scene lies in a bona fide winery squeezed into the heart of Old Town. Su Vino offers the typical wine tastings and happy hours of any wine joint, but the real sparkle they serve is the ability to blend, bottle, and cork your own wine. Their "wine consultants" assist brides, families, and corporations with… More >>
  • Best Drive-Thru Liquor Store

    Tower Liquors

    Drive-thru liquor shops can be singularly seedy affairs — and God knows East Phoenix, from Indian School to McDowell Road, is full of plenty of dubious examples. But even though Tower Liquors falls smack dab in the middle of this milieu of grungy alcoholic functionality, it's truly a gem: a spotlessly clean, perfectly organized shop that offers everything from Jose… More >>
  • Best S&M Supplies

    Smokin' Lingerie

    The seedy stucco strip-mall digs of Tempe's Smokin' Lingerie make it look like the kind of place you'd expect to buy cheap polyester thongs and rolling papers. But Smokin' Lingerie's best-kept secret is that it's home to one of the largest S&M toy collections around. This is where local doms and subs (that's dominants and submissives, for all you non-kinksters)… More >>
  • Best Leather

    Tuff Stuff Leather - CLOSED

    When you're one of the last remaining original custom leather stores in the country, a hard edge goes along with the hide. Through the steel bars and past the motorcycle in the display window, the interior of Tuff Stuff Leather has been home to reasonably priced vests, pants, belts, bondage wear, and more for more than 20 years. With most… More >>
  • Best Vinyl

    Revolver Records

    Vinyl junkies who need a fix come to Revolver Records for two reasons. First, the store has a big selection of records, all separated by various genres. Of course, they have the standard sections like rock and country, but the smaller bins — those labeled punk, industrial, metal, and hip-hop — have a sizable selection, too. Volume and organization make… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy CDs

    Hoodlums Music and Movies - CLOSED

    There are a lot of great record stores of varying degrees of indieness in metro Phoenix. Hoodlums excels not because it has the biggest selection or the choicest obscurities — it's solid, but not spectacular, in that regard — but because it's the best version of what we think a record store needs to be in an evolving marketplace deeply… More >>
  • Best Place for Dubbing

    Lambchops Studios

    Releasing a tape instead of vinyl or CD-R really gives a DIY musician some serious street cred. And, much like vinyl, cassette tapes have made a comeback — most local record stores, such as Revolver, Stinkweeds, and Eastside, carry locally produced tapes. But because copying tapes must be done in real time, it's a completely maddening and time-sucking experience to… More >>
  • Best Vintage Guitars

    Bizarre Guitar & Drum

    Anybody who has ever fallen in love with rock 'n' roll can tell you there's an ethereal connection between an instrument and the greats who have played it. Even if you only know a few chords, holding a pre-CBS black Fender Stratocaster in your hands makes you feel you posses the magical ability to channel Clapton and rip through the… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Metaphysical

    The Astrology Store

    When it comes to matters of the mystical, The Astrology Store is a supernatural Shangri-La. Opened more than 10 years ago by co-owner, astrologer, and psychic-medium Dave Campbell, the Astrology Store offers books, gifts, jewelry, supplies, classes, and events to both budding spiritualists and predicting pros. Get guided with a reading from Campbell or one of his seers, receive messages… More >>
  • Best Way to Avoid Getting Yourself on an Episode of Hoarders

    Arc of Tempe Thrift Store

    We didn't have to look up the phone number for the Arc of Tempe Thrift Store. We know it by heart. That's how often we manage to make a pile of stuff to give away. Every six weeks or so, we load our porch high with all kinds of junk — the kind of stuff that's useless to us (Who… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Superhero Costumes

    Easley's Costumes & Fun Shop

    If the film Kick-Ass taught us anything, it's that dressing like a superhero is a downright dope experience. Whether it's transforming your bath towel into a makeshift cape as a tyke or dressing up as Spider-Man for Halloween, being a wanna-be Man of Steel or the Dark Knight is one of those simple pleasures in life. But if you don't… More >>
  • Best Comic Book Superstore

    Atomic Comics - CLOSED

    Atomic Comics is the third-largest comics retailer in the nation, and for good reason. Not only does it have a massive selection of comics, graphic novels, and toys (in-store and online), but it has energy and color. Traditionally, comic book shops were housed in small, boring storefronts and manned by yawning, middle-aged men. At Atomic Comics, all the signage is… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy an Action Figure

    McFarlane

    Spawn creator Todd McFarlane's shop may be filled with toys, but the target is most certainly not your 5-year-old. Though you'll find kid-friendly throwbacks like My Little Pony here, the store mainly offers collectible sports figures (look for quarterback Kurt Warner's figurine later this year!) and twisted toys from the bizarre mind of its namesake. We've spotted everything from detailed,… More >>
  • Best Cosplay Supplies

    Samurai Comics

    Why do you go to comic conventions? Are you seeking back issues? Do you want to trade trivia? If you're handy with a pair of scissors or know what aqua resin is, we're guessing you're a cosplayer. Cosplay (short for costume play) involves dressing up like your favorite comic book/ sci-fi /anime character and parading around to show off your… More >>
  • Best Spy Equipment

    Spy Headquarters

    Batman would be nothing without his gadgets. Though you won't find any bat-shaped boomerangs or bat spray shark repellent at Spy Headquarters, they've got the next best things. Bear repellent. Grappling hooks. A hidden wall safe. There's even a portable lie detector so you know when your spouses, kids, or archenemies are telling the truth. We especially love the book… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Spandex Tights

    Dee's Dancewear

    Blame Stan Lee — it seems that, regardless of gender, you can't be a superhero unless you wear spandex tights or the dreaded unitard. If your heroic alter ego is willing to suck up his or her pride and suck in the gut, Dee's Dancewear is the best place in town to score some seriously shiny spandex. The store regularly… More >>
  • Best Place to Outfit Yourself Like a Warrior

    Windrose Armoury

    It's easy to find a Roman breastplate or a medieval helmet in Phoenix if you don't mind the plastic costume version. On the other hand, if you actually want to suit up in real metal armor and whack the crap out of your fellow man with padded sticks, there's only one place to go: Windrose Armoury. Located in a garage… More >>
  • Best Shopping on the Dark Side

    Evermore Nevermore - CLOSED

    It's difficult being a trendsetter when you're stuck smack dab in the middle of Conservative Central, a.k.a. Mesa, Arizona. Maybe they're protected by dark forces — or the ghosts rumored to be lurking in the historic building's basement — but somehow owner Bob Leeper and his family have managed to make a gothic fantasy collectible shop the centerpiece of downtown… More >>
  • Best Place to Pimp Your Ride, Batman-Style

    The Armored Group

    A few years ago, an original Batman Forever Batmobile sold for $297,000 at auction. Problem is, it's just a movie prop. No bulletproof glass. No fancy toys. No armored panels. If your budding superhero self really wants to cruise in the safest possible ride, check out the Armored Group's selection of new and used vehicles. We love the ease with… More >>
  • Best Cab Company If You Wanna Get Dirty

    Sunrise Cab

    As our bank accounts can attest, a night out on the town is sometimes an expensive endeavor. Even with bar and club owners slashing drink prices and jazzing up their happy hours these days, cash always gets a little scarce by the end of the evening. While pragmatism would suggest perhaps cutting back on drinking (eff that) or even becoming… More >>
  • Beatrice Moore

    Hero Worship

    Beatrice Moore

    See: a video interview with Beatrice Moore. In a city that defines a style iconoclast as a woman who dares to mix separates from Banana Republic with accessories from Forever 21, Beatrice Moore is a true original. I doubt she's ever been in a mall or had her hair done, but you would not believe the cool shit she finds in… More >>

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