The next stop on our neighborhood-by-neighborhood tour of vintage shops is the East Valley. Mesa, Tempe, and Chandler are three cities connected by, among other things, their vintage and antique shops. The outlying neighborhoods are about 30 minutes away from Seventh Avenue (a.k.a. the vintage capital of Phoenix), but they have an impressive collection of vintage. Here are our favorite East Valley vintage spots.
Reincarnation Vintage A bright yellow vintage furniture store is just what the Scottsdale Oak Plaza Shopping Center, on the edge of Tempe, needed. Reincarnation lives up to its name with a collection of retro couches and Falster furniture. The store is the type of place to make old things new again with a fresh coat of paint or current fabric. Odds and ends like beaded necklaces and ceramics for around $10 are cool finds for anyone who's not looking to make big purchases.
Meat Market Vintage No college campus is complete without a nearby vintage clothing store. Thankfully for ASU students, Meat Market opened its doors in February 2012. Festival-wear abounds, but this isn't the type of vintage shop to visit if you're looking for a Halloween costume. Wearable items like angel-sleeve floral baby doll dresses and embroidered blouses make Meat Market a place for serious vintage shoppers. The shop has a fully stocked men's section, which includes cheeky T-shirts, jeans, and trucker hats. Not only is their stock gawk-worthy, Meat Market is also a spot where you might want to hang out. So in between trips to the dressing rooms listen to some good music, lounge on the couches, and people-watch.
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The Blue Jean Buyer Since 1987, the Blue Jean Buyer has provided the East Valley with an ample supply of Levi's 501s, 505s, and 517s. Located in a strip mall on Scottsdale Road, the shop is filled with throwback jeans, plus vintage western, and biker wear. The sprawling collection of concert shirts runs anywhere from $15 to $65, depending on the quality, age, and artist. The Blue Jean Buyer also custom shreds, flags, studs, and spikes denim cutoffs for customers. The cutoffs cost $48 to $85.
Merchant Square Antique Marketplace You might be surprised to discover that one of the Valley's best antique malls is in Chandler. Merchant Square's giant space is immaculately organized, and it doesn't hurt that the store smells like chili (don't worry, it's not the merch -- Pittsburgh Willy's restaurant is connected to the store). The space is divided into six sections: fabulous finds, sweet rewards, small wonders, showcases, hidden treasures, and simple pleasures. But don't get too hung up on the designations. You'll find all sorts of goodies strewn throughout the 129 stalls. Merchant Square is the place to go for jewelry and accessories, as you'll find hand-beaded purses for $65 and pearl statement necklaces for just under $80. Clothing isn't the spot's forte, but dishware, signs, furniture, and nostalgia are in full supply.
Antique Plaza Downtown Mesa is fun for a day of exploring, but Antique Plaza is a find all its own. The two-floor store has so much stuff -- from beaded vests to ceramic frog salt and pepper shakers, Native American rings and the soundtrack of Good Morning Vietnam on vinyl. Antique Plaza has everything you didn't know you couldn't live without. Magazines and catalogs are buried throughout the store. (Se're still kicking ourselves for not grabbing the last copy of Pearls: Fun & Fancy.) The Plaza is covered in antiques and vintage wares, but it isn't overwhelming because everything has earned a space and place in the store.