Best of Phoenix

Best of Phoenix: Shopping on Glendale Avenue

Best of Phoenix: Shopping on Glendale Avenue
Jacob Tyler Dunn/Peter Speyer


You really only meant to buy a box of moist towelettes and a can of string cheese on your way home from work the other day, but things got a little crazy. You were driving up Glendale Avenue looking for a convenience store when you spotted La Fama Bakery, thought, Ooh, empanadas!, and pulled in real quick.

Certainly, there’ll be a CVS or a Walgreens, you thought to yourself once you were back behind the wheel and licking frosting from a pan dulce. You didn’t see a grocery, but there was a Value Village, which got you to wondering how long it’d been since you’d gone thrifting, and that’s all it took — you were inside and pawing through a bin of vintage Melmac before you knew it. Plastic dishware was better with serving pieces, but they didn’t have any styrene serving platters. That orange corduroy bean bag chair was a steal, though, so it was worth the trip.

Shopping made you hungry, and wasn’t Bitzee Mama’s around here somewhere? You drove around for a while and there it was, right across from Murphy Park on 58th Avenue. You decided against enchiladas and instead sat under a tree and looked at Velma Teague Library, where you and your friend Mary Ann used to go for books 1,000 years ago. After a while, you got bored and then remembered about that string cheese you needed, so you headed to your car and back toward Phoenix.

On your way home you passed Drawn to Comics and thought about the time you went in there and asked for Casper the Ghost and the girl behind the counter was real sweet and didn’t laugh at you or anything. Oh, and look, there was the Gaslight Inn where you used to go every Christmas for an eggnog before ducking in next door to Haus Murphy’s for a yuletide schnitzel with noodles. Then, you spotted the Astrology Store with its window full of plaster angels and its offer to photograph your aura, which sounded tempting, but you kept driving because those moist towelettes weren’t going to buy themselves. 


Just then you spotted a place called Chandra’s Bling Bling and you thought, Oh, wait, I have to go in there because who calls their store Chandra’s Bling Bling? It turns out that a woman named Chandra does, and she sells things you had never seen before, shocking things in bright, unnatural colors, some of which you purchased. Afterward, you wandered into Smilin’ Jack’s Pedal Cars next door, because at this point, why not? And that’s how you happened to come home with a fully restored Radio Flyer wagon and a fake marabou handbag shaped like an anvil and a bunch of other stuff. But no string cheese or moist towelettes.
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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela