Red Hot Robot
The home of hipster Japanese collectibles, toys, and books just got a new 16th Street location — and a new focus. According to owner Jason Kiningham, the new store is shifting from larger toys to smaller collectibles, plus greeting cards, magnets, and wrapping paper. The goal is to "add some lines of fun, functional gifts with cool design," along with prints and T-shirts from local artists.
6042 N. 16th St., 602-264-8560, redhotrobot.net
All About Comics
If you're looking for comic books, All About Comics has them. Box after box and shelf after shelf of books fill the store, which is also peppered with action figures, toys, and T-shirts for good measure. The spot draws "an eclectic crowd," says owner Alan Giroux. Customers range from monthly regulars getting their fix for new comics to those who are interested in the collectibles — and everyone in between.
5060 N. Central Ave., 602-277-0757, allaboutcomics.com
Phoenix Public Market
The Phoenix Public Market has transitioned from a biweekly open-air market to a gathering spot for Phoenicians interested in "shopping local." Visit the six-day-a-week grocery and deli for a fresh supply of produce and goods from local farms and businesses. Royal Coffee, the adjacent coffee/tea/dessert spot, is a regular hangout for students. The market has expanded its service to include a menu of breakfast made from fresh local ingredients. The recent addition of Food Truck Fridays, a lunchtime powwow of Phoenix food trucks is the most recent addition adding vigor to the corner. With the new-and-improved parking area, we expect it will only get cooler.
14 E. Pierce St., 602-254-1799, foodconnect.org/
The outdoor shopping center in the heart of downtown Phoenix is still in its infancy, but so far, it's bringing mall-style shopping to the city and to downtown ASU students. Urban Outfitters, Designer District, and West of Soho are just a few of the retail outlets catering to students and downtown workers looking for some trend-setting style.
1 E. Washington St.
JOHNNY ROCKS IT
"You like deep soul? You've got to have Betty Wright . . ." DJ, record seller, and local music icon John Dixon (a.k.a. Johnny D) tells a record buyer as he throws a 45 into his pile of vintage finds.
Dixon has a booth at the Record Swap Meet, where he's currently selling a fraction of his soul 45s.
"I don't sit around and count my records," he says, estimating that he has 150,000 to 200,000 albums, 78s, and 45s. That doesn't include the loads of cassettes and archives he's received from local people in the business over the years.
He started collecting in grade school, when he learned that music companies give away free copies to people in the biz. He became a DJ in high school and collected more records. He eventually went into distribution and accumulated even more.
He's a lover of music and collector of vinyl, but even more importantly, he's an archive of Arizona music . . . and loves to share it.
He has a copy of Alice Cooper's first album, cassette tapes of obscure rock bands from the 1970s, even square-dance records that were made in Arizona. He also owns the rights to archives from now-defunct local studio Audio Records, including early tracks from Wayne Newton and Waylon Jennings.
Listen to him spin his collection and you won't hear scratching or mash-ups. The former radio DJ plays the whole song from beginning to end and seems to know everything there is to know about each one he plays.
"The main thing," he says, "is enjoying music."
Find Johnny D at the Record Swap Meet every other month at the Arizona American Italian Club, 7509 N. 12th St., rare-az.org/. He also plays gigs (about one a month) around town, often with DJs Gentrification and Smite.