So maybe money can't buy good taste, but at least you'll have a running start at acquiring some -- for a price -- at Showcase at the Peak. With two ever-expanding locations, this emporium specializes in exotic imported furniture and home accessories from far-flung places around the globe. Though many of the things Showcase at the Peak carries are new, made-to-look-centuries-old items, they still reflect a sophisticated sensibility carefully developed and nurtured by quick bucks acquired from successful day trading.

You, too, can be the proud owner of a Moroccan Berber-made goatskin lamp festooned with intricate designs of henna paste. And won't your neighbors be green with envy when you show them that pair of six-foot, carved-and-gilded Mexican candlesticks you bought here by mortgaging your first-born? The last time we spied on Showcase's inventory, we literally stumbled over, among other treasures, Balinese woodcarvings, Italian majolica pottery, primitive Moroccan ceramics, inlaid mosaic (zillig) tile tables and hand-painted Moroccan tea tables.

From Japanese tansu and antique Tibetan chests to a turn-of-the-century Chinese shrine that looks like a puppet theater, Showcase always seems to have a constant stream of items guaranteed to add a certain élan to that poorhouse you'll be decorating after you shop here.

No, we're not going to tell you where to hook up with a Girl Scout wanna-be -- or even a bakery that sells triple-fudge cookie confections. What we're talking about here are old Kodak Brownie cameras and other vintage photographic equipment lusted after by seriously insatiable shutterbugs.

Zoom in on Collectible Cameras, a picture-perfect repository of photographic equipment dating back almost to the dawn of the daguerreotype. The north Phoenix showroom carries literally hundreds of old twin reflex cameras in mint condition, early 35mm single lens reflex models by all the top manufacturers and vintage field cameras (including an old beauty we spotted made of cherry wood). Primordial point-and-shoots, old Speedgrafix (you know, the kind of camera that crime-scene photographers used to pop off in the 1940s), lenses by the load, medium format studio cameras -- Collectible Cameras even handles old enlargers and light meters you'd swear were used by Ansel Adams. And if you happen to find a vintage Leica lurking in your linen closet, this place also buys cameras.

Say "Cheese!" -- and check out the store's Web site at www.ritzcam.com for a complete list of inventory and current prices.

Drooling over that sleek 'n' slinky postmodern design look that permeates the pages of haute decorating mags like Elle Decor and Metropolitan Home? You know, the kind in those glossy spreads showing futuristic furniture that looks like it's straight out of a 1960s Euro-hip sci-fi thriller?

If you're the young, urban hipster type with wheelbarrows of cash, a generous trust fund and/or a discriminating decorating mindset backed up with a viable credit card, Ferraras is the place to make your scene.

Once specializing in accessories, this award-winning design studio has changed course, concentrating now (in addition to designing hot residential and commercial environments) on high-end contemporary furniture and lighting from Italy, the Netherlands, Canada and the U.S. It's the perfect stop for furniture shopping when you have boodles of bucks and need some tasteful direction for creating the ultimate po-mo pad du jour.

Marcello and Ursula will dig it the most.

Cryogenics? Why freeze the dear departed when Dr. Don can turn a photo of your late loved one into a commemorative fridge magnet? Yes, a fridge magnet, complete with the name of the deceased and a brief message and/or dates of time on Earth.

Untraditional? Perhaps. A funeral crowd-pleaser? You bet!

Cost of these postmortem mementos is about 70 cents apiece when purchased in lots of 1,000; prices vary according to style and number of magnets ordered. Remembrance pins are also available at a lesser price.

Until someone comes up with a tee shirt emblazoned with GRANDMA WENT TO HEAVEN AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS STINKIN' TEE SHIRT, we can't think of a cooler -- or more useful -- way to remember someone who's no longer with us.

With Tower Records no longer a player in the video rentals game, Movies on Central wins in a walk.

And after a stroll through the store's compact-but-tasty inventory of rarely seen titles, you'll understand how this video boutique has nurtured a Valleywide clientele drawn to tapes not to be found in the Valley anywhere else under one roof.

In addition to all the usual cult-movie suspects (Russ Meyer, John Waters, Gregg Araki), Movies on Central fills in the video cracks with film-festival indies, foreign titles, documentaries and an exemplary collection of classics and musicals.

Oh, and did we mention they take reservations?

Readers' Choice: Blockbuster

Harkins theaters rock!

And so do the cushy high-backed seats at their newer theaters. It's a small difference, we know, but it's a nice touch that's enough to distinguish them from their competitors.

And that's no easy task, because competing theaters keep looking more and more alike -- for the better, happily.

Next up on megaplex mogul Dan Harkins' drawing boards? A deluxe auditorium with plush leather seats, gourmet appetizers and cocktail service, scheduled to open early next year.

Rock -- and roll 'em!

Readers' Choice: Harkins Arizona Mills mall

Readers' Choice for Best Movie Theater Snack Selection: Harkins

Every couple of months, the clever kids who operate this stylish shabby-chic emporium rent a U-Haul and head for parts Midwestern. Along the way, they buy up cool old chairs, swell '60s sofas, ancient oil paintings and stacks of another man's treasures. Their return signals the latest "truckload sale," a bimonthly event attended by increasingly larger crowds of collectors, antique dealers and anyone else looking for a smoking deal on old furnishings and funky stuff.

These odd objets are hawked right off the truck in Qcumberz's parking lot in the wee hours of a quietly publicized weekend. Leave your name and number with the friendly staff, and one of them will telephone to remind you when the next truck will be pulling up.

No one needs a pair of vintage hatpin cushions or a 60-year-old pressed-glass punch bowl. But it's hard to not buy items when they're priced as low as the cool stuff at this three-year-old shop tends to be. Wedged between a couple of antique malls and the brand-new Willo Bakery, this often-overlooked trove aims to please with low prices on three full rooms of cool, shabby chic furnishings. Check out the stash of neat vintage record albums, the wall of ancient mirrors, and the vast pile of old china, all priced to move.
Best buzz kill?

Fess up, we all hate the buggers, and for our money there's nothing better for terminating the two-winged terrors than the fatal fly swatters we got at the 99 Cents Discount Store. Sure, they cost more than the ones you find in supermarkets and hardware stores, but face it, those vendors really want you to purchase some industrial-strength repellent or $100 bug zapper, so they try to paw off ineffectual swatters that bend and tear against hard surfaces.

In contrast, these 99-cent jobs are fierce and fearsome, with deadly smashing planes the size of elephantine oven mittens. And unlike those sissy swatters that come in fluorescent pinks or greens, these babies only come in basic primary killing colors like fire engine red and jungle green, the better to keep your mind on what you're actually doing -- singling out one of God's most graceful living organisms and squashing him into gutsy bug mush.

On a test run, we were able to take out three flies at a stroke -- although, in truth, two were fornicating at the time. SPLAAAT!

Anyone who's obsessed with cooking and culinary presentation will be pawing the plate-glass front window of Sur La Table to get at the extravagant display of high-tech pots, pans and steamers designed to reel in the addicted, hook, line and sinker. Stuffed into 5,000 square feet of retail space is virtually everything ever conceived for roasting, toasting, poaching and/or hosting.

There are pans and electric rice cookers here big enough for a potlatch, as well as pricey copper stockpots and a complete line of Le Creuset enameled cookware. You'll even find a chic sauté setup for creating cherries jubilee among at least 11 different chafing and fondue (yep, it's baaaack!) dishes. Not to mention a myriad of melon ballers, microplane graters and citrus zesters. And real Moroccan couscous steamers and tagines.

The equivalent of a fun shop for kitchen magicians, this culinary hardware store also carries related non-cooking items, like candles for intimate dining à deux or products to clean those pesky red wine stains some uncultured slob unceremoniously deposited on that favorite antique tablecloth.

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