ABC Cake Decorating Supplies
More fun than a Toys "R" Us, the often-bizarre aisles of ABC Cakes are our favorite place to find party favors, stocking stuffers and just plain goofy weirdness. They've got the full range of cake pans, decorative icing tips, and those papery things called glassines (they go between your cake and the big pink bakery boxes sold on the same rack). But ABC's "Toppers" aisle is the real icing on this proverbial cake. Here's a box full of little plastic African-American infants. There's a wee '50s barbecue. Look! A tiny zoo with little cages and trees. And a handful of Barbie-size champagne bottles! How about a "Sexy Doll," a little vinyl naked lady in a teeny teddy? (Or, if budget is a concern, opt for the "Mini Sexy Doll," also available in brunette.) Or a plaque bearing a hooded death mask and the legend, "I Only Came for the Cake!" We could neither fathom nor pass up a banner reading, "Caution! Wedding Cake Being Delivered!" Let them eat cake. We'll play with the toys!

Best Place To Buy A Shirt With The Name "Chet" Embroidered On It

Johnny's Used Work Uniforms

The sign says "Johnny's Used Work Uniforms," but we'll settle for "My Blue-Collar Heaven." A working stiff's dream haberdashery, this would-be New Wave warehouse is crammed to the rafters with industrial-style shirts, smocks, pants and jumpsuits, many emblazoned with "can-I-be-of-service-ma'am?" monikers like "Chet," "Billy Bob" and "Flo." All pants are $3, shirts are $2, and if your name doesn't happen to match up with anything on the rack, the store carries dozens of name tags that can be sewn on for an additional $1.75. Whether you're suiting up for your new gig at the gas station or greasy spoon, or just wondering what to wear to the Devo reunion, Johnny's has something with your name written all over it.
The name of Michelle Zekanis' shop may suggest architecture or interior decorating, but her appointment-only business is about creating fresh and silk flower arrangements for weddings large and small. Zekanis favors arrangements designed by the customer -- and within the customer's budget. Photo albums display flower-adorned ice sculptures, floating pool bouquets and elaborate flower arrangements that brides have designed themselves, right down to the length of each flower stem. The only thing Zekanis insists on is that you not throw the crowning piece of her work, the bridal bouquet, during the flower toss. She has a separate, smaller bouquet for that.
Berridge Nurseries
Imagine being a guest at an afternoon tea in the Hamptons, where your hosts happen to be a friendly, knowledgeable and accessible group of gardening professionals who are eager to share their love of flora. That's what a stroll through Berridge is like. It has all the traditional aspects of a well-stocked nursery: long flats bursting with annuals, herbs and vegetables, bare-root roses in season, native landscaping plants, succulents and indoor tropicals. But this carefully tended nursery at the base of Camelback Mountain also offers an unparalleled combination of charm and expertise. You'll find rare plants here, but no sniffy attitude: If you don't know a begonia from a bougainvillea, an affable staffer might point you to the miniature amphitheater, where a variety of demonstrations and lectures are hosted for both the novice and seasoned enthusiast. Berridge, established in 1938, gets a two green thumbs-up rating.
This relatively new addition to north Scottsdale is a quaint shop with a turn-of-the-century general store ambiance. Rows of self-serve bins display bath salts and beads, as well as potpourri and a whimsical line of bubble-bath confetti (a confetti that cleans up after itself -- what a concept!). Bailiwicks also carries a full line of perfumed and highly moisturizing soaps made from stuff like goat's milk and shea butter, as well as your standard glycerin and cocoa butter bars. There's even a line of bar soaps for your dog. Sample a rich selection of body products including scrubs, lotions and lip balms, then sign up to make your own. Bailiwicks offers a variety of classes in soap-making and home spa products, and will even arrange a private soap-sniffing party in your home.
No doubt there are many criteria that could be used to determine excellence in tire shops, but how about free tire repairs? While this particular Discount Tire outlet certainly charges for most of its services, the exceedingly cheerful and friendly staff has been known on many occasions to quickly patch tires without charging. This sort of gesture is sadly antiquated, given the current "customer is always wrong" service mentality. Also noteworthy is that, when all those Ford Explorers needed replacements for their Firestone death tires, this Discount Tire was the only place we found that a) did not mention a four-month waiting list and b) actually had the needed tires in stock. And to tread on a politically incorrect non-tire criterion for those who appreciate a good-looking guy: Virtually all the men who work here are handsome as heck. So you won't get tired of watching while you wait.

Sur La Table
Super chefs like Julia Child and Jacques Pépin can't be wrong. If Sur La Table is good enough for their culinary contraption needs, then it's good enough for us. This is where the pros stop to shop, do demonstrations and share their secrets with regular home chefs like us.

We fill our baskets with bread machines, coffee mills, waffle makers, brioche pans and cookbooks. We're sold on cedar smoking planks, Majolica corn dishes, scales and sauciers. And treats tempt by the ton: specialty chocolates, coffees, teas, cookies, mustards and marinades.

Let's just put it on the table. It's the best.

Laundromats are typically best approached with blinders on: Don't look too closely at the floor; try to ignore your surroundings and your fellow launderers; don't subject your clean laundry to the folding tables and counters without disinfecting them first. Although doing laundry may never be a pleasure, Spin Cycle at least makes it possible to clean clothes without lowering one's hygienic standards. This is a squeaky-clean facility with bright signs marking double, triple and quadruple loaders. Folding tables are immaculate and plentiful, and several even have televisions built into them. Dryers are efficient and almost always available. The facility also offers Ms. Pac Man and a few other classic arcade games to amuse you while you wait for your duds to dry. There's even Internet access available at 10 cents a minute. If you're too caught up with all these amenities to be bothered with doing laundry, a reliable Fluff-and-Fold service is available on the premises.

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