Best Place To Watch Your Dog Foam At The Mouth

The Dog Wash

Try washing a large dog in your bathroom tub, and you'll find yourself sitting up and begging for Gina Zoppa's self-service shop. The Dog Wash, which also does conventional grooming, provides all of the materials you need to make Rover clean again: brushing and drying tables, full-size raised tubs, and professional-quality spray nozzles that quickly rinse out one of the many shampoos offered. The management isn't stingy, and patrons are encouraged to rinse, lather and repeat. Following Fido's bath, a super-powered blow dryer disperses and removes all the loose hair and moisture that would otherwise end up on your sofa. The best part, aside from the unbelievably low price tag of $7, $10 or $12 depending on size, is that one of the friendly staff members will trim Spot's nails, gratis. And you get your fifth wash free.
Has your special someone been giving you that "why do you keep giving me these cheap roses that arrive wilted and die in a day" look lately? Community Florist can help you say "I love you" without also saying "I'm a cheap S.O.B." Its $10 roses are big, beautiful, and look like they cost about five times as much. The flowers are wrapped nicely in tissue, not stuffed into an ugly plastic sleeve, and come with a sincere admonition to "never cut the stems with a scissors." The owners are friendly and always seem delighted to discuss the characteristics of each blooming bud they sell. In other words, this isn't your average $9.99 florist. Check out Community Florist when you care enough to give the very best -- but don't want to pay for it.

Did you know that people breed lap goats? Goats that are small enough and so friendly that all they want to do is cuddle, follow you around like a puppy, and nibble at your feet? While we prefer to keep our livestock outdoors, we admit we're charmed by the darling critters at Darlyn Pygmies, a private ranch in Buckeye that breeds, trains, shows and sells pygmy goats. More than 70 goats live here, all pedigreed and registered with the National Pygmy Goat Association. Pygmies are naturally petite, standing between 16 and 23 inches tall. They like to talk, and sound pretty much like cats. They love to have things to stand on. Poop's not a problem -- think rabbit pellets. They don't eat much (ours won't even eat weeds, just alfalfa). And if you're zoned for dogs, a pygmy goat is fine, too. Don't plan on cheap, though. Although pet goats go for $50 to $250, a show goat can cost $500 to $1,000. Not a bargain, but for such a cute new friend, not a baaaad deal, either.

Best Blast-from-the-past Personal Shoppers

Go-Kat-Go

Go-Kat-Go, a time-warp of a department store, is the only retro shop around that will do time travel at your bidding. The husband-and-wife team who run this happening haven can fill your oddest vintage custom order from the '40s on up, often within weeks. We've asked them, just this year, to find very specific items -- from a clunky turquoise swag lamp to a huge plastic fern to the devilishly hard-to-find "Blue Lady" velvet painting -- and they've come through every time. As much as we like placing wacky special orders, shopping for nothing in particular is half the fun at Go-Kat-Go. Furniture, clothes, appliances -- it's all there, and realistically priced. Proprietors Chris Swanberg and Brandi Kvetko may be the only antique dealers in town who'll answer your request for a Patty Duke alarm clock with, "We just got that in!" We never, ever ask, "From where?"
Everybody knows it's the yoga teacher who makes the class, and Candace Rose is a knowledgeable, well-trained and genuinely peaceful instructor. More important, she's a teacher with a sense of humor. Unlike some yoga instructors, who forget that this is Phoenix, not Katmandu, Rose doesn't take herself too seriously. She cracks jokes throughout the class and keeps the spiritual lectures to a minimum. Rose has tailored her set to a North American audience, making the poses easy for the flexibly challenged and the environment relaxed enough for the spiritually insolvent. For anyone who's ever left a yoga class feeling cheated and a little flaky, Rose's $5 yoga hour is a down-to-earth alternative.

You've arrived at that interminable stretch of the calendar where the mercury has stalled above the 100-degree mark. The only chink in your scheme for never being away from air conditioning or shade for more than 90 seconds at a time is how to do your grocery shopping. All hail Eddie Basha, whose Bashas' at 40th Street and Thunderbird now offers drive-through grocery service. Simply phone in your order (fax and Internet orders are also available) by 10 a.m. for same-day pickup, drive your icy-cool Suburban up to a reserved cabana, and open your window just long enough to utter your name into a microphone. A few moments later, a friendly attendant will load your groceries into the back of your car. All coupons and club card savings apply to this luxurious service, which carries a nominal $4.95 service charge. For those of you who refuse to leave your house at all, delivery service is also available.

Among all the predictable contemporary bargains at this former Disabled American Veterans Thrift Shop, we've discovered cool vintage dresses, nasty '70s Spanish-Med wall hangings, a silver potted plastic tree, and even a pair of blond wood '50s end tables. On our last visit, we found some swinging two-tone wingtips. (So what if they were golf shoes! We just yanked the cleats out!) Cecilia, a wonderful lady with excellent makeup, will comment cheerfully on your selections as she rings them up, and she won't make you surrender your unpriced item "to the back room," where it will never be seen again. More good news for the thrift-minded: Every other Wednesday is half-off day, and seniors older than 60 get 30 percent off every Monday.
When it comes to catching fish, you want big. But for a bait shop, forget the Wal-Marts of the world -- small is good. And small has worked for 20 years for Richard La Porte and his father, Dick, who run Liar's Korner, a bait shop that can barely hold more than a half-dozen customers at a time. Liar's Korner is stocked with all things fishy: rods, reels, stringers and fishing licenses; crank baits, spinner baits, buzz baits and live bait; minnows, waterdogs and high-quality worms shipped in from New York. Fridays and Saturdays are usually crowded (Liar's Korner is on the way to four popular fishing lakes), but early in the week, you'll have the store to yourself. This old-time bait shop is simple and unpretentious, except for the trophies and stuffed fish covering the shop's walls. Most of the awards were won by the La Portes, but the father-son team would rather sell you what you need to catch the big one that got away.

Housed in a bright yellow brick building with blue awnings lined with a long row of white stars, Larada's Army Surplus Store is hard to miss. But once inside, you'll find everything you need for disappearing into the woodwork -- or the woods. Larada's is filled with military gear and not-for-sale displays of military might such as bullets, holsters and non-firing rifles, but what it really sells is survival. Alongside the army fatigues, gas masks and caps emblazoned with every division of the armed forces are lanterns, knives, mess kits, freeze-dried food and boots for any terrain or weather. Upstairs is nothing but tents. While you pick out a parka, you can watch a videotape on the art of camouflage. Surviving a trip through the hodgepodge of gear (Larada's winds around an L-shaped shopping center) is a feat in itself. But once you do, you'll have what you need to survive anything.
Once upon a time, an excited youth with a new model airplane kit could visit any drugstore to purchase "hobby paint" right off the shelf. Today, thanks to social disintegration, such substances are kept under lock and key, lest they be stolen and used for nefarious purposes -- like paint-sniffing or marking buildings with gang insignia. But not at the Hobby Bench, where nostalgia rules. Where else might one find a model kit of the Bates Mansion from Psycho? Or that old standard "Visible Woman" model, with all her internal organs displayed? Neato miniatures and all the requisite railroad-enthusiasts stuff can be found here, along with a wealth of model cars, model-making supplies, and craft items. And yes, you can walk right on up to that big rainbow-hued rack of "hobby paints" and help yourself.

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