Michael Robertson's latest furniture boutique remains the best place to find great deals on well-worn bibelots. On our most recent visit, we brought home a pair of mahogany-veneer bed tables, a mid-century modern desk lamp, and a Bionic Woman styling head (the spitting image of Lindsay Wagner!), all for less than 50 bucks. A return trip netted us a set of slightly worn vintage gardening tools, an overstuffed deco-era armchair, and a rusty old apothecary that we cleaned up and turned into a quirky spice rack. We've recently developed a sick affection for weird old oil-on-canvas portraits, and there's always at least one waiting for us. And we're not ashamed to admit that we get up extra early for Michael Todd's quarterly truckload sales, during which we elbow our way through a crowd of local designers and antique dealers for some of the best furniture deals in town.
You're nobody, darling, if you don't know Fleur de Lis. It's the florist of choice for the rich and famous in the Valley. An average wedding runs $5,000 with Fleur de Lis flowers. Regular clients are said to spend as much as $525 a week to decorate their mansions. That charity ball designed to funnel funds to cancer? Perhaps $25,000 of the contributions goes to pay the flower bill at the dinner.

Owners John Johnstonbaugh and Sandra Sanchez are on to something. Within the carefully cluttered rooms of a former ranch house, the duo creates daring flower sculptures like a re-creation of the Cirque du Soleil. Their biggest job involved some conspicuous consumers who spent $35,000 just on a New Year's Eve party. "Lavish" and "decadent" are the words du jour here, with the most exotic flowers of the world arriving daily, then sprinting out the door to the melodic ching-ching of the cash register. It's a lucrative game, this petal pushing.

Best Place For Wardrobe Time-Traveling

Spine

These days, the cycle of fashion is so speedy that the amount of time it takes for a piece of clothing to run the full course -- from chic to tacky, then to vintage status -- is barely more than a decade. Not every vintage store owner seems to be aware of that, and some shops' selection is stuck in a certain era. But the people at Spine have their fingers on the pulse of vintage trends, catering to everyone's tastes. A person seeking out 1950s cocktail dresses may not pounce on the same things as someone who favors Dynasty-era pouf dresses. Yet you'll find both at Spine, along with '60s bowling shirts, glam '70s leather jackets and timeless, comfy cords.
It's a guy thing: sitting in an old, hand-crank chair, talking weather and politics with some fellow your dad's age while he trims your hair. For those of us who disdain salons, who want to relive our childhood ear-lowerings, or who just really like the sound and feel of a good, old-fashioned electric razor cut, Sal's Barber Shop is the place to be. It's a follicle-friendly blast from the past, all the way down to the red-and-white-striped barber pole and the big jar full of combs floating in that weird blue stuff. Jersey native Sal Gurrieri has been cutting hair for 50 years, and his shop continues the time-honored traditions of barbery -- among them a talcum-powder brush-down and a waiting area stacked with back issues of Playboy. Even better news: A shave and a haircut -- or a dye job, permanent or beard trim -- will run you only a little more than they did in the good old days.
Lately, we've been spending more time at Boxers Men's Salon than we have at home. That's because, at home, we can't get a clipper cut, a full-body massage or a shoeshine. At Boxers, on the other hand, we can have our backs waxed, our teeth whitened and our beards trimmed. We can get shaved, have a facial and get a pedicure, too, because this downtown, full-service salon is overflowing with professionals who like nothing better than to manipulate us into looking and feeling better. In between appointments with our hair stylist (or our barber, who's headquartered in a separate room) and our manicurist, we can shoot some pool, play the glossy upright piano, or do some quick banking at the ATM in the corner. We like to finish off with a one-hour workout with Boxers' in-house weight trainer, followed by a relaxing hot-stone massage. All of this comes pretty cheap ever since we bought our own membership, which allows us almost all of the salon's super services for one low monthly fee.
This place isn't just a store -- it's a lifestyle. That is, if you're into all things "sleazy vintage." We're not talking straight-up Elvis, James Dean and Marilyn. Go Kat Go caters to the cheetah-clad Bettie Pages, the leather-loving greasers and the cocktail-swilling lounge dwellers of the world. Proprietors Chris and Brandi fill their store with a revolving selection of super swanky sofas, matching tables and chairs, too many gotta-have-'em lamps and candy-colored kitchen dinette sets. Shelves are stocked with space-age tchotchkes -- ashtrays, shot glasses, kooky figurines -- that make stylish gifts. There are racks of vintage clothes to help you look the part, and a case full of hot rod necessities like badass skull gearshift knobs, '50s-style hubcaps and rubber shrunken heads. And if it weren't for Go Kat Go, we just wouldn't know where to go to outfit our tiki bar.
Before you're halfway through the door, the litany begins: "Hi, welcome to Pink Flamingos. Today all yellow-glazed ceramic from the 1950s is 10 percent off, except for ashtrays and lamps. Also, all Stengelwear, except for serving bowls, is 5 percent off, and anything with a blue-striped price tag -- but not a green-striped tag or yellow-striped tag -- is 30 percent off, but only until 2:30!" Or something like that. The sale items may change every day, but one thing is constant: The pitch is always relentless, and it always makes us feel like extras in a zany Seinfeld rerun. While most folks visit Pink Flamingos for its well-organized selection of handsome old furniture and near-mint dishware, there are those of us who go there just to hear this astonishing greeting. No matter how often we go -- we've been shopping at Pink Flamingos for years, and have the cool loot to prove it -- we never tire of this zany mantra of merchandise.

Best Place To Coordinate The Colors Of Your Aura

The Enlightened Heart

Feeling lost, purposeless, out of touch with the angels flitting about inside your soul? (And, really, who isn't?) Get thy seeking self to downtown Gilbert, where the folks at the Enlightened Heart can arrange an Archangel Realm reading to "reveal what training your soul has, and the strengths and challenges inherent with your angelic experience." Finally!

The shop's other Intuitive and Spiritual Consulting services range from full-body aura photography -- pics snapped by the Aurastar 2000, naturally -- to chakra analyses to numerology readings.

Peddling "gifts, books and education for the conscious mind, body and soul," the Heart also hosts an array of classes and workshops. Trendy topics include belly dancing, astrology, dream interpretation, Feng Shui and tarot reading; yoga classes are held thrice weekly.

In-store gift options include "Colour Energy" bath products, bamboo bonsai plants in Oriental wisdom vases, and Zen alarm clocks. And should the answers you seek exist outside yourself, the Heart's Sacred Travel Partner Program coordinates journeys big and small, from the Sedona Vortex to Nepal.

Best Place To Buy A Shabby Chic Chandelier

subtle tones

This boutique -- barely a chain, as there are only a couple in the country -- is the place to find distressed wood furnishings and frames, casual linen clothing and beautiful beaded necklaces, earrings and even shoes: the essentials of the Shabby Chic ethic. But our favorite find is the gorgeous, straight-from-the-estate-sale-but-these-actually-work chandeliers. Adorned with colorful metal flowers and beads, each unique fixture is a work of art. They don't come cheap, but subtle style rarely does.
We had to drive by several times to make sure of this one. Some night, if you're barreling south past Camelback on 15th Avenue, you'll see a Mexican juice and taco stand making the most out of a gleaming Arby's sign that happens to be alongside it. Where's the beef, you ask? It's hiding in enchiladas, salads, soups, tortas and tacos. Imagine the mortified old couple who stops in for a roast beef sandwich and cheese sandwich and comes face-to-face with head and tongue burritos! Now that's roasting worth boasting about!

There actually is an Arby's on Camelback -- the dubious sign is directing you to Arby's drive-through lane -- but it's half a block away, obscured in two directions by a sprawling car wash and a window-tinting shop on the corner. So, in the interest of equal time, we think the Arby's people should put a sign directing them to Jugos y Licuados' parking lot and its equally lost-in-the-shuffle La Salsita annex. Perhaps this exchange of neighboring cultures can be beneficial to both sides. Arby's can pass along those calves' feet they don't use in their Big Montana half-pounders, and La Salsita can suggest other things to serve with rice besides broccoli!

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