Castle Megastore
The sign outside each of Castle Megastore's six locations in the Valley proudly declares, "Knights and Damsels Welcome." And unlike some adult shops in the Valley that are hardly hospitable to the fairer sex and where anyone should be rightly afraid of touching the merchandise without a pair of industrial-strength rubber gloves, Castle prides itself on catering to men and women, whether they be gay, straight or bi. Maybe that's why it's not unusual to see ladies browsing Castle's encyclopedic selection of DVD titles, with all possible permutations of human sexuality represented -- everything from Ten Little Piggies, for those foot fetishists out there, to Specs Appeal, featuring hot chicks in glasses. Castle also has timeless classics such as When the Boys Are Away, the Girls Will Play, Maid to Be Laid, Sorority Strap On and Pizza Boy: He Delivers.

In addition to DVDs, Castle sells most anything related to bumpin' uglies, including a vast collection of magazines, lingerie, oils and lubricants, collars and leashes, ball gags and cock rings, and nearly every kind of dildo known to man. It even peddles gag gifts like the "Wind Up Strokin' Santa," and "Your Very Own Blow Up Love Lamb." The staff is super friendly and respectful, and the stores are clean, despite the warehouse atmosphere. Don't go there lookin' for love, but hey, with a compilation of Jenna Jameson's best sex scenes in hand, love can wait, baby.

Safeway
Any red-blooded single young man who spends more than a semester in or near Tempe knows that there's plentiful eye candy to be found as you're strolling the aisles of the Broadway Safeway, the closest grocery store to the campus of Arizona State University. Short of the bar scene or wandering the campus itself, this place is your best bet for scoping those cute yellow gym shorts that say "Go Devils!" on the butt. Keep your camera phones on the down-low, though, as this Safeway's been a meet market for so long it's likely the ladies know you're looking.

And speaking of the ladies, you gals should know that we often see a significant hunk of the Tempe Fire Department roaming the aisles at this Safeway as well.

Perihelion Arts
In just two years, partners in life and crime Amy Young and Doug Grant have transformed their corner of Grand Avenue into the metaphysical hub for all things eccentric, esoteric and erotic. Marry the X-Files to the Juxtapoz aesthetic and add in a liberal dose of the Suicide Girls and Octave Mirbeau's Torture Garden, and you've got a gallery/shop where you can peep the latest from erotic photographers Carlos Batts, Dave Naz, and Steve Diet Goedde, buy a Taschen-Japan compendium of '50s pinup art or a lecherous colored-pencil drawing by John John Jesse, and catch a group show featuring such "ladies of lowbrow" as artists Isabel Samaras, Nicole Steen, and Rebecca Seven. Of course, disseminating erotica is but a small part of what Perihelion does. It also sells bizarre books from the likes of John Gilmore, Aleister Crowley, Adam Parfrey and others, as well as refrigerator magnets lampooning the bully-boy greed of Jerry Colangelo. At Perihelion, literati, artists and voyeurs happily co-exist within the confines of this first-rate odditorium.
We love to shop, but we love it even more when someone shops for us -- combing the world for just the right items, then gathering them together in one sweet spot for our perusal. That's what happens at a good boutique, and that's what happens at Toila. The owners of this tiny shop on Third Street have filled their space with home and personal accessories we'd like to make our own. Among our favorites: wide-brimmed San Diego hats (Oprah likes them, too); precious but affordable chandeliers; and an exclusive line of baby clothing called Chop Suey. Each item is chosen as carefully as we shop ourselves, and we have to admit that the owners' taste is, perhaps, just a little bit better than our own. That happens at a good boutique, too.

The place is packed with junk, but Sage is no junk store. Rather, we feel like we were in a cozy salon, with lighted candles and a gilt-framed sign reading, "Prices are firm but fair." Truth be told, the prices are a little high, but then, so is the quality. And really, when you're shopping for junk, who wants to pick through piles of, um, junk? Among the tastefully rusted metal pieces we saw some beautifully upholstered chairs, and nicely aged dressers. Even the bathroom at Sage is a showplace -- and showroom. It's worth the trip, even if you're only looking.

K-Momo gets props for getting Roc-A-Fella, Ecko and G Unit into the Valley's urban communities. Thanks to the Arizona chain's eight spread-out locations, you don't need to travel far to find the essential hair products too often skipped over by the Wal-Mart product buyers. And suburbanites also have easy neighborhood access to Fat Albert pullovers and Baby Phat thongs -- which may not necessarily be a good thing.
We like Haus so much, we contemplated gutting our entire shabby chic decorating theme just for one Jonathan Adler vase. This modern mecca features furniture the buyers at Copenhagen can only dream about, and a line of fabulous products for the dog-obsessed. We are also particularly fond of the paper goods.

So make a Haus call!

The Historic District Antique Market's 14,000 square feet are overrun with a colossal combination of high-quality antique furniture and irresistible vintage tchotchkes -- many of which have found their way into our home. Like the pair of massive plaster gold-leaf Grecian urn lamps we snagged for less than 20 bucks, and the French deco armoire we thought we couldn't afford -- until we saw the price tag. (When we snooped around a week later, we found the matching bedstead. Voilˆ! It's ours.) The enormously friendly staffers will not only remember your name, they'll probably remember that you collect mid-century modern office chairs and cut-glass starburst cocktail shakers, and they'll be happy to tell you which of their 78 vendors carries what you're looking for. Hurry! Something cool is waiting for you at this treasure trove of old stuff you can't live without.

Shirts N' Things
You might not expect to find a "Fuck you you fucking fuck" wife beater tank top in the heart of Mesa, but for 16 years this mom-and-pop shop has defied the town's lack of diversity by selling everything from Cannibal Corpse shirts to The Passion of the Christ posters in the 3,600-square-foot corner of a strip mall, which the owners like to call their own little Switzerland. With more than a thousand different shirts in stock, Shirts 'n' Things prides itself on not being another generic mall shop with sanitized versions of edginess. Instead, it works hard to go beyond the Hot Topic inventory, and hopes to bring back a little of the '70s, when concert tees were wardrobe staples -- if they ever were, in Mesa.

You have to ask to be let into this grand gallery of artsy artifacts, but once you're inside, it's easy to see why. Less an antique shop than a museum of old-timey lighting design, Stuff Antiques provides a wonderfully illuminating trip into the history of vintage lighting. The place is mad with pole lamps and chandeliers, desk lamps and bedside lights and hurricane lanterns, all of them lovingly restored and rewired for use with newfangled electricity. A massive crystal chandelier, circa 1800, dangles elegantly near a pair of Deco-era ceramic boudoir lamps, which are crowding a funky '50s gooseneck with a recently restored parchment shade. If some of Stuff's stuff is pricey, it's because most of it is rare, none of it is repro, and all of it can be retrofitted to light up your home with the help of Stuff's friendly staff.

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