Fair Trade Cafe
Lynn Trimble
After at least one turn as a conventional coffee house, Fair Trade Cafe now answers to a higher authority. Conveniently located in the bottom of the Post Roosevelt complex, Fair Trade is a comfortable place to get a strong cup of coffee, or a bag of beans. Bonus: The organic coffee is sold to benefit charity, as Fair Trade is run by the Trinity Cathedral next door. The art on the walls is local, and while this place may not be as wild as some locales on Roosevelt, it's a great place to relax and watch the scenery out the big windows.
Stinkweeds
We already know that Stinkweeds owner Kimber Lanning has good taste in music -- she also owns Modified Arts, the downtown gallery-slash-music venue that's hosted edgy acts like Arcade Fire and Wolf Eyes. So whenever we drop by Stinkweeds to find some new music to fall in love with, we know we're in good hands. Lanning herself works the counter at both locations during the week, but she also relies on employees who are just as passionate about the sounds. Chat up the staff for the inside dish on indie rock, punk, electronica and underground hip-hop, or, if you're feeling shy, just don some headphones and lose yourself at one of the listening stations -- they're the city's most eclectic.
Zia Record Exchange
Who isn't a sucker for a good sale? Seems like Zia always has CDs marked down -- and not just older titles. If you stop by with a shopping list of some of the most in-demand new releases, chances are you'll snag some for a couple bucks less than you'd expect. Better yet, Zia has an overwhelming selection of used discs, which are handily filed right along with brand-new ones. So while you may not take a chance on something for, say, 15 bucks, if the asking price is seven or eight, it's a lot easier to be open-minded.
Buffalo Exchange
Have you noticed lately that some boys are wearing jeans so tight it looks like they've raided their sisters' closets? They probably have. We haven't seen jeans this tight since the '80s, but even then the boys stuck to the boys' department. No more. Now the boys are wearing girls' jeans, regardless of sexual preference. (And trust us, we've heard from confused parents -- not that there's anything wrong with it, but why would a straight boy dress like a girl? You can believe him -- it's really just a trend.) And when something's trendy, we think the best way to get it out of your (or their) system is at Buffalo Exchange, the King (or Queen, or King wearing Queen's clothing) of secondhand stores. We hear the boys regularly shop for girls' Sevens and Diesels at Buffalo, where you can find a used pair of jeans (boys' or girls') for a fraction of the original cost. Which means you'll have plenty in your bank account to accommodate the next trend.
Electric Ladyland
If you want to see the local versions of Susan, Gabrielle and Edie, just look here, among the Barbie tee shirts, chandelier earrings and jeweled sandals. This north Scottsdale boutique has aisles of clothing and accessories for the bored, spray-tanned and Botoxed demographic. There are rhinestone-studded platform wedges, beaded tube tops, Jackie O sunglasses, and dresses cut low for better display of surgically augmented breasts. Nearly everything in Electric Ladyland is metallic, rhinestoned, or hot pink. Absolutely nothing here is office attire; if you have a job outside the home, this is not the store for you. These are clothes you buy with your hubby's platinum Amex and wear while you lounge around your 6,500-square-foot custom home, ogling the pool boy.
In an ordinary one-story office building, surrounded by other bland office complexes, hides a workspace oozing decadent glamour. Designs by Randall is a playland of vibrant fabrics and glistening rhinestones, and rack upon rack of shimmering gowns waiting to light up a competition dance floor. For 19 years, Randall Christensen and Henry Vela have partnered up to design dancewear for local ballroom competitions and big-budget motion pictures. In fact, Hollywood has knocked more than once, commissioning DBR to design gowns for such films as Shall We Dance? with Jennifer Lopez, Take the Lead with Antonio Banderas, and Dance With Me with Vanessa Williams. Both Crystal Cruises and Ballroom Boot Camp, a new TLC series, have also been added to Randall's cushy list of clients looking for one or more custom gowns, which range in price from $1,200 to $3,400. What, you thought glamour came cheap?
Smokin' Lingerie
Your first pair of high heels is a beautiful thing. When you were younger, you'd runway up and down the hall in your mother's pumps, feeling tall, sexy and confident, as if you were the queen of the world. And then came the day when you were old enough to purchase your very own pair. We'd like to suggest you do that at Smokin' Lingerie. And once you're there, don't bother with a common one- or two-inch spike. Reach to the heavens in shining red patent leather! Push the envelope, turn heads, and go for six-inch stilettos, or even nine-inch platforms. Smokin' Lingerie offers such a wide variety of pumps and slides, you may end up walking out with a second, third and fourth pair. Even the hard-to-find women's Size 12 is on hand, er, foot. But practice your stride before prancing down the street. We don't want you stumbling, breaking an ankle, and killing any chance of picking up Mr. Right.
The Shoe Mill
There was a time, we must admit, when we wanted to wear clogs but didn't, afraid someone might think we were a lesbian. We got over that as soon as we slipped a toe into a black leather Dansko.

These days, it's so hip to be gay we wouldn't mind being mistaken for bi-, but now all the lesbians seem to be wearing Manolo Blahniks.

They don't know what they're missing.

The Shoe Mill was then and is now the best place in the Valley to buy clogs. You can find everything from Naot to Josef Seibel, clogs covered in faux pony, flowers, plaid wool. Red Mary Janes. Our favorite is the Dansko Professional -- classic clog style with a closed back. Sure, the white ones look like something only a nurse would wear. But you should see our black patent leather Professionals. Nothing professional about them, we promise.

Now, if only the Shoe Mill started carrying Manolos . . .

BEST CLOTHING RETAILER WITH A CONSCIENCE

Objects

We're not ready to canonize Objects owner Tina Liston just yet. But we're hard-pressed to find a clothing retailer with as big a heart. Since opening last year at the Biltmore, Objects -- which sells hard-to-find designer clothing, and harder-to-find home furnishings from around the world -- has held in-store art shows and charity benefits for tsunami relief (raising more than $3,000) and ALS research, and has a silent auction in the works to raise money for Habitat for Humanity. (As of press time, she was still plotting her Katrina relief efforts.) All the while, Liston and her cohorts are scouring the globe -- from Africa to Peru, and southeast Asia to Costa Rica -- in search of handmade goods like textiles, pillows, ceramics and artifacts, and (get this!) actually paying fair prices before bringing them back stateside. "I'm just happy to be able to filter some of the income from my business in a philanthropic way," Liston says. "But what I'm most pleased with is how much our customers appreciate it." And we do!
Last Chance Bargain Shoes & Apparel
This Best of Phoenix is brought to you by a metrosexual man in Mephisto shoes, Bugachi shirt and Indigo Palms jeans. Suggested retail: $590. Last Chance price: $59. That's a 90 percent discount, just about average for this clearinghouse dive for leftovers, returns and misfit dolls from the nation's Nordstrom department stores.

Yes, it is a dive, something akin to a Tuscaloosa swap meet on hillbilly heroin. But take heart, because beyond the grabby bitches, both male and female, there is still a majority of civilized bargain shoppers. The Last Chance experience can be fun if accepted as camp, or slumming, or even whoring for the greater good. And dangit, for a Mr. Metrosexy, looking this good for $59 may be the greatest good there is.

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