BEST PLACE TO DRINK BEER WHILE YOU SHOP 2005 | American Park 'n' Swap at Phoenix Greyhound Park | Shopping & Services | Phoenix
We're always crunched for time these days, so to free up spots on our schedule, we've combined two of our main passions: boozing and buying. Since the security fascists at Scottsdale Fashion Square wouldn't let us flit around with Fat Tires in our fists, we're gonna try purchasing while plastered on Wednesday evenings and during the day from Fridays through Sundays at the Valley's largest outdoor swap meet. Food vendors serve up drafts like Budweiser Select and Coors Light in 16-ounce cups for $2.50 (or "The Big One," a bladder-busting 24-ouncer, for $5), as well as cans of Budweiser and Bud Light for $3, and imports like Tecate and Corona for $3. Golf carts loaded with giant kegs of Miller Lite and Miller High Life also cruise the rows, meeting you while you're haggling over cowboy hats, baseball bats, or statues of cats. A vast collection of other marked-down merchandise is also in abundance, be it dirt-cheap video games, boundless bling-bling jewelry, affordably priced Chuck Taylors, or a hardware-store-size selection of new and used tools.

Avoid stumbling into any stacks of home electronics, however, because if you break it, you buy it.

We love to drink, and thanks to Plush, now everyone knows it. The Tempe clothing and accessories store knows folks like beer. Whether you're a patriot (Samuel Adams), a foreigner (Guinness) or simply a cheap bastard faking it as a hipster (Pabst Blue Ribbon), Plush Clothing has what you need to dress as a beer lover while not coming off as a drunk. Of course, if you are drunk, wearing a Mickey's belt buckle will make ordering at the bar easier when your speech is slurring. The store carries items like Coors Light hats, Pabst Blue Ribbon belt buckles, Schlitz shirts and Rolling Rock mouse pads -- all in the name of beer pride. Oh yeah, and Plush has non-beer-related clothing as well. So if you need a belt to put that fancy red Olde English belt buckle on, the sober staffers at Plush can hook you up.


Gifts Anon

Located in a battered 1950s-era strip mall in central Phoenix, Gifts Anon is like a Hallmark store for the rehab set. Twelve-step-program-themed paraphernalia, some of it sad and strange, fill the aisles here: teddy bears emblazoned with the Narcotics Anonymous logo; blankets embroidered with the Serenity Prayer; and, of course, Harley-Davidson-licensed coffee mugs and tee shirts with messages of encouragement for those trying to stay clean. Racks of greeting cards offer terse congratulations for sobriety anniversaries ("You made it 30 days!"), and shelves of self-help books are arranged under section headers like "Cocaine/Crack," "Anxiety/Phobias/Stress," and "Money Issues."

Our favorite item: the comic book titled "Attack of the Relapse Man." The juxtaposition of gift shop sentimentality with topics like sex addiction and alcoholism makes for endless tragicomedy, but only those of us without compulsive tendencies are allowed to giggle.

One of the few independent businesses that has survived Sunnyslope is High Society, a "smoke 'n' stuff" shop that has sat in the same strip mall for 21 years. Sure, other smoke shops -- especially the big chains -- have more pop culture kitsch, like Korn posters and porcelain ashtrays with pot leaves on them.

But this is the place that sold posters of The Cramps and T.S.O.L. back in '85. And when it comes to, uh, tobacco paraphernalia, High Society's original collection of glass bongs, hookahs, bubblers and hand pipes remains the most colorful, smooth-hitting, and reasonably priced in the Valley. High Society even has a guy who blows custom glass pieces on Fridays, and a "black light room" for your viewing pleasure.

As far as we're concerned, High Society smokes the competition.

Having a bad hair day? Why not do what all the celebs do when they don't feel like messing with all those follicles and all that hairspray? Slip on a falsie. The place to unearth such wonders is Panorama Wigs. With more than 3,000 wigs in stock and a personal stylist on hand, you're destined to walk in as a foxy brunette and glide out a fiery redhead, toting a blonde bombshell in a box under your arm. All these shimmering locks are affordable, too. From a quick-fix 'do priced at just $25 to an extravagant coif at $120, you can go incognito to work and spend the day counting colleagues who trip over your new beauty. When it comes to fake hair, think Panorama -- because you're worth it.
It started with "manscaping" on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and The 40-Year-Old Virgin sealed the deal. Back hair has always been a problem in certain circles, but now male body hair in general is as out of style as a mullet. You can shave or pluck, gentlemen, but really, the way to take it all off is wax. It won't be cheap, and it will hurt, but you can minimize both factors at Carsten Institute, where a student will be happy to pour hot wax on you and rip it off, along with your body hair. Don't worry, this won't be some first-day kid. Carsten -- best known for its affiliation with Aveda products -- puts esthetician students through two to three months of training before setting them loose on your hairy hiney. Come to think of it, that's the only part of the body we didn't think to ask about, when we procured a price list. But here's a rundown, sans butt:

Back: $35. Chest: $35. Arms: $15. Legs: $50. Bikini: $25. Yes, you read it right -- bikini.

Take our advice: Pop a few over-the-counter painkillers first. Beauty is a pain.

Finding hair-care products for a woman of color can be frustratingly difficult in any area of Phoenix, except -- by virtue of its more diverse population -- the west side. Fortunately, there's BBB Fashion, a cavernous clothing/jewelry/hair marketplace located in an old strip mall at 52nd Avenue and Indian School Road. Here, amid long aisles packed with gels, pressing oils, wigs and hair extensions ranging from trackless braids to pricey fusion treatments, a dry-haired beauty can find all the necessities the local Walgreens, Target and even Sally's seem to believe nobody in Phoenix has ever even heard of. Are you gellin', Wal-Mart?
Sure, Stiletto Formal is a killer band. It bills itself as "indie sex-core" (apparently a merger between Tilly and the Wall's serenade-style melodies and the Blood Brothers' art damage spasticity). Throw in some Mars Volta-ish vocals, and you've got Stiletto. But it takes more than talent to make it in a music biz where image sells records; while we're concerned with the music, record labels are looking for stylish clothing and cutting-edge hair. We're pleased to report that Stiletto Formal's got both. All six of these hipsters have perfect indie-rock coifs, courtesy of Orange Salon. The band knew how important good hair is in the indie-rock world, and didn't trust its locks with any other stylists. But what with buying a van and expensive touring, the rockers were low on fundage. Luckily, Orange Salon took one look at the musicians and offered to sponsor them. So the next time you see the stylish six rocking new hairdos, you can swing by Orange Salon and say, "Stiletto Formal sent me."

Don't forget your cowbell.


ASU Cut-Rite Barber Shop

Listen up, recruit. That unkempt mop-top of yours isn't going to pass muster in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps. Get yourself square by double-timing it down to Roman Aronov's haircutting establishment, where the Uzbekian émigré and former Soviet Army barber will wage a surgical strike against your flowing tresses with military precision. Aronov's been chopping locks for more than 15 years, and can usually be found working on the many soldiers or sailors who hear about his shop via word of mouth. Prices are affordable -- even with military pay cuts -- with $9 regular cuts, $10 flattops, and $11 head shaves. If you're not looking to make your hair be all it can be, the 32-year-old tonsorial artist (or his assistants) can still make over your mane into one of a hundred styles, including bowl cuts, Princetons, or square backs. And while Roman might start chatting about the current situation in the Middle East or the latest news from the war in Iraq, don't worry -- he won't get distracted and leave your head FUBAR. Dismissed.


Papa Joe's

At Papa Joe's (formerly Video Cuts), owner Joseph Lazzara, who moved here from Sicily in 1958, will do anything you ask to your head, as long as it's legal and within the realm of possibility. Papa Joe is famous for cutting all manner of designs into willing buzz cuts. He's barbered heads to look like basketballs and baseballs, cut the Twin Towers or 911 on scalps, added Nike symbols, Christmas trees, maple leaves and flags. You want a Bart Simpson or a Bat signal or a Superman symbol? You've got it. With the flags and whatever else is appropriate, Lazzara will also put in color. "That way, the red, white and blue really stands out," he promises. We asked if he'd cut a skull and crossbones or Best Of into the scalp of a willing New Times schlub, and Lazzara said, "Sure, I'll do whatever you want, any time you want!" Would you ask Sheriff Joe Arpaio to come over so you could cut a target on his head as a publicity stunt? Kidding!

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