We could have called this award "Best Reason to Go to a Local Farmers' Market," because that's where you'll find a sweet young woman named Kari, selling her homemade soaps, bath teas and scrubs. We love the samples of soap she's pressed on us, and a friend says you can no longer drive a truck through her pores, since she's used Emelmahae's face masque. But our absolute favorite product -- the best beauty find of the year -- is the Almond Shea Sugar Scrub.

We did our homework, so we could explain to you that the scrub is made of almond meal and turbinado sugar that "delivers powerful moisture and aids with cell regeneration," according to the little company's Web site. But all you really need to know is that this sugar scrub feels great -- grainier than the stuff we bought at Origins -- and smells even better. Best of all, it cost only $14 for a 10-ounce jar of the stuff. It should have lasted us at least six months, but we keep having to go back to buy more; we can't stop slathering it on.

The whimsical creatures Roy Wasson Valle silk-screens onto primary-colored tee shirts seem vaguely disturbing -- one looks like a Cheshire cat on crack, another appears to be a bear that resembles the demonic rabbit from Donnie Darko -- but they're strangely endearing, too. Wear one around, and you're sure to gather compliments all day long. Expect people to ask you where you got it. And expect to give vague answers, too, since Wasson Valle hasn't yet leaped from local artist to streetwear mogul. So far, we've only seen these shirts for sale at 515 gallery on Roosevelt Street (when Wasson Valle had an opening there several months ago), and, more recently, at MADE, the boutique just down the street. Get 'em while you can, if you can.
When you first walk into Sophistikatz Boutique, you might find one of the three sisters who own the business rearranging clothing racks or meticulously setting up an antique shoe display. They care about image (after all, they do "image consulting"), so they want their clothes to catch the eye right away. And they do! Everything is separated by season, so you can find things like a handmade crocheted winter scarf or a designer red leather miniskirt any time of the year. Whether your taste is modern, baggy street thug, or vintage cool cat, Sophistikatz stocks your style. It's got original, edgy, urban designs by co-owner Yasmin Ibrahim, classic silk button-down shirts from the '60s with funky retro patterns, obscure European summer dresses, and accessories galore. And the price tags are just as appealing as the clothes, with most items ranging from $15 to $30.
The Paisley Violin
Molly Smith
We liked Paisley Violin when it was on Roosevelt Street, but now that it's on Grand, we're in love. We're not sure what it is -- the owners are the same, the place looks similar, if a little less dingy -- but still low-rent enough to make the grungiest scenester happy. Maybe it's Pete Deise's metalwork (his studio's nearby) or the fact that there are actually people inhabiting a business on Grand Avenue on a Wednesday afternoon in August. The location is perfect, truly walking distance (even by a Phoenician's standards) from some of the best new galleries popping up along this diagonal strip. We can't wait to go back.
MADE Art Boutique
Too many times, we've fallen in love with some gorgeous artwork at a gallery on Roosevelt Row, but only had several dollars to spend, not several hundred. But MADE has stuff we'd gladly fork over our last few bucks to take home. A carefully edited selection of unique jewelry, tee shirts, and greeting cards appealingly displayed alongside some choice reads. A wonderful side note: occasional "themed" art exhibits, including a series of birdhouses, then boxes, by celebrated local artists like Joe Willie Smith and Sue Chenoweth. MADE has merch that's artistic and affordable -- ah, they've found our sweet spot.
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.

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