BEST PLACE TO BUY A LIGHT-UP INFANT OF PRAGUE 2006 | The Autom Company | Shopping & Services | Phoenix
We weren't sure there was any better place than several of our favorite local dollar stores to buy religious accouterments, until we wandered into The Autom Company on Seventh Street one recent afternoon. We'll never get back the two hours we spent browsing there, but that's more than okay, since we now own a Saint Benedict Home Protection Kit ("For those looking for protection from the forces of darkness and temptation"), an Adoration of the Magi Tea Light Holder (because, hey, where else are you going to put your tea lights?), and a luminous Infant of Prague nightlight that we like to think is keeping St. Lucifer at bay. Prayer Card collectors and fans of plastic glow-in-the-dark rosaries will, as we did, need a good chunk of time to spend in this amazing shop that stocks everything you need to be a good Catholic.
Looking for a "hooker-tight" black vinyl mini-skirt? Need a leather bustier with lots of zippers? Can't find a place that sells quality latex body paint? Stop in at Smokin' Lingerie, and you'll find every kinky thing you need for the next fetish ball or flash bash. At 12,000 square feet, Smokin' Lingerie has room for a massive selection of sexual stimulants, and the inventory includes everything from neon g-strings and knee-high boots to studded leather face masks and rubber dresses. The racks contain a fair amount of teddies and vinyl wear in larger sizes, too, so there are plenty of sexy getups for the more voluptuous gals. Patrons can also peruse the porn selection, which contains thousands of titles on both DVD and VHS. If you're feeling really adventurous, you can try out the bondage swing, located near the dressing rooms.
Phoenix has more than its share of drive-through liquor stores, but Melrose Liquors stands out for a couple of reasons: one, the building is situated between two popular lesbian nightclubs, zGirl Club (formerly Misty's) and E-Lounge; and two, the building is triangular and painted hot pink, fitting for a building situated on a strip of Seventh Avenue that's full of gay-owned/friendly businesses but happy to serve all. The selection inside the store is huge and prices are reasonable, making it a perfect stop for take-home nightcaps after a night of club hopping. Best of all, this drive-through liquor store isn't located in a strip mall it stands alone in a big vacant lot, so there's plenty of room to maneuver around late-night traffic once you've grabbed your 40-ounce and cigarettes from the window clerk.
That little clay or clear glass "tobacco pipe" might hit in a pinch, but pull it out at a party, and people will look at you cross-eyed for all the wrong reasons. If you really want to impress your fellow smokers, hook yourself up with a custom pipe from It's All Goodz. The shop presses and blows its own glass pipes in a room right there in the store, and patrons can watch the pipesmiths in action through huge windows. The shop's craftsmen can make anything you want whether it's a pink pipe with a bowl shaped like a vagina, or a huge steamroller pipe made out of chameleon glass that changes colors as you smoke it. And if you can't decide whether you want a green and gold paisley pipe with ornate spiders and cobwebs down the sides or a pipe shaped like one of those Grateful Dead dancing bears, you can always pick one of the ready-made originals off the shelves. In addition to its own creations, the shop carries a huge selection of the highest quality tobacco pipes, water pipes, and hookahs, in addition to other accouterments like ashtrays, pipe bags, and lighters. Very impressive!
The once and always champion among wig shops is fast becoming a Phoenix institution, especially among the follicularly challenged. Panorama only appears to be displaying all 3,000 of the wigs it stocks, because they're everywhere: auburn falls and bright blond switches and shiny Dynel Afros. Guys who aren't interested in dressing like girls will find a fabulous selection of men's toupees here, and gals who want to hide their long brown tresses under a cute strawberry blond pixie will benefit from the presence of one of Panorama's in-house stylists, who'll teach you wig tricks while you wait. All this fake hair is affordable, from cheapie clip-on extensions for $15 to more elaborate, triple-digit numbers that will fuel any hair fantasy you may have. We'll quit teasing and let you get down to Panorama, where a wig is waiting for you.
Some people get ready for an earthquake or a tornado by stocking up on the essentials for survival extra food, batteries, and plenty of water. Serious death-metalers, on the other hand, spend their time preparing for Judgment Day by stocking up on the essentials of hardcore metal that rare Dying Fetus Purification Through Violence picture disc, the latest Cock and Ball Torture album, and plenty of cheap beer. You're not going to find this kind of hardcore metal by popping your brooding head into Tower Records, which is why Metal Devastation is the hardcore headquarters for all things apocalyptic, devilish and nasty. The self-proclaimed "most Satanic brutal store," Metal Devastation also has plenty of goodies like the latest issues of underground mags like Terrorizer and an extreme DVD selection that includes all four Traces of Death (think Faces of Death on crack) and all three Shocking Menus. Yummy. The beer you'll have to get someplace else.
If you're looking for the latest Britney Spears or Kelly Clarkson tracks, look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you need indie ska, punk, reggae or anything alternative, Stinkweeds is the place to go. Owner Kimber Lanning personally trains the staff, and the turnover rate is low, so you can bet that the folks behind the counter will have the answers you need. Like The Clash? Employees recommend former front man Joe Strummer's latest disc. Looking for a rare Rolling Stones album? The cashier thumbs past a Stones placard in the large vinyl section, which features new releases and an ample selection of used originals. The store's focus is on vintage and catalogue-only music, but Lanning is also on top of the hottest fledgling bands plying CDs like Beirut's debut album Gulag Orkestar before the group hits big. Unfortunately, the Tempe Stinkweeds closed earlier this year so Lanning could devote more time to the independent business booster Arizona Chain Reaction, one of her other passions, but the Phoenix hub is still rockin' strong.
How much would you pay for that last Sheryl Crow CD you need to make your collection complete? $12? $15? How about $4.99? That's what we paid for one of her older discs on a recent trip to Tempe's Zia Record Exchange, the music mecca for starving artists and broke college students. The store carries thousands of used titles, from death metal to country, plus the hot new albums in each category. Fat Joe? Got it. Nine Inch Nails? Check. Vanilla Ice? Sadly (and not unexpectedly), there's a whole row of that one. Not only are the prices super cheap, but you don't even need money to make a purchase. Just bring a few CDs for trade (come on, we know you have some Weezer lying around gathering dust) and you can get store credit toward that killer Snow Patrol disc you've been dying for.
DJ-friendly wax copy of the hip-hop Gorillaz check. Obscure Albert Ayler ESP 180-gram free jazz reissue check. Nigel Peppercock punk rock gatefold check. This is what a typical visit to Tempe's version of High Fidelity will look like for vinyl junkies and newbies alike. Since 1986, Eastside has carried aisles of dusty crates filled with new and used vinyl galore and a no-nonsense attitude to boot; just try to come up with a musician whose discography these audiophiles can't break down in the time it takes to flip over a record (you'll take home a complimentary dust bunny with your purchase, either way). The store's inventory bridges the analog/digital divide with a healthy supply of major and small-label CD releases while shelves of underground lit, band tees, a smattering of discounted turntables, and kooky action figures round out the merchandise like a sweet 33 1/3 rotation.
Nobody in the Valley can repair and rehab guitars and amps better, faster or with more character than Richard Beck. Beck has 25 years of experience in the guitar-repair game, and is known to musicians throughout the Valley as the only choice in skillful, high-quality guitar repair. The exclusive repair shop for artists such as Glen Campbell and members of the Meat Puppets, Beck's is everything one could ask for in the realm of guitar and amp repair. Throw in the engaging and penetrating personality of Richard Beck, and you'll know why Beck's Guitar Specialty Services is the absolute best guitar repair in the PHX.

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