Best Place to Buy a First-Edition Zane Grey

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Considering this just-opened bookstore is in the middle of a brand-new shopping center in Cave Creek, we assumed we'd see a lot of soccer-mom reading, like Jodi Picoult and Mitch Albom. Boy, were we wrong! The husband-and-wife team that owns this friendly shop has carefully assembled some really interesting books, with a great representation of local authors and a respectable antiquarian selection. But we were most impressed to see the collection of Westerns by Zane Grey. It's a touch of old Carefree even in the middle of new Cave Creek — and though the books aren't cheap (some cost over $500), they're a dream come true for serious collectors. The rest of us, of course, are welcome to look, too.

Poisoned Pen

If Edgar Allan Poe were alive and a Phoenician, where would he buy his books? Probably at the Poisoned Pen, the Old Town Scottsdale home of all things mystery and fiction. More likely, Poe would set foot in the Poisoned Pen during a book tour. After all, many of the best mystery authors in the U.S. visit this cozy little shop for book-signings.

The Poisoned Pen boasts a competitive selection of fiction, from mainstream bestsellers to out-of-print titles and autographed first editions. It stocks a bevy of thrillers, historical fiction, sci-fi, and even a fair collection of nonfiction travel and food writing, too.

The Poisoned Pen indulges book nerds with a number of frivolities, including weekly book-signings, writing workshops, the "coffee and crime club," and book-discussion nights. Even if you're not up for the coffee and crime club, you might want to peek inside. There's something delightful and old world about this little bookstore's stone exterior, corner location, and book-shelved walls.

The meek may inherit the Earth, but it's the cunning and the cocksure who score the cool stuff at this long-lived literary offload. The boldest treasure hunters leave nothing to chance, camping out the night before as if they were trying to score tickets to a Led Zep reunion concert.

All to purchase books. Used books. Perhaps the death of literacy has been greatly exaggerated. Perhaps there are more people than you'd think champing at the bit to help the needy. Or, perhaps, among the 600,000-plus items for sale at very nice prices, there are scads of smokin' deals and rarities lying around waiting to be discovered.

Nah, couldn't be that.

The 53rd annual edition of the VNSA is scheduled for February 14 and 15 at the Arizona State Fairgrounds.

Heard Museum

If you're an eBay PowerSeller, you'll scoff at this modest sale. The number 30,000 — that's the total quantity of items typically up for grabs — will make you chortle softly. Poor saps, you'll say to yourself, thinking of those potential book buyers who choose to thumb through books, read prefaces and inscriptions, feel the heft of the tomes in their hand, and generally lollygag their way through the selection process. "Thirty thousand books," you sniff. "Hmph! They'd have to add another zero to get me there."

Good! Stay home, you resale vulture! There's more to life than first editions and publishing gaffes!

We go to this low-key annual affair 'cause we like books. We like choosing them. We like reading them. When we've finished the last line, we like placing them on a shelf and feeling a small ping! of joy when we encounter them again in the future. People who get the ping! will understand the Market. When the sale opens, you just kinda, well, walk through a door — which isn't jammed with pushing, shoving people — take a few steps to a long table filled with books, which isn't overly crowded, and start looking.

It's pretty revolutionary. You should try it.

Mesa Typewriter Exchange

Before desktop and laptop computers, there were typewriters. Remember? Well, we do, and we even use them from time to time to type up to-do lists and letters to be sent in the mail. (Yes, people still do that, too.) Our favorite place to browse for these time-tested machines is the Mesa Typewriter Exchange. Bill Wahl's shop in downtown Mesa carries workable manual and electric typewriters, including the most popular back-in-the-day brands such as Underwood, Royal, and IBM. Unlike thrift-store typewriters, which have zero chance of working, Wahl personally repairs and puts 50-plus years of typewriter TLC into refurbishing and repairing the machines. Business hours are limited, so make sure you call ahead before stepping back into the past.

Frances

We've given owner Georganne Bryant a nod in our Sideshow profiles but really, an issue of Best of Phoenix just wouldn't be complete without an award for Best Boutique, and we've gotta hand it to Frances.

From carefully chosen vintage clothing (we even noticed the Goldwater's Department Store tag still affixed to one item, and a picture of the original owner on another!), thick Mexican leather purses and belts to pendants and rings so whimsical they'll take your breath away, this space rivals any specialty boutique we've been in, anywhere. Toss in housewares, stationery, baby gifts, and new clothing (mostly women's but with a few men's T's thrown in for good measure). The signature touches on everything from the Web site to the wall displays just ooze style — and put our fair city on the shopping map, for sure.

Bunky Boutique

In some cities, no self-respecting chick would ever disclose where she found her great clothes. Names of sassy stores and boutiques are guarded like state secrets. And sometimes they are — ever notice how downtown types dress like ensemble creation is an Olympic event? Not so for Bunky Boutique — devotees of Rachel Richard's charming store gush with the fervor of the recently converted. Why? Not only does she stock some of the most adorable threads in town, she's worked long and hard to make sure they're priced well. And by well we mean dresses for $50, wraps for $30, and Havianas at the best price in the 'Nix — under $25.

Sure, vegan-friendly ultra-stylish bags by Amy Kathryn might be a bit more, but the $4 Catholic Saints bracelet helps justify the expense. From Fluxus to Brown Round to Kidrobot, Bunky Boutique stocks the merch that will keep you coming back again and again. And at these prices, you can afford to.

Shop Devious

If you've ever worried that fashion and budget couldn't possibly co-exist, you've obviously never been to Anna Marie's funky Shop Devious on rapidly changing Grand Avenue. We've slated our lust for handbags here many times, like when we snagged a brand new herringbone and velvet ribbon clutch for $6, or a slouchy purple hobo bag, also new, for $7. Vintage fashion your thing? It's here, and almost nothing in the entire boutique is over $15, with shoes — even boots — for $10. Want to embrace your inner club kid? How about wicked and wild fake eyelashes, in every color of the rainbow, and even some that aren't — like Day-Glo or glow in the dark. Looking for a custom anime wig? Gotcher head covered, along with snap-in hair extensions to match your outfit and bottles of Pixie Glitter for your inner sparkly fairy princess. No, those prices aren't misprints; it's the real deal.

The best part? This stylin' store is open almost every day. Grand Avenue isn't just for First Fridays anymore.

Garage

All the way at the back of The Mix, the glam, Fred Segal-ish collection of shops on Scottsdale's Stetson Drive, you'll find our favorite boutique, Garage. Here, almost all pretense is thrown to the wind, and you can hang at the candy bar (eat your heart out, Dylan Lauren) and browse mini-me versions of the latest Marc Jacobs and Sonia Rykiel designs for kids. We love the liberal dose of Paul Frank and similar comically inclined designers, and while the "body shop" motif is present, there are plenty of frilly duds for the little girl in your life.

You'll leave asking the age-old question, "Why don't they make that in my size?"

Lollilocks

There are lots of kiddy hair salons cutting their way into the market, and frankly, they're all about the same when it comes to Junior's buzz cut. But our favorite, aesthetically speaking, is Lollilocks. From the candy-themed décor to the spa pedicures in the back and the handy "kiddy corral" that allows you to contain one kid (in front of a TV!) while tending to the other, this is a well-designed beautification plan.

And the bonus: great merch! We happened to hit the place during a massive sale, not long ago, but even at full price, this stuff is a find: kiddy sunglasses in Spider-Man print for boys and funky pinks for girls; Scout tote bags for mom; Lollilocks' own scented lotions and potions; and, of course, every hair accessory imaginable.

We got all our upcoming birthday gifts covered, and walked out with two well-coiffed kids. Now, that's sweet!

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