Fetish Falls

PVC dress. Check. Riding crop. Check. Gas mask. What?? If you've been trolling the 'Net to find good bondage wear or, God forbid, slumming it at Hot Topic, you clearly haven't visited Fetish Falls. What started as an at-home craft shop for making the colorful "Cyberlox" clip-on pigtails cosplayers and raver chicks are so fond of has transformed into a one-stop brick-and-mortar shop where you can stock up on bondage gear — from collars and leashes to gorgeous black-and-white-striped Victorian bustle skirts by Hilary's Vanity (for the more discerning dominatrix). Though the shop's staff may curiously inquire as to where you'll be headed dressed head to toe in latex or as a little girl with pink tights and frilly skirt, they won't pass judgment or snicker under their breath. And if anyone does give you the stink-eye, just tell him that the gas mask is for those "high-pollution advisory" days.

Unique on Central

Though most of Unique On Central's merchandise caters to the gay and lesbian community (rainbow jewelry, spandex swimwear, gay erotica), the store's greeting card selection is a hoot for heterosexuals and homosexuals alike. Owner Doug Klinge says that people constantly come in and giggle over the silly greeting cards. There are several racks and stands containing things like birthday cards with a photo of a woman stuffing her face with cake, while another woman tells her, "You shall not purge until you eat it all!" and graduation cards featuring wrinkled, stern-looking nuns warning recent grads not to party too much, lest they get the ruler. And if you need a cheeky gift to go with your smarmy card, Unique On Central also offers a variety of gag gifts (literal gags and otherwise).

Ah, the Magnet Lady. First, Mona sets up shop in a corner of a wedding reception, a bar mitzvah, a quinceañera, or whatever special event you may host. Then, she asks passersby to pose for a photo or three, with whomever they like. Now comes the good part. Before you say your goodbyes, just drop by Mona's booth and pick up the black-and-white photograph she took of you and yours. The photo isn't just a photo, but now, cleverly, a magnet for guests to stick on their refrigerators, filing cabinet or wherever as keepsakes. The woman oozes enthusiasm for her self-created gig, which has been a big hit at the three or four events where we've seen her work. And don't worry — she doesn't seem to do too many close-ups.

Quality Nails

Here in the Valley of the Flip-Flops, toes are all-important. And it's not enough anymore to simply sport a pleasing shade that hasn't chipped yet. You'd better deliver some bling on those toes, or at least a mini-mural. Good news: Quality Nails steps up toenail design to a new level. The small waiting area of this Tempe shop is filled with hundreds of CD cases, each housing six hand-painted bright designs for your digits — cheery polka dots, argyle plaids, beach scenes, multicolored stripes, camouflage, animal prints, even a white baseball design with red stitching for you sporty girls. Don't like what they've got? No problem: Quality Nails will create custom designs. We loved their pink cosmopolitans for a Sex and the City party. Just think of what they might do for a party to celebrate Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland remake.

When it's time to hit the decks, there's no doubt that Cowtown is the only choice for us. There's just something about walking into the store that makes our heart race a little faster. While it could be the constant stream of the newest skateboarding videos showcasing the latest in Skate-or-Die prowess on their big-screen television, we think it might really be Cowtown's full understanding of skateboarding as a sport and a lifestyle, not just a phase in someone's life. They're just as dedicated to pumping up local brands like AZPX, Deville, and Mob Action as they are to sneaking info about the latest Nike SB drops to their VIPs. When it's time to rock gear for some concrete and asphalt exploration, Cowtown has your back from top to bottom.

Slippery Pig Bike Shop

Cyclists can be really picky: The seat's too wide, the fork's too long, the wheels are too squishy, there's more than an ounce of fat on my body. With the exception of the latter, your bicycling needs can be met at central Phoenix's Slippery Pig, a serious bike shop for serious bikers. This full-service shop has everything you'll need to repair your prized cycle, from handlebars and banana seats to used Kevlar tires that will resist puncture wounds from Arizona's many prickly plants. The shop also does repairs on-site at reasonable prices, if you'd rather have a pro pamper your baby than risk screwing it up yourself. We particularly like their selection of pre-built bikes, which include such high-end racing bikes as pricey and lightweight Cannondales and lower-cost powder-pink cruisers for the ladies.

Zia Record Exchange

In these tight times, it's time to cut away the excess. Do you really need all those Snoop Dogg CDs? Zia will be happy to consider taking them and any other CDs off your hands. Ever since Brad Singer founded the record store nearly 30 years ago, people have taken their unwanted music into the chain's stores, hoping to walk out with mad cash in their hands or new music to enjoy. Who are you not to keep that tradition alive? Especially when you'll have a huge selection of CDs, DVDs, and vinyl awaiting your fiscal irresponsibility.

Stinkweeds

If you're like us, it takes forever to take a trip to the record store. The experience is less a transaction than a balancing act: Which new releases to pick up? Which unheard classic to finally delve into? Once you have a stack of CDs, it's time to thin the herd with cash-flow considerations. That's why Stinkweeds is like our tiny cathedral for music shopping. The staff is always available without being pushy and helpful without being condescending. The wide selection of indie music ensures there's always something new to get lost in.

Revolver Records

We don't just listen to vinyl records because they're retro cool. Their analog recordings capture the whole sound, while CDs and MP3s actually miss little bits and pieces of the sound wave. The only prob is that platters are hard to find and often in poor condition. When we want the best selection and a staff that doesn't think we're talking about our gun collection when we mention 45s, we head to Revolver. While we miss the funkiness of the store's old digs in a vintage house on Seventh Avenue, we certainly don't miss trying to cram our butts through tiny doors into equally tiny rooms. The new location, across from Carly's Bistro, is much larger, with exposed brick walls and neat little rows of albums organized by genre. Revolver's stock is huge, with over 20,000 albums, including thousands of $1 picks. There's also a handy rating system, which tells you whether the Sly & the Family Stone classic you've been eyeing is "fried" or near mint condition. Though we still can't find that 1972 Zombies album we've been coveting since the Y2K scare, it just might turn up one day. Until then, we'll satisfy ourselves with gems like jazz master Candy Lee Morgan's Blue Nite 1590, The Doors' Soft Parade on 45, or Slayer's blood-spattered limited edition of Hell Awaits. Sweet!

We know. Your band rules, but: a) you can't afford studio time; and b) no way can a clinical recording environment capture the energy and general awesomeness of your live performances. Well, guess what? There's a local drummer and professional audio engineer by the name of Ray Reeves who goes around to local music venues and documents live sets using high-grade audio recording equipment. Not only does he offer the unmastered results for a pretty affordable price, but he'll also clean up the soon-to-be platinum recording for a few extra dollars. So hit him up for his services and be that much closer to a major label deal.

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