Best Vintage Guitars 2010 | Bizarre Guitar & Drum | Shopping & Services | Phoenix
Anybody who has ever fallen in love with rock 'n' roll can tell you there's an ethereal connection between an instrument and the greats who have played it. Even if you only know a few chords, holding a pre-CBS black Fender Stratocaster in your hands makes you feel you posses the magical ability to channel Clapton and rip through the five-minute guitar solo at the end of "Layla." For over 25 years, this is the gift that Bizarre Guitar has offered Phoenix. The faint echo of a million brilliant musical moments can be heard in every scratch, ding, and scuff of the instruments lining the walls, and with that, the opportunity to relive those moments and create new ones. So what are you waiting for? Go make music.
When it comes to matters of the mystical, The Astrology Store is a supernatural Shangri-La. Opened more than 10 years ago by co-owner, astrologer, and psychic-medium Dave Campbell, the Astrology Store offers books, gifts, jewelry, supplies, classes, and events to both budding spiritualists and predicting pros. Get guided with a reading from Campbell or one of his seers, receive messages from loved ones on the other side at Group Medium Night, or eyeball your energy fields with an aura photo Polaroid. And, thanks to the Astrology Store's massage studio, the search for enlightenment never felt so relaxing.

Best Way to Avoid Getting Yourself on an Episode of Hoarders

Arc of Tempe Thrift Store

We didn't have to look up the phone number for the Arc of Tempe Thrift Store. We know it by heart. That's how often we manage to make a pile of stuff to give away. Every six weeks or so, we load our porch high with all kinds of junk — the kind of stuff that's useless to us (Who needs a third pie tin, or size 2T pants when the kid's been a 5T for six months?) but might suit someone else. Then we dial up the Arc and choose a day (once in a while, they are booked on our day of choice, but not typically, and they're always super-nice). On the appointed date, we know we'll come home to an empty porch. Presto — junk gone, handy receipt left in its place for a tax deduction. (Don't forget to photograph your donated items first — pesky IRS.) We can't tell you how many lousy garage sales we threw, or how many times we tried to shove microwaves and old TVs in a compact car to drive cross town to another thrift store, 'til a friend tipped us off to this wonderful cause, which operates day programs for developmentally disabled adults — along with a damn good thrift store. Do good and avoid being buried alive in your junk. What's better than that? (Sorry, pal, but you'll still have to carry those old pizza boxes out to the trash yourself.)
If the film Kick-Ass taught us anything, it's that dressing like a superhero is a downright dope experience. Whether it's transforming your bath towel into a makeshift cape as a tyke or dressing up as Spider-Man for Halloween, being a wanna-be Man of Steel or the Dark Knight is one of those simple pleasures in life. But if you don't have the wherewithal, money, or time to construct a painstakingly accurate Catwoman getup, head for Easley's, where adult and children's costumes for every major superhero (both Marvel and DC) are available for sale or rental, ranging from the late Heath Ledger's version of the Joker to the Flash. Remember, the clothes do, indeed, make the Superman.
Atomic Comics is the third-largest comics retailer in the nation, and for good reason. Not only does it have a massive selection of comics, graphic novels, and toys (in-store and online), but it has energy and color. Traditionally, comic book shops were housed in small, boring storefronts and manned by yawning, middle-aged men. At Atomic Comics, all the signage is big and bright yellow, and the young and dynamic staff often dresses up like superheroes or villains. Employees are also more than happy to show patrons around the sprawling stores or help them find a particular comic that may be buried in a box. They're also able to discuss in detail just about any comic, character, or storyline you can imagine, and they love to suggest new titles to customers based on what they already know they like. As much as we sometimes love being left to our own devices among 10,000 comic books, we also love enthusiasm and good service, and Atomic Comics provides it all.
Spawn creator Todd McFarlane's shop may be filled with toys, but the target is most certainly not your 5-year-old. Though you'll find kid-friendly throwbacks like My Little Pony here, the store mainly offers collectible sports figures (look for quarterback Kurt Warner's figurine later this year!) and twisted toys from the bizarre mind of its namesake. We've spotted everything from detailed, life-like action figures of American soldiers to characters from Halo and Nightmare on Elm Street. McFarlane even carries a three-pack of femme fatales featuring a bound, blindfolded, and very buxom S&M version of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz in a barely-there leather bustier and a dominatrix version of Little Red Riding Hood with the butchered remains of a wolf. Yep, once you walk into McFarlane, you're definitely not in Kansas anymore.
Why do you go to comic conventions? Are you seeking back issues? Do you want to trade trivia? If you're handy with a pair of scissors or know what aqua resin is, we're guessing you're a cosplayer. Cosplay (short for costume play) involves dressing up like your favorite comic book/ sci-fi /anime character and parading around to show off your handmade duds. The best place for aspiring cosplayers to get their start here in the Valley is at Samurai Comics. Whether you want to sneak through the trees as a Kohaku ninja or sail the seven seas as a member of the One Piece crew, you'll find all your cosplaying accessories here.
Batman would be nothing without his gadgets. Though you won't find any bat-shaped boomerangs or bat spray shark repellent at Spy Headquarters, they've got the next best things. Bear repellent. Grappling hooks. A hidden wall safe. There's even a portable lie detector so you know when your spouses, kids, or archenemies are telling the truth. We especially love the book selection at Spy Headquarters (though we can't imagine what decent, law-abiding citizen would need to know how to escape from handcuffs, spy on a neighbor, or collect money using shady and sometimes brutal techniques). Blame it on the owner's firm belief that the flow of information should never be restricted, despite the probability that it could be used to commit a crime. Remember: With nanny cams, Tasers, and lock-picking instructions come great responsibility.
Blame Stan Lee — it seems that, regardless of gender, you can't be a superhero unless you wear spandex tights or the dreaded unitard. If your heroic alter ego is willing to suck up his or her pride and suck in the gut, Dee's Dancewear is the best place in town to score some seriously shiny spandex. The store regularly stocks Lycra tights and bodysuits in traditional shades of beige, blue, and black and can special order more vibrant colors if they don't have them in stock. There's also a nice selection of velvet skating outfits that could be transformed into superhero costumes with the addition of shaped craft felt and a pair of tights. Just be forewarned that actor Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man in the recent flicks was definitely speaking the truth when he complained his spandex suit was riding up in the crotch. Ouch!
It's easy to find a Roman breastplate or a medieval helmet in Phoenix if you don't mind the plastic costume version. On the other hand, if you actually want to suit up in real metal armor and whack the crap out of your fellow man with padded sticks, there's only one place to go: Windrose Armoury. Located in a garage at a Tempe industrial complex, this full-scale forge designs and manufactures wearable steel and leather armor based on historical pieces. Windrose carries a wide range of sword hilts, helmets, gorgets (neck protection), and shields. Don't expect to find an Iron Man or Xena outfit here. Most Windrose clients belong to local re-enactment or martial arts groups. But if you've got 400 bucks for a helmet or a grand or so for an articulated partial suit of armor, you can still have the sweetest Halloween costume on the block.

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