Local skate shops have come and gone over the years — except for indie Cowtown. The "family"-owned and -operated skate shop had been slangin' the best boards and gear to Phoenix skate rats since 1996 (that's three years before the first Tony Hawk's Pro Skater video game). The owners credit their success to outstanding customer service and knowledge of the industry — two things that are hard to come by these days, especially in the skateboard world (i.e., that shop in the mall). We love Cowtown for its extensive line of the latest and greatest skate shoes, the best shirts, and the biggest selection of boards in the Valley. If you're lucky, you might even stumble upon a few rare collectible decks (we recently scored a Toy Machine Black Worm of Death). Be sure to look out for newest gear from local skate companies like Old Man Army and AZPX, and don't miss the annual shop sponsored contest, The PHX AM.
Bike Barn
Most of us are not what are known as "mountain bikers" or "road warriors" — or anything close. We prefer, every so often, to ride a few gentle miles to a local coffeehouse or bookstore or, on (rare) occasion, get some real exercise and try to take the edge off the guilt we feel after eating like idiots. But our rinky-dink bicycle needs love and attention just like those fancy-pants ones, and we have had occasion to frequent many a shop around the Valley over the years. Our favorite? This venerable homegrown spot just north of East Indian School Road. What makes this joint stick out is the customer service — so sincere and helpful that it borders on a counseling session. A woman named Mary (she's the manager) recently figured out just how much we should spend on a new bike, and it was far less than what we had reckoned (or budgeted for). No one at this place will take you for a ride! They'll just send you home with a sweet one.
The Garage Bike Shop
If you are looking for a big showroom with lots of new bikes, helmets, and wheels, this is not the place for you. But if you need a solid, honest wrench to fix up your clunker or tune up your speed machine, go see Rene at the Garage. A mechanic for 20-plus years, this guy is living his dream with his shop tucked away in El Mercado Plaza, in the center of Guadalupe. He does offer a few bikes on consignment, but his shop mainly is just as the name states: a garage. If he can't fix it or get it fixed for you, chances are, it can't be fixed at all.
Try Me Bicycle
Tucked on the western edge of the Foothill Acres neighborhood in North Phoenix, Try Me Bicycle Shop is not exactly where one thinks to go for that rare part to get the old Schwinn or Raleigh up and running again. But this shop has been in business for nearly 40 years and has been collecting the odd part for every type of bike over that time. The showroom is filled with family-friendly cruiser and comfort bikes — nothing super-high- end here. It's that backroom inventory of old and hard-to-find parts that makes this place truly special.
Kooky Krafts Shop
New Times
If you never made it to Diane Ribbon and Notion, you have our condolences. Truly, the place was life-altering, if you have an affinity for nostalgia or a need for art supplies. If you like vintage crafts, well, like we said, we're sorry. The giant old warehouse was stuck in the '70s (in a good way), supplying everything from doll heads to pom-poms and a lot in between. Like many old-school art supply stores, it closed a few years ago.Enter Beatrice Moore. Literally. With a truck. The Grand Avenue-based artist and businesswoman bought an obscene amount of Diane's inventory and drove it over to her studio, where she hoarded some of it and packed the rest up to sell in her store Kooky Krafts. Behold: It's the plastic clown head you've been looking for! The fake birds you never knew you needed. The vintage bump chenille that Moore will explain is just about impossible to find. Get inspiration from her fake cakes and colorful wreaths, as well as the art of other locals on display. And walk out with your fair share of vintage craft supplies — who knows when you'll need them?!
Treasures4Teachers
We admit we're not so touchy-feely around here at New Times, but we aren't ashamed to tell you that we got all warm and fuzzy when we heard about Treasures4Teachers. Well, that's not exactly true. At first, we couldn't believe that someone had such an incredible idea and made it happen! Then we got warm all over. And excited. And kind of wished we were teachers, so we could take advantage of this amazing nonprofit program. Instead, we'll just tell you all about it. If you are a teacher (and the definition of "teacher" has a wide range, from traditional public school teacher to home-schooler to daycare provider) you can show up at this Tempe warehouse with the proper ID (details on their website) and for $5 a bag (and we hear it's a big bag!) load up on all sorts of teaching supplies — everything from pens and pencils to sticky notes and file folders. Sometimes there's furniture (the rules are different there, no bag) and the stock changes daily, so you never know what you might find — but the teachers we've spoken with says it's always worth the trip.
Wet Paint Art Supply and Gallery
Wet Paint has been supplying the urban subversive with a wide array of aerosol paints, markers, and drippy inks for more than a decade. But if taking your art to the streets isn't your gig, you can count on Wet Paint for such traditional fine-art supplies as oil paints, charcoal, and watercolors. Over the years, this family-run establishment has extended its influence beyond the retail market with its involvement in community art shows and has fostered and helped shape the ever-growing Valley art scene.
Aaron Bros. Art & Framing
A friend of ours is an art teacher who's always scouting around for great deals, so we're deeply aware that sable hair brushes can't be had for less money than at Aaron Bros. The Camelback location of Aaron Bros. is the one to which the other stores in the chain ship last season's stuff, and anyone interested in a package of high-quality canvases for dirt-cheap or a handful of charcoal pastels should drop in here and head to the back. On our last trip, we scored a children's art set marked down from $30 to five bucks; a slightly dinged painter's palette for $2, and a whole box of artist-quality watercolors for half-off. Frames for your masterpieces are also super-cheap here — check out the always-overflowing table of marked-down frames and photo albums over in the corner.
D&I Beads
This family-owned bead store offers an extensive selection of beads, from Bohemian glass to freshwater pearls, in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Prices are reasonable and employees are friendly, not to mention patient with artists-in-training who are just learning the craft. D&I's trained staff offers free beading classes, guides you on how to repair or make your own jewelry and will even create special jewelry, for your special occasion, such as a wedding.
Scrapbooks Etc.
If you are a scrapbooking fool, then chances are you already know about Scrapbooks Etc. in Mesa. If you are a novice, then you need to see all the goodies at this East Valley shop. Beyond scrapbooking supplies, it carries fabric, ribbon, and loads of paper. It also offers sewing and scrapbooking classes as well as classes for kids. This shop offers so many gems you should plan a couple of hours when visiting.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of