Strangely enough, that would-be dead-as-the-dodo retail outlet known as the record store is making a comeback. For evidence, look no further than this tiny shop along Scottsdale Road between Indian School and Camelback Road. We dig this outpost of vinyl because of what it's not: a catch-all receptacle for the kind of mass-produced platters you tend to see at most used record stores. (So, for 99-cent copies of gajillion sellers by Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and AC/DC, Meatloaf, and The Boss, you're gonna have to look elsewhere.)

No, John Rose's shop is where you'll find very-good-to-near-mint copies of cool old (and most likely long-forgotten) R&B, country, rockabilly, and exotica acts. There's also a solid selection of garage, punk, and New Wave slabs from the '80s and '90s. Why, just recently, we nabbed a beautifully preserved copy of 1967's Carryin' on with Johnny Cash and June Carter for about $8, a $3 copy of Nick Lowe's The Abominable Showman, and the Amuck compilation of early Phoenix punk for $12. We almost picked up a $15 long-out-of-print copy of the Circle Jerks' debut, Group Sex, to go along with it all, but we gotta eat, too.

Changing Hands Bookstore

Changing Hands isn't just the best bookstore in the Valley. It's one of the best bookstores in the country. That's not just because of the books. And we're not talking about the gift section, although that's awfully nice. It's the people. From founders Gayle Shanks and Bob Sommer down to the clerks at the cash register, we can't help smiling as we reluctantly end our bookstore experience and head off to run our other errands.

The other day, our 10-year-old put it best. "I love Changing Hands so much I want to marry it!" she announced. That had a little to do with the book she'd just purchased and much more to do with the fact that the clerk who sold it to her actually held up the line so she could read a bit of it aloud to him.

That's not going to happen to you on Amazon.

Soon the local book scene will be twice as nice, as Changing Hands (finally!) opens a second location in Central Phoenix. We plan to be the first in line. Right behind the 10-year-old.

Modern Manor

When it comes to Midcentury Modern furniture, there's not a shop that does it quite like Modern Manor in the Melrose District. With big-name designer pieces from the likes of Charles and Ray Eames and Arne Jacobsen (and the price points to match), the warehouse-style store offers space-age styles, super-simple mod pieces, and glam Hollywood Regency, too. Its owners have such a knack for decorating that they've started staging on-the-market post-war homes remodeled by Rafterhouse. But more exciting for its shoppers is the recent addition of concrete artisan Brandon Gore's shop Hard Goods, relocated into the room that formerly housed metal lettering — as if we needed another reason to keep our wallets at the ready when browsing the emporium.

Labeling Lawn Gnome Publishing a used bookstore is almost unfair, because it's so much more. The brainchild of Aaron Hopkins-Johnson has hosted poetry readings, lectures series, musical performances, zine fests, and an assortment of other events since it opened its doors in February 2012. Located in a small house in the heart of the Roosevelt district, with brightly colored shelving and wood floors, Lawn Gnome is the quintessential quaint indie bookstore. The selection is smallish, but it's the perfect size for browsing; you might not always find what you came into the store looking for originally, but usually you'll find something better.

Ash Avenue Comics & Books

Perhaps a trip to the comics shop sounds like a nostalgia-ridden adventure down memory lane. While it can certainly serve that function, Ash Avenue Comics is big on the now. With a solid selection of fresh indie books, notable graphic novels, and big-name serials, too, the Tempe standby eschews an old-timey feel for a selection that'll surprise anyone who's been on a hero hiatus. Not sure where to begin? Consult owner Drew Sully. The shopkeeper is (surprise) an avid comics reader and readily dishes on his favorite ongoing series like Uncanny X-Men or Hellboy in Hell.

Online supply stores and national art supply chains are gobbling up mom-and-pop art shops at an alarming rate. Yeah, it's a sign of the times, but when it comes down to where we like to buy our specialty colored pencils, airbrush paints, newsprint, and printing plates, we'll stick to Arizona Art Supply.

The locally owned and operated supply shop opened in 1951 and was one of the first stores in town dedicated to selling just art supplies. Today, it's one of the last of its kind in Phoenix. The store has expanded to include locations in Tempe, Scottsdale, Sun City, and Tucson, but our favorite location continues to be the massive store in Central Phoenix. It houses a massive collection of everything you'll need for your next creative project, art-school final, or summertime craft. And if you really don't want to leave the comfort of your studio, you can shop for your goods on the Arizona Art Supply website.

All About Books and Comics

Whether you're looking to buy or consign vintage comics, All About Books and Comics is the place for you. This Central Phoenix shop has a great selection of back issues of vintage comics, including Captain America, Thor, Avengers, X-Men, Dr. Strange, Superman, Flash, Mr. Miracle, Spider-Man, and Iron Man. Can't find what you're looking for? A helpful clerk will check the backroom for the issue. Looking for vintage on the cheap? Check the dollar room. Want to play? AAB&C sells action figures, toys, and other superhero collectibles.

Sometimes you need ribbon the length of a few football fields. Sometimes you need the little backs to stick teddy bear eyes onto a handmade doll. Other times you need pounds and pounds of glitter tulle — well, maybe that was just us. Either way, if you need all that jazz and you need it on the cheap, SAS is the only place to go. The prettiest vintage patterns, discarded patches, and the oddest little notions in town can all be found at the Tempe SAS at bargain-bin prices. Although SAS may not have a fabric selection as big as those at the national stores, and the customer service can leave a bit to be desired, we can't help going back time and time again when we're in a pinch to make a quick costume. The price is right and you just never know what you'll find at the bottom of a stack of old fabric scraps and bolts.

No use crying over a dropped stitch. Tempe Yarn & Fiber has your back. For knitters of all levels, this is the place to come not just to buy supplies, but to learn new skills. On any day of the week, knitting groups meet at the store (including one specifically for dudes on Sundays), and the friendly staff is willing to help you tackle your latest knitting dilemma at any time of day. Or, if the issue is too large, they will happily direct you to one of the many classes offered to get you back on track. If you're a knitting pro, you can take it to the next level and learn to make your own yarn: Tempe Yarn & Fiber offers multiple classes on spinning and dyeing as well.

When savvy sprinters and cross-country junkies want the rundown on a great pair of footwear, they jog over to North Phoenix's Runner's Den. This locally owned shop has been a go-to source for running retail in the Valley since 1978 and with very good reason. Being runners themselves, the staff at Runner's Den are fanatical about footwear. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a longtime customer looking to try a new brand, the sales associates at Runner's Den will go out of their way to find the shoes that help strengthen your stride and save you from injury. But be warned, with such careful analysis and enthusiasm for running, you will be asked to run around the building or, at the very least, jog in place at the store. From shoes and sweat-absorbing socks to fitness apparel and various types of electrolyte goo, Runner's Den remains the ultimate destination for die-hard cardio addicts.

Best Of Phoenix®

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