Antiques on Central

A great antique store is a place we can enter, lose track of time, walk around for hours, and totally enjoy. And that's why we heart Antiques on Central. With 65 dealers and 16,000 square feet, the store's beautifully organized and varied. Browsing the Native American pottery and French antiques is fun, but a broad array of dishware, furniture, and artworks is among the treasure waiting to be discovered. Our advice is to come in with an open mind and without a super-specific agenda, ignore the little statuettes that your grandma might go for, and see what you find.

Rare Lion Antiques & Jewelry

More than three decades after it opened, Rare Lion remains a superb shop full of fine antiques and exceptional vintage jewelry. Carefully displayed furniture and dinnerware share space with ancient, pristine tapestries and fine art from the late 19th century. Looking for a better bookcase or a set of fine china? This is the place. Located in the heart of downtown Tempe, Rare Lion is a virtual homage to the past's better furniture makers and craftsmen. The management also offers appraisals of your collectibles, as well as an in-house gemologist who can assess the value of Grandma's pearl earrings.

Zinnias at Melrose

Everyone on your holiday shopping list wants something old for Chanukkah, right? And you've only got time to holiday shop on your lunch hour — and a tiny budget, besides. So head to Zinnias, a giant antique dealer mall where you'll find great mid-century stuff (Hey, look! An Eames chair! A lava lamp! A harlequin paint-by-number kit!), cool Deco items (Is that a portable bar with Bakelite handles? Looky — a penguin ice bucket!), and a whole lot more.

Someone else on your list wears only vintage frocks, you say? No prob, since Zinnias is home to Antique Sugar, a separate and quite large clothing boutique carefully crammed to the rafters with poodle skirts and shark skin suits and 40-year-old pumps in like-new condition. Get shopping!

We wanted a vintage Herman Miller/George Nelson slat bench — not a knockoff. Instead of putting it on our Holy Grail list, we just hopped in our car and headed over to Modern on Melrose, a half-acre of interior and exterior commercial space located not in Southern California but here, among all those neat antique stores on Seventh Avenue between Camelback and Indian School roads. And there it was — the perfect slat bench, which we didn't have to polish or repair because everything in this giant midcentury mall is ready-to-own. Established in 2012, Modern on Melrose quickly has become the best place in town to find a '60s swag lamp or a gaudy '70s sofa (avocado green, please!) or a hi-fi that's been fully restored and now ready to play your 8-tracks. With more than 30 combined years in vintage retail, M.O.M.'s friendly staff knows its stuff and is happy to conspire with you to turn your contemporary home into a mid-century showplace. Don't forget to nip outside into M.O.M.'s expansive outdoor area, where the store has stashed giant gleaming piles of vintage salvage and upcycled commercial for shabby-chic fans everywhere.

Red Modern Furniture

Just because Mad Men is ending doesn't mean your Midcentury Modern obsession has to. And a lovely place to explore said obsession is Red Modern. Note: This ain't no thrift shop. That's true when it comes to the furniture emporium's stock and its according (sometimes eye-popping) prices. Walking through the showroom is like walking through a furniture buff's wildest fantasy. Mint green Hans Wegner papa bear chairs? Check. Impeccable rosewood credenza? Um, take your pick. How about a signed lithograph from Frank Gehry? Calm down — yes. Before you head over, make a list of what you really, really want. Because it'll be easier than you imagine to get distracted.

Arizona Art Supply

Arizona Art Supply has been a staple in the Phoenix art community since the '50s, and that's no accident. Besides their high quality products, it's their consideration for their community that sets this locally owned art supply destination apart. Not only do they support local artist groups, but they also patrol their social media and Yelp page like hawks, addressing customers' concerns and ensuring they will look into the issue. We can get on board with that kind of customer service.

Plus all of their employees are either working artists or have a BFA or MFA. No matter what your question, chances are someone working in the store will know what you're talking about and have an answer. Though the Phoenix location is still our favorite (which may or may not be due to the kids' section), Arizona Art Supply also has locations in Tempe, Scottsdale, Sun City, and Tucson.

If you're ready to translate those stacks of Elle Decor into reality, it's time to head to Bungalow. The North Scottsdale shop is more than a place to pick up a throw pillow. Yes, you can swing through the 12,000-square-foot showroom to pick and choose items that stand out, like that chalkboard globe, cashmere throws, and a blue glass chandelier inspired by Egyptian antiques. But the store also will pair up shoppers with stylists who will work to meet both taste and budgetary needs. Want a nautically casual living area and a French industrial-esque dining area? Done and done.

We wanted to paper the walls in our mom's midcentury powder room, and despaired of finding anything avocado-and-orange enough to be considered period-correct. Then we wandered into the Wallpaper and Border Store and our fears vanished. Not only did we find a neat design — garish, geometric, and pre-pasted, too! — but we fell instantly in love with this giant room full of rolls of wallpaper and their matching accents. Paintable papers, flocked and foiled, contemporary and retro — we wanted to take every roll home with us. Rare grasscloth options, complementary borders, and full-wall murals are stacked high at this paper palace, too. The friendly staff is happy to help you figure out a papering approach, and quick to explain the different methods of application. Roll on in — you'll be thrilled you did.

Any store can sell you needles in different gauges and yarn in different colors and materials. At Tempe Yarn and Fiber, you get much more than the top-quality merch it sells. You also get the wealth of knowledge and handy advice from the staff of avid knitters and crocheters. Whether you want to learn to spin your own yarn, weave on a loom, knit an easy and basic hat, or fun, little felt creatures for your friends, there are classes for every level in most fiber-based interests. However, the folks that run the place are more than willing to help answer questions to get your project rolling if you have something more specific in mind.

Easley's Fun Shop

We can't be the only ones who start plotting our Halloween costumes come November 1. And we're sure this makes the good folks at Easley's very happy. The bright yellow building off McDowell is home to rooms and rooms of costuming goodies from full-on Maleficent and Captain America costumes to glue-on noses and a mind-boggling array of wigs. More elaborate still are its rental costumes, should you decide on being a human-size hot dog but feel unprepared to commit to such a purchase. Of course, Easley's caters to last-minute dresser-uppers, too, with an array of animal ears and costumes ready by the bag.

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