There are certain things you need in a good nursery. You need a friendly staff that not only knows exactly what it's talking about, but one that also will share knowledge in a way that even the most novice gardener can understand. You need a beautiful space that prominently displays the plants and offers suggestions on how you could design your own landscape. And finally (of course), you need an abundance of beautiful, thriving plants for purchase. Whitfill Nursery has all of the above and then some. With over 60 years of experience growing and raising palms, citrus, and other plants in the desert, it's easy to see why this family-owned and -operated nursery has its green thumb permanently pointed up.

Readers Choice: Moon Valley Nursery

Teresa Wilson and her stem-slinging crew at Camelback Flowershop know exactly what they're doing when it comes to positioning peonies and rearranging roses. This team is able to listen to a client's description of what is desired, envision the client's idea, and then translate the vision into a breathtaking and unique floral arrangement. And don't even get us started on how beautiful the actual shop is. After moving to a new location in the fall of 2014, Wilson and her staff have about three times the space to fill with flowers, succulents, and bouquets. Stop in on a Friday afternoon for Fresh Flower Happy Hour, from 4 to 6 p.m., for half-priced vase arrangements and steals on loose-stem flowers.

Community Florist

When you need posies delivered, either locally or nationally, Community Florist is there for you. Its expansive array of roses, flowers, plants, and gifts is available; so is lots of help in choosing the appropriate arrangement for any occasion. Ordering online is a snap, and for those of us who are floral-impaired, the flower-wise folks at this McDowell Road pansy shop are always happy to create a floral masterpiece for you based not on what you don't know about nasturtiums, but on your budget. It's fine with them if you announce, "I want a birthday bouquet for Mom; I have $50 to spend." They'll know what to do. Flowers, corsages, gifts, and funeral arrangements are the order of the day here, as are centerpieces and boutonnieres. We were impressed that when they were having trouble delivering our order on a recent weekday morning, they phoned us with progress reports throughout the day, until the beautiful bouquet was finally conveyed.

Dollar Tree

We refuse to pay five bucks for a cake scraper. We cringe at the price of craft supplies at the big chain hobby shops. And why buy name-brand glue? The one-buck stuff sticks things together just as well. But let's face it: Paying pennies for neat junk is fun, but some dollar stores are just plain grungy. Others are scary. But Dollar Tree is clean, well-organized, and well stocked. Why not load up on new glassware, placemats, and tea towels in a housewares department that's an actual department and not a dirty corner of a discount store? Birthday party favors, wrapping paper, greeting cards — who says it's expensive to entertain kids? Beach balls, sunglasses, tanning lotion — all for a buck a pop! And don't get us started on Dollar Tree's holiday décor selection. We have to stop writing now and head over to Dollar Tree to see what's growing there.

Several Valley locations

Sure, there are plenty of places around town with great resale items to purchase, but none boasts cheaper prices than Goodwill. And out of all the Goodwill locations in Arizona, it's the Goodwill Redesign in Scottsdale where we find our favorite and most reasonably priced antique treasures. Unlike other Goodwill stores around the Valley, the Goodwill Redesign stores focus on furniture and decorations, leaving clothing to other locations. We don't know whether it's the neighborhood surrounding the Scottsdale Goodwill Redesign or the alignment of the stars, but we always have the best luck at this particular store. Try your luck and stop by. Maybe you'll walk away with a well-loved but nicely preserved '80s armchair that will perfectly fill that one corner in your living room.

A friend visiting from England whined, "Your vintage clothing stores are a downer. More like costume shops." So we took her to Antique Sugar and she shut the hell up. This is the place for fabulous yesteryear threads, and its expanded stock in its new location (Sugar recently relocated from midtown to groovy downtown digs) is even better than it once was — and that was pretty darn good. There we typically find couture attire, '70s garments perfect for those pesky disco parties people keep throwing, and the best selection of midcentury lounging pajamas you'll ever see. Recent impossible-but-true finds include 1940s still-in-the-box navy blue silk stockings, dyed-fabric pumps (in our size!), and a 1963 Elizabeth Arden frock coat with the tags hanging off. Also surprising is this boss boutique's wide array of men's duds, a rarity in any vintage clothing store.

Brass Armadillo

We needed a 1960s Underwood typewriter (with intact ribbon), a wire dress form, and a set of French Saxon Star-Flower dishware, and we needed it now. We didn't realize, of course, that all this vintage stuff was lacking in our lives or that we could get it in one place and for pennies on the dollar until we found ourselves at Brass Armadillo, where all this and more lay in wait. Conveniently located just off Interstate 17 and chockablock with gorgeous old stuff, the Armadillo is open till 9 p.m. seven days a week, for those of us jonesing for a post-dinner hunt for a mint-in-box Howdy Doody rag doll or a pair of Everwood side tables in mint condition and priced perfectly. Nicely organized with street signs, the Brass boulevards of merchant boutiques are neatly arranged and frequently restocked, so repeat trips are a must. We love the rows and rows of glass cases full of rare and pretty small items (Hey, is that a 1959 Barbie doll?), and the friendly staff who wraps our purchases so carefully, too.

A Shawnee Farmer Pig cookie jar for 30 bucks. A telephone table painted turquoise. A lady-head vase with barely any chips on her hat. A mantel clock, a painting of a dog wearing a raincoat. An Oxfordware bowl with only a little crazing. We practically needed a wheelbarrow the first time we shopped at Ilona's, the stuff was so cool and the prices so reasonable. Did we need that mantel clock, that amber glass centerpiece vase, the Harker Corinthian gravy boat? No. But we had to have it, because who knows when we'll find such fun stuff at such low prices ever again? (Actually, we do — always, and always at Ilona's.

Rare Lion Antiques & Jewelry

Scottsdale must be the place to go for big-ticket, high-style old furniture. Right? Nope. We head to downtown Tempe and Rare Lion, really the best place to find Napoleonic desks, a Virtuoso bookcase, or a pristine Paimio settee. Vintage smalls also are available at this superb shop filled to the rafters with exquisite old jewelry, super-collectible high-end ceramics, and even some vintage paper products. Rare Lion also offers appraisals of your collectibles, and its on-site gemologist can help you determine whether that 90-year-old cocktail ring is clad with gemstones or just pretty glass.

Retro Ranch

When it comes to Retro Ranch, the priority is given to quality over quantity. The store is not as big as some of the others in Melrose District, but that just means the midcentury finds are more concentrated. The staff fills the limited space it has with the best pieces it comes across when hunting for midcentury furniture, clothing, and accessories. But then Retro takes it to the next level by creating eye-grabbing displays with its wares. Its slogan is "Swagger on in . . .," but we think you'll be walking with more of a spring in your step when you're walking out with something you just can't wait for your house guests to ask about.

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