Looking to up your boot game without breaking the bank? Here's your spot. We once snagged a pair of studded brown beauties for under $100 and a perfect pair of basic black boots for less than we'd spend on date night. At Cowtown Boots in north Tempe, you can often score quality, brand-name boots at seriously discounted prices. We're talking all the best brands — Justin, Ariat, Tony Lama, and more — at prices that will make it difficult not to walk away with a half-dozen pairs. Located on the northeast corner of Scottsdale and Curry roads, the shop may not be the fanciest place to do your shopping, but if you're looking for that perfect boot to round out your collection, then it's worth digging through Cowtown's shelves in search of a gem.

Like it or not, the athleisure trend is only getting warmed up. And luckily for Valley dwellers looking to get in on the action, Scottsdale Waterfront shop High Point has been in on the kicks game for a while now. A veritable sneakerhead's paradise, the boutique shoe store stocks men's and women's footwear, ranging from old-school canvas lace-up Vans to retro low-top Jordans, perforated New Balance 696s, and Pumas so pretty they'll make you wanna cry. No sneaks are complete without some coordinating casual wear, which is why High Point also carries clothing, hats, and accessories from brands including Herschel, Acapulco Gold, and Stussy.

Sure, running can be a low-maintenance sport, but any real enthusiast knows a good pair of shoes makes all the difference, and for that, you'll want to jog on over to Runner's Den. Since 1978, this north Phoenix boutique has been the go-to place for runners, racers, and athletes of all types who know you can't do much without the right equipment. The shop's knowledgeable staff will happily help you find the perfect pair of shoes for any type of training, plus all the additional swag you need to get yourself from point A to point B. From training essentials like hydration belts and the newest Garmin watch to race-day needs like gels, sweat-wicking shirts, and the perfect socks, Runner's Den has what you knew you needed and some stuff you probably didn't. Plus, the shop's a hub for the local running community, offering group runs, training groups, injury clinics, and even discounts for coaches.

Slippery Pig Bike Shop

Someone stole the front wheel off our Down Hill hardtail. So, it sat in the garage for a couple of years. By the time we got around to getting that wheel replaced, our poor old (new) bicycle needed a full service before it was going to be street-ready again. We took it straight to the Slippery Pig, a place we knew was home to expert riders and obsessively tidy mechanics that get all turned on by bikes. It's where we bought our last two bikes, and we remember how the salespeople there were more interested in fitting us with the right bike than they were with selling us more than we needed. Because these guys don't sell anything they wouldn't ride themselves, we knew we'd be getting top-of-the-line stuff: road, hybrid, fixie, mountain bikes, street bikes, racers, and bikes for kids, too. We knew we could always bring our bike back to be lovingly serviced by the same caring hands that sold it to us. With more than 15 years of matching bikes with riders both novice and expert, the guys at Slippery Pig get our vote.

People love their bikes in Tempe, and the Bike Saviours Co-op is a great example of this. Located across Roosevelt Street from Boulders on Broadway in Tempe, Bike Saviours is a public, nonprofit, volunteer-run bicycle education center available to teach cyclists and the community bike repair, maintenance, and safety. Backed with the tagline "We Save Your Bike," your confidence in these people should be soaring. The co-op offers services like Fix-Your-Bike, Build-a-Bike, volunteer training, and a Women's Workshop, and provides donated parts and tools, an array of repair manuals, periodicals, books, videos, and Park brand truing stands at 10 workstations. Use of the Bike Saviours shop will cost $4 an hour, capped at $12 a day, with options to work or trade for shop time as well. Bike Saviours also hosts special events, including Bike Parts Art Nights.

Changing Hands Bookstore

It must be disonancia cognitiva. Right around the time we quietly landed on our theme for this year's Best of Phoenix issue — Border Town — we began to notice that Changing Hands Bookstore was sponsoring Spanish-language events, including a story hour for kids. That's just how it seems to go with Changing Hands — it's like the staff can read our minds and know what we want, like a second indie bookstore in Phoenix, with a wonderful bar with killer coffee, a great wine and beer selection and good snacks, and expanded programming, including workshops. They even knew that in the middle of all the changes with the arrival of the Phoenix store, we didn't want a single thing about the Tempe location to change — and it hasn't, not to our eyes, anyway.

No matter what language you say it in, Changing Hands remains our city's bespectacled, nerdy-in-a-hip-way, always-generous BFF. Let's keep it that way. Buy local.

This tiny outpost on Mill Avenue is easy to miss, but it's also well worth a visit for any bibliophile. Just make sure you set aside a nice chunk of time, since it's all too easy to get lost among the store's somewhat messy stacks of previously loved reads. Old Town's appearance can be overwhelming, but perseverance pays off as you can find everything from affordable paperback copies of classics you've been meaning to revisit to hardback vintage editions that will leave the avid reader in your life swooning. The shop's hours are flexible — as in, you may find the owners have "gone reading" even during posted business hours — but that, along with the resident bookstore cat, only adds to the small-town charm of this book lover's paradise.

Arizona State Fairgrounds

Some people have the Super Bowl. Others have Coachella. But for the literary junkies of the Southwest, there's the VNSA Book Sale. Short for Volunteer Nonprofit Service Association, the annual VNSA Book Sale is a treasure trove of gently used paperbacks, rare and unusual hardcovers, and the occasional audio-visual item, all organized neatly inside a warehouse at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. With only two days to shop and roughly a half-million books up for grabs, the February event sees its fair share of customers who not only camp out in line but carry their own suitcases for shopping. Better mark your calendar and set your alarm, because the book lovers who attend this sale mean business.

Ash Avenue Comics & Books

With comic book heroes headlining so many summer blockbusters, the market for superhero stories has never been bigger. But one of the best things about Ash Avenue Comics & Books in Tempe is that while the staff stocks and totally gets down on whatever Superman, Batman, Captain America, Wonder Woman, and Deadpool are up to, their knowledge extends to a wide variety of comics outside of the Big Two publishers, from creator-owned independent books and science fiction to horror and autobiographical alt-comics. Community-minded, Ash Avenue also hosts readings like the Untidy Secrets storytelling series and monthly book-club readings, where books like Neil Gaiman's Sandman can be digested and discussed.

Mesa has blossomed into an arts destination these past few years, with music festivals and new venues popping up to complement the city's thriving art scene. And then there's Asylum Records, the best record store in the Valley. The store has a surprisingly well-stocked collection of classic rock records, and its metal collection is pretty terrific, too. Browse through the funk and soul records and you'll find the classics, from Funkadelic to Etta James. If the selection isn't enough for you, this is also the only record store in the Valley we know of that has a store cat welcoming visitors and bugging the friendly ones for head scratches.

Best Of Phoenix®

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