Best Of :: Goods & Services
In the Company of Strangers
In 2014, life was falling apart.
“My job’s being eliminated, my daughter moved out, and my dog died, all in the past month,” I told Jackie at my first-ever acupuncture appointment. Tears dribbled from my eyes.
Since 1974, Changing Hands has been synonymous with Phoenix's book culture. Currently operating two shops, one in Tempe, the other in central Phoenix just off the light rail, Changing Hands has more going for it than the best and most diverse selection of literature in Phoenix (though it certainly has that). What truly sets the shops apart from other book nooks is a dedication to community. Whether hosting family workshops, book club discussions, or lively author Q&As and signings, Changing Hands makes it clear that people who read together grow together, and Phoenix is better for that commitment and inquisitive spirit.
Rubymint General Store is a stylish, interesting, and (most important) affordable boutique. Though you won't be able to grab some fresh produce or cough syrup at this general store, you certainly will be able to stock up on your new favorite style staples. Locally made, desert-centric jewelry, flavorful cocktail mixers and unique vessels to serve them in, and bow ties for Fido await.
Frances has been a shopping beacon in the Medlock Plaza since 2006. Carefully curated by boutique owner Georganne Bryant, the small shop carries selections from major fashion brands like hippie-chic Free People, sparkly accessories and doodads by bando, and stationery crafted by floral favorite Rifle Paper Co. Such must-haves are counterbalanced with locally sourced shirts from Hello Apparel, jewelry from The Shine Project, and more cactus-adorned home decor than your kitsch-filled home could possibly handle. The CenPho store's still a destination, of course. But these days, so much retail has popped up at the intersection of Camelback Road and Central Avenue that it's all too easy to make a day of shopping the block. Sorry not sorry, bank account.
Made Art Boutique
From folk punk singer to Kardashian-employed fashion retailer, Dakota Jeane Hilton's run the style gamut. She sang in politically charged (and well-dressed) Tempe band Dakota & the Black River Bandit in the early aughts, cut her teeth working for brands like Nicole Miller, and served as director of retail for the Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney-owned DASH store in West Hollywood. Lucky for Phoenix vintage lovers, Hilton (nee DiSanto) brought her years of experience back to Phoenix in 2016 and opened a brick-and-mortar location of Frockify, a previously online-only boutique she co-founded with her husband, Michael. You can still shop the store online, but we recommend checking out its Melrose Curve outpost, which stocks must-have band tees from Heart and Queen, turquoise jewelry, and assorted home goods.
Small wonder that Robert Black, the former head of a modeling agency, would have stellar taste in fashion. Black and Doreen Picerne are the dynamic duo behind Fashion by Robert Black, downtown Scottsdale's longstanding vintage go-to. Located in a 1950 building that was home to the White Hogan Navajo jewelry shop, Black and Picerne's 2,500-square-foot store marks another chapter in Arizona fashion. Shoppers can expect high-end labels like Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, and Bob Mackie alongside such Southwest throwback staples as Harwood Steiger prints and Leona Caldwell patio dresses. In search of a totally luxe statement piece? Look no further.
Wanna make a fashionista's jaw drop? Direct her to Black Cat Vintage, the online boutique run by Claudine Villardito. She's collected rare, odd, and beautiful items for decades, and they're available for purchase — as well as ogling. Shoppers are encouraged to think of the digital shop as "a fashion museum where all the exhibits may be purchased." The pieces you'll find here are spectacular, and they're also very expensive. Makes sense, considering that stock includes '70s Halston safari separates, Oleg Cassini gowns, and a Schiaparelli straw hat. For a more budget-friendly take on high-quality vintage, Black Cat has Mrs. Robinson's Affairs, a boutique-within-a-boutique of women's clothing and menswear better suited to daily life. Oh, and should you want to see the goods in person (and, you know, try things on), Black Cat does host a pop-up shop with limited weekend hours.
If you needed to build your wardrobe from the ground up, with everything from athletic wear and going-out shoes to work clothes and party attire, we'd point you in the direction of one shop: Poor Little Rich Girl. Come to think of it, we'd also recommend the shop if you were on the hunt for a new bag and didn't have something particular in mind. And, honestly, if we take the time to consider it, it's tough to think of an occasion when we wouldn't recommend the resale spot. Okay, so you probably won't find a bridal gown there. But you could easily find options for all the weddings on your agenda. That's the beauty of this place. You'll find cute Kate Spade sunnies, barely worn Rag and Bone jeans, and a Valentino purse — all for totally different outfits, all under one roof.
Don't you just hate it when you need some fast cash and you have to sell your Rolexes? Yeah, that doesn't happen to us, either. But when the 1 percent find themselves in need of a little extra scratch, they take their worldly goods to Biltmore Loan and Jewelry, a very, very high-end pawn shop in Scottsdale. The merchandise changes often, but a quick perusal of the elegant interior can reveal treasures like art and antiques, fine jewelry, luxury watches, and yes, even a coveted Hermes Birkin bag; when the store opened about a year ago, the jewel in its crown was a custom-order Crocodile Himalayan Birkin, purchased from a customer in Chandler and priced at a cool $185,000. But there are plenty of great finds at lower price points, and service is courteous and attentive whether you're buying or selling.
Six years in, Sweet Salvage is widely considered the gold standard of vintage sales, a curated collection of other people's trash waiting to be your treasure — but only for four days a month, always on the third weekend. It's a formula that's worked incredibly well for the organizers of Sweet Salvage, which has relocated and expanded and still appears ready to burst its buttons in a good way, with adjacent warehouses and a yard. From perfect vintage cowboy boots to mint-condition velvet tufted couches, we never find what we came for, but always leave with what we didn't know we needed. And now can't live without.
Oh, the joys of home ownership, a never-ending cycle of repair, remodel, repeat. Lucky for you, there's Stardust Building Supplies, one of the better-kept secrets of frugal home flippers and historic-home pickers alike. Admittedly, the local home improvement store — with three locations in Mesa, Glendale, and Phoenix — relies on donated materials, so finding that special something is hit or miss. Some weeks, there's nothing but discarded cabinetry and kitchen appliances. Other times, you might stumble upon the salvaged deco hardware of a downtown office building. Your best bet is to be patient as you peruse aisle after aisle of preowned windows, washers, and everything in between. Because for those who are willing to put in the time, Stardust can really deliver.
When dumpster diving doesn't sound ideal and cover charges for vintage markets seem absurd, there's one place yesteryear enthusiasts can always turn: the antique mall. With locations in Phoenix and Goodyear, the Brass Armadillo is Arizona's seven-day-a-week solution to sought-after knickknacks, collectibles, and, you guessed it, brass. Each behemoth store is a labyrinth of long-lost '50s Pyrex, Victorian dolls, and the occasional vintage ambulance gurney — all organized neatly by more than 600 dealers. Like any successful antique shopping expedition, a trip through the Brass Armadillo takes patience, a keen eye, and, more often than not, a shopping cart to carry everything you didn't know you needed.
Brass armadillo antique mall
Since 1961, Scottsdale Fashion Square has been steadily building a retail empire, evolving over time from a two-anchor-store destination to a nearly 2-million-square-foot shopping oasis. Despite three stories of retail and restaurant space, a newly remodeled theater, and claiming the title of being the largest shopping mall in the Southwest, developers of the high-end hub are showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, just next year, they plan on debuting The Luxury Collection, an upscale annex complete with personal shoppers, style consultants, designer stores, runway shows, and VIP concierge services. A little much? Sure. But in the era of abandoned malls and Amazon Prime, we can't help but be in awe of Fashion Square's success.
scottsdale fashion square