Best Of :: Goods & Services
By Robrt L. Pela
“A lot of the businesses I frequent are pretty much within throwing distance of my store,” says Frances Boutique owner Georganne Bryant. She loves Fàme Caffe, for instance, just up Central Avenue. “The service there is very professional, straight out of old-school cafes. I have never ordered anything there that I didn’t love. I’ve really gotten to know the owners, Maria and Yvonne, and they even named a menu item after me!”
When she does venture farther from home, Bryant loves the Bookman’s on 19th and Northern avenues. “This goes back to when I was a kid in Tucson,” she explains. “My dad would take me there. It’s so nice to go into a clean, well-curated, well-organized store of that size.” She loves how community-oriented the owner and staff are, and how much fun it is to buy used magazines at Bookman’s. “Where else can you do that?” she wonders.
- Bookman’s (8034 North 19th Avenue, 602-433-0255, bookmans.com) is such a hidden gem. I buy old Arizona Highways there for pennies, and it’s such a well-merchandized store.
- I just bought a turntable at Stinkweeds (12 West Camelback Road, 602-248-9461). It’s great to be buying record albums again!
- Fàme Caffe (4700 North Central Avenue, 602-314-4660, famephx.com) is great for breakfast meetings. And you can order a Georganne’s Negroni there!
- I love the family-owned feeling of Whitfill Nursery (824 East Glendale Avenue, 602-944-8479), especially around the holidays.
- Rainbow Donuts (1347 East McDowell Road, 602-256-7404) are the best. I’ve eaten doughnuts all around the country, and so far, these are the tastiest I’ve had.
There was a time when we enjoyed the hubbub at larger malls like Scottsdale Fashion Square and Arizona Mills. But these days, when we're looking for a shopping experience that doesn't want to make us reach for some Xanax, there's only one place we even consider: Biltmore Fashion Park. We can take care of most essentials at stores including Macy's, J. Crew, lululemon, and Sephora, while gift-giving can be knocked out in one trip thanks to stops including Papyrus, L'Occitane, and Cornelia Park. Even strolling down the verdant outdoor pathways past teacup poodles and their owners sipping specialty coffee has a kind of calming appeal. It's true that you might spend a little more, because this mall caters to the high-end shopper, but can you really put a price on maintaining your sanity?
Stepping into Frances is always a cause for excitement. What new merchandise will we find? Is today the day we treat ourselves to that trinket we've had our eye on? Frances, which was founded by Georganne Bryant in 2006, is a well-curated shop filled with delights for everyone. We come for Rifle Paper Co. paper goods, jewelry from local makers, candles by Standard Wax, shirts by Hello Apparel, the sweetest baby gifts in town, and cactus-themed everything (glasses, necklaces, lunch bags, socks — you name it). Every time we stop in the store, there are new sights to behold, and it takes plenty of willpower not to take it all home with us.
Nestled in the heart of the Roosevelt Arts District, this tastefully organized boutique is always shopping for the best in '40s couture and the most marvelous '60s department-store knockoffs — and so are we, so we love them. Do they also have the largest collection of vintage menswear in the state? They do — and that's pretty rare for any shop selling old clothes. Environmentally conscious clothing fans who embrace repurposing love this place, as does anyone who thinks off-the-rack A-lines made of nubby Kinekelon just look better than stuff made this year. More than 2,000 square feet of wearable art — missy casuals and suit-and-tie menswear from the 1920s to the 1980s — share space with an ever-revolving selection of hats, gloves, handbags, and bow ties. We've bought and sold here, and are never not amazed at how pristine the stock is, and how friendly the staff, too.
On February 14, 1912, Arizona was admitted to the Union. It's a good thing that New Mexico beat us to statehood by 37 days, because State Forty Seven just doesn't roll off the tongue the same way. Around since 2013, State Forty Eight produces merch that features the company name artfully placed within an image of our beloved Arizona, all in a variety of color schemes. There are shirts and accessories for men, women, and children to choose from. Wearing a State Forty Eight shirt around town is a great way to show your Arizona pride and your support of local business in one stylish fell swoop.
We feel cool just walking into Phoenix General. The clothing and accessories shop at The Colony retail and dining complex is stocked with simple, chic pieces like flowy linen Sunday dresses and tops, Ozma jackets and skirts, and ace&jig jumpers. We also love the Phoenix General-branded options, which include simple tees for men and women, and unique accessories like jewelry, shoes, and bags. Phoenix General even carries a few things for the home, goodies like Boy Smells candles and art prints by local stars the Fortoul Brothers. The staff makes you feel welcome without being overbearing, allowing us to roam the small space at our leisure to find our next great acquisition.
It's a problem shared by many: top-of-the-line taste on a bargain budget. Until that winning the lottery thing pans out, you can still look like a million bucks by shopping at Poor Little Rich Girl. The small store is always well-stocked with gently used clothing and accessories from popular labels, as well as a selection of new goods, including some by local makers. You can bring in your own things to sell, too, to make room in your closet for the treasures you find. The hottest items at PLRG go fast; we recommend following the store on Instagram (@poorlittlerichgirlboutique) and turning on your notifications to get up-to-the-minute info on the latest merchandise.
We've considered talking to our therapist about the horribly unfashionable glasses we were forced to wear as children, but we decided a far better way to heal is simply to move past our former eyewear traumas by donning specs from Framed Ewe. The shop at The Colony retail concept (and its smaller sister at Biltmore Fashion Park) carries the latest and most stylish eyewear looks in both eyeglasses and sunglasses; labels include Thom Browne, Salt, Moscot, Retro Super Future, and Garrett Leight. The employees are friendly and helpful, and the Colony location has an optometrist on staff, so you can get right down to the business of upping your glasses game.
It can be hard to remember — amid the lush golf courses, sprawling office complexes, glittering swimming pools, and air-conditioned shopping malls — that metro Phoenix used to be the Wild West. But that legacy is still evident at Saba's, a local chain of Western stores. The first one opened in 1927, when customers still rode horses to the store, according to the website. Today, horses are no longer the dominant form of transportation, but Saba's is still our top pick for Western gear. The cowboy boot selection for men, women, and children is extensive; whatever your budget, Saba's has the footwear for you. The service is invariably warm and friendly, and since Saba's is a longtime supporter of the local rodeo community, it's the least we can do to support them right back.
Running might be a solo sport, but the folks at Sole Sport Running Zone in Tempe make you feel like you've got a whole team watching your back. Co-owners Lance and Karen are actively involved in making this store a hub for the east Valley running community, and their staff have always been able to answer any question we can think to ask. In addition to stocking all the essentials — the latest shoes, the cushiest socks, and the coolest swag — Sole Sports hosts free group runs three times a week throughout the year, as well as monthly post-run socials.
Our childhood photos look like a vintage edition of What Not to Wear. Which is why we wish we had grown up in the era of Baby Teith, a local company that makes and sells hip, often music-themed clothes for babies and children. Onesies that say things like "Toy Division" and "Cure Hair Don't Care" will be the hit of your rocker friends' baby showers. We also the love the iridescent skater dresses and "Rock 'n' Roll Preschool" shirts. We can't go back in time and make our parents dress us better, but with Baby Teith, we can ensure the next generation is a little cooler.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that children outgrow clothing practically as fast as their parents can buy it, a situation that can lead to a lot of wasted cash over 18 years. But you can save yourself some frustration (and some cash) by buying and selling gently used clothing for babies through teenagers at Love Child. Don't come in when you're in a hurry; it takes time to look at all the great pieces on the racks. But with a little patience, you'll probably find just what you're looking for, and at a fraction of the retail price. Love Child doesn't just offer clothing, either; you can also find books, toys, and maternity clothes at low prices.
We don't know what's harder — trying to decipher the ingredient list on the food at the grocery store or the beauty products at the drugstore. We're still in trouble at the supermarket, but we solved one of those problems by shopping at Citrine, an independent natural makeup and skincare store located in Biltmore Fashion Park. Citrine carries merchandise by high-end companies like Jane Iredale, Lotus Wei, The Beauty Chef, May Lindstrom, and Tata Harper. The company also provides services like color matching, skin analysis, and makeup application. The knowledgeable staff at the bright, cheerful store always are willing to help us pick the products that will work best for our skin, and our selfies are the better for it.