When the weather's nice, a visit to Southern Avenue between 24th and 40th streets is a delightful trek. The area — we like to call it Agro Row — is full of nurseries and garden centers, many of which are family-run and open to the public. One of them is Plant Stand of Arizona. This 15-acre plant vendor has four greenhouses, lots of annual color and perennials, a wide array of cactus and aloe, and tons of imported pottery. Like, tons of pottery. It also offers exotic plants, shipping services, and The Little House Boutique with home-decor items like candles and antiques. Originating at the Orange County Swap Meet in 1981 in California, the Plant Stand of Arizona is owned and operated by the Smith family.

This place has all the usual stuff you want from a really good flower shop: a healthy selection of posies and roses; a friendly staff of talented designers; fair pricing on fresh flowers; and same-day delivery. But Camelback Flowershop goes us one better with its Friday afternoon Fresh Flower Happy Hour. The smart folks at this local fave florist offer half-price stems and arrangements every Friday afternoon. Got a weekend dinner party coming up? Is the boss coming for Friday night supper? Just want a nice pile of buds to trick out the entry hall? On Fridays, dash over to Camelback Flowershop and make a giant bouquet for half the price. While you're there, check out the array of unusual watering cans and vases for sale.

MADE Art Boutique

Gift cards are so impersonal. Next time you need a birthday present, holiday gift, token of appreciation, etc., go take a look inside MADE, where you'll definitely find something unique and thoughtful. Situated in a historic home on Roosevelt Row, MADE stocks a little something for everyone — art from local makers, cool T-shirts, unique ceramics and pottery, clever baby onesies, jewelry, chic journals and writing tools, plus greeting cards to put the finishing touch on any gift. We also make sure to take a gander at the flyer station near the entrance to find out about cool happenings around town.

Hey, remember paper? We used it to invite people to things, keep track of our thoughts, or express gratitude for a gift. The era of the invitation, journal, and thank-you card is still happening at Write-Ons, Etc., a cozy little stationery and gift shop in uptown Phoenix. Write-Ons carries a little bit of everything — there are cards for every occasion, loose paper in a variety of themes, and a fantastic selection of Crane & Co. stationery. There are also journals, party napkins, small gifts for all ages, and holiday merchandise. And if it's wedding invitations you're in the market for, Write-Ons has a separate service counter in the back to help you get ready for the big day.

When you want to be surrounded by tarot cards, candles, and crystals, this is the place to be. Filled with good vibes from curious customers and helpful, knowledgeable staff, the store has a wide assortment of books and classes to up your New Age IQ. Whether you're a novice or long-time seeker, you'll find tools for helping to channel your better self. The second-generation, family-run small business also carries plenty of unique gifts options, including jewelry, small home decor items, and bumper stickers for the friends who want to make sure everyone knows they're a druid, witch, or tolerant embracer of people who follow many different paths.

Heard Museum

For us, an essential part of the museum experience is the gift shop. Which is why we love going to the Heard Museum—they've got two. At the more casual Books & More shop, we love to peruse souvenirs like local foodstuffs, dream catchers, tote bags, fridge magnets, T-shirts,dolls, and yes, books for all ages. The official gift shop at the Heard is like an art gallery inside the museum; the store sells gorgeous and expertly crafted jewelry, baskets, rugs and other textiles, fetish carvings, kachina dolls, and folk art. Price points are not low, but you get what you pay for — and what you find at the Heard gift shop never fails to dazzle us.

We didn't know there could be a whole world made entirely of beads, but we're glad we found one, and now that we have, we plan never to leave. This super-clean, hyper-organized, just-opened jewelry-making haven is bursting with beads of every make and size, as well as stuff to string, and display, and organize your necklaces, bracelets, and toe rings. An upstairs make-and-take room is a great place to chat up other beaders, and the friendly staff is always nearby to offer low-pressure, kindhearted advice about what to make and how to make it. Seriously — why isn't every world made of beads?

We took up knitting when someone told us it was a good way to relax. We're not quite there yet (perhaps we have to be good at it to find it soothing), but we still love browsing the colorful shelves at Tempe Yarn and Fiber. You'll find everything you need to be a great knitter, crocheter, or what have you, from needles and patterns to seriously, so much yarn — yarn in every color, material, and texture. And if you're looking to take your skills up a notch (or several), Tempe Yarn and Fiber offers classes in knitting, crochet, spinning, and weaving for various skills levels and ages. We'll see you there.

Spotting a little wheeled bookshelf packed with used books on Mill Avenue can be a welcome change to the rowdy clubs and weirdly lit women's clothing shops. It means you've reached the entrance to Old Town Books — a classic Tempe bookstore around since the 1980s. It's a cash-only operation run by an incredibly friendly older couple, and is jammed with used books and periodicals from floor to ceiling. The shop is general-interest in nature, but has expansive sections in Arizona, Native American, and Old West history. Old Town also carries vintage, first edition, and out-of-print books, along with the more familiar used books you'd expect to see.

Changing Hands Bookstore

In the long-ago time, there were lots of bookstores dotting the Valley — mostly chains, but it was easy to find a place to pick up something to read. Even then, we still made our way to Changing Hands, an institution since 1974, because of the diverse selection of books and other merchandise; knowledgable, friendly staff; and the cool neighborhood vibe. Today, most of the chain stores are gone, but Changing Hands has stood the test of time (and with a second location to boot). From signings with prominent authors and a packed event calendar that includes workshops and children's activities, to the Phoenix location's hip First Draft Book Bar and an ongoing commitment to being a community-minded business, there is plenty to love about Changing Hands.

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