Best Running Store 2018 | Sole Sports Running Zone | Goods & Services | Phoenix

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.

We wish that spa days were regular occurrences for us, but alas, they definitely fall in the "treat yo self" category. So when we finally do get to indulge in some luxurious self-care, we make it count by checking into the Well & Being Spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. There are a number of treatments inspired by Native American healing, like the Havasupai Falls Rejuvenation body scrub and wrap, as well as Himalayan salt stone massages, deep cleansing facials, and plenty of salon services to choose from. There's also a menu of treatments and services for men (not that we believe in gendering such things), because guys deserve pampering, too. And when you're done with your treatment, feel free to while away the day exploring Well & Being's other amenities, like the rooftop pool, steam room, sauna, and exercise classes.

Want to get into the electronic dance music scene? The good news is that tons of club nights, festivals, and raves happen in the Valley on the regular, each serving up all the beats and bass you can handle. And for everything else you might need for the EDM experience, head to The Flow Shop in Tempe. This ultra-vibrant boutique tucked away in the quaint Mill Avenue Shops offers more rager-friendly accessories than you can shake a glow staff at (and they've got plenty of those, too). Proprietors Nathan Machutta (a.k.a. Nathan Firelight) and "Devil Stix" Dave Hirshman stock many items of interest to any kandi kid or EDM fan, ranging from kaleidoscope goggles and LED gloves to fashion that's furry, flashy, and flamboyant. The shop's namesake and focus, however, are the "flow arts," or the practice of moving and swinging items like hula-hoops, juggling props, or stringed objects in rhythmic fashion, typically in time to music. As such, there are all manner of fans, clubs, sticks, staffs, and poi available for purchase, many of which can be illuminated with LEDs or fire. The shop even offers free lessons for those who'd like to know how to go with the flow. And if you can't make it down to Mill, the Open Mind Emporium at Scottsdale Fashion Square features a healthy selection of some of the Flow Shop's best and most popular items, not to mention plenty of PLUR.

The love of playing dress-up doesn't go away when you grow up — not for us, anyway. Mardi Gras in Scottsdale, which has been around since 1974, is where we like to let our imaginations run wild. The store has virtually everything you need to be a hit on Halloween or any other dress-up occasion. Costumes, wigs, hats, accessories, makeup — it's all there. The store rents costumes as well as selling them, in case you don't feel like committing to that Jack Sparrow ensemble. The staff is helpful if you have questions; otherwise, feel free to just roam the aisles and imagine all the fun you could have.

It's probably a good thing that there are only a handful of Phoenix Flea events each year; otherwise, we'd be broke. There's just too much good stuff at each curated outdoor market event — stylish, interesting, beautiful goods from carefully selected vendors both local and national. We get a lot of our gift-shopping done at Phoenix Flea events, because there's pretty much something for everyone. (And we buy plenty of stuff for ourselves.) Add in food trucks, cool locations (past editions have been held at Heritage Square Park and The Colony), and a great community spirit, and it all makes each Phoenix Flea event a must-do.

We're constantly impressed by the creativity and artistry of our local makers. Case in point: Krista Coons of Her Name is Mud. In Coons' Etsy shop, you'll find ceramic pieces that are simple without being boring, whimsical without being corny. The items make great gifts: We've given the plant pokes (bamboo sticks topped with porcelain banners emblazoned with sayings like "Plant Lady" and "Don't You Die on Me") to our green-thumbed friends, and sent the Arizona-shaped Christmas ornaments to out-of-town relatives. We kept for ourselves the delicate ring cones, the porcelain stud earrings dipped in gold, and pins in a variety of motifs.

How happy are we that enamel pins are a thing again? About as happy as we are that some of our favorites are made right here in Phoenix. Owner/maker Brendan McCaskey loves a lot of the same things we do — like the desert aesthetic and pop culture of the '80s and '90s — and his pins reflect that. Our pin board is graced with designs like "I carried a watermelon" Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing, a retro-style Arizona pennant, and a pin signifying our Harry Potter house (it's Ravenclaw, in case you were wondering). We love to check out Jar of Buttons items at local shops and markets to look for the next great addition to our collection.

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