Wag N' Wash Healthy Pet Center

Leashes and chew toys and great freeze-dried liver. Doggy beds, snugglers, and organic gizzards. Grooming and trimming, just fit for a king. Wag n' Wash has your pup's favorite things. Scratchpads and tunnels and rich, grain-free kibble. Feathers and litter and catnip to nibble. Canned food so purrfect, your kitty will sing. Wag n' Wash has your cat's favorite things. Everyone's favorite healthy pet store has grown into an institution, with franchises nationwide, since its founding in Colorado 20 years ago. The Phoenix location, with its trademark neon green awning in the Melrose neighborhood, remains our pick in Arizona.

Growing things in our desert climate can be tough, but when we feel like taking on the challenge, we stock up on everything we need at a Whitfill Nursery location. There are options for apartment dwellers and others who have limited space, like single small cactuses and mini pots. But if you're landscaping a backyard, Whitfill's got you covered, too, with enormous trees, metal yard art, and giant pots in a spectrum of colors. The local chain also has fertilizer, hardware, pesticides, and seeds. We'll go there sometimes just for gardening inspiration and enjoyment; the shade-covered rows of fresh-smelling plant life act like an oasis in the desert.

Composting is both art and science, and it takes skill, patience, creativity, and yet more patience to discover that maybe it's not as easy to do at home as you thought. Thank goodness for Arizona Worm Farm, which sells just about anything you could want from the compost world: compost, worms, castings, worm bins, and mulch. Unlike many other sources of compost — good luck trying to figure out when or if cities like Tempe and Phoenix are randomly offering free compost — the Arizona Worm Farm has a permanent location with regular hours. It sells its own compost, as well as compost from the city of Phoenix, which provides essential nutrients to plants and flowers that can take the place of commercial, chemical fertilizers. The Worm Farm offers a variety of sizes — you don't have to buy in bulk unless you need to — negating the need for any future trips to Home Depot to get Miracle-Gro.

Camelback Flowershop has got it all. Not only can you get beautiful, artfully designed arrangements of fresh flowers, this florist curates a selection of high-end gifts and ready-made gift boxes featuring items like freshly baked cookies, signature candles, locally sourced honey, and letterpressed greeting cards. You can stop by for lessons on how to plant your own succulent garden or make a pit stop to the flower shop on a Friday afternoon for their Fresh Flower Happy Hour, when fresh flowers are half their usual price. The friendly staff will help you get the bouquet for any occasion, and they can even deliver it for you.

A houseplant by any other name is, well ... dead. It happens more than anybody likes to admit, because green thumbs aren't standard issue here in Arizona. Happily, Michael Lanier and Cory Bruckner are here for you. They have houseplants on the brain 24/7, and green thumbs galore. They're constantly finding eclectic plants from ordinary to exotic, so people who hit up their shop have a vast array of options. Their plant shop — part boutique and part curiosity shop — has a lush feel, but also exudes warmth and charm. It's filled with plants, fun planters, funky gifts, and oddities that make you want to linger. That's fine with them, because they're passionate about sharing their plant love and lore, plus practical tips for helping the plants you take home thrive. Go in for the plants, and stay for the conversation. What they're really growing here is community.

The soil options are organic, the tools are quaint, and the chimes are mystical at Southwest Gardener, an adorable mom-and-pop store for those who prefer to grow their own plants. Situated next to the central Phoenix location of Changing Hands, Southwest Gardener presents an ideal stop for book-buyers who also need a last-minute gift for their green-thumbed friends. Hobbyists and die-hards alike will find plenty to love among the store's modest but high-quality selection of seeds and soil. The accessories and decorations, meanwhile, are carefully curated for the gardener who envisions for his or her backyard not only cherry tomatoes, but a sanctuary for art and mindfulness.

Next time you have to buy a present, don't take the easy way out (read: gift cards). Buy something cool and thoughtful at UrbAna, a small boutique that's got something for everyone. Buy cookbooks for your mom, or skincare products for luxury-minded friends. There's a small selection of baby gifts, and marble coasters perfect to bring to a housewarming party. If all else fails, you can't go wrong buying someone a stack of Jcoco chocolate bars. But if you're the one having the party, the store carries a great selection of stylish disposable paper goods. Just tell your guests that if they plan to bring a gift, they should pick it out at UrbAna.

Before there was swiping and clicking, there was writing. It's a form of communication that's never lost its charm. Keyboards are all well and good, but sometimes it's nice to just whip out a piece of crisp, slightly textured paper and a beautiful pen. Write-Ons takes writing seriously, without taking itself too seriously. It's filled with fine writing papers for capturing or sharing all your ideas, emotions, and dreams. There are cards galore, a wall filled with rolls of stickers, journals, invitations, thank-you cards, and more of life's little niceties. You can buy pretty files to make your work life less drab, and small gifts like picture frames on days you need a quick little something for an office or neighborhood party. Stand inside long enough, and you might even get inspired to start sending real thank-you notes again, which can only up your classy factor with friends and family.

Blick has art supplies you didn't even know existed, and friendly people who can help you figure out how to use them. Strolling the aisles is like being in a giant candy store for art nerds, and everyone feels welcome here — from the art-curious to the art pro. It's a fun place to indulge your curiosity and poke around for new ways to express yourself. The paper selection alone is enough to get your heart racing. With materials ranging from watercolors and wood to soapstone and clay, it's a creative embarrassment of riches. Shop here for stress-busters like markers in exotic colors, and gifts for friends from journals to off-the-beaten-path coloring books. Bottom line: Blick does the trick.

Phoenix Art Museum

All the galleries could close down, and you'd still have an amazing time at Phoenix Art Museum, because the gift shop is like a giant emporium of art-inspired stuff, ranging from kitchen gadgets to office decor. If you can't find a unique gift here, the person you're shopping for is way too picky. At one end, it has purses, puzzles, and classy pens. At the other, there are collapsible flower vases and bookends shaped like Jeff Koons' balloon dog. In between, shop for delicate tea sets, artist-made jewelry, and novelty T-shirts with artsy sayings. It's a fabulous place to find unique books and toys, and there's a wide price range so it's easy to find both affordable and extravagant things. From savvy to silly, the museum store has a great selection, which means you look super-smart when it comes time to be the gift fairy.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of