Best Of :: Goods & Services
Printing Anything She Wants
by Robrt L. Pela
Nancy Hill of Hazel & Violet
Thirteen years ago, Nancy Hill and a friend of hers decided they needed a little tabletop press. “We liked typography and paper,” says the owner of Grand Avenue letterpress shop Hazel & Violet, “and we thought it would be fun.”
Hill headed to Craigslist in search of that tabletop press and found something more. “A guy in Apache Junction was selling his entire print shop,” she recalls. “We bought it. We started Hazel & Violet in my friend’s garage. She moved on, and I moved downtown in 2002 and was in several locations before landing on Grand Avenue.”
It wasn’t long, Hill says, before she realized that letterpress — a traditional form of printing that involves pressing metal or wood type plates into cotton paper — was a perfect fit for her. “I get to work with machinery and tools, everything has a place it belongs, and I can print anything I want.”
Five Secrets to Doing Great Letterpress
By Nancy Hill
- Take your time. Hand-draw your project first.
- Measure everything. Twice!
- Learn how to read backward and upside down. You must, when you’re setting type.
- Before you print, have someone else check your spelling.
- Learn the job case. Don’t know what that is? Come down to Hazel & Violet, and I’ll tell you.
Let's clear the air. Yes, we realize that Red Star Vapor is a chain, and a sizable one at that (there are 23 locations just in the Valley alone). But it's a locally owned, locally grown enterprise that got its start here in Phoenix within the last five years and has since spread across four states like an enormous plume being exhaled by a hardcore vapehead. It's also hard to ignore the sheer convenience of having a Red Star within relatively close proximity, each of which is staffed by knowledgeable and affable employees and stocked with a wide variety of juice and nic salt, most of it economically priced. Red Star also sells CBD now, and has enough mods, coils, tanks, pods, and batteries to keep you happily vaping and away from cigarettes forever. So the next time a nic fit hits, ditch the Juul and make a vape escape to your closest Red Star.
Sometimes you feel fancy, but other times casual is the way to go. Frances has a fun assortment of clothing and accessories along that spectrum, with a focus on urban chic that doesn't feel too overworked or fussy. It's the go-to place for eclectic handbags, shoes, and earrings. Check out kitchen and home accessories with a touch of humor or charm, and affordable novelty gift items from vintage-style motel keys to candles wrapped in images of your favorite pop culture icons. Even babies get the fun goods at Frances, from cotton clothes to plush toys with a handcrafted vibe. The service is supreme, and they'll cheerfully wrap your gifts before you head out the door.
For years, Michelle Sasonov has been rocking her own unique fashion sense, blending dark, rock, and glam elements to glorious effect. And people have been asking Sasonov, who also goes by Mello Jello, where she finds her fabulous ensembles. Sometimes it's local shops; other times it's trips abroad. In every case, she picks distinctive individual pieces, then curates them into outfits that have a certain sizzle you just can't find out there in mainstream mall world. Her Eternal Noir boutique on the Melrose Curve gives people a place to create their own amazing combinations without having to hunt for stylish offbeat options all over town. On any given day, you might find a pair of thigh-high suede boots, a bohemian fringe bag, or a cherry red bodysuit with plunging neckline. Jewelry, accessories, and art by local talents round out the offerings, making this the best new boutique in town.
Whatever era you're seeking to imitate, you can find it among the racks of Antique Sugar. The well-kept store is fairly large and has a huge selection of vintage clothing for men and women, including snazzy shoes, bold accessories, colorful jumpsuits, Western shirts, and stunning dresses. The prices are great, especially considering that many of the finds are one of a kind. Vintage Sugar is constantly updating its inventory, and it's super-easy to browse the latest merchandise via stories on Instagram. Whoever does the work of seeking out new pieces to add to Vintage Sugar's collection has a keen eye for timeless, striking clothing that both wholly embodies the culture at the moment in time it was plucked from, and still looks beautiful when worn today.
We love a company that makes us look stylish and feel altruistic at the same time, which is why we keep adding Keep Nature Wild items to our closet. The Mesa company, which has been around since 2016, sells men's, women's, and kids' tops as well as accessories. The merchandise promotes an outdoorsy lifestyle and respect for the environment; shirts with slogans like "I'd Hike That," "Stand for What You Stand on," and "The Desert Is Calling and I Must Go" are cool, comfortable, and durable. Moreover, the company picks up one pound of trash for every product sold through community cleanup events; if you'd like to join in, check the schedule on the website.
Shopping for clothes never feels like a chore at Phoenix General, where co-owners Kenny Barrett and Joshua Hahn take pride in creating a "desert modern" aesthetic that flows throughout the space. The merchandising is meticulous, which makes shopping for clothes feel like an artistic experience, informed by the pair's amazing grasp of line, color, pattern, and texture. Phoenix General has everything from "Generic Queer" T-shirts to clothing bearing designs by the Fortoul Brothers. The shop also shares a small art space called Shortcut Gallery with the adjacent Framed Ewe store, where you often can enjoy works by local artists while you shop. Their fashion accessories include jewelry by such Phoenix artists as Carrie Marill, and they carry fun home decor and gift items, too. It's hard to leave Phoenix General without something that truly makes your heart sing.
What used to be nerdy is ever so nice, now that fashion eyeglasses have become all the rage. They're the single most important accessory for easily changing up your look, which means you should really be paying more attention to all your options. In a day and age when you can easily order sample eyeglass frames online, Framed Ewe gives you a reason to actually pop into a store and explore. They're totally cool with people trying on oodles of frames, and ever-helpful instead of pushy. Framed Ewe carries brands you won't find elsewhere, and they're experts at helping people find frames that make just the right match — in terms of eye prescription and personality. Turns out, you can be nerdy and glamorous at the same time.
If you've lived in the Valley for any length of time, you'll probably have London Gold's jingle in your head by the time you're done reading this. (Sorry.) London Gold is a family-owned and -operated local chain that's been in metro Phoenix for more than four decades. We like shopping there because we receive excellent customer service no matter what we're looking for or what our budget is. The knowledgeable staff takes its time to show us what we're interested in from the huge selection of stock that includes everything from silver charms to elaborate estate treasures. And if online shopping is more your style, you can buy thousands of items off the easy-to-navigate website. It seems as though London Gold really is the best.
If you want to look like an extremely stylish rich person without actually breaking the bank, look no further than Poor Little Rich Girl. The resale store has an extensive collection of gently used clothing, accessories, and shoes, as well as brand-new jewelry and home goods, like sassy tea towels and dream catchers, made by local artists. Poor Little Rich Girl is full of hidden treasures and a great place to find anything your wardrobe might need, whether you're looking for something vintage and cool or something classy and work-appropriate. Where else can you pick up a gold Michael Kors clutch for $36, or a bedazzled Kate Spade wallet for $28? Finding what you're looking for is made extremely easy given the store's excellent layout, with all clothes organized by color, size, and type (shirts, pants, dresses, etc.). You can also bring in your own things to sell at the store, and you can browse Poor Little Rich Girl's well-curated Instagram and reserve a piece online.
There's no competition when it comes to the quality and quantity of the rare, hotly sought-after streetwear available at Wang's Closet in Tempe. With a constant inflow of eccentric and rare designer items — from sneakers and belts, to duffels, T-shirts, and jackets — this shop is the stop whether you're an unwitting hypebeast or serious streetwear collector. The innards of its brick-and-mortar space are replete with shelves, racks, hooks, and hangers, all presenting items of pristine quality. The world of streetwear is synonymous with sneakers — of which Wang's has no shortage — but beyond the impressive shoe selection, there is also a stunning amount of vintage T-shirts, many from past tours of popular bands and rappers. At Wang's Closet, there are no knockoffs, no substitutions, and no questions about the legitimacy of its collection.
It is such a struggle for men to dress well in Phoenix. We're thousands of miles away from the nation's fashion epicenters, and the extreme summer heat discourages any kind of layering that's essential for a well-put-together fit. Well Suited, the male-focused affiliate of well-known consignment shop My Sister's Closet, is doing its best to help Valley guys get out of the fashion doldrums, providing access to well-kept designer duds at surprisingly decent prices. Brands like Rag & Bone, Hugo Boss, and Gucci make appearances in store and on the website, and the shop's resale policy makes it easy to get rid of the clothes sitting in your closet.
Between growth spurts and blowouts, young ones can go through clothes fast. Baby Bloomers Consignment Shop can ease the pain you feel when you take out your wallet to replace that T-shirt or onesie. If you're on a budget, this little shop in uptown Phoenix has a wide variety of fashions that will keep your kid looking cute. Be sure to dive into the bargain bin full of hidden treasures. But the inventory isn't limited to threads for your toddler. Are you missing some Legos or train tracks? Find them along with an assortment of toys, movies, cribs, and other equipment that will keep your spawn smiling.