Best Of :: Goods & Services
Something to Believe In
by Robrt L. Pela
In our stressful post-COVID universe, Zombi World Market has evolved into something more than a ceremonial magic supply store. In addition to selling incense, essential oils, and other necessities for occult, voodoo, and ceremonial high magic, owner Genevieve El-Masri finds herself lately offering spiritual comfort in the form of good old-fashioned reassurance.
"People are coming in freaked out because their conditions are changed," she says. "They want comfort, and they're hoping for a quick solution to all the horrible protests, the killings and violence against people of color, all on the heels of what's happening with COVID. I spend part of every day reassuring people that the crisis isn't all about bad juju and bad luck."
Hazel & Violet could easily be the moniker for an adorable pair of kittens, or a trendy fashion line. But over on Grand Avenue, it's the name of a letterpress that's long been a hub for First and Third Friday activity. Owner Nancy Hill welcomes the artsy crowds in a hands-on way that few businesses do, setting up letterpress printers where people can try their hand at small prints or coasters. Other times, people pop in to order wedding invitations, shop for text-based gifts, or take workshops that bring a dash more creativity to their lives. The shop prints personal as well as commercial stationery, business cards, broadsides, and more. We hit up the brick-and-mortar store (or Hazel & Violet's Etsy shop) when we're looking for minimalist or smart-aleck greeting cards, desert-themed art prints, or cool patterned stationery. Simply put, life is better with letterpress love.
Georgette Bryant named her charming boutique after her grandmother, and she treats everyone who shops there like family. The place is thoughtfully curated, organized into sections that reflect particular interests, from the great outdoors to life with a new baby. Some of our favorite items include candles with images of pop culture icons (Karamo from Queer Eye pictured as a saint), novelty keychains ("Just Trying to Be the Person My Dog Thinks I Am"), and vintage-inspired barware. It's a great place to take an out-of-towner for some cactus-themed goods that are more classy than kitschy — or to take yourself when you need a little retail therapy.
Ain't no paint pusher in town like Jimmy Nguyen, a.k.a. @buddhasnails on Instagram. Once you're in his studio, you'll see out-of-the-box examples of wild stiletto acrylics and matte coffin shapes embellished with embossed, hot pink Old English lettering, animal print, marbling, and even cartoon characters like Helga G. Pataki of Hey Arnold! fame. Nguyen started as a self-taught technician, but after years of posting his delicate yet bold work, he's become a well-known Valley nail artist with a major following. He went from the Amazon warehouse to the manicurist table at Stash House Az. But now, a new chapter is budding. Nguyen is behind a nail station at his own salon, Slain Studios. Nails are usually $70 a set, take about an hour, and the result is unreal. For COVID-19 reasons, the salon's opening was postponed in early 2020. But as of this summer, the shop started taking appointments, and soon will take walk-ins.
It's all about simple sophistication at Phoenix General. Kenny Barrett and Joshua Hahn are at the helm of the local chain, the success of which is a testament to their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. The flagship store in midtown sports a fabulous lineup of cotton clothing, including some featuring designs by local artists. We especially love seeing Carrie Marill's beaded jewelry, Sabrina Frank's tie-dye T-shirts, and Linda Cato's botanical prints when we pop in. It's the go-to place for comfortable but stylish threads — jumpsuits, short shorts, flannel shirts, and track jackets — for both men and women. Look for the same magnificent vibe in the newer Roosevelt Row location, where merchandising clothing rises to the level of artistic curation. Phoenix General staff are eager to help you to accessorize your look with hats, belts, bags, and more, so you're perfectly attired for casual office days or evening romps through the city's nightlife.
Finding poodle skirts and '40s A-lines and pink angora sweaters has never been a hassle around here: Most vintage clothing stores feature racks and racks of women's clothing. Few, though, offer much more than a passing glance at menswear. Not Time Bomb, a furniture-and-decor shop that not long ago began emphasizing old, off-the-rack clothing in mint condition. Last time we were in, we spent an hour trying on great guys' stuff from the '50s, '60s, and '70s: Pendleton knits and pristine disco shirts and enough double-knit textured polyester to choke a mule. Designer labels share rack space with department store favorites from Enro, Puritan, Milford, and Towncraft. The pair of wool plaid Boston baggies we bought still had the original tags on them! Owner Josh suggested accessorizing with some keen '70s sunglasses and a cool sharkskin blazer. He let us try it all on.
We still remember the first time we stepped into Antique Sugar and marveled that one small store could hold so much fabulousness. We're talking 1920s silk nighties. '60s ruffled Western blouses. '90s prom dresses. '70s jackets. Mink miniskirts mingle with Chinese robes mingle with Mad Men-style cocktail dresses. Vintage handbags, jewelry, and other accessories cluster near the walls of the store, and like the clothing, it's all in gorgeous condition. Walking around Antique Sugar inspires 1,000 sartorial fantasies and engenders newfound respect for the last century of fashion. A section of the store is devoted to menswear, which you ladies may be tempted to skip, but don't — there's a nice selection of vintage band T-shirts and high school varsity sweaters over there.
It's been nearly three decades since the chic resale shop My Sister's Closet opened in metro Phoenix. True to its name, the enterprise — which has since opened multiple locations in the Valley and California — is run by a pair of sisters with a flair for helping savvy customers find just the right item or outfit. It's a must-shop destination for women who love designer labels but refuse to pay top dollar. On any given day, you might find a little something from Chanel, Valentino, Prada, or True Religion capable of making you feel like a million bucks (or maybe several thousand bucks: still good!). Hundreds of items land at various locations every day, and the boutique prides itself on selling them for at least 65 percent off retail. And since the pandemic hit, the chain has sold designer face masks bearing the insignias of your favorite labels, a stylish way to stay safe in 2020.
Sure, you've been stuck in the house for months, but there's no rule that says you have to dress like a slob while social-distancing. Some of the freshest fits in town can be found at Trill, a hip-hop shop that's got a little bit of everything. You can pick up tops by Supreme, Anti Social Social Club, and Le Tigre while checking out Spray Ground backpacks, Good Dope pins, Kangol hats, and much more. There's a small women's section, but the gear at Trill is mostly for the fellas. While there, remember to hit up the small side room to check out the wall of music memorabilia, take a selfie in front of the vintage boombox wall, and shop for new and vintage hip-hop vinyl.
Your eyes won't know where to focus upon entering Shirts 'n' Things, a family-owned retail shop that is packed with, well, shirts and things. The "things" category includes pins, patches, stickers, tapestries, weird purses, and weirder shoes. But you're here for the shirts — specifically, the band shirts. An entire half of the store is wallpapered with the faces and logos of rock stars and rock bands, punk outfits, rap icons, reggae legends, and femmes fatales. At the counters, you'll likely meet husband-and-wife co-owners Larry and Deb Teiman, who opened the place in 1980 and sell gear from acts like At the Drive In, The Dead Milkmen, N.W.A., Wu-Tang Clan, and Frank Zappa. Those are just the bands we remember from last time we were there. There's much, much more: This place has 50,000 SKUs.
Before we stepped into Many Worlds, we'd never been in the presence of a pair of shoes that cost as much as a down payment on a car. The new sneaker boutique in midtown Phoenix has a mint pair of used Nike Air Yeezy 2 Solars — along with dozens of other, slightly less spendy kicks. The minimalist space is home only to a few racks of shoes from the likes of Nike, Adidas, and Converse, plus a small area devoted to Many World-brand T-shirts and shirts by Supreme. Lookie-loos are welcome, so even if high-end sneakers aren't in your budget or your feet are too small for anything in the store, the staff will greet you warmly. But if you decide to buy, know that the service doesn't end when you walk out the door; half of the space is taken up by Many Worlds' Reshoevn8r concept, which sells display cases and shoe-care products, and even offers shoe-cleaning to keep your purchase looking fresh.
Babies are expensive, period, but especially so if you want to keep them decked out in cool fashions and surrounded by engaging toys. At Baby Bloomers, you can pick up kids' duds on the cheap without feeling like you're settling for less. The store draws a steady stream of used clothing by beloved brands, still in good condition. It's the perfect place to grab outdoor toys, educational items, fancy clothes, and playtime gear. The selection changes often, which makes it easier to find treasures every time you visit. And when you're ready to let go of the children's items cluttering up your closet, you can take them to Baby Bloomers for a cheerful assessment of whether they're a good fit for the store, which carries maternity wear and clothing for kids from infants to size 16. When you want your kids to thrive without spending the big bucks, Baby Bloomers is there for you all the way.
Running hasn't had a moment this big since Forrest Gump laced up his shoes back in the mid-1990s. Since the pandemic hit, the family-owned Runner's Den, which has made uptown Phoenix its home for over four decades, has stepped up its game to assist those new to the sport (and those who returned to it after realizing their local gym wasn't going to open anytime soon). Its friendly, knowledgeable employees will get you fitted into a cool pair of shoes that won't give you shin splints, and to help everyone get what they need to make the most of their time outside, the store has offered free delivery options and curbside service to customers. But what we love most about Runner's Den is that the staff isn't just trying to sell you stuff. You can find information on topics like hydration and nutrition on the website, and after COVID-19 settles down, it'll get back to its lineup of group runs, race training, and other activities that promote and support the local running community.