Best Letterpress 2020 | Hazel & Violet | Goods & Services | Phoenix

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.

Need to buy somebody a present but have absolutely no idea what to get them? Hit up The Museum Store at Phoenix Art Museum, which has an excellent assortment of gifts for any budget. For art lovers, there are exhibition catalogs, art books, art prints, and even art-inspired clothing for both men and women. There are kitchen supplies, office supplies, and ceramics by local artists. (We are big fans of the store's collapsible vases, which come in handy when you're giving fresh flowers.) There's an extensive children's section too: Start 'em early.

Rachel Malloy's beloved shop first opened in 2007 inside a small space in Roosevelt Row. Nowadays, you'll find it tucked inside a building just north of Burton Barr Public Library. Don't let the cozy size of Bunky Boutique fool you. The store is packed with items that reflect Malloy's love for Arizona and her vintage vibe. There is a gift here for nearly any occasion. Candles, tote bags, and greeting cards. T-shirts, rings, and body care items. Presents for babies and toddlers. And if you're short on ideas, Malloy will help you find something sure to be a hit at the family gathering or office gift exchange. She's that type of shopkeeper (the best kind).

Lots of changes happened near MADE Art Boutique in Roosevelt Row this year. The Eye Lounge art gallery got a new entrance around the corner on Fifth Street and Greenwood Brewing moved into the neighborhood. But the art boutique, which is located in a cute vintage house that's a charming contrast to the area's ho-hum apartments, is pretty much the same: still filled with eye-catching works by local artists. It's a wonderful place to support metro Phoenix creatives while shopping for jewelry, prints, greeting cards, personal care items, small ceramics, stickers, and more. Our favorite things to buy include charming embroidered artworks with cats or desert plants by Cindy Dach and miniature robots made by Jordan Alexander Thomas using upcycled materials and wood. The eclectic selection shifts over time, so you won't get bored by seeing the same offerings over and over again, and there are great items in every price range.

Originally run by the Arizona Record Collectors Association, this vinyl swap meet has been a mainstay among platter fanatics for more than 20 years. Originally organized by record whiz Sam Hill, the convention — where you'll find mint and still-sealed albums by everyone from ABBA to Frank Zappa — lately has been a project of Tracks in Wax shop owner Timmy Stamper, who has moved it to the much-roomier Arizona American Italian Club. There, several times a year, some 60 vendors offer boxes and boxes of rare and hard-to-find albums, singles, and CDs to hundreds of collectors. You think you'll never find a VG+ copy of Lou Reed's Growing Up in Public or a decent copy of the Life With Mikey soundtrack. But that may be because you haven't yet hit this groovy record swap meet.

Where, we wondered, could we find that super-hard-to-score arrangement for the Maureen McGovern version of "The Carioca," published in 1973? Then, we remembered that we're within driving distance of Central Music, one of the best sources in the Southwest for old, obscure, and up-to-the-minute sheet music. Need a lead sheet for Sammy Fain's "I'll Be Seeing You"? You'll find it here. Think you'll never find a simplified version of Schumann's "Im Wunderschonen Monat Mai" for violin? You're wrong. Central Music will have it, or it'll get it for you if it doesn't. The staff here is always friendly and seems to actually want to help you track down print music spanning every genre — rock, blues, country, sacred, classical, opera, jazz, and folk. This place has always been a great resource for music teachers, professionals, and amateur musicians alike. Here's hoping it always will be.

It would have been better for our savings accounts if we hadn't hopped on the vinyl bandwagon, but we're record collectors now, and we're not stopping anytime soon. As a result, we find ourselves at The 'In' Groove a couple of times a month surveying the selection. Owner Mike Esposito has created an environment welcoming to both vinyl newbies and seasoned collectors. We like to hit the bins of recent used arrivals first, then scan the rest of the store, which is heavy on pop and rock of today and yesteryear, but also has strong sections of jazz, hip-hop, and soundtracks. Everything is fairly priced (like the gorgeous vintage copy of Led Zeppelin's first album we scored for under $20 the other day), which isn't to say cheap — there are some real vinyl gems under glass at the store, with prices to match their rarity and condition. The folks at The 'In' Groove are friendly — but they ain't dumb.

Yes, we still listen to CDs. Quite a bit, thank you very much. And the best place to buy them is at Zia Records. The esteemed local chain celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, and indeed, we've been hitting up Zia stores for CDs since high school. They carry new and used copies of rock, hip-hop, country, etc., plus imports, rarities, local stuff — they've got it all. Everything is inspected at the buy counter, so getting a scratched-up used disc is unlikely. Of course, once you've got your CDs picked out, it's time to explore everything else Zia has to offer, like clothing, video games, books, comics, records, and toys. It's one-stop shopping for everything entertainment-related.

One day, you might feel like painting the flowers in your garden. The next, maybe learning to sculpt your pets out of soapstone. It's all possible — well, you'll find all the physical tools to do so — at Blick, which has a huge selection of art supplies that allow you to experiment your little heart out. Everyone's welcome here, from college art students to crafting enthusiasts to professional artists. Blick's got kilns for your new pottery studio and lights for your professional photography setup. It's got origami paper, stained-glass materials, and kids' easels for your budding artist. The store even offers art classes and kits. At Blick, the only limit is your imagination.

At the family-owned Fantasia Crystals, visitors get a warm welcome from an attentive staff well-versed in numerous spiritual traditions and practices. The store, open since the 1980s, provides a safe space for people to explore multiple avenues of belief without giving one particular perspective more validation than the others. Fantasia Crystals offers classes on metaphysical, occult, and spiritual topics, and carries a wide range of items used by individuals who embrace these traditions. Everything you need for your metaphysical practice (or to start a new one) is here: books, tarot cards, small sculptural deities, candles, sage, and much more. There are also lovely gifts like jewelry, journals, and trinket boxes. In need of guidance? Fantasia has psychic readings on the weekends. If you've got an open mind, you'll learn a little something every time you pay a visit.

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