Antiquarian stores aren't hard to come by around here; the center of most Valley-area cities and towns has a row of vintage shops to pop into while you're out and about. If you'd like to graduate from casual browser to active shopper, though, head up to Sunnyslope and visit The Vintage Arizona. The antique wares here are plentiful, well-priced, and extremely Southwestern in their aesthetic. Hand-painted coasters, turquoise ashtrays, scorpion paperweights? Grandma-looking Pyrex or old-fashioned bathroom scales? Weird old records, magazines, books, and toys? Saguaro-shaped margarita glasses and well-worn playing cards? It's all here. The store was opened in 2019 by Shannon Steward, who scouts and handpicks the many items lining the shelves, furniture surfaces, and front patio of her curated shop. Steward even throws the occasional dance party up in here. Stop by and she'll tell you when.

How often does one of your favorite local shops reopen, years after it closed, in its same former storefront? Not very often. But Michael Robertson must have grown weary of listening to Phoenicians whine about how much they missed QCumberz, the vintage decor store he ran for years on Seventh Avenue before moving on to other, equally popular antique stores. So, late last year, he moved right back into his old digs. Within minutes of entering (or reentering, as it were) his store, we were already reliving our favorite shopping memories of yore. Robertson sells more than just antiques and warmhearted charm at this swell boutique. He peddles decorating ideas, too. We're glad he's back, and not just because we needed a new-old sofa and a lava lamp.

News flash: You don't have to wait for Halloween to play dress-up. Mardi Gras sells and rents almost anything you could possibly need in the way of costumes, accessories, makeup, and props. The shop has helpful, knowledgeable staff experienced at working with clients ranging from the costume-curious to theater professionals. There is a dizzying array of options here. You might walk in wanting to be Mata Hari, but discover while you're there that you're actually better at rocking the Marie Antoinette vibe. Who knew?

Pratt's Pet Store

Oh, sure. Those big-box national chain pet stores at the mall are convenient. But when's the last time you were greeted at the door of one of them by a chicken? Never is the answer, and that's why it's high time you headed to Pratt's to meet Zeus, who for five years has been clucking and scratching and serving friendly fowl attitude to everyone who comes through the door at this Glendale pet store. She won't crow, and she's not especially interested in helping you pick out a collar for Rover, but Zeus will offer something you won't find at the mall: her incomparable presence. Recently, she's been joined by Poseidon, a 2-year-old hen whom you'll find strutting down aisles of feed and feline beds and most everything you'll need to keep Fido and Fluffy in the pink. But don't be fooled: Zeus is the ruler of this roost.

Personal is the word that comes to mind when we ponder the virtues of Changing Hands, the oldest and greatest bookstore in the Phoenix area. Even though we haven't been hanging around there as much this year — the virus and all — we haven't felt any less connected to this powerhouse community hub. That's because Changing Hands has done an excellent job of pivoting on the fly. It does curbside pickup, of course. The author events we love? Kinda great as literary Zooms, it turns out. Best of all are the book bundles. You fill out a Book Personality Quiz online, and Changing Hands' expert staff will send you care packages with multiple books and themed swag (prices range from $50 to $500). It's a wonderful gift to send somebody, of course, but it's also totally worth treating yourself to a bundle — both for the reading material and for the simple pleasure of connection that comes from a smart person choosing a book just for you.

Best Bookstore You Didn't Know Existed

Books

Currently closed for browsing but open for curbside pickup, the aptly named Books is one of our favorite local secrets. This family-owned and -operated trove stocks nearly 200,000 hardbacks, paperbacks, records, comics, and DVDs — and has for more than 30 years. We've scored several rare, out-of-print treasures here, including a first-edition copy of Shirley Jackson's Hangsaman and a signed wartime edition of We Followed Our Hearts to Hollywood by Emily Kimbrough. Always friendly and eager to help, the staff is made up of bookworms who'd love to help you find your next favorite novel or memoir. We look forward to the day when we can return to wandering around the neatly categorized and alphabetized selections in this brick-and-mortar booklover's paradise.

The closure of All About Books and Comics in April, after nearly 40 years in business, felt like the end of an era for nerd culture citywide. Fortunately, another pop culture torchbearer has been marching along this entire time: Drawn to Comics. This Glendale shop shares AABC's commitment to unabashedly celebrating nerdy pursuits, uplifting fans with new heroes, and maintaining the flames of artistic curiosity. (Not to mention a great pull service and deep back issues.) But what we really love about Drawn to Comics is that it provides a comics-buying experience that prioritizes the people. It's a store where the most magical thing isn't the flying aliens or dudes in robot suits: It's the community.

It's easy to lose track of time inside The Paper Place, where those looking to eschew electronic communication will find everything they could possibly need to do so. Operated by a pair of sisters, this charming retail space lets you custom-order invitations for weddings and other occasions, shop for unique greeting cards, explore gift-wrap options including individual sheets of decorative paper, and find presents for all those little holidays and celebrations that happen throughout the year. Amid all the paper, you'll find cookbooks, desk accessories, stuffed animals, pens, jewelry, and more. The cheerful ambiance, attentive customer service, and creative offerings make this paper store a standout shopping destination.

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.

Phoenix Art Museum

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.

Best Of Phoenix®

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