Shopping on Glendale Avenue

You really only meant to buy a box of moist towelettes and a can of string cheese on your way home from work the other day, but things got a little crazy. You were driving up Glendale Avenue looking for a convenience store when you spotted La Fama Bakery, thought, Ooh, empanadas!, and pulled in real quick.

Certainly, there’ll be a CVS or a Walgreens, you thought to yourself once you were back behind the wheel and licking frosting from a pan dulce. You didn’t see a grocery, but there was a Value Village, which got you to wondering how long it’d been since you’d gone thrifting, and that’s all it took — you were inside and pawing through a bin of vintage Melmac before you knew it. Plastic dishware was better with serving pieces, but they didn’t have any styrene serving platters. That orange corduroy bean bag chair was a steal, though, so it was worth the trip.

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We know people who run marathons, and we know people who struggled through their first Couch to 5K program. They all go to Runner's Den for what they need. The unpretentious shop in uptown Phoenix has been serving generations of Valley joggers for more than 40 years, and whether your terrain of choice is trail, road, or treadmill, you can find shoes, socks, apparel, snacks, energy gels, sunglasses, and more to make your runs better. But far more valuable than the store's merchandise are the intangible things it offers: advice, online resources like calculators and articles, marathon training programs, group runs (when there's not a pandemic on), and encouragement when the going gets tough. Runner's Den is more than a store; it's a community.

Sure, Spirit Halloween stores crop up all over Phoenix come fall. But maybe you need a costume sometime other than mid-autumn. And maybe you'd rather support a longtime, locally owned establishment rather than a corporation whose entire business model is to swoop in and inhabit the carcasses of all the stores that failed that year. Mardi Gras Costume Shop in Scottsdale is our go-to any time of the year; the tightly packed aisles represent endless dress-up possibilities. Mardi Gras rents costumes in addition to selling them, and if you're a theater professional or just really serious about your look, the store also offers professional-grade makeup. Whether you're looking to make a splash at a theme party or Halloween bash, Mardi Gras is your go-to costume destination.

Graf artists, DJs, MCs, and b-boys/b-girls would have to crisscross the Valley and hit up several places to pick up the various tools of their trade if Trill didn't have all of them under one roof. This one-stop shop for all aspects of hip-hop culture has been doing it and doing it and doing it well since 2018 with its lineup of supplies, streetwear, and music gear. Its spray-paint wall is stocked with MTN and Hardcore. Record mats and audio cables for your turntable are available, as are brands like Supreme and Anti Social Social Club in the clothing section. Trill reps the local hip-hop scene by hosting regular shows on its indoor stage and displays works by local artists. You might even run into a celeb during your visit; rappers like Kool Keith, Lord Finesse, and part-time Valley resident Ice-T have dropped by.

Sidewalk Surfer

"Some things never change" can be a negative statement or a positive one, but when we're talking about Scottsdale Sidewalk Surfer, it's absolutely a good thing. This local retail mainstay has been outfitting and supplying chill dudes in the Valley since the late 1970s. Sidewalk Surfer has hundreds of boards in all sizes and styles, plus parts and accessories like wheels, bearings, grip tape, and stickers. The large apparel section caters to men, with brands like Volcom, Dickies, Billabong, and Sex Wax all well- represented. There's a small selection of roller-skates, and sneakers and sandals by labels such as Vans and Reef. The staff is welcoming, experienced, and passionate about skateboarding; you'll leave with exactly what you need to hit the street in style.

Take a hike, REI. The Arizona Hiking Shack ("locally owned since 1972") has been our go-to adventure store for literally decades. The place is heaven for hikers, mountain climbers, canyoneers, and explorers, packed with ropes and slings, all manner of outdoor gear, and plenty of guidebooks and topo maps. True to its name, the Hiking Shack has everything you could possibly need for any wilderness walk. But it really shines when outfitting for an extreme adventure. Tommy Caldwell could have racked up for the Dawn Wall here, no problem. Pro trip for adventure addicts: Get a higher credit limit before dropping in, because you're going to find a lot of what you want.

Rage Cycles

Appropriately located off the Arizona Cross Cut Canal bike path (okay, multiuse path), Rage Cycles is a well-loved and established bike shop in south Scottsdale. Upon entering, you'll see shiny new bikes — gravel, commuter, mountain, and more — along with bike accessories and a three-stalled maintenance bay toward the back. Those accessories include lights, helmets, seats, and gear, and that bay is manned by skilled, no-nonsense bike mechanics always armed with answers to your problems. Brands sold here include Salsa, Surley, BMX, and Juliana, as well as stuff from local bike-makers State. There's also plenty of room in the crusty parking lot if you're looking to test-ride one of Rage's many rigs. Just be sure to not down too many complimentary cold ones at Free Beer Friday beforehand.

When we were first exploring Midcentury Modern home furnishings, we headed to this local decor institution, a practical museum of Eames chairs and Harry Bertoia sculptures and Hollywood Regency lamps. Our search stopped there. A teakwood boomerang table and a Milo Baughman scoop chair were our first purchases, but we have a feeling we'll be going back for that Feldman Lighting brutalist chandelier, and maybe for a sandwich at Valentine, the front-of-the-house restaurant where midcentury geniuses meet to nosh. Modern Manor's new services include staging and interior design, and the nice folks who run the place are always up for a chat about that occasional table you're considering.

Anytime we need to kill an hour or four, we head over to one of The Brass Armadillo's two Valley locations. Our attention span fizzles long before we run out of things to see at this antique mall. Anything you like that's old-timey, vintage, or retro, one of the booths at The Brass Armadillo probably has it. We've bought vintage Pyrex, old records, classic issues of Arizona Highways, and so much more. Sometimes we zip through quickly looking for something in particular, but more often, we stroll up and down the aisles, looking for something special that catches our eye. Pro tip: If you sign up for the mailing list, you can find out when the store is having a sale, making the treasures you find at The Brass Armadillo a little more affordable.

ABC Cake Decorating Supplies

The beauty of ABC Cake Decorating Supplies is that it caters to both decent amateur bakers like ourselves and true pros with the skills to do it for a living. We shop there for cookie cutters of every shape and size, baking stencils for dusting powdered sugar on our creations, cool cupcake liners, and pretty bakery boxes for when we're feeling fancy. But if we ever decide to up our baking game, we know we can head to ABC to find pans of every size, an array of flavorings and extracts, gumpaste flowers, and even airbrush machines. The best part is that the staff is equally friendly and helpful whether you're a pro or just gearing up to make your first batch of cupcakes.

Wag N' Wash Healthy Pet Center

Giving your pet a bath in the home tub can be a real back-breaker. Stop wrestling with Mr. Wiggles and playing slip-n-slide on your bathroom floor — head to Wag N' Wash. You can use one of their pet-friendly washbasins to get your dog smelling good and looking fancy. There's even conditioner, for a silky finish. If you don't want to complete the task yourself, you can have one of the friendly staff members polish your pcup. This place is a pet lover's paradise. After you get your four-legged friend beautified in the grooming room, walk the aisles shopping for dog and cat food, accessories, and plenty of treats. Feel free to bring your dog in with you — he or she might pick out what they want to snack on from one of the many accessible buckets of bully sticks and cow ears.

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