Best Way to Stay Clean 2022 | Strawberry Hedgehog | Goods & Services | Phoenix

Showering up with some ordinary soap gets the job done, but rinsing the dirt off with the help of a fragrant bar from Tracy Perkins and her crew at Strawberry Hedgehog truly puts that old quote about treating your body like a temple into action. Not only do they look beautiful, dotted with herbs, seeds, or flowers that add to the overall magic, the essence of the vegan soaps lingers long after your shower. You can feel the softness on your skin and smell the captivating blends. The varieties of chunky soap bars include sweet orange and clove, blueberry-lavender, and calming coconut. Real soap fanatics can join Hedgehog's monthly soap club. But they don't just sell soap. There are body care items from facial cleansers to oil for your bushy beard. The whipped body cream is like slipping on a silk suit. It's also cool that their mission includes being cruelty-free and environmentally friendly.

History is full of horrors, but it can also be full of beauty. Baseline Flowers has a rich history in the Valley: Founded in 1950 by the late Hiroshi Nakagawa, the shop started as a vegetable and flower farm that was part of south Phoenix's Japanese flower farms, an area where Japanese-American families came together to farm and start anew after World War II. While all the other shops from this time in Phoenix's history are gone, Baseline Flowers is still standing — proud and resilient as a sunflower. Baseline Flowers offers a rich array of flowers and does custom floral arrangements. The shop also occasionally puts on events such as their A Slice storytelling series. While flowers themselves live short and ephemeral lives, the people at Baseline Flowers who cultivate them and present them in such beautiful fashion have been doing this for a long, long time. History isn't just in books — you can find it in bouquets, too.

If you've ever been intimidated by trying to care for just a single plant, you know how important it is to find flowers, herbs, and trees that really fit your environment. Berridge Nurseries has a welcoming neighborhood atmosphere so you'll never hesitate to ask questions or feel embarrassed because you don't know even the basics about water, soil, or light. We love the fact that staff are super knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful, but never take the hard sell approach that leads to poorly paired people and plants. They've got a huge selection of pottery and planters, along with all the necessary tools for gardening, and decor in myriad styles. It's the best one-stop nursery in town when you want to enjoy caring customer service, explore charming gifts, and have a bounty of beautiful plants to choose from.

A time machine seems to have taken a whole lot of people back to the 1970s, because we're seeing houseplants at every turn these days. On home renovation shows. In co-working spaces. In friends' tiny apartments. Unfortunately, loving the look of houseplants doesn't always translate into knowing how to keep the darn things alive. Dig It Gardens excels at assisting plant experts and the merely plant-curious with finding the right flora for their homes and offices. They carry a great selection of plants for hanging baskets, giant floor pots, or open shelves, and they'll never turn you loose without making sure you know just what your new greenery needs to thrive. You can get creative with their workshops, where you might fill a skull or a pumpkin with a fun assortment of succulents or herbs. Or, you can join the fun on customer appreciation days when they bring in live music, food trucks, live art, free sips, and local vendors. Dig It Gardens isn't just a plant shop. It's a creative community, and we're here for it.

There's not a lot new to say about Changing Hands Bookstore. The Valley mainstay has been an independent business for nearly 50 years. The two locations carry new and used books, plus an eclectic and ever-changing selection of merchandise, including puzzles, kitchen goods, home decor, novelties, jewelry, and accessories. The events calendar is packed with writing workshops run by local authors, storytelling events, book club meetups, and appearances by local and national writers. If you visit the central Phoenix location, you can grab a glass of wine or beer at the popular First Draft Book Bar. But in addition to all this, Changing Hands is and always has been a powerful voice for the value of indie bookstores as well as social justice, racial equality, and acceptance for all. We're proud to shop there.

A hop and a skip away from Cartel Coffee Lab and Buffalo Exchange near Arizona State University, Ash Avenue Comics & Books is the third point on a triangle of Tempe culture — places where hipsters and nerds and old heads alike converge to give each other the gift of fab and find their new favorite thing. Ash Avenue carries single issues and graphic novels, offering a broad assortment of mainstream Marvel/DC titles along with FantaGraphic collections of old comic strips, Love & Rockets, obscure creator-owned titles, zines, and other ephemera. The Ash Avenue staff are friendly and well-versed in all things comics, so they're more than happy to be your Virgil as you navigate the netherworld of illustrated storytelling. The store also buys comics if you've got some sweet collectibles or complete runs of in-demand titles you're looking to trade in. It's a cozy, neatly organized place where you can go to marinate in all things weird and nerdy without fear of judgment or getting put on the spot by someone demanding to prove your comic book nerd bona fides.

There are several reasons why, among other great shops, Imperial Outpost is the tip of the spear for gaming culture around Phoenix. They have a massive inventory of board, card, and tabletop games, from the big faves (such as Magic) to obscure titles (ever heard of Blood Bowl?) And what better way to try out that newly-purchased game than by playing it right there at the shop? Then, when it comes time to bolster your deck or expand your gameplay, the Outpost has supplies and add-ons galore. But all of that only hints at the store's true importance: the human element. Whether you're an old pro or a bright-eyed rookie, the store welcomes players with a passion for great gaming. And it rewards commitment by fostering a community that's as much about robust competition as celebrating the simple pleasures of socialization. It's a place where life can be enjoyed because people want you there, and they provide all the necessities — whether that's D20 dice or friendly faces — to make gaming so much more. So, you could shop elsewhere. But it's Imperial Outpost that's home to the pure nerd magic that's essential to any city.

You don't have to be the Mother Brain to figure out why The Gaming Zone is the best place in the Valley to buy and sell video games. The employees at either location are friendlier (read: less snarky) than other local stores, the trade rates are better, and the sheer depth of the selection is staggering. Besides a voluminous amount of titles, consoles, controllers, and accessories for sale from throughout gaming history — from the Atari 2600 to newer must-haves like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X — The Gaming Zone also offers numerous rarities in its collection. That includes a number of unique "repro" (or reproduction) cartridges of unreleased, custom-made, and homebrew games for such old-school systems as the Sega Genesis, Game Boy Advance, and Super Nintendo. And when you tire of searching for finds like Link hunting for pieces of the Triforce, both locations have arcade classics available for play. Game on.

If you're one of those people who laments the fact that Halloween only comes once a year, you're in luck. Because at Terror Trader in Chandler, it's always spooky season. Terror Trader operates like an antique mall. The space is filled with individual vendors selling all things horror, from DVDs and props to horror memorabilia and apparel. We love the store's monthly Sales from the Darkside events, when horror fans can shop, get grub from local food trucks, participate in cosplay contests, and generally nerd out with like-minded folks. None of the goods are available on the store's website, which means that you're just going to have to make a trip to Chandler to see all that Terror Trader has to offer.

When it comes to zines, Wasted Ink is the Valley's one-stop shop for all things hand-stitched and stapled. Founded in 2015, the distro has been a vital space and storefront for the self-publishing community. WIZD maintains a library of over 1,500 zines and has helped organize and run the annual Phx Zine Fest since 2016. Their shelves provide a kaleidoscope of stories, how-to guides, and personal narratives from writers and artists based in Arizona and beyond. The folks at WIZD have been vocal and steadfast in their commitment to signal-boosting the contributions of BIPOC, LGBTQ, disabled, and neurodivergent creators. They've also hosted workshops, open mics, and events over the years, forming strong connections with the Valley's arts community. The best part about the zines at WIZD? They're really affordable. If you're looking for unique literature you won't find anywhere else that won't break the bank, WIZD offers DIY lit that's cheaper than the cost of a Happy Meal.

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