Best Place to Buy Something You Don't Actually Need 2023 | Monsoon Market | Goods & Services | Phoenix

Best Place to Buy Something You Don't Actually Need

Monsoon Market

There is a sirenlike quality to Monsoon Market, a boutique wine shop that opened on 16th Street in 2021. Walk in and you have the sense that you're trapped in a whirlwind.This small, charming store is full to the brim with beautiful things that no one could possibly need. There is, for example, a purple psychedelic-patterned oven mitt. A candle shaped like an artichoke. Dice with butterflies etched into the sides. A magazine called Mushroom People ("a magazine for mycophiles," closer inspection reveals). Many versions of this type of luxe trinket store ultimately feel sterile, detached completely from their customers or their neighborhood, but not so with Monsoon Market. Here, the store is playful and approachable and self-aware enough that it just might coax you into purchasing that oven mitt or the truffle-infused hot sauce in the chic grocery section or one of the extensive selection of natural wines. The shop also hosts yoga classes sometimes — of course it does. We support it. We'll buy the artichoke candle.

Amid the hustle and bustle of First Friday, we still make it a point to stop in at MADE Art Boutique. The shop housed in a historic bungalow on Roosevelt Row stocks a small but wonderful selection of jewelry, home decor, greeting cards, stickers and art, much of which comes from local artisans. It's hard to browse and not leave with something, whether it's gold cactus earrings by Gilded Sun Studio in Phoenix or cute birthday cards from Tucson designer Turtle's Soup. We often find ourselves returning to the store to pick up that item we haven't been able to stop thinking about since the last First Friday.

In-store events are pretty common at local boutiques around town. We've gone to book signings, craft classes, seasonal sales and more. But no store in Phoenix offers the kind of events that Curious Nature does. The self-described "fine natural history emporium" hosts taxidermy classes (make your own jackalope!), "Ask an Embalmer" and "Chat With a Coroner" discussions, lessons in how to read tea leaves and tarot cards, and more. It's all pretty on-brand with the store's retail offerings, which include a wide range of animal bones (and even a few human skulls), books about science and metaphysics, entomology specimens, minerals and crystals, seashells and taxidermy (in case you don't want to make your own). It's all housed in the big, beautiful new location Curious Nature moved into in January.

We always looked forward to visits to the Native Art Market held at Scottsdale Pavillions, so we were thrilled when a permanent outpost opened in Old Town Scottsdale back in 2021. Now, any day we choose, we can browse the creations of hundreds of Indigenous makers. Southwestern coffee, beaded bracelets, sand art, hand-carved pottery, soaps made with local ingredients: It's all here. The website shows only a fraction of what the space has to offer, so a visit is in order to get the best shopping experience. If you prefer the open-air market experience, Native Art Market still holds them weekends November through March.

Talk about a hidden gem. Tucked away in a thoroughly nondescript office building is the Afri-Soul Marketplace, a small store that carries beautiful items from across the African continent. Just down a hallway from the also-wonderful Grassrootz Bookstore & Juice Bar, Afri-Soul carries clothing, jewelry and other accessories, beauty and personal care products, and art from a number of vendors. We left after a recent visit carrying a bright, fun bracelet made of paper beads, a sturdy yet stylish cloth hand fan and a handpainted giraffe-print belt. And we suspect we'll eventually pick up that handwoven basket and bright cotton dress we can't stop thinking about. Prices at Afri-Soul Marketplace are exceptionally reasonable, and anytime you go, you're sure to find a gift — or something for yourself — you can't find anywhere else in town.

"Shop local" is a popular buzz phrase these days, and with good reason: When you buy from an Arizona business, significantly more of the store's revenue stays in-state to bolster the economy. Practical Art in Central Phoenix has been exemplifying the phrase for 15 years, selling the work of some of the city's best artists, including Ann Morton, Janel Garza, Carrie Marill, Christopher Jagmin, Jon Arvizu and dozens more in the form of paintings, prints, jewelry, T-shirts, ceramics, sculptures and kitchenware. If you can't get enough of Practical Art's merchandise, you can join its Art Club, where a moderate fee gets you one new item per month, plus exclusive offers and invitations to special events.

We know a lot of professional artists. We ourselves are amateur — dare we say terrible — artists. But the thing about Blick Art Supplies in Tempe is that it welcomes customers of all skill levels in with equal amounts of enthusiasm. Whether your medium is paint, clay or pencil, Blick's got the goods to get your latest creation started off right. A trip to the store inspires daydreams about what could be accomplished with the rows and rows of materials, and if you can't find what you need, it's probably available on Blick's website. We may not have much artistic talent, but at least with Blick, we're well-equipped.

Fantasia Crystals underwent a big change this year: After more than 30 years at its location on Seventh Street, it moved to bigger digs in North Phoenix. Now, there's more room for its extensive collection of New Age goods, including books, herbs, tarot decks, crystals, jewelry, incense and more. What haven't changed are the thoughtful customer service and depth of knowledge displayed by the staff nor the lineup of interesting classes like Candle Magick 101, Protection Magic and Divination Basics. If you're interested in witchcraft, herbology, New Age philosophy, spiritualism and the like, Fantasia Crystals is the place to go.

In our age of online shopping, you technically don't have to leave your house to get your lingerie, adult toys and other sexy little things. But there's a lot to be said for seeing an item in person before purchasing it, as well as for getting expert advice. You can do those things at the four Valley locations of Groove, a locally owned chain of adult shops. The decor is a bit different in each one. The West Valley location has an "Alice in Wonderland" theme, while the Arcadia outpost has more of a street art feel. What's the same at all Groove locations is a comprehensive selection of lingerie, swimwear and dancewear; condoms and lube; and sex toys and accessories of all kinds.

Grace Perry has a knack for opening must-visit destinations around Phoenix. The former singer of the metal band Landmine Marathon owns Gracie's Tax Bar, a hip downtown watering hole, and more recently, she debuted Peaches, a self-described "intimate wellness boutique." Looking more top-shelf than trashy, Peaches carries items like a pair of leather wrist cuffs in millennial pink, "Support Your Local Sex Shop" T-shirts, sleek high-end vibrators, massage oil candles and way more. The comfortable atmosphere and titillating merchandise make for fun browsing during a night out at the Pemberton nightlife hub, but if you don't feel like carrying that bottle of lube around on a Saturday night, you can get what you want off Peaches' online store.

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