Best Running Store 2023 | Runner's Den | Goods & Services | Phoenix

Runner's Den succeeds not only in carrying all the footwear, clothing and accessories you need to take on whatever running activities you like, it thoughtfully makes connections to help runners stay accountable. If you've got your sights on running a 10K, half marathon or marathon, you can meet others and stay on track through group runs and training programs. Runner's Den has been a fixture since it opened in 1978 thanks to its solid selection and knowledgeable staff who understand the importance that a good shoe plays in avoiding injury. In addition to offering solid advice, the shop hosts injury clinics. We're glad Runner's Den keeps running to help us do the same — a little smarter, faster and harder.

When we're not in a record-breaking heat wave that makes international headlines for weeks, we love spending time outside. Arizona Hiking Shack has everything we need for the days we can actually stand to be outdoors, whether we're kayaking down the Salt River, camping up by the Mogollon Rim or hiking Camelback Mountain. The store has been serving Phoenix customers for more than 50 years, selling them clothing, accessories, maps, books and gear they need to be well-equipped and safe for their outdoor adventures. But it's not just things that Arizona Hiking Shack provides, it also offers classes on topics like backpacking and wilderness survival, because the right equipment is important, but knowledge is essential.

Have you ever wanted to walk into a store and be disoriented by the absolutely massive amount of antique goods available for purchase? Yeah, us too. The two Valley locations of Brass Armadillo are the creme de la creme of vintage shopping in the Valley and it isn't just because of their sheer size, which is truly impressive. From obscure Hello Kitty collectibles to unique home furnishings featuring horns, the Armadillo has it. Fashion aficionados will be amazed by the selection of quirky accessories, and if you're in the market for some high-quality but affordable cowboy boots, you'll find them here. Just make sure you clear your schedule for the day because it's easy to lose hours while bargain-hunting.

Need a faux blood-stained hoodie that says, "I'm fine?" How about an "Evil Dead" lunchbox? Perhaps a copy of "Friday the 13th" on VHS? Whatever horrific swag you're looking for, you can probably find it in this spacious store. Terror Trader follows the antique mall formula, meaning a number of vendors sell their wares in the space. It also doubles as a sort of haunted house experience, with various rooms and sections decorated along specific horror themes. There's a scary clown room, a creepy doll corner, an '80s slasher-flick flashback nook and more. In addition to selling a bunch of cool stuff, Terror Trader also hosts events like crafting classes where you can make your own bedazzled bloody knife, and conventions like its Gathering of the Ghouls.

There are several car-centric hubs across the Valley, including Glendale's Martin Auto Museum. But if you want to explore true classic car culture, take a drive out to Streetside Classics in Mesa. It's part of a large national chain that deals exclusively in classic cars and trucks, and this location has a pretty robust stock. At one point, the dealer's inventory included a 1970 Nova Pro Street, a 1969 Skylark Custom, a 1972 Bronco 4x4 and a 1953 Buick Special street rod. That's only scratching the surface of the pristine vehicles, each one bright and shiny and ready to be driven home that day. Even if you're not in the market to drop $50,000 on a 1969 Plymouth Road Runner, Streetside is a great place to waste an afternoon browsing. It's a museum in its own right, and the care and attention paid to actual collectors is clear from the moment you step into the showroom. It's that sense that makes this as much about the history of great cars as it does about how these mighty machines actually play a role in people's lives nowadays. Just keep your hands to yourself unless you fancy a test drive.

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.

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