Saturday, September 20, 2014


Best Beauty Shop
Citrine Natural Beauty Bar
Based at UNION, the indie-shop consortium at Biltmore Fashion Park, this health-minded cosmetics counter offers organic products that are free of sulfates, parabens and petrochemicals ñ toxins that are all too common in beauty products. Owner Melissa Lenberg is her own best client. When diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, she parlayed her cosmetology knowledge into finding products to integrate with her health routine. More hip than hippie, Lenberg stocks Citrine with products she loves. 2502 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-955-2354,


Best Faux Flowers
Chadwick the Jeweler
Jewelry designer Chadwick Uptain draws inspiration from nature. The sensual curves of an ocean wave translate into rippling rings, while organic-looking earrings resemble seed pods. We're especially fond of Uptain's figural flowers, which range from semi-realistic rose rings to graceful silver callas. Flowers immortalized in sterling silver don't come cheap. On the upside, they won't aggravate allergies or gather dust like their silk counterparts. Available at MADE Boutique. 922 N. Fifth St., Phoenix, 602-256-6233,


Best Locally-Made Kitchen Utensil
Upcycled Bottle Openers by Zach Lihatsh
It's a marriage made in hipster heaven when local biking culture melds with craft-beer culture in the form of sturdy, hand-stamped, one-of-a-kind bottle openers made from upcycled cotter pin crank arms. Sizes and availability vary, but you can usually track some down at the GROWop boutique in Downtown Phoenix for around $34 ñ the perfect gift for the SunUp-swigging bicyclist in your life. 902 N. Sixth St., 602-714-5256,


Best Toy Shop for Grown-Ups
Lulubell Toy Bodega
If Chris Brown can customize his Lamborghini to resemble a Hot Wheels racer, then Valley residents needn't be afraid to geek out at Luke ìLulubellî Rook's awesome toy shop. Expect a top-notch selection of resin and vinyl collectibles, like Kaiju Bioknuckle robots and two-headed Seagool monsters. In addition to Tokyo's latest must-haves, Lulubell stocks mundane-friendly plushies and customizable DIY toys. 128 W. Main St., Mesa, 480-733-5858 (LULU),


Best Mani-Pedi
Nails By Males at Pink Salon
We could launch into a feminist manifesto about the benefits of crossing prescribed gender roles within the beauty industry, but let's be honest: It's just flat-out fun to have a man kneel at your feet. Nails By Males' seasoned staff gives a mean mani-pedi, paying much-kneaded attention to calves and effortlessly painting Hello Kitty on a perfectly positioned set of acrylics. As a bonus, the dudes won't push a gel upsell or berate you for having calluses that require a sandblaster. 671 Apache Blvd., Tempe, 602-283-3904,


Best Place for a Furniture Makeover
Forget the Phoenix Lights ñ find all the alien beauty you'll ever need at Universal Furnishings & Offerings. Ushering in the age of ìrecyclitude,î UFO breathes exciting new life into dead furniture. If Willy Wonka quit the candy business and went into furniture, he would emerge as UFO creator Leonardo Ramirez, and his Oompa Loompas would be creating custom, one-of-a-kind home furnishings. UFO is more like an art gallery than a furniture showroom. And you can sit on these sculptures. 3602 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 602-515-0837,


Best Eclectic Boutique
There are no Shasta daisies or American Beauties inside greenHaus, unless you count the occasional felted flora you'll find on a vintage wool sweater. Owners Cole and Dayna Reed act as curators for the shop's funky curiosities, trolling salvage yards for one-of-a-kind finds and reupholstering vintage furnishings. Recently peeped treasures include chemistry set glassware, a rust-caked lantern perfect for an industrial redesign and a darling Mad Men-inspired swivel chair redux using atomic-era fabric. 222 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix, 602-257-4287,


Best Place to Get Crafty
Scraps of Love
Unleash your inner Martha Stewart at this homey craft store, which stocks supplies for scrapbooking, card-making, rubber stamp art, mixed media projects and more. Paper pros are on-hand to advise one-on-one and teach classes for all levels. Drop in to use studio space ($5) or attend regularly scheduled ìcrops,î which provide a work space and time to chat, craft and have coffee and dessert with other creative types. Crops vary; check schedule for times and fees. 9720 W. Peoria Ave., Peoria, 623-972-0600,


Best Post-Holiday Detox
F3 Foods
Did you know that black Wednesday i.e. the day before Thanksgiving is the biggest drinking day of the year? Neutralize those toxins, and burn off those shovelfuls of high-cholesterol holiday stuffing, with a Detox Program from Valley-based organic-meal delivery service F3 Foods. Customizable for men and women, the service is available in 7- or 28-day programs and is completely devoid of glutens, antibiotics, genetically-modified organisms, hormones and, yes, whiskey sours. Stick with water next time.


Best Man-tiques
AZ Man Cave
For fellas who appreciate vintage flair without the chintz and granny florals, the AZ Man Cave is a nostalgic haven of collectibles and curios with which to deck out a basement, garage, sports room, office or ìman cave. Beer signs, model cars, tools, camping equipment, arcade games, sports and music memorabilia, posters and magazines are among the treasures awaiting the thrift enthusiast at this shrine to old-fashioned masculinity. 11649 N. Cave Creek Rd., Phoenix, 602-997-1381,


Best Urban Cowboy Accessory
Bison iPhone sleeves
If John Wayne had lived to see the iPhone, chances are he would have slung his in a Bison iPhone sleeve. The hand-sewn Horween leather cases are rustic but elegant, with a baseball stitch pattern that snugly encases your device and protects it from the elements of the wild, wild west. Stick it in your pocket and pretend it's a holstered pistol. The Duke would be proud. Available for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 ($65). 214 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix, 855-264-1199,


Best Bike Shop
Sunday Cycles
Biking buffs will find gear galore at this one-stop shop, where you can buy bikes new or old, mountain or street, high-end or classic. Sunday Cycles offers consignment, custom orders and ride repairs. Free popcorn, coffee and espresso tempt you to linger, and they'll even set up your youngin' with a juice box. The all-in-one adventurers' shop also boasts new and gently used camping, climbing, water sports and outdoor equipment, and operates a bike registry, so if your rig gets swiped, you'll have a leg to stand on when it turns up in a police locker. 3317 E. Bell Rd., Phoenix, 480-440-2142,


Best Fashion Blog
Style Tutor
Kristy Roschke and Jennifer Woolsey know a thing or two about style on a shoestring. The two met while teaching at the same high school and commiserated about the challenges of staying chic on teachers' salaries. Thus, Style Tutor was born. The stylish duo blogs about trends, translating high-fashion inspiration into real-life execution and mixing high and low pieces (like a Nordstrom necklace with a Target dress). They also host shopping events and provide personal tutoring services and wardrobe renovations.


Best Place to Buy a ìParking for Estonians Only Sign
Flag World USA
Why would you want such a thing? Well, maybe you're an Estonian with a particularly nationalistic streak where your parking space is concerned. Or, maybe you're a non-Estonian, and want to satisfy your urge to rebel against authority without disrupting our fragile social order. Whatever the reason, you can find this and any number of signs, bumper stickers, decals and other items celebrating just about any country drawn on the globe at this store in the Arizona Center. Also, you can get flags there. 455 N. Third St., Phoenix, 602-254-6265,


Best Custom Invitations
Write-Ons, Etc.
Besides a staggering array of cards, stationery and themed paper for every conceivable social and religious event from baby showers to barbecues and bar mitzvahs the best thing about this 30-year staple of midtown Phoenix is the personalized service and in-house layout and printing. If you're worried red may be a little too angry-looking, and purple a little too dark, never fear. The staff will help you settle on the perfect shade of cranberry. 6201 N. Seventh St., Phoenix, 602-234-9988,


Best Magic Shop
Wacky Zack's Magic
Doesn't it seem that the full name of the place should be Wacky Zack's Magic Shack? Aesthetic criticisms aside, this emporium has everything for the aspiring conjurer ñ not just magic kits, books, videos and props, but inexpensive individual marvels of prestidigitation. Even those of us with the manual dexterity of a walrus in boxing gloves can obtain cheap tricks and the tutorials sufficient to briefly boggle the mind of an 11-year-old. 3434 W. Greenway Rd., Phoenix, 602-548-8667,


Best Car Repair Shop for Women
180 Automotive
180 Automotive doesn't just break the grungy boys-club stereotype of mechanical repair shops; it shatters the mother. From the Keurig coffee machine and kids' play area to the free snacks and local art displays, it's no wonder women from all over the Valley are drawn to this posh automotive triage center. Besides the awesome amenities, the female-owned business offers a monthly free class to teach women basic car maintenance. 545 W. Mariposa St., Phoenix, 602-476-2475,


Best Rare and Antique Books
The Book Gallery
A converted theater dating to the 1920s, the Book Gallery in Mesa conjures another time, when rows of hardbound novels stretched to the ceiling, and your local book-monger strove to ìbe a place of substance.î Locally owned, with another location in Phoenix, the shop specializes in appraisals of rare and antique books ñ perfect if you ever want to know the value of that first-edition copy of The Anarchist Cookbook inherited from your eccentric late uncle. 50 W. Main St., Mesa, 480-835-0757; 3643 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 602-508-0280


Best Edible Gifts
D'vine Gourmet
Family-owned D'vine Gourmet is like some glorious mutant hybrid of a gift shop and wine cellar. Years ago, owner Denise McCreery started making candy and other assorted treats with wine, and now sells her own dips, sauces, snacks, desserts, baking mixes and more ñ along with the all-important vino selection. Curated with the expertise of an art gallery, the shop offers unparalleled options and support in customizing your purchase. Alongside wine and snacks, they offer spa essentials and many great accessories for home or bar. 1075 E. Riggs Rd., Chandler, 480-275-5320,


Best Frame Shop
Hall of Frames
Since Hall of Frames founder Ben Kogan opened his first store in Phoenix at Tower Plaza in 1975, the business ñ still family-owned ñ has grown to 12 Valley locations. Each one carries thousands of readymade and custom frames for everything from photographs and paintings to football jerseys and trophies. The company also does conservation, shadowboxing and mirror frames, and boasts a team of designers to help with custom framing. Customers can choose every element of their frame, from a selection of more than 500 mat choices to a variety of glass options (including UV protective and non-glare), to be expertly assembled. Installation services are available as well.


Best Place to Walk Your Dog
Murphy Bridle Path
Give your dog, and yourself, a break from those unforgiving concrete sidewalks. Let Murphy's Bridle Path lead you on a halcyon detour of big city congestion into small town tranquility. Flanked by handsome, ranch-style homes and Disney-esque ash trees, the century-old horse trail offers so many diversions, you may find it difficult to look where you're going. Central Avenue corridor from Butler Drive to Bethany Home Road.


Best Dog Wash
Smelly Dog
This combination canine salon/daycare center/marketplace offers a full-service dog wash ($26-$48, depending on dog size) and a self-service option ($15), which includes use of their hydraulic stainless steel tubs. A variety of shampoos and conditioners, brushes and combs, towels and hair dryers are also available. 5033 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix, 602-265-6806,


Best Place to Pimp Your Pup
Oh My Dog Salon
This Scottsdale pooch palace is more than happy to host a customized birthday party for your four-legged pal, complete with cake, hats, party favors and gift bags. And for the canine who has everything, the salon offers a mini-photo session on Tuesdays and Thursdays for $50; and a one-hour photo shoot and styling on ìStylish Saturdaysî for $150. 7137 E. Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, 480-874-1200,