Best Day Spa
Though it bills itself as “a spa for the everyday gal,” there’s nothing workaday about Fuchsia. The full-service spa – facials, massages, manicures and pedicures, waxing, airbrush tanning and more – seamlessly blends resort-quality service and attention to detail with the affordable prices and easygoing vibe of a day spa. Memberships provide additional discounts, and unused monthly services and perks can be rolled over to the next month. 1822 S. Val Vista Dr., Mesa, 480-813-7465, fuchsiaspa.com
MAME and Standard Wax
These candle companies are so good, we couldn’t pick just one. Both sell hand-poured, clean-burning soy candles in beautiful reusable containers – MAME in glass tumblers and Standard Wax in hand-crafted ceramic containers – and take inspiration from Arizona life, with fragrances like farmers’ market (MAME) and citrus and black currant (Standard Wax). We say buy both and burn according to your mood – MAME for feminine, floral softness, and Standard Wax for masculine, earthy power. mamesoycandles.com, standardwax.com
Best One-Stop Shop for Feline Fiends
Crazy cat lady? More like crazy-cool cat lady. Kate Benjamin turned her blog about chic living with cats into a mini empire, complete with an online magazine, gear guide, kitty-centric jewelry and more. Her purr-owess has even garnered national attention, with features in The New York Times, USA Today and Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell. She lives with her own 11 hauspanthers in Phoenix. hauspanther.com
Best Handmade Hats
Watson’s Hat Shop
If you’re in the market for a quality handmade hat using topnotch materials, visit Eric Watson, hat maker extraordinaire in Cave Creek. He fashions fedoras, cowboy hats, Panama hats, bowlers and more using antique hat-making equipment salvaged from milliners in the United States and France. Watson’s interest in hat making stems from his childhood in Ohio, when he developed a fascination with Indiana Jones’ hat. Stagecoach Village, 7100 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, 602-419-6436, watsonshatshop.com
When it comes to local success stories, Whish is the Jordin Sparks of skincare. Founded by Jesse Werner to satisfy his own sensitive-skin needs with a gentle shaving cream, the line blossomed at the behest of his wife Aimee to include body scrubs, butters and washes and even a self-tanner. Their products are now sold in Nordstrom and Ulta stores nationwide. whishbody.com
Best Local Craft Spirit
Desert Dry Gin from Arizona Distilling Co.
A silver medal winner at the prestigious Spirit Masters series in 2014, this highly aromatic sipper is what Valley mixologists pour when they want to settle the “Arizona doesn’t make a great spirit” debate. Redolent with the state’s new “four Cs” – cardamom, coriander, citrus and cinnamon – it also makes a first-rate gift for that drinker in your life. Our favorite preparation: served over ice, with a spritz of lime. azdistilling.com
Best Innovation for Working Parents
Goofy Gettwell Mobile Pediatrics
Last year, Valley pediatrician Dr. Mark Gettleman, also known as Dr. Goofy GettWell, decided to take his practice on the road in a colorful vehicle that appeals to young children. For many working parents who may have difficulty getting their child to an appointment, Gettleman provides the convenience of a house call without the long wait to see a doctor and the threat of the virus-and-rash-infested waiting room. He also offers video conferences and phone appointments. 480-707-3421, drgoofygettwell.com
Best Retro Furnishings
Kylie and Ryan Durkin’s adorable shop busts flea market stereotypes with its neatly arranged selection of curated finds. Nearly all of MM’s mid-century-to-’70s furnishings and accessories are in tip-top shape, from curvaceous Eames chairs to nautical lamps, tambour-door credenzas and newly reupholstered lounging sofas that beg to be placed in Don Draper’s office. Discarded original fabrics are even repurposed into teddy bears for today’s hipster toddlers. 716 W. Hazelwood St., Phoenix, 602-509-7709, modernmanorstore.com
Best Last-Minute Gifts
UNION at Biltmore
Buying gifts for family and friends can be a daunting prospect if you’re not one-clicking with an Amazon Wish List in hand. Enter UNION, an independently-owned mélange of tiny boutiques with a little something for everyone. The 7,200-square-foot-space is host to Citrine beauty products, several handmade jewelry vendors, “mommy and me” clothing retailer Mae & Marie, plus an onsite Forge Pizza to satisfy cravings while you shop. 2502 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, shopbiltmore.com/union
Kick Ass Kakes
Scottsdale Culinary School grad Jay Murphy built his reputation as an ace confection designer by crafting 6-foot-tall “show cakes,” including a life-size Lady Gaga doppelgänger that took two weeks to fabricate. It’s the pièce de résistance in a visual résumé that includes edible Prada purses, elegant wedding tiers and a lifelike Iron Man cake – every detail of which was handcrafted using edible ingredients and dyes. 4700 N. Central Ave., Ste. 105, Phoenix, 602-266-0533, thekakshop.com
Best Waiting Room for Bookworms
Noe Import Auto
Voracious readers might want to stick around after towing their ailing car to this well-stocked East Valley repair shop. With choices ranging from Across the Top of the World: The Search for the Northwest Passage and The Ancient Olympics: A History to Superman: The Dailies: 1939 to 1942 and a Sears Roebuck catalog from 1909, among many other tomes, Noe has the best auto-shop library we’ve ever seen. Never has a five-hour cracked radiator repair felt so literary. 63 E. McKellips Rd., Mesa, 480-834-0114, noeimports.com
Best Alternative Sweetener
SweetLeaf Natural Stevia Sweetener
Eschewing sugar is a noble goal, but a difficult one. Despite a glut of alternative sweeteners on the market, few actually taste good. Enter Gilbert-based Wisdom Natural Brand’s SweetLeaf line, available in everything from liquid vanilla crème for homemade treats to organic stevia sweetener packets and water drops in flavors like peach-mango and strawberry-kiwi. shopsweetleaf.com
Nail Spa 101
Guys have been known to neglect their feet now and again, sometimes to the point of resembling a komodo dragon from the ankles down. Cutting your toenails yourself when they get to this point can be both gross and strenuous, so why not turn it over the professionals? For just $23, the “Express Pedi” at Nail Spa 101 will give you back the soft, supple feet of a Raphaelite angel. Just what your lady wants. Village Center, 4326 E. Cactus Rd., Phoenix, 602-971-7400
Ugh, we get so sick of the dour anabolic goons and CrossFit clones who clutter mass-market gyms. Not to sound elitist, but sometimes you gotta pay to keep out the riffraff. So it goes with Village and their shiny assortment of yoga and Pilates classes, exotic sport programs like fencing and squash, and blessedly uncluttered weight rooms. It’s a shvitzer’s heaven. Four locations including: 4444 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-840-6412, villageclubs.com
Best Uniquely Arizona Souvenir
In the 1950s, renowned architect Paolo Soleri built his rustic residence, sculpture studio and foundry in the middle of what is now some of the Valley’s most prime real estate. Although Soleri died in 2013, the foundry still produces bronze and ceramic windbells that hang throughout the grounds, clanging in soothing, melodious tones. Each year, the foundries fashion about 50,000 bells. Prices range from $28 to close to $3,000. 6433 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd., Paradise Valley, 800-752-3187, cosanti.com
Best Tattoo Parlor
Fifth Estate Tattoo
Naturally, we love the name, with its implications of non-mainstream social forces and radical media, but the real reason we picked it: seven talented artists who don’t get tripped up on their own egos. Specializing broadly in Japanese naturalism, sailor-style old-school Americana and other becoming styles, the Fifth Estate inkists enage in a lot of constructive criticism and seem to inspire each other. It’s also a super clean and comfortable space, with leather couches and framed original art by the artists themselves. A grown-up tattoo parlor, you might say. 207 N. Gilbert Rd., Gilbert, 480-539-4280, fifthestatetattoo.com
Best Way to Liquidate an Estate
Kathy Dubs Estate Sales
Selling off a loved one’s personal property can be a somber, emotionally-fraught affair. That’s why Kathy Dubs is such a godsend. An estate-sale stager who got into the business when her own mother – who was a hoarder – passed away 13 years ago, Dubs personally sorts, organizes, spruces up, prices and stages the effects for sale. If that end table has a scratch, she’ll buff it out. If those back issues of National Geographic are worthless, she’ll throw them out. Essential services when you’re wading through grief. kathyestatesales.com
Best Local Online Shopping
An eBay for locally-made jewelry, clothes and furnishings? What took you so long? Founded in Scottsdale by technopreneur Scott Curry, it’s quite literally the only place to go when you want to pick up a Bunky Boutique T-shirt and an Arizona-made agate bolo tie in one fell swoop. scottsmarketplace.com
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