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EDITOR'S PICKS

Best Leather Goods
Ezra Arthur
Handcrafted leather wallets, belts, eyeglass cases, notebooks and rucksacks are all supple, elegant tributes to Ezra Arthur, whose four grandsons named their business after him and set up shop in Downtown Phoenix’s warehouse district to rejuvenate Arizona manufacturing. We think grandpa would be proud. 15 E. Jackson St., Phoenix, 602-326-9944, ezraarthur.com

 

Best Running Store
Runner’s Den
We’re a young city, so it seems downright ancient for a Phoenix business to date their roots to 1978. The Runner’s Den is family-owned and staffed with the most knowledgeable runners in the Valley, who are happy to assist you with your shoe, attire and water bottle needs. In fact, they’ll even run a gait analysis (how you strike the ground with your foot) to ensure the proper shoe fit. Happy news for high-archers. To meet new friends, join the fall training program for runners of all skills levels. 6505 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 602-277-4333, runnersdenaz.com

 

Best Chocolatier You Didn’t Know About
Chocofin in Fountain Hills
At this 20-year-old chocolatier, the owners start with high quality chocolate – such as Valrhona, Scharffen Berger or their own house-made small-batch confection – to create more than 30 kinds of hand-dipped goodies with fillings like roasted raspberry, espresso-Pernod and nutty caramel. Taste first. Then buy by the piece or by the bow-wrapped box. 13404 N. La Montana Dr., Fountain Hills, 480-836-7444, chocofin.com

 

Best Place to Drink Alone
Changing Hands Bookstore
Bookstores are ideal for “me” time. Wander the aisles solo or quietly read a chapter before you commit. At First Draft, the bar inside the Camelback location of Changing Hands, you can do all this with a pint of (often local) beer or a glass of wine in hand. 300 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-274-0067, changinghands.com/firstdraftbar

 

Best Fry’s Marketplace
Fry’s at Shea and Tatum
Nothing against Whole Foods, but after you set foot inside “Fancy Fry’s,” you won’t shop anywhere else. You can get made-to-order sushi, buy a new couch, pick up a cigar, nosh on Murray’s cheeses (it was the Greenwich Village-based company’s first foray into Arizona) and sip a glass of wine at the bar, all while having your car washed in the parking lot. That’s only when you’re not attending a cooking class or browsing the bookstore. 4707 E. Shea Blvd., Phoenix, 
480-367-3940, frysfood.com

 

Best Store for Joanna Gaines Wannabes
Rod Works
With the beloved HGTV series coming to an end this season, Fixer Upper fans can get their… well… fix of farmhouse chic décor at this boutique. In addition to appropriate accents for whatever holiday is coming up, there’s faux fruit and florals, tiered serving trays, salt and pepper shakers, sugar bowls and other tasteful kitchenware. To come full Chip and Joanna circle, just add shiplap. Two Valley locations in Gilbert and Phoenix, 480-988-7334, rodworks.com

 

Best Secret Elephant Graveyard for Comic Books
Monster Comic Books
Hidden like a superhero’s secret lair in an industrial park across from Tempe Marketplace, this emporium is crammed wall-to-wall with comics current and vintage. Major influxes of stock from stores gone defunct or downsizing collectors sometimes wash up here, to be sold off at a buck an issue. Nerds are advised to get on the email list. 1803 E. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe, 480-319-1985, monstercomicbooks.com

 

Best Shop to Discover Your New Favorite Wine
Hidden Track Bottle Shop
Forget about your go-to Chard. At Hidden Track, prepare for a vino voyage. The boutique wine shop is owned by Craig Dziadowicz, who has tasted every wine on the shelf and will never steer you wrong. For the adventurous, Hidden Track offers a $25 per month wine club that gets you two bottles a month, 12 percent off in-store purchases and waived tasting fees. For the less trusting, Dziadowicz hosts free monthly tastings geared toward introducing the masses to new and surprising varietals. 111 W. Monroe St., Phoenix, 602-566-7932, hiddentrackbottleshop.com

 

Best Place to Buy a Mid-Century Modern Lamp
Modern Manor
Lamps from the 1950s and 1960s were once so mainstream, they were found in virtually every suburban home in America (think: your gramma’s place in 1978). Their space-age design – simple lines adorned with globes and geometric patterns – is still highly coveted. Modern Manor has major vintage lamp game, and the inventory includes dozens of lamps ranging in style from sleek and streamlined to eye-catching and funky. Check website for new physical address. modernmanorstore.com

 

Best Outdoor Market
Phoenix Flea
It’s not your grandmother’s flea market – unless Granny loves hip artisanal goods. This pop-up market occurs one evening every few months at a different Phoenix locale and features cutting-edge wares from our city’s best artists, designers and makers. From punny tees to handcrafted wooden coasters, you’ll find everything to impress your coolest friends. Rotating locations throughout Phoenix. Instagram: @phxflea, phx-flea.com

 

Best Hairstyling Tools
TYME Iron Pro and BlowTYME Hair Dryer
Scottsdale “mompreneur” Jacynda Smith’s TYME curling irons and blow-dryers (named for the time they save busy moms and gals on the go) were not only dreamed up in the Valley – they were manufactured here, too. Ditch your banged-up Conair tools and buy local. tymestyle.com

 

Best Medical marijuana Dispensary
The Mint Dispensary
At 12,000 square feet, The Mint Dispensary is the largest medical marijuana facility in the state. After a remodel this spring, Mint debuted a new kitchen with goodies that go way beyond the brownies Mom made in the ’70s. A local chef who turned to nutrition and cannabis while undergoing cancer treatment created the menu of weed-infused burgers, wings, gelato, fresh-pressed juice and, of course, brownies. 5210 S. Priest Dr., Tempe, 480-749-6468, themintdispensary.com

 

Best Pop Culture Flair
Jar of Buttons
It’s a shame Jennifer Aniston’s character in Office Space never got to meet Brendan McCaskey. She would have found it much easier to wear 37 pieces of flair if she’d been able to pick from his plethora of pin-back buttons, enamel pins, vinyl stickers, keychains and magnets, which skew toward ’80s and ’90s movie heroines (Phyllis Nefler from Troop Beverly Hills, Laney Boggs from She’s All That), food puns (“Guac This Way” says a bowl of guacamole; “Penne for your Thoughts?” asks a bowl of pasta) and Arizona icons (geometric cacti, sherbet-colored sunsets). jarofbuttonsaz.com

 

Best Sassy Mugs
Love You a Latte Shop
Sometimes the only thing jazzing up a boring workday is the promise of hot coffee in a cute mug. At Goodyear-based Love You a Latte Shop, they take it a few steps further, emblazoning white mugs with whimsical illustrations and snarky sayings: “Mama Needs a Mother Effing Nap,” “Poop Juice,” “Cancer Picked the Wrong Bitch!” and some we can’t even print. loveyoualatteshop.com

 

Best Place to Play CSI for a Day
Crime Scene Forensic Supply Store
Calling all Forensic Files binge-watchers and wannabe private eyes: This place is for you. Some of the products at the tiny Phoenix walk-up give us pause. For example, what could the average person possibly do with a blood spatter analysis kit or a body bag? But other items are fun: crime scene drawing template, footprint casting kit, latent fingerprint lab, even evidence bag wrapping paper. 3602 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 623-565-8573, crimescene.com/store

 

Best Locavore Spa Service
60-Minute Vichy Treatment at Gainey Village Health Club & Spa
Become one with the Mogollon Rim in North Scottsdale, courtesy of this 60-minute, creosote-infused spa service. The plant’s leaves, also a natural antioxidant, are hand-picked and dried by the owners of The Herb Stop in Pine, then mingled with sea salt and infused in a grapeseed-Vitamin E oil to create a skincare product called The Monsoon Scrub. It’s massaged onto the body, then rinsed off under six showerheads. As the oil releases the musty, rainy scent from the botanicals, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported into the middle of a refreshing monsoon storm – minus the mud! 7477 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd., Scottsdale, 480-609-6980, villageclubs.com

 

Best Resort Spa
Joya Spa
We at PHOENIX have collectively been to a lot of great spas at a lot of great Valley resorts, but our consensus favorite is this Moroccan-Spanish number at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa. From the moment you walk in the door and get an eyeful of the exotic but elegant foyer, everything screams “event spa.” The treatments are innovative, and mood-correcting spaces like the crystal purification room add to the appeal. 4949 E. Lincoln Dr., Scottsdale, 480-627-3020, omnihotels.com

 

Best Pooch Play and Stay
Oh My Dog! Boutique Hotel & Spa
If you’re jetting out of town and can’t take Fido along, Oh My Dog! has got you covered. The Scottsdale pooch palace offers canine suites equipped with everything from plush dog beds to street-view windows to bottled water to flat-screen TVs streaming Amazon Prime, Hulu and Netflix. Pups also have access to the Heart Lounge, where they can socialize and receive hot towel treatments for face and feet before bed. 7137 E. Stetson Dr., Scottsdale, 480-874-1200, ohmydogboutique.com

 

Best Place to Rehab and Spot Pro Athletes
Fischer Institute of Physical Therapy & Performance
Currently the team physical therapist for the Arizona Cardinals, Brett Fischer also treats regular folks, weekend warriors, amateur athletes and a slew of professional MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL athletes at his 20,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art clinic. If you need physical therapy after knee surgery and you’re a rabid sports fan, this is the clinic for you. 5750 S. 32nd St., Phoenix, 602-437-5055, fischerinstitute.com

 

Best Electrician
Selberg Electric
We don’t always have terrific experiences with Yelp-anointed five-star service providers, but our dealings with AC/DC man Bryan Selberg have always been unqualified successes, from an affordable breaker box replacement to other, more mundane wiring jobs. What’s more, it always seems to be him doing the job, not one of his service minions, if he even has any. We suspect some kind of Multiplicity-style body duplication scheme is at play. Genius! selbergelectric.com

 

Best Mani/Pedi Experience
PROSE
Celebrate your hands and feet with a luxurious manicure and pedicure at PROSE, where nail artists pamper your digits with premium products in an earth-toned, spa-like setting. Monthly memberships are available for reduced rates. Founded by Massage Envy CEO David Crisalli, PROSE’s local backers include P.F. Chang’s chairman Rick Federico and Upward Projects CEO Lauren Bailey. Two Valley locations, myprose.com

 

Best Place to Throw a Dish Against a Wall
Simply Smashing
We could all use a stress reliever now and then. Tequila often does the trick. So does this “rage room,” where you’re free to process your emotions in a perfectly healthy way – by smashing ugly dishware in a cement room. (Take that, lime-green Depression glass!) Bludgeon a VCR with a baseball bat, a lamp with a hockey stick or a vase with a 9-iron, and go postal to your heart’s content. 1301 E. University Dr., Tempe, 602-909-1996, simply
smashingrageroom.com

 

Best Hub for New Moms
Modern Milk
After women’s health nurse practitioner Stephanie Nguyen had her first child, she recognized a void in services for new moms who needed vital information about breast feeding and parenting. In 2015, she opened Modern Milk, a one-stop motherhood shop offering pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding courses as well as fitness and yoga classes where new moms can learn, make friends, find support and bond with their babies. Two Valley locations, modernmilk.com

 

Best New Wedding Venue
The Clayton House
The Clayton on the Park folks have expanded to accommodate bigger crowds at The Clayton House, just east of Scottsdale Civic Center Park. The new contemporary space sports high ceilings, exposed block walls and an industrial-chic-meets-rustic interior with wood, metal and glass features throughout. The airy, light-filled venue has three indoor/outdoor event spaces that can handle up to 300 wedding guests and 700 corporate guests. 
3719 N. 75th St., Scottsdale, 480-990-7300, theclaytonvenues.com

 

Four Corners
Best Local-Only Shop
Looking to go local, or go home? There’s a cool local gift shop with AZ-dominant inventories in a neighborhood near you.

North Valley
Cave Creek Christmas Company
It’s Christmas all year long at this glittery shop tucked inside the Horny Toad restaurant. Pluck an ornament from one of the many themed trees (the Southwest tree is decked with miniature pistols, cowboy hats and cacti) or shop from an impressive array of locally crafted goods, like handmade vinyl clutches from Madalyn Nault Accessories and recycled leather cuffs from Casual Cuffs. 6738 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, 480-488-9542, cavecreekchristmascompany.com

West Valley
Woods & Whites
Malls aren’t typically purveyors of one-of-a-kind finds, but Arrowhead Towne Center has a quaint little outlier in Woods & Whites, an artisan marketplace that stocks hand-woven textiles from around the world, antique furniture and art from Valley creatives like Hello Sparrow Studio (floral mixed-media pieces), Spoonful of Freckles (femme onesies and lacy toddler rompers) and Lyn Sixty (bohemian jewelry). 7700 W. Arrowhead Towne Center, Glendale, 480-459-2793, woodsandwhites.us

East Valley
Sibley’s West
Inside this sweet-smelling shop in downtown Chandler, find homemade candles, lotions, soaps, ornaments, spices, even the popular Cactus Candy, all of it made by local artisans or businesses. If it features Arizona imagery, such as cutting boards carved out of mesquite wood into the state’s shape, a 10-foot-tall metal saguaro sculpture or T-shirts from Phoenix-based State Forty Eight, all the better. Books by local authors are also featured. 72 S. San Marcos Pl., Chandler, 480-899-4480, sibleyswest.com

Phoenix
Practical Art
Repurposing is a passion for artist and photographer Lisa Olson. As owner and proprietor of Practical Art, a Phoenix boutique that carries solely locally made art and products, she champions up-purposed casualties of disuse, like the wine barrel Lazy Susans created by Jim Daut and the robots Aaron Voigt crafts from car parts. All original, all emblematic of the Valley’s rise-from-the-fire spirit. 5070 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-264-1414, practical-art.com

 

2018 Best of the Valley Best Group Wellness Trend
Phoenix Community Acupuncture
3806 N. Third St., Phoenix 
623-242-0541
phoenixcommunityacupuncture.com
A Treat issues such as chronic pain, migraines and depression by course-correcting your qi (energy flow) through needle points.
A A white-noise-infused room of comfy recliners channels group energy into healing .
A Payment is on a sliding scale of $17-$35, so body balancing costs less than an oil change.

vs.

Current Meditation
4325 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix 
602-522-2000 
becurrent.com
A Reduce stress, improve sleep and give your brain a hug in guided group meditation classes.
A Choose between a grounded pose or swaying in a cocoon-like silk hammock in a 25- or 45-minute class with sound therapy.
A First class is free. Drop-in fee is $22.
Unlimited membership costs $89 a month.