My goal is to let this blog, Explore Art: Phoenix, encompass local art galleries, museums and public art sites. But in the spirit of supporting all local businesses, not just those in the sphere of art, I thought it would be nice to use this blog platform to spotlight other locally owned and operated places where I have taken my business and which I am happy to recommend. I will exclude restaurants for now, for fear of turning this into an unwieldy list.
An important note: I need input from you, the readers of this blog, with suggestions for small businesses in the Phoenix area to highlight. Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Localfirstaz.com — The website of Local First Arizona is full of good ideas on where to take your business if you want to keep it local. I especially like their list of local agricultural producers, farmers markets and the like, as well as their “Small Wonders” pocket-size maps to local businesses in various neighborhoods.
And in alphabetical order —
Arizona Latino Arts & Culture (ALAC) — Next to ALAC’s art galleries is a small shop filled with the real deal when it comes to Latino-inspired arts and crafts. Thus, papel picado banners, colorful woven handbags, unusual T-shirts, small ceramics and baskets, religious iconography, and an assortment of Day of the Dead decorations. 147 E. Adams St., Phoenix.
Bedmart — If you have to buy a mattress or headboard, try one of the locations of this locally owned shop. I appreciated the low-key salesperson who didn’t try to add on unnecessary options. The website lists all locations.
Bike Barn — Kind of like with independent bookstores, I want independent bike stores to stay in business. Phoenix is fortunate to have a number of well-regarded bike shops. This is the one I take my ol’ bike to when it gets that inevitable flat tire. 4112 N. 36th St., Phoenix.
Bookmans — The kind of bookstore than can consume you for hours. Wonderful bargains on paperbacks, CDs, vinyl and DVDs. Swell T-shirts denouncing censorship, too. Locations in Mesa and northwest Phoenix.
Customatic.com — Part of the new Union collection of local merchants at Biltmore Fashion Park, Customatic.com gives the impression that almost anything is possible in home design and decor. The people behind the operation — architects and others — will build a minimalist/cool piece to your specifications. On display — to get your imagination going — are clocks, belt buckles, pet bowls, candlesticks and planters.
Greenfield Citrus Nursery — “Buy only Arizona-originated citrus trees, and buy from Greenfield” was the recommendation from a local community farmer. We followed her advice and were amazed by the nursery’s acreage out in the Lehi district of Mesa — and by the variety of trees. The nursery has been specializing in citrus for decades, and we love our new Meyer lemon tree.
GROWop handmade + found — This tiny oasis of chic and vintage clothing, jewelry, accessories and antiques is just south of Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix. It espouses a good cause too — supporting emerging designers. 902 N. Sixth St., Phoenix.
Hazel & Violet — The centuries-old practice of letterpress printing is alive and well at this small shop and classroom near Roosevelt Row. Stationery, coasters and posters take on a distinctive, vintage look. C’mon, you know you want ’em monogrammed! 724 N. Fourth St., Phoenix.
JAM — All manner of artisan-made jewelry, housewares, clothing and pet treats are jam-packed (you knew that pun was coming) into this historic bungalow-style home in Old Town Scottsdale. The location at 6938 E. First Street is quite photogenic, with welcoming benches and baskets of flowers, an American flag and a retro bike. Added features are JAM’s participation in a Thursday farmer’s market and a Friday food-truck get-together as well as an offering of cooking and crafts classes.
PaintEnvy — Emigio is a house painter extraordinaire and a nice guy to boot. His crew did a terrific job turning our white house to “smoked trout” brown. OK, it looks better than it sounds. 480-216-1777.
Paris Envy — Offering vintage and French-inspired home accessories and gifts for all ages, this boutique should be one of your stops when you explore the new Union shopping district at Biltmore Fashion Park, 24th Street and Camelback Road. Oui, oui, so charming. Here’s hoping the shop’s move from the Melrose area on Seventh Avenue proves successful.
R.C. Gorman Navajo Gallery — I consider this more of a store than a gallery, because I encountered a bit of a hard sell to buy a Gorman print when I walked in. Nevertheless, if you like Gorman, the flamboyant artist from Taos once called the “Picasso of the Southwest” (really?!), then this is the place to invest in his work. I have a Gorman print from the 1980s that I cherish. The recently opened store is on Marshall Way just south of Fifth Avenue in Scottsdale.
Sphinx Date Co. Palm & Pantry — Sphinx Date Ranch, a Scottsdale treasure trove of Arizona-grown medjool dates since 1951, recently rebooted into a combination gift shop/AZ wine and beer market/date milkshake bar. It’s still a lovely remnant of the Valley’s history of date farming and a handy place to pick up AZ specialty foods. 3039 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale.
SteamPunk Atrium — Wander through the Scottsdale Marketplace and you will come across this open-air market displaying mostly garden knickknacks and furniture, with an emphasis on Victorian and Industrial Age design. A sister store is open just one weekend a month at Sweet Salvage on Seventh Avenue. This location has regular hours: 6310 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale.
TeaTime — I love it when the tea expert on duty slides out a big box of tea leaves from the wall for you to smell — although it does make the decision harder. Not only does the shop have dozens of varieties of loose-leaf tea and tisanes, it also has a nice display of teapots, honeys and chocolates for sale. Stop by during a Thursday evening artwalk, perhaps: 7051 E. Fifth Ave., Scottsdale.
Tempe Camera — When I was a yearbook teacher in need of camera repairs (that’s right: expensive cameras in the hands of high schoolers … yikes), the folks at Tempe Camera always gave it to me straight as to whether the repair was worth it. It’s a great place to pick up used equipment, too. It’s at 606 W. University in Tempe.
Tempe Farmers Market — Here’s the answer for all of us who slap our heads and say, “I forgot to go to my weekly neighborhood farmer’s market today!” Tempe Farmers Market is open every day, offering locally grown produce and a slick selection of local goat and farmer’s cheeses, along with local bakery items and hormone-free meats. The indoor market is conveniently located near Arizona State University at 805 S. Farmer Ave., off University Drive.
Tony’s Auto Service Center — This AAA-approved auto repair shop has always given it to me straight (and not overcharged me!) whenever I have taken in an aging car. It’s a mainstay for car owners in the Arcadia area who don’t want to schlep themselves to a dealership.
Transfer for Less — When you need old videotapes or 8 mm film transferred to DVD, this is the place — offering pricing competitive with Costco and with the work taking place in the on-site lab. It’s family-owned, and the shop also will digitize audio cassettes and vinyl. I took old VHS tapes to the Phoenix location at 5835 N. 16th Street, but there are shops in Mesa and Sun City as well.
White Hawk Gallery — With a prominent spot on Scottsdale’s Fifth Avenue, the gallery is a good place to browse Native American art and jewelry. I want to recommend it for jewelry repair, though, and thank the team for turning an old turquoise ring of mine into a beautiful keepsake pendant.
William T. Jenkins Landscape — When you entrust a company with making over your tired-looking front yard, you want someone you can easily communicate your ideas to. John at William T. Jenkins is such a person. And the finished landscaping is drawing ooohs and aaahs. 602-957-1410.
Wisdom Nectar Tea — Caitlyn, the co-founder of this local organic tea and tisanes company, really knows her beverages. Each tea and herbal blend has a health and wellness purpose, we learned, as we sampled the Chai Garam at a recent Phoenix Public Market in downtown Phoenix. The chai was smooth and yummy. The tea blender can be found not only at the downtown Phoenix Saturday market, but also at the farmers market at Central and Northern.
Zia Records — The new digs at 19th Avenue and Camelback Road give ample space not only to CDs, but also DVDs, LPs and used books. I was pleased with how many of my used CDs the store purchased, as it gave me “funny money” to buy a few vintage ’70s rock albums — I’m getting back into using my old turntable.