Best Of :: Shopping & Services
Volume means choice. Divers Direct Outlet has both. The 5000-square-foot Florida City showroom is thick with masks, fins, wetsuits, buoyancy compensators, tanks, regulators, spear guns, underwater cameras, and diving computers. This is important because one needs to compare and contrast. Finding the right piece of equipment is absolutely essential with dive gear. No one can afford a leaky mask or an ill-fitting fin 80 feet underwater. Major brands carried include Aqua Lung (formerly U.S. Divers), Mares, Dacor, and SeaQuest. Because Divers Direct Outlet (formerly Divers Outlet) is part of a chain founded in 1984 and based in Deerfield Beach, it can afford to keep its shelves stocked deep. All the workers are certified in the sport, with a scuba instructor and dive master also on staff. The store does teach and certify divers, but they don't try to diversify too much beyond that. Repairs are done offsite in Key Largo. There are no charter trips based out of the shop. "We pretty much stick to retail," manager Candy Tamborrino says, and they do it daily from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Folks in South Miami-Dade take their baseball seriously, and so does Hitter's House. The store features four batting cages where a practicing slugger can get twenty pitches for just $1.25. Special hourly team rates are another indication that Hitter's House understands that the nation's favorite pastime is not just another sport. Autographed photos and baseball cards are available for collectors. Hard-core playing enthusiasts can find just about every piece of baseball gear available, from mitts to mouthpieces.
This bike shop has been around since 1944; the oldest bike it carries -- a rare Packard found nowhere else in Florida, so they say -- dates to 1902. Yes, Broken Spoke specializes in antique bikes. For instance there's the toddler bike, circa 1920, that belonged to one of the Rickenbacker children. Chris Marshall, Broken Spoke's owner, says he purchased it from a former caretaker of the Rickenbacker home. Iggy Pop rented two Schwinn Sting Rays from Marshall for a music video. At the end of production, the aging punk rocker fell in love with the bikes, bought them, and had them transported to Europe. Marshall's bikes have even starred in Hollywood blockbusters such as There's Something About Mary. His peddled prizes have been featured in national magazines. Double Trouble, an ice-blue six-wheeler, wins the local low-rider shows every time, Marshall says. But Broken Spoke's most impressive bike hangs from the shop's ceiling. It's called Silver Bullet, and at first glance it almost looks like a Harley. How's that for a bike shop?
These people will sharpen everything from chain saws to steak knives. And when they are done, owner Dennis Hollinger promises you will be able to shave a hair on either edge. At $1.50 per knife, this kind of kitchen convenience is a bargain. Open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., the Tool Shed also features an excellent selection of knives for sale, both of the culinary and pocket variety.
Mitchell Kaplan has lotsa books. Books and books. He has books on photography, architecture, film, and music. Books of poetry and works of literature. Books by great authors. Books by obscure writers. Books on Cuba. Books on boxing. Books carried by no other bookstore in town. Kaplan has so many books, he moved to a new Coral Gables location this year, across the street from his old one. Much bigger. More room for his books. If you can't make it to Coral Gables, drop by the Lincoln Road store. It, too, is filled with books. Books and books and books.
Tucked in a tree-lined corner of Allapattah, this stucco garage painted with frescoes of San Lazaro and Santa Barbara is the real deal. Pigeons, doves, and roosters coo in cages in the back, ready to give it up for the orishas. Antlers hang overhead, and the shelves are stuffed with boxes of twigs, roots, and herbs. Everything you'd ever need to please your santo is here, as well as a plethora of potions, charms, and trinkets. If you don't know what you're doing, the friendly staff is happy to advise you. While you can find many an oddity, the hours are not one of them: Open 9:00 to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.