Best Of :: Shopping & Services
We were getting our tennis racket strung here, and while we were waiting we talked to a young sales guy about buying some golf clubs. He had an excellent grasp on the equipment. He also had a good handle on its recent history, to wit, how leading manufacturers in the Eighties lost their grip on the market when new companies strolled in with new designs such as bigger heads on drivers. Ping, Yonex, and Callaway outdrove industry leaders like Top Flight and Dunlop. But our salesman really hooked us by proving to be a straight shooter. He was able to slice through all the marketing hype associated with name brands and pros. "Let's face it," he said. "The pros get paid to play with certain equipment." Consequently it can be quite expensive. For instance Don's deal on a set of eleven graphite-shaft Honma clubs with titanium-head irons (pitching wedge included) can cost you less than $1700. But you also can avoid handicapping your bank account that much, our salesman pointed out. For instance you can get a decent set of graphite-shaft woods and metal-shaft irons for $300. You can check out how they feel with a couple of chip shots from a patch of AstroTurf into the net that hangs from the ceiling. Just a short drive by car from the Miami Shores golf course (or a long drive if you're using a one-wood), the store has been here for 32 years. Owner Don Barker has an autographed photo of Seventies champion Billy Casper on a wall in the corner to prove it.
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.