Best Of :: Shopping & Services
In these uneasy economic times, it comes as no surprise that pawn shops are making record-breaking numbers of transactions. In Miami, especially, as the real estate bubble bursts, you can make some serious deals. And the definitive place to do business has to be Miami-Pawn, located smack in middle of bubble-bursting downtown. Open since the early Eighties, the place has clearly benefited from the condo boom. Fancy new buildings surround the shop, giving it an air of respectability and style sometimes absent from this sort of establishment. The entrance looks ultraclean, while the outside walls are painted white and blue, a nice contrast to typically dowdy colors. Inside you'll find top-quality flat-screen TV sets (a 32-inch Sony model was going for $500) along with plenty of bicycles, name-brand watches, and jewelry. There's also a varied collection of musical instruments such as Gibson guitars and Fender amps. Even better, the shop's employees are helpful and attentive, making the whole experience as pleasant as it can be.
Kendall Adult Video opened in 1991. During the past 17 years, this shop has withstood hurricanes, protesters, and digital porn. "People don't spend money here like they used to," says the store's co-owner, Robert. "By the time you put gas in your car and pay taxes, there isn't much money left." The Farm Stores market and Tony Roma's restaurant next door have both gone out of business. So come on, Miami, we need to show our support! Why? First, Kendall Adult Video has the largest selection of VHS tapes we have ever seen. From classics including Caligula and Deep Throat to celeb vids such as A Night in Paris and the Tommy Lee/Pamela Anderson romp. There's a section for each genre of porn: MILFs, she-males, 18-year-olds, homoerotic, black booty, anal-rama, monsters of cock, etc. And the place carries the entire Bangbus, Reality King, and 8th Street Latinas collections on DVD, which were all made in the Magic City. There are no "whack shacks," so sleazy dudes rarely lurk around here. There is also an overabundance of sex toys: fake human heads to stick your dick into ($70), a faux rubbery ass with artificial hair around the plastic hole ($99.99), dildos, butt plugs, blow-up dolls, and an assortment of lubes. For less than $60, you can buy a whole stack of porno mags from the sale rack. Don't forget to purchase a couple of those special ribbed glow-in-the-dark condoms. You might need them later.
With six months to go before Art Basel, you have just enough time to churn out a few primitive masterpieces and cash in on the insanity. What? You don't know how to paint? That never stopped an artiste from turning a buck before. Just wander down to the well-stocked I.D. Art, where actual (and helpful) artists will give you advice about how to gesso your canvas or wield a sgraffito tool. While you're there, ask about their workshops, so you can learn to act even more professional. The Beach outlet is small but has most of what you'd need in a rainy-day pinch. The store is housed inside ArtCenter/South Florida, so hang around for a little artistic inspiration (or wander next door to Romero Britto's space and smell the currency). By the way, if you need that special brush to finish off a painting but you're dripping in turpentine, have no fear — they deliver!
The closing credits are rolling on Jet Li's latest film, War, and you get the sudden urge to take your life from Occidental to Oriental. You realize you'll need 17 hours and a lot of yuan to get to China by air, but only a couple of minutes on I-95 and gas money to get what you desire. So you roll to Miami China City, and when the elephant statues perched in the window see you coming, they kinda smile. A walk through the double doors reveals a world of Chinese goods that will fulfill all of your needs; there's a feng shui luo pan compass to determine the path to good fortune, a calligraphy set for writing letters to newfound Hong Kong pen pals, a Japanese samurai sword for killing Bill, and a dose of horny goat tea for — well, you know. You wander the store picking up cans of litchi juice, Chinese exercise DVDs, and a cast-iron tea set, all with an authentic gong hooked onto the crook of your arm, a kimono thrown over your shoulder, and a Hello Kitty suitcase in your hand. The store is the size of a Walgreens and filled with more than 10,000 products ranging in price from 25 cents to 4,000 bucks. By the time you've walked it from end to end, you might not know what everything says or means, but you'll feel like you do.
You don't know shear stability from shock fade. You're a lug with a lug wrench, and c-clamps make you see red. In short, you just wanna turn the key and drive, dammit. That big, hot, noisy, greasy black monster under the hood that makes the wheels go 'round? It might as well be magical for all you know. And that's where G.T.O. comes in. If it's an easy fix, they'll say so. If your car simply needs new brake pads, they won't milk you for new rotors. They specialize in — as the name suggests — classic cars, but they can work on anything, including the Biscayne Park Police Department cruisers from up the street, which frequently mingle with the Mustangs, Chargers, and Volkswagens in the always bustling parking lot. G.T.O.'s hourly labor charge, $68, is about average, but it's a small price to pay to go on believing in the car fairies under the hood.
For nearly four decades, Obilio Gutierrez has held court at his quaint, three-chair establishment. It hasn't changed a lick since he first hung a shingle outside his door. The décor still boasts the same old pictures of Chevys, Fords, and yellowing classic roadsters. Holding forth on hot-button issues while nimbly snipping away, the Little Havana stalwart has groomed several generations of clients. The wait for a trim is never long, and a haircut costs a mere $8.