Unlike hoity-toity florists who emanate attitude, Malou and Melita Corrigan, the mother-daughter duo who opened this down-to-earth business a year and a half ago, want to bring flowers to the people and people to flowers. That's why their shop and nursery provide worldwide wire service and delivery throughout Miami-Dade. It's also why their friendly designers (six on staff) are thrilled to artfully arrange your buds in elegant English country, lush tropical, or minimalist nouveau styles. And it's why their room-size Frigidaire is always open to those who want to throw on a sweater and pick out a few stems. More than 50 types of blooms include everything from a 99-cent daisy to a variety of orchids. Their selection of containers ranges from glass vases to planters made from aluminum, stone, terra cotta, and hefty, painted plastic. What? You don't like live flowers? They also have dried ones and other landscape-worthy greenery. Pistils 'N Petals also offers the occasional flower-arranging class, art exhibition, and special event. Proprietors sometimes even rent out the place for parties; the airy space's rich, eggplant-colored walls and gurgling fountain provide a tranquil, conducive atmosphere. Granted, prices may be high (this is South Beach, after all), but every week P&P offers specials; Thursdays there are deals on lilies, Friday nights bring bargains on a dozen roses, and Saturdays deliver discounts on tropicals. Frequent flower buyers are rewarded with ... What else? More flowers. Those who make twelve purchases of fifteen dollars or more receive a free bouquet.
Looking for a date, mister? Well you're probably not going to find one here. What you will discover, aside from an astonishing assortment of Middle-Eastern foodstuffs and yummy prepared provisions, is a lovely selection of hookahs. Yes, hookahs, those lamp-like contraptions that people have used for smoking since the dawn of time. If you require a regular dose of Paul Bowles's novels and dream of a trip to Marrakesh, then try a visit to Daily Bread. It's the first step into transforming your casa into a casbah. The marketplace offers hookahs made of glass in myriad colors and tall brass models adorned with hanging crystals. They range in price from $65 to $185. Fill one with water and a bit of this or that, then light up. Positively smokin'.
Last year's winner in the Best Florist category indeed offers a good and reasonably priced selection of flowers. But it's those remarkable piles of chicken wire, papier-mâché, and tempera paint in front of Gerardo Rios's store that make the place truly miraculous. Wondering how to track the change of seasons in the subtropics? Just take a spin down Biscayne Boulevard and watch the curbside sculptures at Rios's florería transform from giant Valentine heart, to shamrock, to Easter bunny. But the year's highlight is, yes, a twenty-foot-tall (give or take a foot or two) turkey that's enough to make you forget that New York department-store parade with the big floating dummies.
This is the place to find beautiful velas dedicated to the Virgin of Charity, the Virgin of Guadalupe, and every saint, healer, and power in between. It's all the better if you happen to be partial to Mexican heroes; you'll find candles dedicated to Pancho Villa, Nino Fidencio Constantino (a healer just south of the Texas-Mexico border), and Don Pedrito Jaramillo (another healer north of the border). But if your soul leans toward Caribbean spirituality or classic Catholicism, take heart. La Virgencita floats serenely over the Bay of Nipe; the Virgins of Regla and Merced are here, too. So are Santa Barbara, San Lazaro, San Judas Tadeo, and San Miguel Archangel. Then there's the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And there are candles for Eleggua, Changó, and the Seven African Powers. You even can find cruder candles that promise general good fortune, luck in your court case, power over your enemy, control over your lover, and, of course, lots of money.
You paid a pretty penny for that bottle of perfume and every time you spray on the scent it lasts less than a nanosecond? Sucker! There are two solutions to your dilemma: (1) Stock up on $100 bottles, or (2) visit the Fragrance Shop, where they can bootleg, er, re-create your favorite designer perfume. The educated noses at this place claim their scents last up to eight hours. They say you can find almost anything you need here. After inspecting the mahogany-paneled, apothecary-like location and testing the aromas issuing from the hundreds of bottles lining the shelves, we believe them. Their smallest vial of custom-blended fragrance lasts anywhere from eight to ten months and runs around $45, depending on how many oils are used; an existing house-blend runs about $25. Because you'll be saving tons of money on perfume, why not go all out and purchase a stunning, hand-blown glass bottle from the front window? The fragile trinkets are made by artists from all over the country. They'll only set you back $35 to $750.
The full-size metal horse above the main entrance suggests something slightly surreal may be inside. And it is. Six decades of flotsam and some jetsam from estate sales, garage sales, and sundry merchandising events are jammed into this museum of a store. Along with a plethora of tables, chairs, lamps, clocks, mirrors, and glassware, there's plenty of unusual stuff: a set of copper cups made in Mexico; an old iron bucket; a wooden chair that rocks on a wooden hinge mechanism; and a cow mailbox, just to name a few finds. And price is not an object. Proprietors are ready to barter. Their mantra: "If you see something you like, we'll work with you."
How many takes on the old in-and-out are there? you ask. For 28 years the Pink Pussy Cat has been counting the ways, making it one of the oldest such stores in Miami-Dade County. Among the shop's impressive lineup of toys are ones that vibrate in every conceivable direction and others that buzz in a frenetic frenzy. At the apex is the five-inch-long, $100 Japanese-made Rabbit Pearl, which seems to move with a mind of its own. "All the products are tried out by the staff," says Anna, an extremely knowledgeable assistant manager. In fact the staff is one of the store's strong points. At one time Doris Wishman, a B-movie director and cult figure, worked behind the counter. Anna explains that about 85 percent of the store's clients are women. "We're very friendly, and we definitely make the customer feel comfortable." Men are most welcome, too, Anna adds. She says she often must reassure male customers that they are not obsolete. "Nothing can replace a man," she remarks.
With all due empathy for those who must hawk personal belongings in order to eat or pay rent, we look for one thing in our pawnbrokers: selection. We come to shop. Here we find two rooms of immaculately arranged, clean, classily presented items, including the usual array of jewelry and home electronics. There are hundreds and hundreds of CDs (three bucks per); several acoustic, electric, and bass guitars; a homemade guitar; violins; even a Russian balalaika. You can find a couple of sets of congas, keyboards, a clarinet, a saxophone, plenty of amps, microphones, equalizers, and even a sixteen-track Alesis mixing board. We also inspected the motorcycle helmets, tools, bikes, refrigerators, videos, golf clubs, and air conditioners... Don-Z has a vast cache of cameras and lenses, including some top-of-the-line collectibles (displayed in their own cases), such as a Nikon F, Rolleiflex, Leica R4, and a Swiss-made Alpa. The 25-year-old store has scales, lamps, vacuum cleaners, typewriters, and computers. The place has great service, great prices, and treats its customers with dignity. We even love Don-Z for what it does not have: guns.
Dayna Wolfe first visited the Bahamas as a teenager. Since then she's traveled to the island nation every year, even living there for two years as a painter. She is so inspired by the sun-dappled flora and architecture that their colors explode from her trays, mugs, plates, vases, and tiles. In fact the interior of her store, in the heart of the funky Design District, is so boldly painted that the place practically vibrates. The walls are "cornflower yellow" and the columns are "coral-shrimp pink." Wolfe also sells paintings and a coloring book, both done in her trademark naive style. Her pottery is exceptionally fun. She imports unenhanced stuff from Italy and Portugal, then paints, fires, and glazes it in her shop. Coffee cups, bowls, and platters ranging in price from $20 to $200 are decorated with mango-orange, lizard-green, and Bimini-blue images of fish and fruit markets. Wolfe describes her work as "very primitive, very decorative, and very happy." Indeed that's why she paints. "Everybody should be happy."

Parents have found myriad ways to garb their wee 'uns. Some cute them up with silly costumes, some make them clothing clones in miniature replicas of mommy- and daddy-wear, some even go the designer route to prepare their offspring for lives of conspicuous consumption. But in our view, there's something to be said for simple, good taste. Not too formal, but nice and proper. La Ideal offers a sprawling selection of wardrobe fillers, all of them tasteful, some of them downright classic. Along with the ready-for-school designer lines (Buster Brown, Oshkosh), the store carries togs from Brazil, Colombia, Spain, and other parts of the world. This is the place for communion dresses and christening gowns, kimonos, Italian socks, and just about anything for tykes, from newborn to age fourteen. Along with the junior apparel, La Ideal displays an array of rug-rat shoes, sporting goods, strollers, and furniture. The outlet is roomy and bright, the service expeditious and polite. (Another La Ideal on Flagler Street offers adult clothes and sporting goods, but the Hialeah store specializes in kid stuff.)

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®