Old school is the way Sidney Kaufman describes his one-of-a-kind arts emporium. Indeed this spacious shop is frozen in time. At the 24-year-old Palette, you can find graphic-arts supplies that haven't been available in most stores since the dawn of the computer age. Transfer type, which was used to do layout before the advent of Quark, can be purchased here. But it won't be around for long. Manufacturers have stopped making it, complains Kaufman, who has been in the business 55 years. The Palette also offers stuff to get you started on blast-from-the-past art forms like screen printing, block printing, calligraphy, and bumper-sticker making. Of course there timeless oil paints are available in every hue imaginable. Watercolors and acrylics abound. And there are fiber-tip pens, charcoal, drafting gear, easels, china markers, artists' pencils, and recycled artist paper. Art students even get discounts at the Palette. "We try to look out for them," says Kaufman with a sympathetic smile.
Marriage stale? Bored with your boyfriend? Feeling more stagnant than sexy? Before hunting for a divorce lawyer or breaking the monotony with small animals, try Oxys. Almost every clothing fantasy is accommodated in this emporium, which offers wares that make Victoria's Secret's selection seem like Sunday-school attire. In the front room are fantasy outfits like jungle girl or French maid, as well as a wide range of thongs, teddies, nightgowns, crotchless panties, and bustiers. The message is clear: Less is definitely more. The most popular color seems to be fire-engine red. The back room holds novelty items -- whips, vibrators, lotions, and edible undies. "It lets you keep on being creative, baby," says store owner Barbara Houghton, who has catered to adventurous patrons for the past ten years. Oxys is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
If you want to track down your favorite DJ during daylight hours, head for the row of turntables inside Yesterday & Today, which retains its long-time position as ground zero for the doyens of clubland. The reasons are simple: a friendly and knowledgeable staff, weekly infusions of new releases (including a steady stream of white-label twelve-inchers), and a mellow vibe that's conducive to hanging out and catching up on the latest dance-scene gossip. Best of all, hometown hero DJ Stryke has recently returned to his place behind the counter, and he's spiced up the store's stock with some left-field techno and experimental grooves.
It's hard to find a knowledgeable gun owner who recommends any place other than Lou's. All the brands are in stock: Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer, Colt, Beretta, Taurus, Glock, et cetera. And of course all the ammo and accessories are here, too. But that isn't really what sets Lou's apart. It's no secret the gun industry is going through some big changes, and independent stores are having a hard time of it. Gun shows are taking away a lot of business, and anti-gun sentiment is forcing many owners to feel and act persecuted. Substantial numbers of local retailers have closed in the past few years. Lou's, however, has retained a solid clientele by selling weapons for the best prices and providing up-front, honest information about arms and the laws that govern their use. Owner Lou Garcia is a former law-enforcement officer, and his staff knows their product. "Lou's a straight-shooter," unintentionally puns a veteran gun enthusiast and collector. "Good prices. Just go in and buy the damn gun, legally of course.... I would say I've never heard anyone say anything bad about Lou, whereas most of these other [gun dealers] I wouldn't turn my back on."
After so many years it's reassuring that owner Mitchell Kaplan sometimes answers the telephone at Books & Books. Aside from their many tangible qualities -- a great selection, regular readings by nationally and internationally known authors, and a cool kids' section -- the stores are distinctive because they have improved and evolved while retaining their essential charm. Last year Kaplan took the cyberspace plunge. And coming in October: a new home. Kaplan plans to move the Gables store from its present location to the Mediterranean-style historic building (265 Aragon Ave.) across the street. The move will double the size to more than 6000 square feet and allow for a courtyard cafe. All is not copacetic, though. Kaplan's smooth monotone belies his anxiety. "It's a risky time in the book business," he volunteers. It's another big investment in a literate community, whose support, the bookseller is quick to point out, has allowed his business to survive.
Although he's only worked here for thirteen years, Guido Dominguez claims a newsstand has been on this corner for forty-three years. If that's true the place is almost half as old as the City of Miami. As the number of bilingual citizens has grown, so has the quantity of reading material in languages other than English, Dominguez says. Four decades ago there weren't many Chileans around to buy the newspaper El Mercurio, which today figures prominently in the racks. In bygone days soccer didn't register as a sport in Miami; today soccer magazines El Gráfico and Don Balon are fast-selling items. Long ago Brazilians rarely visited downtown Miami; now Brasileros often grab O Estado de São Paulo. There also are entertainment magazines such as Caras (kind of like People's Spanish-language edition) and the famous TV y Novelas (sort of like Soap Opera Digest but with more flair). News magazines such as Año Cero also abound. For the less serious reader, there's El Condorito, a comic-book series featuring guess what bird.

Best Design Firm That Doubles As A Record Store

Plex

Look closely at the most creative flyers touting the barrage of DJ events in Miami, and you're sure to spot the Plex credit. The firm is the creation of graphic-design team Steven Castro and Rick Garrido, who have done some gleefully twisted stuff. Less well-known is the appointment-only record store the duo operates out of their Lincoln Road office. The selection isn't voluminous but the accent is on quality, not quantity. They peddle vinyl that's truly underground (and otherwise impossible to find in this neck of the swamp), from off-kilter artists such as Detroit's neoelectro tweaker Ectomorph, Minneapolis idm creepy-crawler Jake Mandell, and Berlin's dubbed-out Chain Reaction crew.
Entering this flea market seems like a trip to the Caribbean. Meandering among the throngs of customers that cram the hundreds of stalls every weekend, one can hear a Jamaican lilt, Haitian patois, and Dominican-accented Spanish. The blaring music is equally eclectic; it ranges from gospel to salsa. You can buy almost anything here, from palm readings to power tools. The most frequently proffered items, though, seem to be toiletries and children's clothes. At the southeast end's bustling food market, you can purchase fruits, vegetables, fish, and meat. Or you can enjoy fresh-squeezed orange juice and coconut milk. Settle back. Take your time. You're in the islands now.
If you're a yuppie, this may not be the place for you. It's not in hip South Beach. Not even in kinda-hip South Miami. It's on NW Seventh Avenue, in an area some might charitably call industrial. And hey, there's not a lot of Lycra here, but there is a 1973 Orange Crate stingray, which sells for $2200. Owner Chris Marshall has rented bikes to movie and television producers, including the hipsters who made There's Something About Mary. And Broken Spoke is one of Florida's oldest cycleries, having opened nearby in 1944; it's been in its present location since 1976. The store has a few road bikes and a solid collection of off-road models at decent prices. Marshall, who sponsors a team of off-road racers, was instrumental in setting up a cycling course in Oleta State Park, and he's advocating for another at Miami-Dade's Amelia Earhart Park. What's more important, Marshall fixes flats for kids who need help, just like neighborhood bike peddlers of yore. "We are a family shop," Marshall says emphatically.
This little warehouse has a large, knowledgeable staff and the best selection of gear in town. Balls include the phosphorescent yellow Diadora ($17) and the traffic-cone-orange Fila ($25); cleats range from a $38 pair of black-and-white Diadoras to the flashy $152 Puma Cellulators; Adidas and Umbro shin pads start at $15. What do you need to judge the joint besides the endorsement of Juan Carlos Michia, a loyal customer who happens to be the U.S. Soccer Federation's head scout in the United States? "They can help you with any product you want," raves Michia, a native of Argentina who played pro ball in the United States. As any soccer mom knows, fútbol-mania extends far beyond the field. Store hours are 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. This giant locker for all things soccer is closed Sunday.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®