The weekend bazaar at the Flagler Dog Track features the same sprawling grid of junk and gems that could be found at most other flea markets. But no other pulguero in town has the sonic boom of the jetliners that land at the airport nearby. And the rows of goods are treasure troves of the cheap and cheesy. To be found in its ample aisles of vendors: five-dollar shoes, kung fu sabers, roosters, fruit stands, bongs, computers, polyester lingerie, baptismal gowns, corn dogs, snow cones. An eclectic mélange set to the beat of hip-hop, bachata, and merengue emanates from the myriad music stands. Fifty cents gets you in the door; parking is free. Bring dollar bills to haggle. Go home with accouterments for the new you.

If you're serious about movies, there're really only two choices in town for renting a video. Coral Gablers head for Lion Video, while South Beach-ites opting for a night spent curled in front of the VCR swing by New Concept Video. Both feature a wide array of foreign flicks and indie offerings (many notably absent from your local Blockbuster), but for the geographically ambivalent pondering which way to turn, New Concept gets the nod if only for its sprawling selection of gay cinema. Therein you'll find just about everything, from the original British version of Queer as Folk (decidedly racier -- and wittier -- than the Americanized remake presented by Showtime) to Cruising, the 1979 cult classic featuring an oh-so-butch Al Pacino as an undercover cop making the NYC leather scene. Hoo-ah!
John Diaz takes incredible pride in the roast pig his supermarket provides on special order. Each one is fresh. Each is seasoned in bitter orange and garlic and then cooked for about five hours. Diaz charges by the pound for the pig and $35 to cook it. A 60-pound pig will run you about $125. If you are throwing a party, there is no better guarantee of guest happiness (next to the booze). After Diaz is finished roasting, the meat is so succulent and tender it practically melts in your mouth. Best to give him a couple of days notice though. If not he might have to use a frozen pig, and it's clear, perfectionist that he is, it breaks his heart to do so.

If you've ever stepped on a Lego block in the middle of the night, you probably have little desire to see one of the knubby little bastards again -- unless, of course, you're buying them for someone else's kid. If that's the case, wouldn't you like to patronize an independent local shop rather than some huge chain with an overgrown giraffe for a mascot? Welcome to Toy Town, where the staff is friendly and helpful. And since the people who work there aren't preoccupied chasing kids armed with hockey sticks and Koosh balls down runway-size aisles, they can devote plenty of attention to helping you find the perfect gift for a little loved one -- whether it's educational toys, craft projects, an addition to her Hello Kitty arsenal, or the latest robotic Lego set. Toy Town has some big-store conveniences, too: a merchandise catalogue, online ordering, and customer-service perks the megastores can't muster, such as gift wrapping and free delivery for Key Biscayne residents (but don't push your luck by asking them to drop off a single Beanie Baby).
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.
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.

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?
Franco Carretti did costume design for the Italian film director Sergio Leone and a raft of others, including John Huston, before moving to Miami in 1980. His collection of guises, vintage clothing, and meticulously rendered period pieces fills the upper stories of a four-story shop in the Design District. ABC caters to professionals. Designers from movies, television, and commercial shoots come here for Roaring Twenties gangster glam, Edwardian chic, Sixties hippie, and Seventies disco-mod. Seamstresses at ABC also sew original designs. A staff that builds those fantastic feathered headdresses and slinky showgirl outfits for the cruise-ship extravaganzas can handle most requests. No wonder amateurs like us line up around the block come Halloween to choose from the more than 20,000 outfits ABC has for rent. The selection runs the gamut of the alphabet -- from Adam and Eve and the Andrew Sisters to Zorro (called the Z-Bandit), albeit skipping a few letters here and there. In between A and Z there are Jane Fonda as Barbarella, the Beatles circa Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Jackie before she became O, as well as Batman, the Bride of Dracula, the Statue of Liberty, and an assortment of animals, including a frog, dog, chicken, cat, rabbit, parrot, pig, and rat. See ABC's Website for hours and a map.

"We design motorcycles that the client chooses from his dreams," Steven Baroukh says in a lilting French accent. Baroukh, along with his wife, Beatrice Ummels, and partner Yves Blanco, take standard-issue motorcycles and turn them into swooping constructs of steel and chrome. To review the designers' work is to transcend the conventional idea of what wheels, fenders, and engines do. They are themselves dreamers, romantics who sculpt everyday lead-sleds into organic, sensual shapes. A completely custom-built motorcycle can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $72,000. By then the design team's hands will have caressed every inch, internal and external, to lovingly bring it to shape. "Like a beautiful statue, we will bring smoothness to the form," Baroukh explains. "We create the parts, we weld them, we cut them." They've created outré concoctions such as a bike whose frame was encased in the shape of a woman on her back with her knees up, and a futuristic teardrop-shape white rocket. But as much as their focus is form, they are equally dedicated to function. Designs are thoroughly vetted to make sure custom parts won't interfere with the alignment, steering, and weight distribution of the bike. Joints are welded and tested. Bike owners don't need to completely reinvent their scooters. For between $3500 and $6500, the shop will customize a bike with paint, chrome, handlebars, fenders, and mirrors. They also do restoration work on vintage motorcycles. As Baroukh reminds, "Motorcycles are made to ride."

The first thing that hits your snout when you walk in the door is the intoxicating scent of hundreds of pairs of new leather boots. Then you notice the studded dog collars, horse whips, chaps in assorted primary colors, tubes of "ultrafine horse glitter." A South Beach fetish shop you haven't heard of? Nah, just a one-stop shop for horse owners, dog lovers, wild-bird feeders, and people who can't own too many large silver belt buckles. As you browse the astonishing array of avian comestibles ("Classic Finch," "Fancy wild bird w/corn," or "D'lux wild bird -- no corn"), chew hooves for dogs, and calf ropes, keep your eyes peeled for a sweaty ten-gallon hat and your ears tuned to the sound of jangling spurs. Still owned by the same family, now in its third generation, Sunset Feed & Supply opened in 1960, back when cowboys were REAL cowboys.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®