BEST BIKE SHOP 2002 | Cycle World | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Back in 1981, when Owen Lee and his wife Joan took a gamble on a business opportunity by purchasing a bicycle shop, it seemed a relatively straightforward enterprise. Inventory decisions were simple -- a limited number of manufacturers produced a limited number of models. Mountain bikes were unknown outside an elite group of enthusiasts in northern California. Since then the cycling world has been revolutionized. The number of manufacturers has exploded, and they're now producing numerous models, each available in a variety of sizes and colors. Lightweight aluminum frames have largely replaced heavy steel. Other technological advances, from shock absorbers to sophisticated shifting mechanisms, have transformed old fat-tire cruisers into sleek machines. Through it all the Lees, originally from Jamaica, have adapted and thrived. They've settled on Trek, Giant, and GT as their main brands, and stock numerous models of each. Volume purchasing allows them to lock in discounted prices. Three full-time mechanics means they can provide service seven days a week. They don't employ high-pressure salespeople and they value their customers enough to offer a 60-day in-house warranty for any problem at no cost (flat tires excepted). The Lees, who sell an average of 100 bikes each month, keep their expansive shop open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.



Pressing your nose against the windows of the ritzy furniture stores in Coral Gables has to stop. You can't afford what you stare at so longingly, and you're smudging a lot of glass. Yeah, yeah, furniture is an investment, but in this case saving pennies isn't an option. You just can't bring yourself to purchase a loveseat that rivals the cost of your rent. What to do? Stay in the Gables and saunter down the street to Spasics, where you'll find similarly stylish goods at significantly lower prices. That steel-and-glass adjustable Eileen Gray-designed side table you've lusted after for eons? A knock-off version here goes for $189, about $300 less than you'd pay for the "official" piece down the street. A black leather-and-steel tubing Le Corbusier-style chair that would command thousands elsewhere costs $895. Add to that an array of attractive and well-made bedroom and dining sets, living room furnishings, and an assortment of floor lamps (including a stainless steel torchère that seems to emit flames) hovering in the $140 range and you could be sitting, sleeping, eating, and seeing pretty sooner than you think. Those who know what they like but not how to put it together shouldn't despair. Interior design and lighting services are available.
Dolls are toys too! A toy emporium doesn't have to be packed with Pokémon, G.I. Joes, Beanie Babies, or remote-controlled cars. We'll admit it may be a little creepy walking into this two-and-a-half-year-old store, which is wall-to-wall dolls, and being stared at by a thousand pairs of eyes. But we're happy to report that one pair of peepers belongs to famous Spanish figure Mariquita Perez, a post-World War II favorite of many an affluent Latin girl. Mariquita, born in 1938 San Sebastian, Spain, sports a head full of long brown curls, big blue eyes, and a series of snazzy outfits and accessories -- straw hats, sundresses, sailor suits, and the like. Outside of Spain she is only available here, in a large porcelain-faced expensive example, an eighteen-inch vinyl version, or a mini model. In addition the eight shelves lining the long room offer playthings from the Asi Collection (designed by Angela Simon) and a slew of Madame Alexander collector's dolls, many decked out as fictional characters. Hansel and Gretel wear little lederhosen. The Wizard of Oz's Glinda the Good Witch gently wields her wand while her malevolent green-faced sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, fiercely rides her broom. Folks on a budget can pick up a book of paper dolls. And those who prefer stuffed animals over pretend people can choose from an assortment of terry-cloth-covered teddy bears, cows, and lambs. Shop Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. On Sunday the dolls get some shuteye.

Let's say that one day the devil jumps down your throat when you are caught with your mouth open, and from then on you are worse than miserable with bad luck and grief. You may be haunted, the victim of a spell. You may never know who is responsible. But let's say the only thing that will get you back on the upside of life is a one-ounce bottle of Go-Away Evil. Or in Spanish, Rompe Brujería. Marie Talia Noel has got it, at the reasonable price of three dollars. It is rose-colored, scented, and just before bedtime you can splash it on and then sleep while the demon flees. But let's say the Go-Away Evil is too weak and you remain in Beelzebub's grip. What to do then? At the number above, contact Papa Paul, a certified voodoo priest, who can mix up a custom elixir just for you.
Need we say mas?
The marketing-recycling phenomenon began in Minnesota in the Eighties with Once Upon a Child, the notion that kids outgrow their clothes, toys, and furniture so fast it's nuts to just keep buying new, then spread to sports (Play It Again), and lately to the electronic-communications frontier with places like Computer Renaissance. Out in Kendall Irv Richter has been doing bang-up volume on Wilson outfielders' gloves and Rawlings catchers' mitts ($7, $12, $30, depending on condition); exercise benches that go for hundreds at new retail but which he can move for $30; treadmills retailing at Sports Authority for $1800 to $2400 pricing out at $250; and home gyms that sell for $1500 to $3000 new going for between $200 and $600. "The average kid plays different sports in different stages," Richter explains, "and if you're a young mom or dad you might be buying for yourself too." If you can buy good merchandise at half or two-thirds off, what's the point of being snobby about "brand-new" status? Play It Again Sports will even let you give yourself discounts on trade-ins or tradeups, or selling on consignment. Even when the economy rights itself and bin Laden is just a memory, you may never want to return to Bal Harbour to shop again.
So your party is a hit. Somehow your pad is full of cool strangers who are mingling loudly around the keg of Pabst. As you approach the center you hear some chick bitching about the soggy suds being spit from the tap. Some geek is trying to impress her by dipping the spout below the canister. Although he insists he can muster up some cerveza, you know the cool brew will soon be gone. It's too late and you're much too drunk for a beer run, and letting the party sputter out will only kill your newly attained social standing. What to do? On Call Beer Express can save your sorry butt. They work the right hours (3:00 p.m. till 3:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and till 5:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday), and they stay sober so they can make door-to-door deliveries of all types of domestic and imported beers, plastic cups, cigarettes, and other party essentials all over Miami. The On Call guys also serve couch potatoes too lazy to make a beer run during prime time. They will gladly deliver the minimum order, a twelve-pack, to your front door.
They claim to be the largest adult bookstore in the entire U.S. of A. True? Who knows? Who cares? Size doesn't matter, right? This clean, well-lighted place for porn and sex toys, conveniently located near State Road 112 and busy 27th Avenue, has everything a sexy beast might need, from Astroglide to poppers to lingerie to dildos to anatomically correct lollipops. The store's array of new and well-kept video booths affords privacy to those customers who lack VHS equipment or who simply may not wish to bring home X-rated material. An added plus: The Playground shares parking lots with a Burger King and a check-cashing store, which provides discreet cover for those who are still shy about patronizing such places, even though it's perfectly legal.
Lurking behind a Miami Subs and a bikini shop on an awkward corner beneath the 163rd Street overpass, Moscow Video is a curious catch-all shop of videos, CDs, cassettes, Russian newspapers, and small, ornately decorated wooden boxes. Besides the Russian-language flicks you can enjoy the sublime pleasure of Eddie Murphy's comic masterpieces as translated into the mother tongue. But the most entertaining thing is just to linger in the aisles, casting furtive glances at the people renting the movies or getting their passport photos taken in the next room. Businessman? Housewife? Red Mafiya? Soak it up and speculate all you want.

"I knew you'd be back," says Stephane Amar with a satisfied smile. A few hours earlier you had stopped in at his shop on Washington Avenue searching for a new suit. His racks featured several sweet-looking suits from Europe. The fit could not be topped and the price was too low to believe. You were prudent, though. You said you wanted to shop around. But after a tour of every other boutique and shop on South Beach, you most definitely returned to La Squadra and to Amar, who was waiting. "You can't beat the price on a suit of this quality," he murmurs. "I knew I'd see you again." La Squadra is a small shop, run by Amar and his partner. The selection is not terribly vast, but the clothes they feature, for both men and women, are high quality and very stylish. After you try on the suit again, Amar offers up a Prada shirt, a Gucci tie, and a pair of square-toed dress shoes. But it doesn't feel as though he's piling on. He's not pushing. The accessories just happen to work perfectly. And their price, collectively, is as reasonable as the suit. You take the whole package, but not before Amar takes a call from his grandmother in his native Montreal. "Yes, I love you too," he says in French. You feel like joining in. Amar's a lovable guy. His shop is a lovely shop.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®