BEST VIDEO STORE 2002 | New Concept Video | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
If you're looking for a stark example of the difference between a corporate giant and a locally owned emporium, just mosey through the carefully stocked aisles of New Concept Video, which serves up practically everything its surrounding community is after: imported fashion magazines, of-the-moment dance-music CDs, and of course an array of offbeat titles -- both new and old, foreign and homegrown. What really makes New Concept shine, however, isn't just the presence of recent highly touted indie flicks that never graced Miami's theaters (Lisa Picard is Famous, Wet Hot American Summer, George Washington, the list sadly goes on), but a redefinition of that very phrase "blockbuster." Don't have Showtime? Still curious about that cable channel's gay telenovela Queer As Folk and its resultant buzz? Forget about hitting your nearest Blockbuster. That chain's Miami outlets dithered for more than two months before finally overcoming prudish moral concerns and deciding to stock tapes of the series' episodes. As for other "controversial" films, such as Bad Lieutenant, Blockbuster demands its very own customized edit before it'll deign to carry the picture. Over at New Concept, however, from its first day of release there was an entire wall of Queer As Folk (on both VHS and DVD), ensuring the type of "always available" rental status that this store's rivals only extend to more hackneyed displays of male bonding such as Pearl Harbor. We'll stick with the shop that keeps its priorities, ahem, straight.

In the Bird-Ludlam Shopping Center there are three places to get your nails done, but only one salon will do if you want a seven-dollar manicure and more chisme (gossip) than you can possibly process. While your cuticles are being pushed back and the polish is being applied, you'll hear about what happened this week in the Mexican telenovelas, reviews of Enrique Iglesias's newest release, and why the latest fatal disease to strike Fidel Castro means that for el tirano the end is surely near. Knowledge of Spanish is a help, but the dish comes in English too.

The topiaries perched on the fence posts give you a clue about what you'll discover at this family-run nursery. The eager assistance, available as soon as you open your car door, will soothe any confusion you may experience gazing upon the tangle of vegetation in front of you. And the landscaping know-how will allow you to select the best ground cover, flowering bushes, ficus hedges, and climbing vines for your home. But sometimes it's all about the veggies. That's what endears us to Cornell's. This Eden stocks the best garden starters around, from beefsteak seedlings to Scotch bonnet peppers already in bloom. Some of the items, including baby mixed greens and flowering purple cabbages, come up from Lovell Farms down south, but others are nurtured in the nursery simply because the proprietors love to experiment. That means when you're ready to plant your plot in the early spring, you can buy the notoriously slow-to-grow garlic and leeks already well established. It also means you can get some produce plants you may not be able to find at Wal-Mart or Home Depot. Whether you're looking for lemongrass or lemon-yellow tomatoes, you have a better chance at Cornell's, where the owners are also students of home agriculture.

You've got the family, the job, the little plot of land. What's missing from your idyllic life? Oh, right. The folks from whom you bought your house had thumbs about as green as the sky. You need trees, and since you live in Miami you figure they might as well bear fruit and save you some bucks in the end. Not that they cost that much to begin with, if you buy them young and do so at Clinica de las Plantas. "Florida Master gardener" Jesus A. Ramos stocks a large supply of subtropical saplings in this nursery. Don't be fooled by the flowers in front; make your way to the back. There you'll find sapodilla, mamey, guayaba (guava), lychee, and longan trees. In the market for mangoes? You can find at least five different varieties here, including the ever-popular Haden, football-size Keitt, juicy Edward, sun-yellow Carrie, fiberless Beverly, and top-notch Nom Dac Mai. Bargain-hunting for bananas? Buy them if you see them -- these are the Clinica's biggest sellers and Ramos is often out. Trees range from $29.95 to $39.95, depending on size, and the staff will assist you in choosing the nicest specimens and then carry them to your car for you. In fact, the only thing they won't do is help you plant them at home. But that's okay. Nothing's more satisfying than knowing the fruit of your labors is yours alone.
This is the place for those who want to scope out their funnybooks and still feel like a grownup. The Archie/Pokémon/Disney presence is relatively low-key. Cutesy card games and movie tie-in toys clearly aren't this previous "Best of Miami" winner's reason for existing. Instead the haphazardly stacked selections feature everything from Marvel to Oni Press, plus a good variety of gaming materials and Japanimation. It can be a little tough to find that one specific title in this tiny space, but the friendly folks behind the counter will be happy to get it for you.
You're a generous person with a heart for gift-giving, but you're a lousy shopper without an ounce of creativity. Every Mother's Day you do five laps around the mall looking for the perfect gift, only to end up empty-handed, bitter, and with sore feet. Wearily you lick the envelope on yet another cheap greeting card and drop it in the mailbox -- without a package -- and wonder how you will ever break this cycle of gift-giving failure. Fear not, for there is a solution that will turn you into the hero of all holidays: Cookies by Design. Stop by any of three locations in Miami-Dade to check out their patented "Cookie Bouquet" gift concept: Freshly baked, oversize sugar cookies are playfully hand-decorated with vibrant colors and arranged in baskets to create a treat as lovely to look at as it is sweetly satisfying. Acknowledge any holiday, recognize any achievement, or express any emotion through a variety of theme baskets. They also have a line of Disney characters that any child would go nuts over. Finally it's not even necessary to leave home to do your good deed. Orders can be placed online or by phone.
All the usual potions and talismans and statuettes and candles and flowers any good santero needs are here in the heart of Allapattah. On the exterior green walls of this building are painted colorful renditions of some of Latin America's more popular Catholic saints, such as Caridad del Cobre and Niño de Antocha. If you and your Santería santo have a certain problem or situation requiring a particular herb or tincture or perfume, just tell the knowledgeable people who work here. They know what you need. They also stock a nice selection of melodiously crowing and cackling roosters and hens, just in case you're looking for a back yard pet.
Guayaberas may now be ubiquitous, as familiar a sight in South Beach as in Little Havana, as popular with club-hopping twentysomethings as with potbellied old men. But there is still only one mago de la guayabera (guayabera magician): Ramon Puig, owner of La Casa de las Guayaberas, the famed Miami emporium. The Cuban-born Puig has been making guayaberas for more than 60 years. His client list has included Cuban President Carlos Prio as well as U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Bill Clinton. The man has stories, and he'll gladly share them with anyone who wanders into his shop. But the guayaberas -- gorgeous creations in a variety of fabrics and colors -- are a different matter. Those he'll charge you for.

If this dive shop is good enough for Flipper, most likely it will be good enough for you. The pros at Miami Seaquarium drive across the Rickenbacker Causeway regularly to get their tanks filled and equipment repaired by the guys at Bubbles. As a shop, they offer the latest gear from SeaQuest, Mares, and other top brands. As a dive school, the instructors offer open-water dive certification -- a two-week course for $249 that includes at least four open-water dives. They also offer advanced courses and a first-aid course. The Bubbles crew even acts as travel agent, organizing dive trips to several hot spots, including Belize and Colombia. But if you don't want to go that far, they offer Saturday reef dives and Sunday wreck dives as well as spooky night dives on Wednesdays.
Frankly the only tears we see flowing in here are ones of joy. No consumer in his or her right mind would even think of shedding one in sadness, given the plethora of goods you can peruse for your young one, ranging from cute little one-size outfits (with matching hats) for newborns to faux fur coats for your big, grown-up four-year-old. Think little boys can't appreciate what Crybaby has to offer? We've got two words for you: train accessories. And just in case Mom's feeling a little low, there are plenty of self-pampering opportunities as well. The store keeps a separate section for women who might appear mature -- i.e., baby on hip -- but who like to dress in hip junior fashions and who may occasionally venture outdoors without diaper bag and toddler in tow. Naturally the place is also great for buying that perfect shower gift.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®