This store is kinda like a one-stop-shopping center for earthly and spiritual needs. If, for instance, you are making a nice chicken soup, you can pick up some bouillon cubes for pennies at this sprawling wonder of Little Haiti. But if you are looking, say, for a candle, cologne, or aerosol spray that will summon the vodou warrior spirit Ogun, you've also come to the right place. Wood-carved saints, potted herbs for different healing remedies, incense, and even ceremonial textiles are on display and for sale. There's also a large selection of Florida honey and sacks of grains wedged between the flotsam of daily life. The store is colorful, chaotic, and a bit overwhelming — almost as if you've stepped into an emporium that captures Port-Au-Prince itself — and there's usually vodou chants or compas music in Kreyol blasting from speakers in the front of the store. So who needs the long plane flight to the island?
Kore Boutique
So your girlfriend isn't digging that Crock-Pot you got her last Christmas? Well, redeem yourself quickly by taking her on a shopping spree at Kore, a cool women's fashion boutique that won't singe your credit card. Kore is the latest clothing store to open on the Upper Eastside, joining a gaggle of other retailers that have transformed Biscayne Boulevard. Most of the inventory is from Los Angeles, with prices ranging between $20 and $100. According to a blond Amazonian beauty with fetching blue eyes named Andrea, Kore is a great place to shop when a girl is in a hurry but looking for something cute and complementary. "I like it because the clothes are trendy but not pretentious," she says while eyeing a turquoise sleeveless top. "And they get new stuff every two weeks." In addition to clothes, Kore carries a great selection of purses, shoes, and accessories to match its cute ensembles. The store is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sometimes, as Freud once said, a cigar is just a cigar. So why spend big bucks on a stogy, even a really good one, if you don't have to? And you don't. Forget the shops on Ocean Drive — forget anyplace you might have actually heard of — and head to Danli's for some of the best and most reasonably priced premium cigars this side of the Florida Straits. Filiberto Marimon, the company owner for more than 30 years, has littered the shop and his private office with pictures of Honduras, where his cigars are hand-made according to traditions imported from Cuba. Marimon has the peculiar notion — in his line of work, anyway — that no one should have to pay more than a few dollars for a cigar, no matter how good it's supposed to be. With that spirit in mind, he offers his cigars in unmarked bundles — $20 gets you 20 cigars. Happy puffing!
Ultimate Cards & Comics
Four-and-half years ago, Nuredin Hernandez turned bad luck into good. He lost his job as an electrician but ended up opening a comic book and collectibles store, which he bought from an old buddy. Now Hernandez spends his days playing Call of Duty on his shop's computer or Magic the Gathering with the teenage and college-age geeks who frequent Ultimate Cards & Comics, which is located in a shopping plaza one block north of the Palmetto Expressway's NW 67th Avenue exit. Hernandez is delighted to be doing something he likes. "I was into comics as a kid," he says. "And in 1987, I started collecting again." He has certainly done a phenomenal job stocking his shelves with cool action figures, comic books, and trading cards. There are hard-to-find issues of The Amazing Spider-Man drawn by Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee-illustrated editions of The Uncanny X-Men, and more than 25 rows of back issues from Dark Horse, DC, Marvel, and various independent titles. You can spend an entire afternoon just staring at the toys, which include Japanese versions of Dragon Ball Z and Transformers, and discontinued, rare lines such as Clive Barker's Tortured Souls by McFarlane Toys. There is even a Little Lulu 12-inch vinyl doll and a Return of the Jedi Battle at the Sarlacc Pit board game. Ultimate Cards & Comics is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Bead Me Store Inc
Trendy jewelry lovers have two choices: Suck it up at retail stores and pay exorbitant prices for quote-unquote designer pieces, or learn how to DIY. We're fans of the latter. A good bead store is a fashionista's best friend. At Bead Me, you can make a necklace worthy of sale at Neiman Marcus for a fraction of a price. Nestled in a strip of stores near Allen's Drugs, Bead Me is a spacious, beautiful shop that offers Miami's largest selection of seed beads and Swarovski crystals. Swarovskis here go for 8 to 60 cents, a real bargain considering how much a pair of the crystal earrings can cost at those cute boutiques on South Beach. Strands of beads run $2.90 to $30, and for the hapless aspiring designer, classes cost $20 to $25, a worthwhile investment if you're planning to keep up with the hottest trends.
HiHo Batik
After you watch another Project Runway marathon, your confidence is high. You think, If these kooks can make their own clothing, so can I. You remember those awesome summer camp tie-dyes and the Jackson Pollock-esque puffy paint creations. But don't think you can make your own stuff. That is, unless you go to HiHo Batik. Owner Julia Silver opened the Biscayne Boulevard boutique and workshop after years of creating funky, brightly colored batik designs for bands and celebs. The store already has a devoted following, but now, for the first time, it will keep a regular inventory of sizes and colors in stock. And expanded inventory or not, the real fun is just $40: a lesson in batik technique, an ancient art form using wax and dyes to create an image, and the chance to create your own wearable art. Why not try it with a friend?
Underwater Unlimited
Whether you are visiting Davy Jones's Locker for the first time or consider yourself the next Jacques Cousteau, Underwater Unlimited is the dive shop for you. Serving the community since 1964, this Coral Gables institution trains and supports the Miami-Dade Police scuba rescue team and the Gables fire department. The family-run shop was founded by Charlie Matthews Sr., a man who has been diving in South Florida waters for more than 43 years. He has a team of seven instructors led by his son, Charlie Jr., who has taught underwater technique for more than 29 years and runs the University of Miami's scuba program. In addition, the shop is fully stocked with equipment from every major manufacturer. Underwater Unlimited also offers affordable pricing on services such as refilling tanks and annual maintenance on regulators. The store is located just two blocks north of South Dixie Highway on LeJeune Road. It's open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Saturdays, the shop closes one hour earlier than its weekday operations. It's closed Sundays so the staff and customers can — what else? — go diving.
He brings me here, like, once a month. Goes to the counter and is like, "How much is the bath and blow-dry?" He asks every time. Every time. And I'm like, dude, even I know it's $30 at this point. He always says yes and hands me over, so does he really need this information? But I like ladywhosmellslikelotion (I think I overheard him calling her "Daniela.") I know we're headed to the place at least a hundred yards before we get within sight of it — let's just say the scent gets stronger as you approach. By the time I lay eyes on the pink-hued placard reading Junior's, I know a biscuit is coming. Biscuit. Biscuit. Sorry. Where was I? Okay, he stops at the counter and looks at the photos of all the other dogs as they flash across one of those "digital frames" (what's with you humans and your digital this and digital that?): Caramella the cocker, Nino the bijon frise-Maltese mix, Vicky the Yorky, Sasha and Seven (really?) the orangy toy poodles (really — I am cool with toy poodles), Milla the Pomeranian — one of the few pictured with their owners (guess we all just get handed over). And while he's standing there looking at the pixilated pictures float across the five-by-seven LCD frame (yes, some of us know a thing or two about your gadgets), I can smell 'em. I know every one of those dogs by its smell. So beautiful is the smell of biscuit. Biscuit. Biscuit. Once he tells the ladywhosmellslikelotion to do something called "fullgroomingwithfleaandtickdipanddshave," which I think runs him like $60 but which is soooooo worth every penny. (You ask, "Can you trust me as someone with no financial stake in this transaction, who reaps all its benefits?" Is that my problem? He knew the deal when he got me.) So when I'm all done — "fresh for summer," ladywhosmellslikelotion calls it — he pops through the door and plunks down his credit card and ladywhosmellslikelotion hands my leash over to him, and I stand up at the counter and biscuit and ... what was I saying? Biscuit.
Sit down a minute, girlfriend. We gotta tell you something, and it ain't gonna be pretty. It's about your eyebrows. Honey, your shit is all jacked up! Look at the one on the left; you've plucked it all to hell. Looks like Whoopi Goldberg on one side. And the right one, mmm mmm mmm. That chick at the tacky wax place got you good. She gave you that Vanilla Ice stripe. All right, stop and listen — we're gonna get you to The Brow Shoppe, stat! The name says it all. Fifteen minutes with store owner Laura starts at $40! Tania costs $35, and she is too fly with her leopard-print tweezers. Yeah, it's more expensive than eight bucks in the storage room in the back of the mall nail salon, but they are worth it. Trust. They will thread, tweeze, and shape your eyebrows back into arches. And for the overplucked side, they have Renewabrow and Revitalash for sale — along with enough brow powder to tide you over between visits. And if you feel adventuresome, they can give your stick-straight lashes a perm. Okay, okay — baby steps. Let's make you an online appointment right quick; they're efficient like that. We'll have you looking fierce in no time!
Niebla Shoes
This funky shop hidden in a gritty strip of tired Little Havana storefronts is clogged with boxes and boxes of ladies pumps, sandals, and shoes for every occasion. They come in every size and imaginable color for $5 a pair. That's right for the price of your Jimmy Choo's, you can style a new pair of Niebla's originals every day for the next three months and, best of all, the sales clerk still pronounces each pair: "Choos."

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®