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."
U.S. 1 Discount Mall
Ever had the sudden urge to get a giant scorpion inked onto your thigh while eating some Jamaican delights? Of course you have! Who hasn't? That's why we suggest checking out U.S. 1 Discount Mall, an air-conditioned flea market in Cutler Bay with more than 200 vendors ready to satisfy each and every one of your completely normal impulses — such as that deeply rooted human desire to set off metal detectors at MIA. This market has JL's Luggage & Handbags and a variety of jewelry booths ready to pierce (almost) any inch of your flesh. Planning a party? There's a dollar store! Vendors such as Duke Tailors, Bronco Wireless, and Fish-n-Things restaurant have got you covered — particularly if you want to get a pair of pants shortened while chatting on your cell phone and munching fried aquatic wonderfulness.
Florida Gun Center
So you want to strap up. It is your God-given right to bear arms even though gun deity Charlton Heston is gone. And this is Florida, where an armed Moses and his guerrilla band carried concealed weapons and used them in self-defense against Pharaoh. Well, when it comes to selling you a gun and showing you how to use it, the firearm experts at Florida Gun Center are a veritable burning bush. They'll turn you into a phenomenally precise shooting machine. Open since 1985 (A.D., dummy), this Hialeah gun shop offers concealed weapons permit, home firearm safety, personal protection, and basic firearm training classes. They have Glocks, Berettas, SIG Sauers, Kimbers, and Smith & Wessons in every caliber, shape, and size imaginable. Florida Gun Center even stocks custom jobs such as a sweet stainless-steel Colt .45 with a wood grip and a Smith & Wesson 460V, a six-shot revolver that makes the .357 Magnum look like a pea shooter. They sell AR-15s, 12-gauge shotguns, and Winchester rifles too. If your weapon of choice is not in stock, the store's goateed manager Rob or one of his sales associates will special-order it for you. Located in a warehouse space just east of the Okeechobee Road exit of the Palmetto Expressway, Florida Gun also has an indoor firing range. If you don't have your own gun, you can rent a pistol for practice. Thank God!
This ain't your old man's stogy shop. In days of yore, when bearded wizards graced the sides of Chevy vans, a head shop such as this one would have had black-light posters, mushroom ashtrays, and tie-dye shirts. Today it's Marley banners, Rastaman incense holders, and urban street wear that greet you when you slip in through the back door. (You're not being sneaky — that's where the parking lot is.) Once you get past the temporal distortions, you'll find the same accessories your dad might have needed for a wicked concert at the Hollywood Sportatorium. There's a vast assortment of rolling papers and other smoking accouterments laid out next to the blunts and bidis. Don't forget to pick up a detox potion or those necessary feng shui items. And there's a pizza joint next door if you just happen to get the munchies.
Culture Kings
You are not going to find mainstream brands such as Phat Farm and Zoo York at this underground hipster store on the outer fringe of Miami's Design District. No way, son. You will only turn up labels like Crooks & Castles, 10 Deep, Kidrobot, and the Hundreds, ones only true backpackers and skate punks know how to rock. "We've got brands you would only find in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, or Tokyo," says owner Chris Oh. "Once a brand starts getting to the department stores, we stop carrying it." The 26-year-old South Broward native opened Culture Kings in 2006 after spending the early part of his adulthood as a financial advisor. After making a considerable amount of cheese and a couple of real estate flips (before the market crashed), Oh decided it was time for a new, more fulfilling venture — one that tapped into his childhood days as a graffiti artist. In addition to dope T-shirts, hoodies, and jeans, Culture Kings stocks limited editions of Nike and Jordan sneakers. But save your pennies. These kicks will cost you between $250 to $450. The boutique has already caught the attention of hip-hop's glitterati. Pharrell Williams, Fat Joe, and Lil Wayne are customers, as are local artists Brisco, Piccolo, and R&B band Pretty Ricky.
Felix Hobby Shop
Hobby shops are a rare sight here in Miami. Perhaps it's because most locals aren't really into hobbies. (Drinking and clubbing are not hobbies, although some certainly define them that way.) Or it could be because it takes a special kind of patience to glue together all of those tiny plastic parts. Whatever the case may be, Felix caters to folks who find the art of precisely detailing a perfect scale model of a pirate ship, pirates included, to be a fulfilling experience. The place has an on-site mechanic to repair gas-powered hobby cars. Among our favorite products are the Estes rockets, which range from wee ones that cost just a few dollars to monsters that go for big bucks. All the engines and paraphernalia are here too. The store is open seven days a week (Monday through Friday noon to 6 p.m., Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.), but don't show up before noon unless it's Saturday. Most hobbyists aren't morning people.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®