It's no secret that Miami is a pretty Cuban-centric town. So it's refreshing to find a Spanish-language bookstore with entire shelves dedicated to literature and politics from Colombia and Spain (though there are two shelves filled with books by Cuban writers). Named Revistas y Periódicos for its vast selection of newspapers and magazines from across the Spanish-speaking world, the shop has a wide selection of quality books — including an array of popular titles for children and young adults, as well as entire shelves filled with religious and spiritual tomes (from astrology to Zoroastrianism). You'll find all the staples plus harder-to-find authors such as the magnificent Spanish writer Enrique Vila-Matas.
Dear John: If you're reading this note, you've already realized I've packed up my Twilight poster collection and left. Dr. Feinberg was right. You'll never change. You almost seem proud of the fact that you're the youngest person to be diagnosed with senile squalor syndrome. But I know it's all a big scam just to get on Hoarders. Here's a tip: Your piles of garbage are too neat, too clean. And if I ever see your fat face on the show, I'll call A&E and reveal you as the fake you are. I told you the last time you added another ferret to the ferret farm in your walk-in closest that it's either me or those snaky rats. Well, John, I think you've made your choice. P.S. I poured olive oil on the keyboard of your new MacBook, so if you want to get in touch with me, you'll have to actually set pen to paper and write me a letter. I could find only this college diploma to write this note on, though, so you might want to stock up on stationery at the Scarlet Letter. If you want to keep in touch, I recommend the box of 20 Crane & Co. monogrammed stationery cards for $19.
South Beach Music Exchange
At 2 a.m., Purdy Lounge expels you from its grimy innards, three shots of tequila and a PBR later. The Venetian Causeway spins across the glimmering water as you stumble outside. The night is young! But for what? You're not hungry. And, you're not ashamed to admit, it's a Tuesday. Mirage-like, the soft glow of burnished wood catches your eye as you amble south. Is that a... guitar shop? Open at 2:15 on a Tuesday morning? It's no lie. Inside, smiling behind the counter, is Marty — South Beach's only resident guitar god, a white-haired master of every style and owner of every vintage. Marty owns the building, and after a successful career in real estate, he can afford to run the South Beach Music Exchange as he sees fit. Marty likes bar hours. So he's open Thursday through Sunday from 8 p.m. till 3 a.m. And he's plenty happy to teach you a chord or two on the slide electric or to tune up your mandolin. There are quality new acoustics for less than $300, and there's a 1920s metallic hollow-body hanging on the wall. Marty's refuge may not be a mirage, but a great music shop open for night owls? That's magic at work.
Jerry's Artarama
It's impossible to imagine now, given the range of designer colors one can buy, that in the early 17th Century, that artists such as Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Velazquez didn't have an affordable or stable blue to use. Ultramarine, which is extracted from lapis lazuli, was more expensive than vermilion or even gold. Artists had to cough up a princely sum to have the blue pigment imported from Afghanistan. That's never been the case at Jerry's Artarama, the 20,000-square-foot West Miami art supply emporium featuring almost anything the fledgling or seasoned creative type might ever need to succeed. At this sprawling one-stop depot, you can find everything from acrylic and oil paints in every designer shade from the world's top brands to brushes and palette knives. You'll also find canvas, stretched or in rolls and made from cotton, linen, or jute. Plus pens and markers, encaustics, ceramic and pottery supplies, water colors and pastels, airbrushing supplies, easels, portfolios, and even a custom framing shop tucked in the back. Budding Picassos can take weekend easel painting classes conducted in English, French, or Spanish for $25 a pop, not including supplies. To top it all off, Jerry's boasts the type of cut-rate prices, sometimes ranging from 50 to 75 percent off, and savings on hard-to-find items that would inspire the likes of the old masters to turn cartwheels in their graves.
Richard Lyons Nursery
Ten acres of rare tropical plants? Check. Shrubbery that looks like artwork? Check. Butterflies and hummingbirds? Check, check. Big, gorgeous orchids? Check again. The smell of fruit in the air? Check, drool, check. In a hidden South Dade nook? Check (your directions). About 115 types of bamboo? Check... that out. A bunch of feisty nursery cats? Check yourself. Jade vine, bonsai trees, shrubs, and water plants? Checkout line. Totally reasonable prices? Here's a check. Open daily except Thursday.

Best Place to Shop Like There's No Recession

The Webster

The Webster
In the past few years, designer Christophe Decarnin has revitalized French fashion house Balmain by introducing exaggerated, almost Klaus Nomi-esque shoulders into many of his frocks. Recession be damned — fashionistas have been spending big dough on Balmain. In fact, a gray cotton sweatshirt that would otherwise be unremarkable save for the angry shoulders and deliberate deconstruction will cost you $2,450 at South Beach's newest luxury boutique the Webster. All apologies, but if you haven't yet recovered from the price, steer clear of the 20,000-square-foot store located in a historic former hotel on Collins Avenue. You might be in for a serious series of fainting spells. The trio that founded the store has a professional pedigree that includes stints at some of France's most storied houses, magazines, and boutiques, so it's safe to say they can attract a discerning, international clientele. Besides, this once was a land of unrestrained glamour. Do you really want to live in a South Beach where there aren't designer sweatshirts for sale that are worth the equivalent of a down payment on a car, recession or not?
Angel's Vintage Boutique
You know that girl at prom who had balls? The one who had the cojones to wear something different? Something that wasn't, oh say, purchased at a suburban shopping mall? Something that was even — gasp! — secondhand. Well, pretend she grew up. Then pretend she opened her own clothing store in Buena Vista. That's what stepping into Angel's Vintage Boutique feels like. The place has antique jewelry, furniture, and dishware in the front. But the back is where it's at: There's a collection of the most unique dresses in town, all from the '40s through the '80s. Some are strapless. Some have bows. Some are polka-dotted. Some are so ridiculous they're cool. One looks made for Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles. Another looks made for Ricki Lake in Hairspray. All of them are in excellent condition and range in price from $4.99 to $500. Big gals should check out the plus-size section, and frugal gals should check out the clearance rack.
Whether it's reinventing knitwear by turning it into swimwear or working with other local artists such as the TM Sisters for last year's performance-art piece "Whirl Crash Go!," Parisian-born, Miami-raised designer Karelle Levy has become the city's quintessential designer using the least Miami-friendly fabric. And it's not only the Magic City giving her props. She has won the 2008 national Style Wars competition hosted by the House of Deihl and was the queen of the ball when she debuted her Day-Glo line, perhaps her most ambitious work to date, at last year's Swim Week. If that wasn't enough, even the common man and woman can own a piece of Levy's work with her KREL 2 Go, which debuted at Scope Art Fair in 2008. Using the client's body, she quickly pins and cuts a garment in a matter of minutes. Shirts, sweaters, shorts, and skirts— she'll make it all in record time, showing you why she won with ease the aforementioned Style Wars title — the competition never stood a chance. Her ready-to-wear fashion is available at her Wynwood boutique and studio, open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., as well as at stores countywide including Lace (1935 West Ave., Miami Beach), Oxygene at the Bal Harbour Shops (9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour), Amira at the Gansevoort South (2377 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), and the boutique inside the Standard Hotel (40 Island Ave., Miami Beach). You can also shop online at smashingdarling.com/store/krelwear.
The problem with hipsters: They love looking cool in their flashy-trashy '80s costumes, but they're way too lazy to go digging through the Salvation Army's stanky racks for themselves. Thankfully, there are go-getters like Miami's own Recessionista (AKA Christine Bourie), who actually enjoys the dirty work. A 23-year-old peroxide-blond pixie with a flawlessly ironic eye for kitschy vintage fashion, Christine finds and sells all kinds of awesome wearables, from oversize turtle-shell sunglasses to pink denim dresses. On a typical day, her Etsy site lists 150 time-warp treasures, such as $46 snakeskin ankle boots, $38 Western-style white leather jackets, $27 sequined batwing blouses, and $6 Mr. T faux-gold chains. Now, you can expect the occasional haute label like Ferragamo, Yves Saint Laurent, and Betsey Johnson. But really, Recessionista is all about gaudy forgotten brands such as Bongo. "The jeans are acid-washed, brightly colored denim," Christine explains. "It reminds me of being a child." And her personal style icons? "Grace Jones, the grungy Courtney Love, and basically anyone from an '80s Arnold Schwarzenegger movie."
Las Tias
One could easily lose whole days rummaging through the dusty bins of secondhand stores and go home with only a torn ostrich-leather purse that smells of Brussels sprouts. Sure, the thrill of the hunt is part of the fun. But imagine a room packed with only the "Eureka!" finds of thrift-store shopping. Las Tias, a reasonably priced upscale resale store in Wynwood, is like the closet of a beloved aunt, albeit one with really great taste. And despite the museum quality of its killer window displays, the store is low-key and unpretentious. Inside the warehouse-style store, you'll find classic, gently used furniture and clothes that have been thoughtfully curated by the three Cuban women who own the place. Seventies Lucite chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and the floor is covered with Pasil bubble chairs, grand dining tables, and vintage knickknacks such as ash trays and whimsical, mod sculptures. In the back, there are '50s women's frocks, pin-up accessories such as fascinators and gloves, and statement-making costume jewelry. Pristine beaded clutches from the '40s go for $80, and in the tableware section, you can get an eight-piece Fiestaware set of dishes for $40. It might be a little more than you wanted to spend, but resale is always an option if times get tough again (and they likely will). These curiosities from decades past have already proven they hold their value over time.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®