The bad news: Our economy still sucks and almost everyone is on the edge of some kinda personal economic collapse. The good news: That's why the pawnshop biz is booming, especially in the Sunshine State! So when the bank finally takes your house, the car bursts into flames, and your boss says it's time to clean out your godforsaken cubicle, you will have plenty of local options for hocking all those family heirlooms, priceless keepsakes, and other prized possessions. But it'd be a bad idea to rush off to just anywhere for a lil' loan, cash, or barter action. Be safe and stick with an old standby like Cutler Bay's finest buy-sell-and-trade spot, Cash Dome, AKA "South Florida's Largest Pawn Shop." It's family-owned, and they'll treat you right no matter what you're trading in for cash.

Opa-locka/Hialeah Flea Market

In the market for a used Shake Weight? A knockoff Prada bag? A Katy Perry-inspired wig? A 1950s-era pin-up calendar? Amid the more than 800 vendors inside the sprawling Opa-locka/Hialeah Flea Market, you'll find whatever you could possibly be looking for. Parking is free (or $1 on the weekends) outside what looks like a golden-domed sultan's palace, and inside, you'll find a veritable labyrinth of stalls lined with used athletic equipment, car stereos, discontinued beauty products, polyester prom dresses, household appliances, tropical flowers, disposable cell phones, and anything else you could possibly imagine in your wildest Hoarders dreams. Try the Mini Dollar stand, where everything from Betty Boop shorts to '80s leotards costs 99 cents, or go classier at Junior Jewelry, where you can get gold, silver, and diamonds on the cheap. Bring your bargaining skills. And cash. The market is open 365 days a year, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., so if you need a neon-haired troll doll, fake fruit bowl, or satin athletic jacket at 8 a.m. Christmas Day, you know where to go.

Tucked into a lot on the perennially colorful Calle Ocho and guarded by a gang of plywood ghouls that range from an uncomfortable-looking Dracula to a dead-eyed, gigantic-handed Frankenstein's monster, La Casa de los Trucos is the Mecca of Miami costume shops. But let's not call it a shop, because it's in a category all its own. This is an emporium de disfrazes — that's disguises, for those of you who haven't spent quite enough time en la saguesera. The moment you walk through the door, you realize there seem to be more strange, intrinsically fascinating props, masks, severed limbs, outfits, and other trucos than space in the store. This place flouts the laws of physics, like someone packed Dr. Who's Tardis full of Halloween paraphernalia. Seriously, everything is here. Need fake parking tickets? Those start at $1.99. A rubber reticulated King cobra for those extra-special romantic evenings? Just $3.99 to $24.99, if you please. A perfectly constructed replica of a Beretta 9mm for... whatever? A cool $259 and it's all yours. There's a reason why La Casa de los Trucos has been catering to Miami's trickery needs for the past 40 years: Nobody does weird so well.

Art Atelier

True art blossoms in the unlikeliest spots. Warhol found it in dilapidated New York warehouses. Banksy made it happen on teetering brick walls in Bristol tenements. So don't be surprised to see Dade's budding painters tucked into a drab strip mall on the southern reaches of U.S. 1. Inside Art Atelier, the walls are covered with the colorful creations of dozens of amateurs and blossoming professionals, mostly working in oil and acrylic paints. The shop (which has another location on South Dixie Highway in Pinecrest) holds adult workshops in the mornings and children's classes in the afternoons. Every Wednesday beginning at 7 p.m., $60 gets you into an adult happy hour, with wine and snacks to go with professional instruction. The teachers are all pros, but they're laid-back and ready to help you refine your technique whether you're a color-splattering newbie or an expert scraper working on your blue-period masterpiece.

In the heart of Westchester, tucked between the Tiki Dog Salon and an optical store in a shopping center on Galloway Road, groups of extraordinary beings come together to share their stories of good versus evil. You'll find Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Teen Titans, Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, X-Men, the Avengers, and hundreds of your favorite superheroes inside the bins of Mac's Comics & Collectibles. This comic book mecca was established in 1988 by the late collectibles guru Frank Goetz. In 2006, Goetz sold his shop to a former customer, Mike McEwen, who's combined old-school brick-and-mortar retail with 21st-century social-media marketing to create a topnotch online and traditional comic book shop. Customers visiting the store for the first time receive a free comic book from the discount bins by mentioning Mac's Facebook page, where McEwen posts daily and weekly images of new issues from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, and all the niche publishers out there. Every week, Mac's holds an online contest that rewards each winner with a $25 discount on all comic books in the back-issue bins. Even better, McEwen lets his clients fill out online pull lists that allow them to hold new issues for up to seven days and get 25 percent off. On top of all that, every first Saturday of the month, Mac's Comics pays homage to FCBD (Free Comic Book Day) by giving customers one free book from the discount bins just for stopping by. Caped crusaders, it's worth the short flight to Westchester for this superhuman experience.

Pink, yellow, red, green, blue, and purple. All the colors of a gorgeous day at the beach line the walls and floor of this adorable boutique, nestled in the heart of Coral Gables' Miracle Mile shopping district. The suits have charm and character, and they come in all kinds of styles and sizes, because not all beach bodies are made alike. Curves n' Waves is fully stocked in all beach accessories: hats, sandals, tunics, wraps, and more. And hey, this is Miami — you're probably gonna hit the streets once the sun sets. Check the opposite wall to find the right look for your club-ready nightlife, because the shop has all of that too. It's a boutique, and it does have boutique prices. Most suits go for about $120 to $150, but they're not quite like any suits you'll find anywhere else. After all, the beaches here are beautiful, and you should be too.

Kowabunga, dudes and dudettes! There's finally a spot on the beach where you can rent surfboards and paddleboards, and learn how to ride them with some of the coolest surfers in the Magic City. Owned by Miami Beach surf rats Mark Gamez and Christian De La Iglesia, F1RST Surf Shop has been holding it down since 2008 at South Pointe Park, the premier location to catch Miami's sporadic swells. Instead of a run-of-the-mill surf shop where you'll have to spend close to $1,000 for a board, wetsuit, and all the accessories that come with catching waves, these two bros specialize in rentals of surfboards, skimboards, and paddleboards by the hour. They also offer lessons. Prices for rentals range from $30 to $100, while lessons cost between $75 and $99 (although the price drops for group lessons). If you've got your own board, F1RST offers year-round dry-dock storage inside the store and a private secured cage with 24-hour surveillance inside the Continuum condo tower. Even better, its waterfront location is just 50 feet from the white sands of South Beach. F1RST also carries an inventory of boards and accessories for sale. Find your board shorts and practice that Keanu snarl: Surf's up!

Underwater Unlimited

Living in Miami and not taking advantage of the ocean is like living in Vegas and refusing to gamble, residing in Phoenix and forgoing Mexican food, or being lactose intolerant in Wisconsin: It just ain't right. That's why Underwater Unlimited has been prepping local divers for aquatic adventures since Charlie Matthews opened it in 1964, and it's still going strong with more than 24,000 certifications. Charlie Jr. now runs the shop with his beyond-friendly team, whose service technicians and dive instructors go above and beyond. Sign up for their training and you'll get to know the staff — they're not simply going to hand over a certificate. Just ask the University of Miami Scuba Club, which uses UU for its members' certification. Tuition for Open Water Certification starts at $150, with personal, private, or concierge classes from $300 to $500 and affordable specialty courses for continuing education as low as $55 per class. Drop by the dive shop for discount equipment packages and service specials, and once you're certified and geared up, test your newly acquired skills on one of the shop's many dive trips, which go anywhere from West Palm Beach to Key West to Crystal River for dives alongside hundreds of manatees. Don't you want to see those sea cows up close? Get that certification already.

For true cyclists, there's nothing better than that glimmering open stretch of road on a sunny day. But this comes close: a topnotch bicycle shop that refills tires free of charge with absolutely no fuss from the shop mechanic. That's exactly what die-hard mountain and road cyclists know they can always rely on at the RB Cycles locations in Doral and Coconut Grove. The staff eagerly helps pedal fiends keep their legs cranking with efficient repair service and an inventory from a wide array of bicycle parts and accessories manufacturers. "Our goal is to make sure everyone rides off happy," says Doral manager Ricardo Garcia. When you're ready to upgrade that heavy old Schwinn from Kmart to a sleek 16-speed performance bicycle, RB is your source. In addition to the brick-and-mortar store, RB Cycles has a robust website that shows the wide variety of makes and models in the store, from a $900 Felt bicycle perfect for cruising around Wynwood with the hipster crowd, to an $11,550 Trek Madone for pursuing your Tour de France dreams.

Willie's Bicycles
Nicholas Olivera

William Arias is a humble urban bike shop owner whose experience includes cycling the French Alps, the steep inclines of his native Colombia, and parts unknown in Mexico. And his shop, Willie's Bicycles, whose motto is "Ride in, ride out faster," delivers without fail. Whether it's a simple flat tire repair ($12 for the tire and labor), a complex overhaul on your fixie, or a fresh built-custom bike, Arias tells you how much it will cost before he starts work. Need a paint job, a tuneup, or some tricked-out accessories? Arias is your man. And he makes radical custom road and city bikes using your specs and his skills. He also imports his own carbon rims and builds each wheel set to order. In fact, he has his own line of Team Willie's Pros that will have you flying on the roadways like a speeding cannonball. As the official wrench of Miami Bike Polo, he's a hero to the local bike scene and a damn good mechanic who enjoys talking shop. He also offers rentals, sales on new and used bikes, and pick-up and drop-off service.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®