Best Thrift Store 2014 | Bargain Barn | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Face it — hunting for an affordable retro sofa or swank '60s swag lamp to spruce up your den can be a tiresome, hit-or-miss chore. Expect to be fleeced at some of the vintage or antique shops, where Eames-era couches are priced like museum pieces. But that's not the case at Bargain Barn, where a week's paycheck can buy an apartment full of furniture that a designer would envy after some loving restoration and deep cleaning. Looking for a funky, flower-patterned sectional couch? A cool $80 will make it shine in your living room. For $40, you can add two swivel arm chairs, and for a mere $20, you can snag that nifty, cream-colored ceramic swag lamp and a vinyl-padded oval coffee table. No throwback to that cool, classic, midcentury look you're pining for would be complete without mood music, and Bargain Barn even has a huge collection of vintage wax from the era's best crooners in the back of the store, where you can also find plenty of knickknacks, shoes, and clothing. Need some lawn furniture for that summer tiki bash you're planning? At Bargain Barn, you can find both the old and new without burning a hole in your wallet. Plus, you'll leave knowing that the proceeds from your purchase benefit Miami Rescue Mission and its programs for the homeless and needy.

It's easy to get a surfing inferiority complex in Miami. Thanks to the Bahamas choking off the wildest surf blazing across the Atlantic, the waters off South Beach often look more like a bathtub than a roaring Hawaiian fantasy. But all it takes to wipe away that surfing depression is a quick stop to chat up the always-encouraging, hugely knowledgeable staff at Liquid Tube Surf Shop. Whether you're stuck between a Strive longboard ($625) and a Surftech Ultraflex ($475) or just trying to decide between the wide selection of rentals for $15 an hour, director and team rider Eduardo Oropeza will help you make the right selection and point you toward the choicest waves. If you're looking to learn how to break through the glassy waters of the Atlantic, Oropeza will teach you his surfing ways, as long as you call in advance and see when he's hitting up the shore. The Miami Beach shop also has a display of body, skim, and stand-up paddle boards, as well as skateboards for some fun in the sun. About the only thing you can't rely on Liquid Tube for is a convenient tropical storm to turn South Beach into Oahu's North Shore for a few days.

It's 1952. Harry Truman announces he won't seek re-election. Mr. T is born. The Brits detonate their first nuclear bomb. And in Miami, a dive master named Mike Kevorkian opens the Tarpoon Lagoon Diving Center. Sixty-two years later, Truman's regime is long gone and Mr. T's career has come and gone, but Kevorkian's shop is still going strong. The granddaddy of South Florida dive shops, Tarpoon has become a landmark for everyone obsessed with plumbing the depths of coral reefs and shipwrecks. But that's not to say Tarpoon is riding on its reputation. It boasts a brilliant selection of dive gear, with products from all the trusted brands you're looking for — Cressi, Aqualung, Scubapro — plus a full Mark IV diving apparatus standing guard over the sales floor. There's also a range of PADI certification and advanced diver courses, along with the only indoor heated pool in any dive shop in Miami. And at the newer location at Miami Beach Marina in South Beach, a 46-foot dive boat floats a mere few feet away. Tarpoon Lagoon is just about as good as it gets for combining convenience, quality, and consistency.

Photo by Stella Hernandez

Diego Pinzon and Thomas Korray can fix just about anything related to a bike. They are decent guys who don't charge outlandish prices and provide a much-needed service in an area where many people ride two-wheelers. Since opening in June 2013, they've seen business balloon. The two will fix a flat for $10 or completely service your bike — including adjusting gears, truing wheels, and oiling the chain — for $50. They sell both regular and high-end bikes at prices from $250 to $2,600. They also occasionally deal in the used variety at lower prices. You can even create your own custom bike for up to $15,000, "but we usually don't get too many of those," Korray says.

Sick of your car and want to try something a little different? In town for a few days and feel like jetting around without worrying about the South Beach parking morass? Try Beach Scooter, where you can rent scooters by the hour, day, or longer. The shop is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. It offers both low-end models such as the Sunny and high-end versions like the Vespa LX. Prices for the low-end models start at $50 per day. Three days can cost as little as $100 — that is, if you buy a fourth day at regular price. A week can cost as little as $200, and a month for $450.

Before Wynwood became the land of 10,000 bad Banksy imitations (AKA Janksies), there was the blue-and-yellow façade of King Automotive. This auto repair shop has been providing "miles of smiles" since 1967, according to its slogan, and whoever sets the prices doesn't seem to be familiar with the concept of inflation. Gary, King's head mechanic, is affable and has the patience to deal with the most ignorant car owners and the integrity to steer them toward the least expensive solution. He's also a no-bullshit dude who's been working there for the past two decades, and he's not going anywhere. Although that trait translates to thoroughness when it comes to fixing cars, he's almost too modest for his own good as a businessman. Aren't auto mechanics supposed to be shysters? Dude doesn't even have a website.

The queue stretches for half a block around the tent pitched on the side of the road. What could be inside, drivers must wonder, to inspire such a line? Grossly discounted fireworks? Eye-popping circus sideshow freaks? Free cake?! Nope. This is Supershine Car Wash, and it's well worth the wait. Underneath the tent, the service is quick and decently priced and thoroughly delivers a wash tailored to fit the needs of your vehicle. Whether you've gone off-roading, camping at a music festival, had bad luck with birds and bugs, or just pathologically avoided hosing down your car, they'll take care of you within half an hour. A basic cleaning starts at $19.95, while a $25.95 superwash comes with an exterior showroom-shine coating and interior leather protection. Take your car there Tuesday or Wednesday and get the express wax for a discounted $34.95. They'll even throw in some complimentary Wonder Wafers air fresheners, which you can whiff before choosing, so you can drive off with your car smelling like new leather, jasmine, orange slice, or any other of the 16 available scents. Who needs free cake?

Living in Miami's urban core has its perks: walkability, decent public transit, a nice selection of local stores, and, of course, proximity to the highways that can whisk you away to Key West or New England if you're up for the road trip. But you'll need a decent set of wheels first. A trip to the auto dealership usually means traveling to suburbia to have your pick of the litter. But urban denizens can thank Norman Braman for Braman Motors. The name might be synonymous with BMWs, but don't worry — Braman knows that all kinds of folks dwell in downtown these days, so there are Hyundais and Kias for those looking for affordability and better gas mileage. There are also plenty of Minis, Cadillacs, and even a few Bugattis — just in case Ace Hood shows up looking for a million-dollar ride to Art Basel. Though you might be used to the sprawling dealerships west of I-95, Braman is compact enough that the shopping experience seems intimate without skimping on selection. As for the salespeople — well, have you ever met a car salesman who doesn't frustrate the hell out of you? Arrive prepared with a reasonable price and hope for the best. Before you know it, your rubber will meet the road and who knows where you'll end up.

Miami is obsessed with image, which means locals have more than a closet or two of meticulously created fashion gems. But therein lies the Catch-22: Between the big nights out, expensive dinners, and pricey drinks, there's no money left to clean the ensembles that make those nights out possible. That's where Coconut Grove Laundry & Cleaners comes in. The family-owned-and-operated business has kept Miamians looking sharp since 1961 — with prices that seem to have emerged intact from the Mad Men era. Most articles run less than $10 a pop for a cleaning. The shop also offers alteration services and cleans everything from area rugs to leather and suede. A place can't stay in business for more than 50 years without having that business on lock, so let Coconut Grove Laundry & Cleaners work out the wrinkles while you handle the rest of your life. You've probably got a night out to get ready for.

You buy your produce from a Redland farmer. You pick up your coffee from the roaster down the block. Why would you get your new threads from a soulless national superchain? You can't get more local than the homegrown group of women's stores called Blush. With five shops from Miami Beach to Palmetto Bay, Blush has most of the county covered — and at prices that would make any big-box retailer, well, get a little red in the cheeks. We're talking a $10 to $100 price range for everything from fashionably distressed white skinny jeans to crocheted beachwear to chevron-patterned bandage skirts. Think of Blush as the spot to get good-quality basics that you'll need to fill your closet, all from a place that understands the local weather — meaning fabrics are breathable, light, and colorful. This is a South Florida store for the South Florida girl.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®