Best Of :: Shopping & Services
For years, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia locals have maintained a bitter rivalry. No, it has nothing to do with sports — it's about gas stations. In west Pennsylvania, a chain called Sheetz boasts a loyal cult following. But Wawa, the rival to the east, has lately gained the upper hand, in part by expanding its territory far beyond the Philly suburbs. In July 2017, South Florida became Wawa territory when store #5193 opened in Davie. Most South Florida natives were surprised and a little amused at the fervor with which Philly-born transplants welcomed the gas station to the hood. But they soon discovered that Wawa isn't really a gas station — it's a mecca of convenience. Where else can you pick up a made-to-order hot sub, a fresh salad, a caramel macchiato, and a breakfast burrito while gassing up your car? It's basically a restaurant that happens to have fuel pumps in the parking lot. Now even famously blasé South Floridians are becoming die-hard Wawa warriors.
As prices have risen in Wynwood, galleries and artist spaces have begun to move north to Little Haiti, prompting fear from longtime residents that the neighborhood is the next target for gentrification. But Exile Books wants to do things differently. The art book store and publisher, formerly a pop-up, is keen on integrating itself into the existing community. The owners have worked with the Little Haiti Cultural Complex on events and painted their motto, "Books do furnish a room," on the walls in Haitian Kreyol. Plus, the inventory favors local artists as well as bigger names, and prices can be as low as $2. Here's hoping Exile becomes a space for Miami's art community that lifts up instead of pushes out.
If you're in the mood for a treasure hunt, make your way to Stone Age Antiques, where you can spend the day sifting through stacks upon stacks of antiques. You'll scavenge through collectibles, Americana, taxidermy, telephones, light fixtures, typewriters, and, of course, the store's specialty: nautical items such as anchors, chains, vintage diving helmets, cannons, buoys, and more. Dress comfortably and bring plenty of snacks, because you're sure to get lost in the thrill of the search. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Big-box craft stores can be an absolute nightmare in terms of tracking down help or finding the little thingamabobs you need. Fortunately, Miami has a more approachable and enjoyable shop. Artist & Craftsman Supply offers a fun experience for everyone, even the significant other you typically have to drag along shopping. It's a full-line arts store, with products for preschoolers and high-end professionals alike. The shop gets new nuggets every week and lives by the motto "If we don't have it, you don't need it." They even have toys, like metal robots, magic-trick boxes, hand puppets, and old-school wooden toys. So if you haven't explored your artsy side lately, this is the place to do it.
Perhaps due to its somewhat hidden ground-floor location at Mayfair in Coconut Grove, the Blonde Tulip isn't well known. However, Pearl Meyer — the blonde in the place's name — has set up a beautifully laid-out shop full of fragrant flowers that look fresher than anything from Edible Arrangements. Walk-ins are welcome, and Meyer and her staff can make any kind of floral arrangement depending upon your budget and taste. However, a word of advice: Give staff members a price range and let them work their magic. The shop also creates stunning floral designs for weddings and corporate events. Flowers not your thing? The onsite Blonde Bistro offers a full coffee bar, sandwiches, and salads.
Buying a car can be fun, exciting, and memorable, but it's usually a pain in the ass. By answering your questions honestly, Brickell Buick & GMC makes a point of taking some of the sting out of the process that can eat up an entire Saturday. What are the extras? What's a dealership fee? How much will this truly cost me? Selection isn't an issue here, that's for sure: Find thousands of cars to choose from, and if they don't have the one you want, they'll get it in a jiffy. Firsthand reviews are important when it comes to buying a car, and Brickell Buick & GMC has done a great job of establishing a solid reputation in a hated industry. If you're in the market to buy a new car and want answers without all the usual hassle, this place is your best bet.
Sure, No Boundaries offers everything you want in a bike store the minute you enter. You'll marvel at the roughly gazillion bikes of all shapes and sizes hanging from the ceiling or parked on the floor, waiting for you to take a test run. You'd be hard-pressed to leave without finding a bike that fits your riding style. But where No Boundaries really shines is in the tiny biking community it's building in Coral Gables: The business organizes riding meetups to encourage you to actually use that dang bike on which you just spent $50 or $250 or $1,500. If you have the cash — and, hey, this is the Gables after all — you can even shell out for one of No Boundaries' bike tours through Italy.
Remember Hurricane Andrew? The secretive collective behind the downtown skate shop Andrew sure does. The store's name honors a poignant time in Miami history, while its owners provide a space for the city's young skaters and creatives to come together. After opening in April 2017, Andrew quickly became the downtown clubhouse the collective had hoped for by selling decks, clothing, and accessories from brands such as Dime, Fucking Awesome, Quasi, Quartersnacks, Alltimers, Hook-Ups, and 917. It's also one of the few stores in Florida to carry Nike SB Quickstrikes. You'll also find local brands like Yambros and Good Thinking, but the highlight is Andrew's own brand, which riffs on classic Miami iconography such as Materva and Jupiña. If you live outside the 305, you'll be happy to know Andrew offers some of its inventory online. May we suggest the "fancy" ashtray or Andrew-branded grinder?
For the fashionable bride, the most important part of the wedding is the dress. At the family-owned Chic Parisien, a full-service bridal shop in Coral Gables, each bride comes under the care of Catherine Fox Milian, the current owner and daughter of the founders, who opened the boutique in 1969. With a half-century of bridal-industry knowledge, Chic Parisien carries luxury brands such as Monique Lhuillier, Ines di Santo, Lazaro, Hayley Paige, and others. In addition, the shop carries bridal accessories, evening wear for events such as debutante balls, and some tuxedos. For this high-end selection and service, you'll end up spending $3,500 to $20,000 on a gown. But don't fret at the price tag. If you're on a budget, stop next door at the Find Bridal, Milian's outlet bridal shop that sells discount designer dresses. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, and by appointment.
Sick of the soul-sucking experience of pushing a shopping cart around a big-box baby store? If you need a more intimate and calming experience, visit Nini & Loli, which is owned by Miami natives and has operated locally since 2006. Find three locations in South Florida: near Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, at Aventura Mall, and at the Promenade Shops in Aventura. They carry a beautifully curated selection of baby basics and extras, such as strollers, car seats, bathing supplies, apparel, toys, cribs, and whatever else you need for the little bundle of joy in your life.
Thrifting is fun if you have the time and a high tolerance for weird smells. But sometimes you just wanna go where the goods are. Located in the heart of Coconut Grove, Fashionista is the place to score significant markdowns on brands you covet, including Alexis, J Brand, and Jimmy Choo. The prices reflect the high quality. No, you won't find the perfect pair of $3 vintage Levi's, but you also won't find used toasters or broken lampshades. This is where you come when you're looking for a Chanel bag at half price or a vintage Missoni wrap dress for several hundred dollars off. And if you already happen to have a closet full of designer goods, you're in luck. Fashionista buys merchandise from stylish locals so you can make room for even more finds.
Whether you're down in South Miami, over in Miami Beach, or out in Coconut Grove, you can — and should — take a peek inside Market, a clothing store that prides itself on basics. Find a delicate everyday necklace in rose gold ($24 to $36), a striped two-piece set for Sunday brunch ($70 to $80 for the set or $50 per piece), and the softest gray sweatpants of your life ($48 to $66). Market is all about that effortlessly hot Miami style, and because almost everything costs less than $100, you don't have to feel guilty about picking up a few things to get the look.