Lauren Arkin-Malacsina's L.A. Boudoir Miami is the product of a longtime passion: She developed an eye for quality vintage early on, and eventually turned her collection into a business. Arkin-Malacsina currently operates L.A. Boudoir — formerly a Biscayne Boulevard storefront — from her home. And while the move was pre-pandemic, she says the decision has helped her beloved business stay afloat. L.A. Boudoir offers vintage styles for men, women, and children, as well as accessories and special items like perfume atomizers, flasks, and cigarette holders. Not in the market for special-occasion styling right now? You can still browse the website and dream of the places you'd go — and the heads you'd turn — in a 1980s-style sequined cocktail dress or a 1950s-inspired strapless evening gown. And if you're looking to spice things up during stay-at-home times, L.A. Boudoir's lingerie will transform you into the poutiest of pinups.

Miami Twice
Photo courtesy of Joshua Ceballos

Since the mid-1980s, Miami Twice has been the Magic City's best-known, tried-and-true vintage store. The place is a wonderland of clothes, shoes, jewelry, and accessories from nearly every decade of the 20th Century. Whenever mass gatherings come back, here's where you'll find the perfect slinky flapper dress for that 1920s theme party, or fingerless gloves and leg warmers for a flashy '80s get-together. Visitors can find pinup dresses and other retro delights any day of the week except Sundays, when Miami Twice is closed. In October, the owners turn the store into the stuff Halloween dreams are made of — a great reason to skip the chains and shop local.

Kathe Cuervo
Photo by Carolina Del Busto

Jewelry maker Kathe Cuervo has been crafting with sterling silver for years. After selling her handmade jewelry online and at select local shops and craft markets, the Colombian artisan opened her first brick-and-mortar in early 2020 at the Upper Buena Vista open-air shopping mall. In its sweet corner location, the Kathe Cuervo Store highlights row after row of silver rings, turquoise beaded bracelets, necklaces, earrings — the works. In addition to her unique jewelry, Cuervo sells an eclectic mix of goods such as nail polish from Deco Miami, another local small business, and stationery, coffee mugs, and small houseplants. When you meet the petite, dark-haired Colombian, who is frequently at the shop with her husband and young son, you'll feel right at home; her demeanor is as warm and inviting as her store's decor. Despite the global pandemic, Cuervo continues to sell her jewelry online, and the Upper Buena Vista store remains open with adjusted hours.

Talk about high-pressure shopping: You want to impress the one who's stolen your heart, look good in those everlasting photographs, and rock social media on your big day. But what you have in mind can be very different from what's out there — and the fairy tale can only work if it starts with you saying yes to the dress. Snag a private appointment at Ever After in Coconut Grove, where Camille Russler and her team will show you a good time and an array of high-quality dream gowns from designers Carolina Herrera, Vera Wang, and Zuhair Murad. And don't worry if it's not a perfect fit from the get-go: Whether you choose modern, vintage short, or mermaid, this bridal boutique's atelier will custom-tailor your find to your unique needs, body, and style to reflect all that's special about you.

Part of the thrill of antique shopping comes from never knowing what you're going to find and marveling at unexpected oddities. Like a book written by a Revolutionary War chaplain. Or a pre-World War I sawtooth bayonet. Or something called a womb chair, which is supposed to be one of the most comfortable things you'll ever sit on. Antique Mall Y'All is an antique aficionado's dream. Come for the vintage perfume or jewelry, stay for a conversation about antique vs. modern furniture with Shelley Stanczyk, who opened the store in 1998 after a career as a schoolteacher and administrator. A self-professed lover of all things beautiful, Stanczyk turned her passion for collecting antiques into a business. With merchandise from over 170 dealers and Stanczyk's eye for the charming and authentic, you're sure to find something wonderful. Choose your own adventure from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

You can go westbound on the Dolphin Expressway until you reach that familiar blue-and-yellow building to pick out ready-to-assemble Scandinavian furniture, but where's the thrill in that? Since 2006, Eclectica has provided Miami-area furniture shoppers with a vintage mid-century alternative. The warehouse, located deep in west Kendall, is open by appointment only, but in it you'll find a treasure trove of lovingly revamped pieces that look like they came straight out of Mad Men. From rich, earth-toned tapestries to geometric vases and industrial lamps, owner Katrina Cristobal has amassed quite the collection of knickknacks to make your home decor stand out. The shop also sells on Etsy for more convenient shopping from home.

Lotus House Thrift Chic Boutique
Photo courtesy of Lotus House Thrift Chic Boutique

A signature Ahol Sniffs Glue wall mural greets customers outside the aptly named Lotus House Thrift Chic Boutique. Inside, the shop has the feel of a modern boutique, where you can grab an espresso from the on-site café and sip while you peruse the artfully arranged display of furniture, books, shoes, handbags, clothes, and jewelry. Styles range from casual wear to work attire to designer togs, and baskets full of sale items contain bonus finds like summer dresses, comfy T-shirts, and bralettes. Happily, spending here goes further than your own closet: The thrift shop operates as a work program for women to learn about retail operations, marketing, sales, and customer service, and proceeds benefit the Lotus House Women's Shelter, which works to end homelessness in Miami-Dade. Visit the store from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Dolphin Mall
Courtesy of Taubman Centers, Inc.

What will you do on your first post-pandemic day of freedom? Head to a water park? Jump around in a ball pit? Lick a doorknob, just 'cause? What about a day at...the mall? Not the upscale "retail centers" with their overpriced boutiques and white-tablecloth dining. When you've got an afternoon to blow window-shopping, you want the true mall experience — and in the Before Times, Dolphin was the malliest mall in all of Miami. It's got stores you can actually afford to spend money in, an honest-to-god food court, and perhaps the best people-watching in Dade County. While many shops are currently closed because of the coronavirus, Dolphin reports that over half of its retailers are open for business. And by the time the pandemic is over, a regular day at the mall will feel like the ultimate treat. Walking around mask-free, teriyaki chicken sample in hand, eavesdropping on strangers — sounds like paradise, doesn't it?

Musicians Discount Center
Photo by Arlenis Brito

Open since 1987 under owner Mike Coen, Musicians Discount Center has easily become the go-to for beginners and pros alike looking for new and used instruments and gear. The shop, conveniently located on U.S. 1 in Cutler Bay, also sports a humble collection of used and new records for vinyl fans to dig through. Other services include band instrument rentals, instrument repairs, and music lessons, which have transitioned to virtual Zoom sessions during the pandemic. Open Monday through Saturday.

Books & Books
Courtesy of Books & Books

In a year as unpredictable as this one, we often long for the comfort of familiarity, and at a time when travel is extremely limited, we might turn to books to help us journey to faraway places. Miami's favorite bookstore didn't leave us hanging on either front when everything shut down. If there was any doubt of Books & Books' status as a local staple, the bookstore proved itself more than ever during the quarantine, continuing to fulfill orders online so we could fill our lonely days with reading, and keeping us connected to the literary community through its Virtual Author Series, which featured interviews with everyone from Carl Hiaasen to Edwidge Danticat to Madeleine Albright. Now that stores have reopened, we can once again enjoy the flagship location and all of its offshoots in person. Plus, the outdoor (and social distance-friendly) café at the store's center in Coral Gables is still one of the best places to grab coffee or lunch while you dive into one of your new books.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®