Best Of :: Shopping & Services
From the pull-up driveway area outside the Patio Verde food court, covered for rainy days, to the emergency call boxes throughout the sprawling parking lot and the children's play area, these are some of the conveniences that are hard to come by at local malls. The newest full-size mall in Palm Beach County greets you with its Mediterranean-style grand lobby dotted with leather sofas and roomy armchairs that rival those found in the lobby of a five-star hotel. Meander through the spacious, multicolored marble-tiled hallways and use one of the many crossover walkways to get to a store without having to circle an entire wing of the mall. Sniff out bargains beforehand with the mall's weekly e-mail bulletin on its website. The e-mail gives you a heads-up on sales and promos from the mall's stores of your choice. Bring out-of-towners who've trekked at least 50 miles and you both get a "Passport to Happiness" savings booklet.
Yuriy Elimelakh is a craftsman. He learned the skill of cutting, stitching, stretching, and forming the hides of animals into leather shoes, purses, wallets, and upholstery back in his homeland of the Ukraine. For 43 years, he has practiced this art. Five and a half years ago, Elimelakh fled to the United States, and in November 1997, he and his brother, Igor Rozov, set up a shoe repair shop in Gateway Shopping Center. You can trust them to replace a worn heel or put a new half-sole on your favorite pair of boots. They will also make handmade shoes (around $200 a pair). "Just bring a picture," Elimelakh said. They make orthopedic shoes and can repair leather jackets, upholster leather sofas, and even sharpen scissors and knives.
OK, so you have to brave the maze of stop signs and curvy streets known as Oakwood Square to get to Movies 4 Sale. And yes, you must navigate Oakwood's seemingly endless array of strip malls until you find the one that houses this little hole-in-the-wall store. (Tip: Enter the complex from Stirling Road instead of Sheridan Street.) That's a small price to pay to enter movie heaven. We're talking roughly 40,000 titles on VHS, another 10,000 on DVD. Some are new, for those of you who have to be the first on your block with the latest releases. But the vast majority are used, and the prices on most are insanely low. We're talking low as in 99 cents for VHS movies missing their original packaging. The real bargains are in the bins right up front, where you'll rarely pay more than $2.99 per title. The rest of the inventory is arranged both alphabetically and by price, with the most expensive DVDs topping out at $24.99. And the selection is vast, from mainstream blockbusters to obscure independent features to foreign-language films. If you don't see what you're looking for, just ask. One of the friendly clerks will check to see if it's in stock, and if it's not, you can special-order it. Oh, and you can also sell your used videos here.
Cary Hoffman and his wife, Robin, started this family-owned biz back in 1992. Robin went back to teaching physical education at West Hollywood Elementary, but Cary just kept on swimmin' and sellin'. They took on one partner in 2001, another early this year, and they now run Tony's Pools in Cooper City, as well as Downtown Pools in Fort Lauderdale. They also service about 1,400 pools through a separate business. The prices are reasonable -- a 2.5 gallon jug of chlorine runs you $2.90 -- and they have just about anything you need, from cheap paper filters to pump motors. They'll resurface your pool too. But the best thing about Pool Depot is Cary. Give him a few ounces of water and he can tell you what's wrong in a flash. Several times, we have tried to buy expensive widgets or chemicals, and he's stopped us cold. "You don't need that, bucko. Try the cheap, um... make that 'reasonably priced' one." Even better, he has a sense of humor that would make Morey Amsterdam blush. "Put that in your Beemer," he tells us on each and every visit as we walk toward our broken-down Honda. "Nice caaaaaaar." Asked for a joke recently, however, he would say only, "I can't. I can't. My wife would kill me, ladies and germs." The place is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday.
Living in Florida, you've probably got a neighbor or an aunt or just some old retiree you see all the time with a dog hanging out of her purse. Trust me, she didn't like those leather pants you bought her last birthday. What she wants is her little pooch in a mini fleece cowboy hat, with a matching corduroy jacket and a rhinestone-studded collar imported from Paris. You can get all that at Paws on the Avenue, which caters to the rich Palm Beachers who treat their dogs better than they do their children. The store is a haven for those obsessed with Fido's comforts. For god's sake, the place has aromatherapy sessions for dogs, holds a Halloween contest for dressed-up pets, and arranges birthday parties with canine-only guests. This year, buy that dog-obsessed friend the newest fad: raw dog food. The chunks of veggies and raw animal parts are supposedly more like what dogs would've eaten if (gasp) out on their own. Just skip the gift wrap.
If you like video games, if you're a serious user, you're looking at serious bucks going to that addiction. It's never good enough, and the marketers are geniuses at creating the "next best thing." It's done in a laboratory in some secret location. The day you buy the next best thing, the next next best thing is three days from hitting the market. In a numbing whirlwind, you go from Sega Genesis to Nintendo to Super Nintendo to Nintendo 64 to Playstation to the Xbox to Game Cube to Playstation 2. And it all started with Atari, if you go back that far, which at the time seemed so harmless, a simple recreational toy. It's time to break the cycle. Give it up. Hold onto your Sega or your Nintendo 64 and swear off the Playstation 2 mainline. GameStop is there to help you. It's got hundreds and hundreds of used games to choose from -- dating all the way back to Sega Genesis -- and those games you never played are still good enough to get you through that dark night. Better, they go from $5 to $40 tops, instead of the standard $75 or more you pay for the new ones. It's a national chain, and the hole-in-the-wall stores can be found all over the place. There are like a dozen in Broward (the above address is simply the most centrally located) and a handful in Palm Beach. To find the store nearest you, look it up at www.gamestop.com. It's the first step to recovery. But it's tempting -- the store also has a killer collection of all the newest shit. Walk by it, man, just walk by it.