Best Place To Buy A Whimsical Gift 2000 | J.Miles Off Las Olas | Goods & Services | South Florida
When Jerry Miles reopens his eponymous store on May 28, the name will be slightly different -- and the prices even more so. (All merchandise will be 50 percent off retail, all the time.) But the whimsy for which Mr. Miles has been heralded, on and off Las Olas, remains the same: wind-up nuns; stick-on "panic," "eject," and "duh" keyboard button covers; ballpoint pens that look like hypodermic syringes; Trailer Park Barbie dolls; and Willie Wonka T-shirts are just some of the wacky items you'll encounter here. More wild and crazy merchandise arrives weekly.
Oh sure, there's kelp and vitamins. But there's also organic wine, dolphin-safe tuna, herbal cat collars, nonaerosol air fresheners, eyestrain-reducing light bulbs, triple-milled pure vegetable soap, and eggless egg salad, as well as hormone-free, antibiotic-free chicken, eggs, and milk. Not to mention an organic salad bar and produce department, packaged sushi, a bakery featuring flourless sugarless chocolate cake, and a prepared-foods department featuring turkey meatballs, Scandinavian shrimp salad, and roasted squash with fresh sage and garlic. This is Publix plus Walgreens for the health-conscious and environmentally aware but with perfectly stocked shelves and the kind of customer service normally found in chichi boutiques. "We haven't had it in a while, but I'll put in a request for it immediately," one "team member" said when a customer requested turkey salad with grapes. Prices range from a little more than average (99 cents for a can of tuna) to outrageous ($6.39 for one healthy light bulb). But then who ever said a pure body and a clean conscience come cheap?

Best Place to Find What You Never Thought You Could

Gooding's Goodies

"One man's trash is another man's treasure," is the motto here. This is the place to find everything -- including the kitchen sink (and the faucets, counters, cabinets, and appliances, too) -- at 10 to 40 cents on the dollar. So, if you've been thinking that you're stuck with a ho-hum kitchen or bathroom because it's so expensive to remodel, think again. The high-end real-estate renovation business is booming, which puts Tom Gooding, owner of Gooding's Goodies, in an enviable position. What someone no longer wanted could be exactly what you've been seeking for your home-renovation project -- but couldn't afford. Until now. Like the JennAir cook top that costs $1200 to $1400 new. Barely used in some fancy-schmancy Palm Beach manse (those people eat out), it's $225 at Gooding's Goodies. Gooding hasn't even been in business for two years, and he has had to move three times. The reason: too many goodies, too little room. Even now, with 10,000 square feet of space (up from 3800), the new place is bursting at the seams with about 80,000 items that Gooding has rescued from oblivion. It's called salvage merchandise, but that has the connotation of rusted plumbing fixtures sitting out in front of a doublewide, and this place is anything but. Gooding's store is not only air-conditioned, the merchandise is so well organized you'll feel like you're shopping at Burdines. They have drawer pulls and cabinet handles for 25 cents -- instead of $5. You'll also find oldies-but-goodies from the late 1800s to early 1900s: leaded-glass windows, carved wood doors, and a huge selection of claw-footed tubs (they're very "in" these days) from the 1920s. And what you don't find today, you'll find tomorrow. Three to five truckloads of stuff get dropped off every week.

Wear comfortable shoes and have some patience while negotiating the more than 800 stalls and stores crowded into this indoor mall. A cross between a flea market and a mall, the place is usually packed with bargain sniffers. At least 90 percent of the customers are elderly retirees, and New York accents abound (conversation overheard: "Morty, you're trailing behind me, and I'm gonna lose you -- do you wanna sit down for a while?"). It's not just the prices that draw all the customers, it's the incredible variety of goods in one place. There are stalls dedicated to everything Lucite; New York pickles in barrels, flown in twice a week; bonsai trees; cigars; leather; jewelry; incense; clocks; Russian dolls; pastries; all the latest infomercial gadgets, including the world's best showerhead; toys; sunglasses; shoes; clothes; pens; bags; and a bunch of other stuff you probably don't need. You simply will not leave without a plastic bag filled with purchases.

If you can make it past the graphic porn-video box covers and giant plastic dildos on the ground floor of the Adult Video Warehouse in Pompano Beach, the paintings and photographs in the upstairs Eros Loft won't shock you at all. On the contrary the feel up here is tastefully titillating. From nude paintings that exude a kind of curvy, Vargas-like innocence to tame but naughty Coney Island skin-flick posters from the early 1900s (such as Kuddling Kuties, $200) to artful, homoerotic black-and-white photographs, Eros Loft has something for all tastes -- except absolute prudishness.
In 1973, entrepreneur George Zimmer opened his first full-service men's clothing store in Houston. There clueless occasional dresser-uppers, junior executives, and flashy head honchos alike found a tasteful selection of name-brand suits and sportswear -- plus a knowledgeable staff to help coordinate their purchases. Men's Wearhouse now boasts some 560 stores in the United States, with outlets in Canada and Puerto Rico; it also owns the Botany 500 men's clothing line. Combine that with the company's sheer purchasing power, and you end up with prices you just won't find at department stores. (A Hugo Boss selling for $1300 elsewhere was a bargain here recently at just $700.) The friendly salespeople will help you mix and match jackets and pants into multiple configurations, giving you even more for your clothing dollar. And once you've had a suit altered, additional stitch or seam changes are done for free. The pièce de résistance: free lifetime pressing at any location.
Besides the nostalgic aroma of bicycle grease and rubber, the silver bike bells, the sparkling spoke-streamers, and the bunny squeeze-horns, one of the grooviest things about Lee's is its staying power: It's been dealing wheels for 54 years to locals, tourists, and transients alike. At Lee's there are cycles for eeeeverybody: high-end mountain bikes, red-glittered banana seat Schwinns, adult tricycles, rental beach cruisers, even a candy cane-colored replica of a '60s Western Flyer. Used bikes are stacked outside by the rear parking lot and start at $30; inside the shop new ones begin with a C-note. Check out the mannequin sporting a flame-painted helmet and vest that rides high above the store on a Jamis Boss beach cruiser. The shop also boasts on-the-premises bicycle mechanics and a full-service lock shop with 24-hour emergency service that rescues those who've left their keys in parts unknown. Lee locksmiths are angels of mercy: They're nice, they know what they're doing, and they actually arrive within 30 minutes of your 3 a.m. drunk-and-desperate call. Imagine that.
Bright colors adorn the walls at Adam & Eve -- purple on one, very French-looking royal blue with yellow stripes on another. A potpourri of scents is given off by fresh-cut flowers and boxes of candles. Between the visual effect and the olfactory one, the atmosphere can be quite soothing, to say the least. But don't get too relaxed -- presumably you're here to buy a special something for a special someone. Choose from flower arrangements set in a glass-block display dominating the center of the tidy shop or inside the row of glass-front refrigerators along the back wall. If you don't see what you're looking for, don't worry: Adam & Eve is a full-service florist, so the staff can put something together for you on the spot. And if you need anything to go along with the flowers -- say, a get-well or make-up gift -- you're covered there, too. Floor-to-ceiling shelves are filled to overflowing with gewgaws of all sorts, including flower vases and small pots made of black wrought iron or glass, picture frames, candleholders, and candles, especially the highly recommended, super-strong-smelling fig variety.

With its high ceilings and murals of grassy fields and gigantic cows, you feel you're walking into a barn when you enter a Gateway computer store. (The décor alludes to the company's South Dakota roots.) The service is country friendly, too. Employees greet you as you enter and offer to walk you past several computers on display in the front. The store custom-builds computers it manufactures, therefore they take seven to ten days to receive. And shucks, training is offered on the premises -- a three-hour introduction to a Windows course is $49 -- and the service department is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday for all sorts of questions and troubleshooting. Gosh.
Does this sound like you? You were bar or bat mitzvahed a decade or two ago, and you've basically never set foot in a synagogue again. Well, you're definitely not alone. But now you can commiserate with others just like you (couples and singles in their twenties and thirties, most of whom grew up in Reform or Conservative homes) at Friday night Shabbat dinners, held at various Boca Raton restaurants every six to eight weeks. Says Pam Pardo Plotkin, one of the founders of Shabbos For a Novice, "We're trying to spark a little Yiddishkeit -- a little Judaism -- in a Jewish person." You'll light the candles, say the blessing, sing a few songs, slurp a little chicken soup, drink a little wine. And if you're single, who knows? The next time you set foot in a synagogue could be for a wedding -- your wedding. (Your mother will be so pleased.)

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