Owner Dale Madison wanted a catchy name when he opened his gift-basket specialty store in Wilton Manors -- "something with a little innuendo that wouldn't be offensive," he says. Hence Oh! What a Basket, which alludes to gay slang for a man's, um, package. It was perfect for gay-intensive Wilton Drive. Four years later Madison's operation is in its third location, having outgrown 880- and 1300-square-foot sites. The current 3000-square-foot store now features some furniture and decorative accessories, but the emphasis is still on floral arrangements and gift baskets, which can include chocolates, cheeses, teas, coffees, cookies, and even wines. A more provocative theme basket such as "For Lovers Only" features edible his-or-her undies, body glitter, massage oil, handcuffs, and naughty fortune cookies. Madison says about a third of his orders are delivered directly to his customers by two courier services that cover both Broward and Palm Beach counties. You can order by phone, over the Internet, or in person. And while you're there, you can dish the dirt on what's happening in the local gay community with Madison, who's also a columnist for the bar magazine HOTspots!
When we say Guido's is a family business, we're not talking about the kind of family of which pop culture has conditioned you to think. We're talking family business as in a 30-year-old operation run by the same family, with "Father Guido" and his gregarious sons greeting customers, dishing up homemade items behind the deli counter, and cutting fresh meats to order. A small selection of produce and dairy products can save you an extra stop at the grocery store, and such specialty items as grape leaves and roasted peppers are sold at less then gourmet-store prices. Owner Ron Guido will give you the usual line about using "only the highest-quality ingredients," but he's more convincing when he insists, "It's the caring that makes the difference. You can have a great product, but if you don't care about the way it's prepared and presented, you'll go nowhere." Twelve successful years in the same out-of-the-way little strip plaza in Pompano Beach confirms his claim. Guido also says he and his own family eat the same products they sell to the public, and it's a point of pride for him that "90 to 95 percent of our trade over here, we're on a first-name basis with" -- in other words, when you're at Guido's, you're family, too.

While South Florida isn't exactly awash in interesting microbrews or exotic quaffables from around the world (thank our state's boneheaded beverage lobby for that), we're strategically positioned to enjoy a plethora of light beers from the Caribbean and the Americas. In our summertime, subtropical torpor, a pale lager hits the spot much better than a malty, yeasty ale. At Super Saver, which is located in a 1950s-era shoppette just west of I-95, you'll find Polar from Venezuela; Kalik from the Bahamas; Presidente from the Dominican Republic; Cristal Lager, Cusqueña Malta, and Pilsen Callao from Peru; Quilmes from Argentina; plus beers from El Salvador, Panama, Guatemala, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, and Brazil. If you simply must leave the Americas, plenty of European beers are sold cheaply throughout the West Indies and thus at Super Saver, too. Among them: Hollandia, the Dutch-brewed, poor man's Heineken, and Bavaria. Both go for less than $10 a 12-pack. The selections change, and it's very likely you'll encounter foreign six-packs you've never seen before. Additionally the supermarket carries a nice variety of Chilean wines -- all very inexpensive -- for your drinking pleasure.

Jesse Rogers's office used to be a swimsuit shop. Now it's a one-room clubhouse of sorts for a one-man show punctuated by -- what else? -- one-liners. Often as not his storefront practice in the Gateway Shopping Center is full of people waiting their turns and chatting merrily. A former standup comedian and long-time yoga devotee, Rogers is a different kind of chiropractor. Clients simply drop in whenever they feel like it, and for payment drop whatever amount they choose in an honor box at the door. He doesn't have a set fee, and he doesn't take insurance. Rogers does, however, have a jar of fortune cookie-style papers printed with wise words from the world's great thinkers -- a different kind of doctor's orders.
Like Scotch whisky, good cigars need about seven years aging to get really fine. The strong and rich Padron Anniversary Series, a product of Nicaragua, gives you that quality. The 1994 Padron commemorates the company's 30th anniversary for $14.99. Who pays $15 for a damn cigar? Not the guys who pick up the Fuente Opus-X, a long and very strong smoke wrapped in cedar and laden with hints of cocoa and spice. It runs for $35 a pop. Then there's the John Holmes of cigars, the huge Davidoff (eat your heart out, Monica), which comes in a wood case for $35. You can get them all at Cigarros Del Mundo in Dania Beach. If you're just a regular putz, they have something for you, too: their Honduras-grown house blend. You can sample this in a mild, hand-rolled robusto for $2.49. (The torpedo'll run you $3.50.) If you visit the store, you'll also get to see one of the finest collections of politically incorrect wooden Indians in South Florida. On top of that, it has great lighters (including those torch gizmos that ignite in a hurricane), cigar cutters, and flasks. Yes, flasks. And that brings us back to Scotch...

Matt Reynolds's all-ages, punk-rock, green-anarchist exchange of all things musical is going on its tenth year, having migrated slowly south from its original North Palm Beach location to Okeechobee Boulevard, and thence to its present locale in the industrial neighborhood along Georgia Avenue. A bare-bones operation of roughly cut shelves and record bins, Sound Splash is home to the area's largest collection of alternative-music rarities, as well as radical and oddball literature. Fliers on the walls tell you how to hook up with a ride to the next antiglobalization showdown or militant feminist poetry workshop. Evenings feature the occasional thrash-ska hoedown. The new space (store implies too much organization) includes an interlinking set of courtyards out back, where you can feed the cockatoo.

Sure, we've named this place Best Tourist Trap and Best Cheap Thrill in past years but, hey, it's a phenomenon. In this age of Disneyfied, mega-indoor shopping outlets à la Sawgrass Mills, it's good to know there's still a freak in the family. The Swap has been attracting tourists and an ever-diversifying mix of locals since 1966. Just driving through the eastern parking lots, which circle large drive-in movie screens (new releases screen every night for $3.50 per person), is enough fun to make the trip worthwhile, with vendors hawking everything from wooden back scratchers to fishing rods. Canvas tents cover a good deal of the outdoor shopping, where myriad pairs of granny underwear in varying tones of fuchsia and teal await. The notoriously labyrinthine, two-story indoor hall houses more stairs than an M.C. Escher drawing. A free circus performs daily -- three times a day on weekends. Upstairs, Elvis slot machines, two-inch gold crucifix pendants, and Oriental swords greet you from booths and kiosks. The Swap Shop is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., and parking is free.
You'll have no excuse to live without fragrance and beauty once you've discovered Field of Flowers, the floral supermarket with locations in Davie and Coral Springs. Owner Donn F. Flipse is a third-generation florist: Granddad Jimmy migrated to Miami from Scotland at the outset of the last century and opened a landscaping and flower business, dad Fred joined after World War II, and Donn took up the trowel in 1971, opening Field of Flowers in 1990. The two locations offer 150 varieties of fresh-cut flowers by the stem, bunch, or arrangement. And they're cheap! Of the five-dozen available arrangements, half cost less than $50; they start at $17.50 for a little charmer called "Minuet" and average about $35. All are on display in the store's glass refrigerators, but if you can't make it to one of the sites, you can order over the Internet. Prefer to do it yourself but don't know how? Attend floral design school, in which you'll create arrangements using fresh-cut flowers, live plants, and accessories. And should you find yourself at the Davie store on a Saturday afternoon, take advantage of the free cake-tasting, compliments of Susie's Scrumptious Sweets. Susie started this custom some years ago to develop a cake-baking business, which is now booming. Hey, why quit while you're ahead?
Is there such a thing as an honest mechanic? Yes, yes, yes! For the last 35 years, Davie Garage has been driving home the point that honesty is the best way to keep customers. If you go more than twice the employees will likely remember your name when you walk in the door. Stop in for an oil change and pay a mere $30.74, cash on the barrel, tax included. That's right. Credit cards and checks are not accepted, thank you very much. Bob, Mark, Steve, or Vinnie will take your car for a test run afterward, just to make sure everything's all right. If it ain't broke, they won't fix it. The employees also make a point of being accessible; they are the "service specialists" and the mechanics on your car, unlike so many dealerships where no one knows your name or cares about you. If you wait while your car is serviced, you'll wait in the office, where the business dealings are transparent. Davie Garage doesn't need gimmicks like a chair massage, cappuccino machine, or complimentary car wash. They simply do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. In the world of automobile service, that's rare indeed.

There was a time when head shops were pretty much about one thing: drug paraphernalia. Then came the war on drugs. Some head shops folded; others diversified. When Jay Work, owner of Grateful J's Dead Head Shop, opened his store, he took the latter approach. His five-year-old business offers body piercing at its Margate location and glass-blowing lessons at the Boca Raton branch. A selection of colorful glass pipes is available at both joints -- "sold as art and not intended for smoking," of course -- along with other accessories meant for use "with tobacco only." J's also offers the requisite incense and T-shirts, as well as a smattering of "adult toys" and a full line of licensed Grateful Dead products. But what really sets his operation apart from others of its ilk in SoFla, says Work, is the tape exchange. "We're the only store that gives away music," he explains. Take in a blank tape, choose from the huge inventory of live Dead shows (dating back to 1965, and all authorized for reproduction by Grateful Dead Productions), and J's will copy it for you.

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