How can you say "Broward" and "mall" without saying "Sawgrass Mills"? Sure, it's a tourist trap. It's the second-largest tourist attraction in the state, and more than 25 million shoppers will trudge through Sawgrass' stores this year alone. The parking lot holds 11,000 cars, for chrissakes. Sure, you'll get lost. The mall is more than a mile long, covers 170 acres, and is shaped like an alligator -- a design feature you're not likely to notice but apt to curse when you're looking for Saks Off Fifth and find yourself in front of Burlington Coat Factory for the 12th time. (Save yourself the confusion by printing a map of the mall off its website, www.sawgrassmillsmall.com) Still, this West Broward behemoth is a feast for the frugal fashionista. Prices here hover around 80 percent below retail. Discount versions of stores like Neiman Marcus peacefully coexist with Brooks Brothers, Theory, Kenneth Cole, St. John Knits, Calvin Klein, BeBe, Tahari, and more than 400 others. And where else in South Florida can you suck on an Orange Julius while trying on a pair of Blahniks?
You have minutes to get to that dinner party, and the old lady has sent you out for a bottle of vino. The only catch is that your knowledge of wine stops at Boone's Farm. This is where the guys at Crown come in oh-so handy. The South Florida liquor store chain prides itself on a staff that can not only steer you to a good wine under ten bucks (try the Chilean Santa Rita 120 at $5.99) but can also tell you about the variety of grapes used for the $900 bottle of Le Montrachet behind the counter. In addition to the tastings and wine classes, Crown hangs ratings next to worthy bottles as a cheat sheet for the wine-ignorant. Most Crown stores also have a well-stocked humidor and a cheese counter with moderate prices on everything from Maytag blue cheese for $12.99 a pound to a Roquefort that'll set you back $24.99 a pound. In between the rows of bottles, Crown even has a bookshelf crowded with buyer's guides and manuals on how to match wines to foods. With minutes to spare for that party, you'll walk out of Crown knowing syrah grapes produce a full-bodied red with a peppery spice. Now if you could only remember which fork to use for the appetizers.
Situated in a strip mall that is a veritable poor man's wonderland (the mall also includes a Salvation Army store, a large pawn shop, and a dollar store), Think Thrift may be the best thing going in deliciously cheap duds. Designer labels await even the casual shopper, and a discriminating eye can often pick out items that would go for $40 or $50 in a vintage clothing store, such as those old Western shirts that are all the rage among some hipsters. Dig through each rack carefully and you'll find leather and suede jackets, even fur coats. And yet, rare is the Think Thrift shirt that sets a shopper back more than a couple of bucks. A great antidote for the surprising prices at some Salvation Army stores (thanks, Huizengas).
Q: Do you watch reality-TV shows?

A: I do watch a little bit. I've seen Survivor and The Bachelor.

Q: What do you think?

A: They're not bad shows. But these people are living in fantasyland. Every time the bachelor picks a female, haven't they broken up later on? Every one of them breaks up, including that other one, Joe Millionaire. No one has gotten together.

Q: Why watch?

A: Television is my entertainment.

Q: Like an escape?

A: Just entertainment. I don't escape. I'm a realist. Do you know what a realist is? A realist doesn't deal with any fantasy.

Q: Well, they call it reality television. Anything real about it at all?

A: It's a stretch. It's just 15 minutes of fame. Or people looking for financial rewards.

Q: Any lessons to be learned there?

A: There are absolutely no lessons that can be learned there.

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