Picking FAO Schwarz in this category is a bit like choosing the Atlantic Ocean as the finest place for a saltwater swim. There's simply no toy store in South Florida that measures up to those operated by the 139-year-old New York City-based retailer. And while there are now six locations in South Florida, none is better than the one that opened last year in the $550 million CityPlace development in downtown West Palm Beach. With horn-blowing, flag-waving bears sitting atop a 76-foot-high clock tower, the two-story store screams fun. To enter, you pass a giant bronze bear playing with giant bronze blocks and two 20-foot-high bears decked out like toy soldiers. Let the kiddies climb on the bronze bear and pose for pictures. It's all part of the experience that continues inside when young and old alike are encouraged not just to touch the merchandise but to play with it. While the store gets a lot of press for poor-little-rich-boy toys such as a $40,000 gas-powered miniature Lamborghini, a $6000 rocking horse, a $699 kid-size Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and a $650 cuddly stuffed elephant, the store is not just for the filthy rich. Childhood mainstays such as Chutes and Ladders, Monopoly, Sorry!, Scrabble, and even Lincoln Logs are available at discount-department-store prices, and unusual items, such as in-line skates with collapsible wheels (to convert into shoes) are also in stock.
As newlyweds four years ago, Tatiana and Marty Zidtowecki started Archives, a used bookstore and café. Now the cozy shop around the corner still feels like a labor of love. With worn, antique-style furnishings and wrought iron tables out front, Archives could be the sitting room of your well-read aunt. Pick up a used copy of the latest Helen Fielding novel, then choose from a large selection of Bridget Jones-like snacks; Archives recently added a selection of British delicacies such as Cadbury Milk Tray and wine gums. Located near a 24-hour Laundromat in the Gateway Shopping Center, it's the perfect place to while away a Sunday -- or a spin cycle.
Taking your unwanted CDs to a store to pawn them off can be a discouraging procedure. Some humorless retailers subject your platters to severe scrutiny, holding them up to the light to look for scuff marks, soliciting a second opinion from the stock boy, or even using an electron microscope to scan for irregularities. The harder they look, the less likely you are to garner good money for your rejects. At the busy stores, you and your castoffs may sit for an hour before someone gets around to perusing them -- only to offer a measly $2 or $3 per disc. It's not so at CD Trader. The clerks will quickly look over your castaways, take what they want, and fork over a princely sum (as much as $5 apiece) for the keepers. Not only that, but the stock at CD Trader is comprehensive for a modest-size store. Trade your hand-me-downs for some goodies from the large reggae and dance-music bins, or just take the cash and run. Either way you'll leave richer than you arrived.

Upon entering Jezebel, look up and note the hats. They are only the beginning. Need an outfit for that ABBA retrospective? How about a '20s Dupont car coat? Maybe a little something authentic for Mardi Gras? No problem. It's all here -- wigs, gloves, dresses, hats, shoes, suits, ties, jewelry, Hawaiian shirts, even nighties -- for as little as $5 or as much as $2500. So come prepared with time, an open mind, and a reasonable amount of cash. Something charming and whimsical is bound to capture your imagination.
This tiny white building across the street from a Rolls-Royce dealership appears an unlikely place to stop for fine wine. But drop in anyway and you'll find one of Fort Lauderdale's smallest wine shops may also be its most authentic. Owner Patrick Mevel was born in France to a family of wine connoisseurs and moved to South Florida five years ago with the dream of bringing his country's love of wine to America. Francophobes can relax; Mevel emphasizes education, not arrogance. He has plans for winetastings, and on the wall of his shop, he's posted a map of France's wine regions, a welcome sign for wine beginners. He also sells champagne and cigars. But the real reason to shop here is Mevel. Under his capable direction, you can be certain your dinner party selections are toujours à propos.

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