In 1975, Jay Kogan's parents opened up a store that was literally a hall of frames—just a small store stacked with thousands of frames. At the time, they had no idea that that tiny corridor would expand to 12 locations throughout the greater Phoenix area, all still run by the Kogan family. Today, their shops have more than 4,500 custom frame options along with mats of all colors and textures, as well as seven glazing choices and expert assembly. They can answer framing questions and frame everything from documents and artwork to posters and small 3-D objects such as sports memorabilia and very still grandmothers.
When they custom-produce frames, the family cuts their mats exactly, miters frame corners precisely, and installs flawless glass. Or, since the stores' walls are lined with ready-made frames, customers can walk in and find what they're looking for quickly. Since installing framed art is an art unto itself, they also offer hanging services with an eye for placement and ability to install in difficult spaces.
Sew from the Heart beats with owner Susie's passion for textiles and fashion cultivated during her more than 40 years as a seamstress. Together with husband Hank, a retired Air Force fighter pilot who traded brawny planes for delicate needles, she shares her love with the public via a menu of classes ranging from embroidery and quilting to garment creation. The husband-and-wife team teaches students sewing-machine and software use, and frequently leads workshops such as how to turn T-shirts into quilts and how to turn quilts into T-shirts for giants. Their spacious store also houses a seemingly endless array of sewing products, stocking kits with threads and fabrics or outfitting workshops with machines, books, and software.
At Bead World, internationally sourced beads fall in heavy ropes from their wall mounts. The sheer volume and the quality of these handpicked beads have earned the shop accolades from publications such as the Phoenix New Times, which gushed that the store carries “every conceivable type of bead”, including Swarovski crystals, semiprecious stones, and Czech glass beads in “refreshingly remarkable” quality. But you don’t have to be an expert to set foot in the store, since each month Bead World hosts 20 classes that furnish people with the space and tools they need to create their own jewelry. Each class comes with a 20% discount for a one-time purchase so that students can stock up on African trading beads, freshwater pearls, or children’s teeth recovered from fairies who lost their licenses. A portion of the two stores’ proceeds goes to local charities.
Founded by two sisters who hold a passion for glass-based art, Kachina Stained Glass offers handpicked tools by manufacturers such as Morton, Inland, and Glastar, and hands-on classes in home decor and jewelry making. Customers can peruse the store's gift showcase for inimitable presents, tote in damaged glasswork for repairs, or commission an artist to create an original design for a stained-glass window or a particularly unsafe car windshield.
The dedicated women at The Fiber Factory, a 3,000-square-foot knitting superstore, instructional center, and local bastion for textile art, have woven together scores of yarn varietals and supplies since 1981. Scroll through plush skeins of yarn crafted by Berroco, DMC, Mango Moon and more ($5–$15) or bolster your bobbin and hook collection with a range of new sew-savvy relics ($1.50–$30). Burgeoning knitters may enroll in a number of in-store classes ($7–$105) and learn the art of Navajo weaving or bob for actual bobbins in their own handcrafted baskets. More advanced loop-masters may join evolved crafting classes and circles catering to their desire to bring a three-piece ropa vieja suit to life.
Though it began as a used bookstore 30 years ago when Bob Schlesinger bought the place from his dad for $1, Bookmans Entertainment Exchange has grown into a massive media clearinghouse. Bookmans gets its inventory from its customers, relieving them of CDs, comic books, video games and systems, musical instruments, and any other media that might be potential deal-breakers when bringing a tipsy Martha Stewart back to one's place. Find a copy of the Necronomicon to replace the one you left at the beach, revive your quixotic childhood dream of getting past level 3 in Battletoads, or remind yourself why you sold your ukulele jam band box set in the first place. Bookmans offers cash or store credit for those items and typically sells them for about half their original retail value—providing an incredible value for eco-conscious consumers who want to cut waste and avoid encouraging production of new DVDs of Battlefield Earth with their ironic purchase.