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Wednesday September 26, 2012

Norman Brothers Produce

norman brothers produce

If you should find yourself down in Kendall, there’s a nifty little produce market that you should check out. Norman Brothers is sort of a cross between a Fresh Market and Trader Joe’s (coming to Miami!), but it’s a one-off, family owned place, so it’s got a unique and funky flavor. Right at the entrance there’s a bunch of green ceramic grills for sale. I just snapped a few pictures as I checked it out a few weeks ago:



Wednesday March 26, 2008

Rag Trade is for sale. I agree with Lizza — hopefully somebody will come up with the money, because this is too good a thing to not continue.


Thursday March 6, 2008

Photography equipment rental: I stopped by Word Wide Foto this morning to ask about renting my signature lens (which is currently in the shop after suffering a nasty fall). They were out of stock, and I asked the dude if he knew of any other place I might try to rent it from. “No… not right now.” Whatever. The nice folks at Dale have it, let me reserve it over the phone, and are only charging me for one day ($25) for Friday to Monday. Anyone else know of good places to rent photo equipment? I’d like to borrow a 5D (fever’s weapon of choice) sometime to play around with.


Tuesday February 26, 2008

Upper east side market, which has been such a hit with everyone is closing in three weeks. Why? Update: False alarm: The market is staying open at least until May 3rd.


Tuesday January 22, 2008

The [new] Bookstore in Coconut Grove has become quite the hangout, what with the coffee shop and free wi-fi. I always wonder whether this is economically sustainable — people sitting at a table on their laptop for two hours do not make the store much profit, even if they do buy a coffee. Getting customers in the store is key, of course, and it works well enough for Books and Books, so who knows? I sure hope it works out for them — I’d love to see independent bookstore/hangout-type spots everywhere.


Thursday January 10, 2008

Orange Bowl souveniers for sale

orange bowl

Get your piece of the Orange Bowl here at the official site, or get them cheaper at the Canes shop. Obviously I don’t care, but the framed vintage seats are nice. There’ll be an auction on February 9th for all the bigger stuff (urinals!), including the scoreboard.


Monday January 7, 2008

Homestead farmers market

farmers market

We stumbled on a completely amazing farmers’ market down in Homestead this weekend. It’s just off the intersection of US-1 and SW 244 Street. The market is in this big building with open sides, and an adjacent swapshop-type area is adjacent, where you can get your share of discount car audio and designer knockoffs. There are also junk food vendors and pony rides, but the farmers market is the main attraction.

farmers market

Ultra-plump produce reigns large and small, everyday and exotic. To example the latter, how about green garbanzo beans still in their husks? Everything was bristling with flavor, and of course it was amazingly cheap.

farmers market

Florida plum tomatoes. Not pictured: the biggest mountain of bananas I’ve seen in my life.

farmers market

This being homestead, Mexican-oriented stuff was abundant. Here are some half-dozen+ different dried peppers. Also — did I mention there was a little nursery section? Chad bought an Epazote plant, which apparently is extremely difficult to find.

farmers market

Mysterious powders and dried plants hang from the rafters. Note the cartwheel pasta, available freshly fried elsewhere on the premises. No idea what the orange stuff is.

farmers market

Oh, and if you’re ever in need of a 50 pound bag of carrots, they’ve like totally got you covered.

Update: Do all farmers markets in Florida stink?


Friday December 21, 2007

Calvin Godfrey has your 305-legit last-minute holiday-shopping suggestions: Opa-locka flea market and Bay of Pigs gift shop.


Wednesday November 7, 2007

Why parking at Midtown isn’t free: the knuckleheads on the city commission agreed that it would be, but never bothered to put it in writing.



Incident at Whole Foods and followup. A woman is arrested in the parking lot (apparently somewhat roughly) after a food fight(!) inside the store. Our own Genius of Despair reports, and is told off by a WF manager for taking pictures in front of the store.


Tuesday November 6, 2007

The Miami Herald noticed that there are actually no bookstores (none) in the City of Miami. Boy is that embarrassing. (But one is on the way.) Update: Commenter have noted that there are in fact a couple, which the Herald article considers “specialty bookstores.”




Ikea visit

Don’t go to Ikea! It’s waaaay too crowded on the weekends, at least for now. Like overflow parking lot, trolly, Disneyesque line for parking crowded. I thought it’d calm down a couple of weeks after opening, but not yet. Here’s the obligatory shot of the outside. Now let’s walk through.
Ikea visit

Drop your kids at the play station and head up the escalator to the showroom.
Ikea visit

So, now you’re in a maze of little cubicle-rooms, each looking quite homey and stylish. Everything’s for sale; you jot down product names and “aisle numbers” of stuff you’re interested (more on that later) with little Ikea golf pencils. A few central open areas break up the rhythm, with like a sofa section, a desk section, etc.
Ikea visit

A bachelor pad sort of thing. I’ll say it again — it was packed.
Ikea visit

This kitchen was pretty impressive. By the way, there are several different price points at work here. You can get the $9 chairs, but you can also get very very nice stuff if you’re willing to pay something like a normal price.
Ikea visit

The table strategy: mix and match table surfaces (steel!) with various leg designs (not pictured: sawhorses). For extra credit, just get the legs and attach them to an unfinished door from Home Depot.
Ikea visit

Recycling garbage cans. Remind me again why we can’t have these everywhere?
Ikea visit

Back downstairs, you’ll find linens, rugs, kitchen stuff, and about a million other things, some clever designs on familiar themes, others quite unexpected.
Ikea visit

The lighting area is always one of my favorites. I got one of these.
Ikea visit

Finally, a walk through the warehouse to the registers. Remember those aisle numbers? You find your stuff here (or helpful folks will find it for you) and grab as many as you want. You also get to see the thing in context with all it’s variations. For example, a dresser you saw upstairs might turn out to come in three colors and two different sizes.
Ikea visit

At check-out, a $.05 charge for plastic bags. You can also buy a huge re-usable and super-useful tote bag for a couple of bucks.

The line for the restaurant upstairs was like about a city block, so the meatballs will have to wait for next time.


Monday September 17, 2007

Jane Feltes’s favorite places on South Beach (she’s from This American Life). La Sandwicherie — yum!


Wednesday August 8, 2007

Welcome additions at Publix: an aisle directory (never understood why they got ride of these) and reusable bags for $1.49 a pop. Update: Meanwhile, trouble for someone who brought their own bags to Publix.


Monday July 30, 2007

The Kryptolok bike-theft challenge

$80 bike, $34 lock

OK, so here’s my new bike, replacing the one stolen in June. I decided to double the amount of money I spent on the previous ineffectual lock, and got a Kryptonite Kryptolok, $34 bucks.

Kryptonite has a five-level system to assign theft-proofness to their locks, which is — no kidding — 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12. This lock is a tame level-8, but it looks impressive enough, and comes with $1250 worth of theft insurance (no power tool exemption, but enough hoops that require jumping through that I’m not going to bother).

By the way, this $80 bike from Target is great. It absolutely eats the road, it’s got 21 speeds, front suspension, and a seat that can be adjusted/removed on the fly. I’ve been torturing it, riding through construction sites, on beach sand, through water, and it holds up like a champ.

So, it’s been in front of my building since Saturday, locked just like you see it here (I’ve been removing the seat and water bottle). Let’s see how long it lasts!

And yes, that amazing pink bike with sponge seat is theft-proof. It’s got a hardware-store chain with a master padlock, a flat front tire, and it’s been sitting out there, unridden, for years. An inspiration to abandoned bikes everywhere.


Tuesday July 24, 2007

MB-D80 My used Nikon stuff for sale on ebay: MB-D80 grip/battery pack, SB-400 flash, and MH-18a charger. All gently used and available to a good home, and yes, I did kvetch about getting my D80 stolen in every single listing.


Friday July 13, 2007

The Bal Harbour Sheraton is remodeling about to be demolished, and everything is for sale, now through August (9701 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour).


Wednesday June 27, 2007

ikea painted

I am given to understand that this is the finished new Ikea building, getting its blue paint. Still no more specific an opening date then “Fall 2007.”


Thursday May 31, 2007

Ikea is coming

ikea chair Anyone who’s ever been to Ikea is a devotee of their inexpensive, modern Swedish furniture. And any devotee who lives in Miami bemoans the fact that the closest store is in Atlanta. There have actually been recorded road-trips up there just for the purpose of buying furniture, because Ikea’s shipping is notoriously expensive and difficult. And while there has long been talk of a store opening down here, many were skeptical of Ikea’s claims that a store will open this august.

Well, those doubts can now be put to rest, because word is out that Ikea is officially hiring. They’re looking for 400 employees, because, if you haven’t been, these places are huge. Here’s where it’ll be — way out in West Broward off I-595. Worth the trip, trust me. They have a massive selection, crazy good prices (How much do you think that chair right there is? Click on it and see how close you are.), and a restaurant attached that serves delicious Swedish meatballs. Yum, meatballs!


Thursday May 3, 2007

Bellsouth romantic

bellsouth mailpiece

I got this incredibly pathetic card in the mail from Bellsouth yesterday and I just had to share it. It’s not new — anyone who’s gotten rid of their land line over the last few years has probably seen it, but it’s worth going into anyway. Here’s the slide-show, with my comentary.

All kidding aside, when they say “We promise to be really really good to you from now on,” they are full of shit. I have Bellsouth’s web hosting at work, and recently we’ve had problems with the e-mail. Turns out we were over our drive space quota, which is (wait for it) . . . 500 megabytes. This is for a $19.99/month plan. Dreamhost charges $7.95 for their cheapest plan, and they give you 160 gigabytes. And they increase it automatically every month. Here’s an article about Bellsouth- from two years ago. Since then they’ve been purchased by AT&T, but it’s all the same crap.


Wednesday May 2, 2007

Price gouging (again)

gas Once again, our friends over at Metroblogging are outraged by South Beach gas prices, and throwing around accusations of “price gouging.” I corrected them on this when the same thing happened last year, and got an earful from our friend Biscayne Bystander:

It is illegal in the state of Florida to sell gas below your competitors.

The Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (yes they do exist) does not tolerate price discrimination. Infact, this little known and well organized lobbying group had the Motor Fuel Marketing Practices Act enacted into law in 1985.

With all due respect, “The MFMPA prohibits below-cost selling at retail . . .” does not mean it’s illegal to sell your gas cheaper then the guy down the street. It means it’s illegal to sell your gas for less then what you paid for it. This prevents large retailers from undercutting local competition at a loss to themselves for awhile, until the competition is driven out of business and the big guy gets 100% of the market share.

Let’s say you’re a mom and pop gas station. Actually, nevermind — let’s say you’re a mom and pop doughnut store. I’m a big ghastly doughnut empire, and I move in next door to you. Well, my massive nationwide profits allow me to sell doughnuts for less then it costs me to make them for a few months. All your customers come to me, and after a few months you have to close down. Then I raise my prices back to normal, and I can go about my business without any of your annoying competition. That’s what the law prevents.

Once again: expensive prices ≠ price gouging. Gouging is when prices go up to take advantage of a civil emergency. Expensive is when prices are high because of other factors, like the cost of taxes and insurance on South Beach. I explained all this back in 2005 in the original price gouging article but nobody was reading then.

The gas stations on the beach are for emergencies and for the carelessly rich — everybody else buys their gas on the mainland. (BTW, that photo is from downtown — on the beach it’s much more expensive!)


Tuesday May 1, 2007

Fly Boutique

Fly Boutique

Fly Boutique looks like just another clothing shop on Lincoln Road; it’s only inside that you realize it actually sells vintage clothing. You don’t hunt for fabulous old clothes here — you just grab ‘em off the racks. The owners pick through the stashes at thrift stores and estate sales and whisk the best stuff here. You’ll pay, too: dresses can cost over $100, pants run $40 to $90. And yes, they do have men’s clothes.

Fly Boutique

Most of the charm is in the way the store is decorated. It’s kind of like a crazy aunt’s living room, if your crazy aunt had no closets and an obsession with clothes from the 60/70/80s. There’s a funky couch, a coffee table piled high with fashion magazines, rugs on the terrazzo floor, and funky objects everywhere.

Fly Boutique

A cache of belts. Good grief, who wouldn’t want to be a rock star?

Fly Boutique
650 Lincoln Road


Thursday April 19, 2007

Admired Desired Required Acquired

At Aventura Mall. It’s like they held a meeting to see what they could do to make the mall more subtly irritating. The other side has the same message in Spanish.


Tuesday April 17, 2007

Stoneage Antiques looks interesting.


Monday February 26, 2007

Lincoln Road "Green Market"

"Green" as in "Market"

The Lincoln Road Green Market doesn’t call itself a farmer’s market, and rightly so. A huge majority of the booths sell oft-dubious antiques, chotchkes, clothing, and other junk. The sign weasels right out of this, declaring the market to only be from Meridian to Washington. Whatever.

Pseudo-victorian tea service

Most of this stuff is not my cup of tea (ha!), though there were some cool things scattered around. Not at this booth, but there were some fakes so obvious that I could spot them while skipping by. Watch out (or maybe you don’t care, in which case you shouldn’t be paying the prices these people charge).


Tip: if you can find a nice pair, you might be able to get your optometrist to turn them into regular glasses. She Kills He did that with fantastic success.


Mid-century shoutout.

Foreign mangos

Here we go. The mangoes on the right are from Peru. The mangos on the left are from Haiti. Which is all fine, so long as you don’t kid yourself into thinking you’re at a farmer’s market — with the exception of some citrus and strawberries, nothing here is locally grown, and nothing is sold by a farmer, or anyone working for a farmer. “They’re good mangoes,” the guy told me as he rushed past, and I’m sure they are, but I can get good mangoes at Publix, too.


In addition to a tent selling “Bonsai,” there are orchids, smoothies, and cut flowers to be purchased.

Foreign fruit

Total number of stands selling straight-up fruit: three. And of those only one had any vegetables. And it was all pretty expensive. I’m not sure where the apples above were grown, but the stickers say “Del Monte.” Bummer.


Thursday February 22, 2007

Trilingual traffic school alterations notary public clothing store

Trilingual traffic school alterations notary public clothing store.


Monday February 5, 2007

Miami-Dade’s new housing locator appears to be pretty comprehensive, and lets you search by area, number of bedrooms, and price range. Even has Google maps integration. Too bad you can’t pull up a map with all the results and click from there. (via Miami Vision)


Wednesday January 31, 2007

Art Center South Florida Super Bowl Super Store


Art Center South Florida offers an incisive critique of the over-commercialization of professional sports with their “Super Bowl Super Store” exhibition. Or, wait . . . is that what this is? It looks awfully realistic. Are they really actually selling this stuff? “Well, it’s a little of both,” said their executive director Jeremy Chestler when I called him to ask this morning. Turns out they’ve rented the gallery out to a vendor for Super Bowl week. “Many non-profits rent their spaces out to raise money, this is just for a little longer period.”


This is a great idea: with so many people in town for the game, the Center’s prime location is going to be getting lots of eyeballs this week; why waste the attention on art? But it’s really the tip of the iceberg, right? I mean, let’s rent it for even a little longer; say, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s when folks are really shopping. And for a couple of weeks before Halloween you could sell costumes. Firecrackers for July 4th. The possibilities are endless. The lesson is this: stop worrying so much about showing art all the time, find stuff that people want, and put it on sale. You can really, um, make a profit.

Total gratitude to Worm-Hole Laboratory, who spotted this first (and has generally been giving great blog lately).

Update: More photos.


Saturday January 13, 2007

Excuse me for to be going off-topic this weekend, but ringfo. A phone number (617-712-3574) you call with your cell phone while you’re in a bookstore, type in a UPC#, and get the Amazon price for that book (or other item, try it). To complete the circle of awesomeness, you can punch your cell # into the website later to get a list of items you’ve checked.


Thursday January 11, 2007

Hollywood Boulevard.


Tuesday November 14, 2006

Glimpse of Midtown


I stopped by the Midtown Miami development the other day. It’s still a big construction zone, with only a couple of stores open, but the overall shape is very apparent. This is only a brief look; I got there too late to really check it out.

I have aesthetic quibbles with some of the style decisions, but in terms of substance, this is development done right: mixing retail, office, and several styles of residential buildings in a dense and walkable little mini-district.

midtown miami map

The map. From here, it looks like a regular mall. The residential developments aren’t on this map; they’re to the east. The Target, Linens ‘n Things, and West Elm are a godsend. Petsmart and some of the other stuff I could give or take. Marshalls, there’s one downtown, so I don’t see the point of that really. Plus, who shops at Marshalls, anyway? I have no idea what Loehmanns is.

Midtown Miami residences

Here are the towers going up. Taken from the parking lot of the Target. Some of this stuff has a loooooong way to go before it’s done.

Midtown Miami Target

Target (my camera was set incorrectly; it didn’t really look Satanic). No pictures of the inside — it looks exactly like every other Target in the world, except for the customers, who were maybe slightly hipper looking. It’s not a “super” target (in the parlance of large discount retailers, “super”=“has a big food section”), but there is a sizable food area; just no produce.

Midtown Miami facade

This is a bit of the facade. It’s all still getting finished up, but it looks good. The brick finish I guess is supposed to put the “town” in “Midtown.” Just behind those storefronts across the street is a working-class neighborhood with lots of small old single-family houses. Someone should do a comprehensive photo project on the neighborhood, which is now going to be undergoing some fast and drastic transformation.

Midtown Miami West Elm

Some of the rest of the development, looking quite a bit more generic, though it’s unfair to say that when it’s not finished. This is the West Elm store, which I’m looking forward to. After the target, the only other thing open is Circuit City, which I have zero interest in.

One other interesting note: unlike most malls, the parking garages charge. The rates are weird, too: free for the first hour with Target ticket validation (a pain in the ass), $1 per hour for the next four hours, and then $10 per hour after that. I have no idea what the logic behind those rates is. Someone obviously did some deep thinking about how to maximize their profits, logic and sense be damned. I’ll be surprised if they don’t get so many complaints that they have to change this soon.

Update: Oldswish points out that they got $170 million from the city to build this thing and paying for parking was always part of the plan.


Monday October 30, 2006

Interesting article about housing prices in the New Yorker. “[I]f you control for inflation and quality, Shiller found, real home prices barely budged between the eighteen-nineties and the nineteen-nineties. The idea that housing prices have nowhere to go but up is, in other words, a statistical illusion.” (via kottke)


Thursday October 26, 2006

t-shirt design with a MAC-11, a Dade County logo, and the phrase 'Miami chopper'

Related to the Cocaine Cowboys movie, this t-shirt is hot. I gotta get me one, although at $26 it might not be right away. (via SotP)


Tuesday October 24, 2006

Blue Note Records

Blue Note Records

Blue Note Records sits just off 163rd street on 15th Ave in North Miami. Back in the early 90’s, it was an absolute palace. I used to work at a Peaches around the block, and we’d send people there all the time for anything we didn’t carry. And honestly, it still has a lot of the same charm.


The inside bears an uncanny resemblance to the cover of that Shadow album — here’s one place that doesn’t particularly cater to DJs, but where records outnumber CDs. I browsed around, hoping to find something that prominently featured the color yellow. No luck with this or this. They do, however, still have very strong Jazz, R&B, and Hip Hop sections, about in that order.

rhythm and lunchboxes

Not to mention knick-knacks. Really, this is the place to come if you want to stumble onto something you didn’t know you needed. Like a Bee Gees lunchbox. Or that Stevie Wonder CD. The typewriter’s not for sale. Wait, you don’t have Songs in the Key of Life? Get down there right now and grab that copy. Quick!

Blue Note Records

Back in its heyday, Blue Note used to take up this whole building, holes in the wall connecting separate rooms. The middle section was full of jazz records and a lounge, and the far end was full of rock, broken down into about five different sub-genres. At some point, I think they actually took over part of a warehouse space down the street. Then Amazon came along and sort of changed the world for independent (and not so independent) record stores. A few great ones are still thriving in Miami, though, and Blue Note is worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood.


Monday October 23, 2006

Allow me to clear up a certain amount of confusion: Charging too much during a civil emergency is price gouging (the wrongness of which is established by law, though debatable). Charging too much all the time is called having a business in a free motherfucking country. Gas prices on South Beach too expensive for you? Drive over to the mainland, or open up your own gas station, charge less, and make a killing.


Wednesday October 11, 2006

Look at what I missed: a new Target opened in Midtown, and what a difference it makes: the end of only going to Target when you’re out running errands in North Dade or Coral Gables.


Tuesday September 12, 2006

Ile Orishas

some sort of hair thing with a handle

Ile Orishas is an amazing looking botanica in Hialeah, with a great web site, full of incredible photos. Check out this one, for example. Well worth exploring. Information about botanicas in english here. “Santería and South Florida” essay by Chris Leonidas here. (via Reunion-USA2, which also linked here. And so, does anyone know enough Creole to be able to translate what they said? I have a general idea, but am still curious.) Update: It’s French. See comments for translation.


Monday August 28, 2006

The Critical Miami guide to hurricane shopping

food is delicious

It’s insane out there. I just got back from Publix, where the parking lot was choked up, more cars were coming in then leaving, and people were either at each other’s throats or being creepily nice (the guy in front of me offered me nuts he was munching on). I only went to get some fun stuff, thinking it’d be empty, but of course I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Anyway, y’all need to relax. It’s a hurricane. You’re going to live. Stop shopping like it’s the end of civilization, and buy stuff that’ll help you have fun during and after the storm. From the picture above, and in no particular order:

  1. Whole wheat pita and beans: I had a batch of Miami Hummus in the fridge, so I decided to add some beans, garlic, and oil to it to bulk it up. This, plus the pita, is a decent staple. Unrefrigerated hummus will keep for a few days.
  2. Juice: I normally buy juices and mix them with seltzer. If the power’s out water will work, since room temperature seltzer is kind of nasty. Like Rebecca says, though, just fill up some pitchers before the storm, and you’ll have plenty of water (plus if you haven’t bought it by now it’s too late anyway).
  3. Booze: I’ve opted for a couple of bottles of Shiraz and a big bottle of Bushmill’s. Both work great at room temperature.
  4. Extra sharp chedar: You want to be sticking with the hard cheeses—anything soft will spoil (ever tried eating brie that’s been out overnight? Yikes!). Plus, it goes great with the wine.
  5. Tomatoes: I got the delicious ones on the vine. Any veggies that can be eaten raw would work, though.
  6. Yuca: I might feel motivated enough to cook this up tomorrow morning, and do up some olive oil and garlic to go with it.
  7. Coconut, avocado: more fun stuff from the produce isle. Cracking open and eating a coconut sort of makes anything feel like a celebration.
  8. Candles: I’m required by the Responsible Blogging Act of 2003 to tell you to use a flashlight, because you will burn down your home if you light a candle during a storm. But for myself, I rather like the candles. Plus reading by flashlight is a little jr-high for me. All the good hurricane candles in tall jars were gone, of course, and I can’t abide scented. Luckily I found these awesome Kosher candles. 72 to a box!

That’s it; there’s plenty of other stuff in the house. Plust, last year I didn’t even loose power. Bonus tip: if you have a hand-basket, you can pile as much stuff as you want in it, and they’ll let you slide at the express lane, regardless of how many items it is. How’s everyone else’s day going?


Tuesday August 22, 2006

Farecast is a service that tracks the price history of an airline ticket and tells you whether the price will go up or down, and whether you should buy the ticket now or wait. It has only supported flights from two airports, but is now open to 55, including Miami and Ft. Lauderdale!


Monday July 24, 2006

It’s a good time to go buy some pens and paper The back-to-school tax holiday is on, and ends July 30th.


Wednesday July 12, 2006

apple store on lincoln rd

Photos of the new Apple store on Lincoln Rd. It opens Saturday morning, and the first 1000 customers get a t-shirt. (via Fanless)


Thursday July 6, 2006

Tere is unhappy with all the furniture stores in Coral Gables. Personally, I like the furniture in those places (can’t afford it, tho). But it’s interesting how these stores open in close clusters: there’s another group of them along Biscayne in North Miami. I like the fact that Tere photographed each of the stores without going it.


Monday June 19, 2006

Here I live two blocks away and I had no idea that Apple was building a store on Lincoln Rd. wft?


Wednesday May 24, 2006

Keep an eye on Target


A friend told me that she’d had problems on two recent occasions where Target posted sale prices that didn’t ring on the register, and when she told the manager about it, they gave her shit. So, when my garbage bags happened to be on sale, I snapped a picture of the price tag just for fun. I forgot all about it by the time I got to the register, but when I checked my receipt on the way out, sure enough: they rang up at $6.49! Whatever: there was a long line at customer service.

Congrats, Target – you got my fifty cents. But I’m pretty sour about the whole thing. I’m keeping an eye on you.


Thursday April 20, 2006

Faith Farm

Faith Farm is some sort of religious rehabilitation center (for recovering substance abusers?) in Ft. Lauderdale. It also happens to be a great thrift store, in particular, maybe the best place for used furniture in driving distance. Two buildings and a large outdoor area hold crazy amounts of furniture (and lots of other stuff), and there’s more coming in all the time. As with any thrift, the best time to go is in the morning.

Sofas under an overhang. Upstairs, there’s a whole huge room full of sofas; this is just the overflow.

Cabinets, bookshelves, and dressers as far as the eye can see (a wide-angle lens would have shown a lot more).

Another covered area outside with dining room tables, bed frames, and coffee tables. It’s particularly easy to find a good dining room sets here.

There’s a huge patio outside with all kinds of stuff too various to describe. It’s well organized, too: here, a conglomeration of crutches. There’s also a whole separate building with new furniture downstairs and a regular thrift store section, with clothes, lamps, electronics, and whatnot.



Wednesday February 15, 2006

The SoBe library's gone + buying furniture in Miami

So, the other day, I'm coming home along A1A, stopped at the light at 21st street on Collins, and I glance over to my right at the Bass Museum of Art[1].

?! The Bass Museum? Shouldn't I be looking at the South Beach Library? Well, exactly: no: the library's gone, in it's place a grassy field, the rotunda the only thing left. I doesn't look like a demolition site - looks like it's been this way for years.

I pull over to snap the photograph above, and walk around the site a bit, and a cop pulls some poor sucker over, blocking my car in with his cruiser. Just then I notice the new library, across the street to the north side of the block. I've got some time to kill now (who wants to ask a cop to move his car?), so I check out the new library.

It's the same collection (I checked out a couple of books!), and the layout is OK - pretty generic, nothing special. Two stories (kids on the 2nd floor - who thought of that?), much less interesting architecturally then the old building. On my way out, I notice the chairs they have at their computer workstations. I try one out (they look pretty plain), and instantly I'm in love. I find it on the DWR site when I'm at home and the thing is over $600 with shipping, which brings me to my real point: it's a pain in the ass buying furniture in Miami.

Unless you're a Rooms-to-Go kind of person, your choices are limited, and generally are going to involve overpaying.

Ikea is decent furniture at reasonable prices. But there's no store anywhere in reasonable driving range (even the one in Atlanta is only recently opened), and boy does their online/mail order system stink[2]. Not to mention, my $180 order became $300 when shipping fees were added in.

There are lots and lots of small stores with modern furniture in town (a number of them are clustered around Biscayne Blvd. between 125 St and Miami Gardens Dr), but they tend to have minimal selection and high prices - great if you have lots of time and money on your hands.

Then there's Design Within Reach, which recently opened a store on Lincoln Rd. - expensive, but at least it's the real deal, right? No: problem is that it's a showroom, and whatever you want is ordered, just like from the catalog, and shipped to you, with the same shipping charges as if you were calling in to the catalog.

And yes, there are thrift stores (the best being Faith Farm in Ft. Lauderdale) which have amazing furniture, but less so with every year that goes by.

So what's the solution? A friend of mine is trying to cook up a scheme involving cheap one-way flights to Atlanta, a trip to the Ikea store, and a u-haul back - that's how desperate we're getting. But so with no further fanfare, we are pleased to announce that yes, the rumors are true: Ikea is planning to open a store in South Florida. In a mere year and a half, all our furniture-related troubles will be over.

[1] Anyone know why it says 'Bass Mvsevm' on the front? Some sort of ancient alphabet thing?

[2] I recently ordered a wall unit and dresser from their online store. Mind you, I had to enter my credit card information before being told the actual shipping cost. I got an e-mail a week later with the shipping cost, asking me to confirm my order. I immediately did. It took another week for them to acknowledge the confirmation[3], and tell me I'd be getting my furniture within 3 weeks. If that wasn't bad enough, I called them today, and (after about an hour on hold) was told that it was actually 3-4 weeks, and I had to call another number still to get any more specific information (I gave up on that one after half an hour on hold).

[3] See West Elm for an example of how to manage an online furniture purchasing experience. A clean and beautiful web site, pre-submit shipping charges, and no-hassle confirmation.


Sunday October 30, 2005

Price gouging?

All this talk about “price gouging” post-Wilma has got us thinking. Actually, it started when we saw this guy on TV, charged in court and tar-n-feathered on the news, for selling cases of water for $10. How much is a case of water supposed to sell for? Critical Miami recently bought a case of water at BJ’s for $5. Mind you, this was well after the hurricane, and at a discount membership superstore. Was David charging more for the water then Publix? Yes. Was he getting rich off the suffering of hurricane victims? Unless he had a very high-volume operation going, it’s unlikely he was getting rich. Look: there’s a reason economists don’t get worked up about price gouging. Heck, even Wikipedia has some trepidation about it.

This price-gouging stuff started up after Andrew, when people were buying generators in upstate Florida, driving them down to Kendall, and selling them for twice the original price. Whether this is exploitation or free-market economics comes down to a matter of perception. As a society, we have made the collective decision that the former is the case. Is the unavailability of, say, gasoline, a consequence?

Say I’m a gas station owner. I see the reports of rowdy 3-mile lines and ornery customers. Am I going to bust my ass getting out of bed to open my shop for you assholes? Not for $2.83 a gallon, I’m not. Our guess, though, is that if you were one of the poor bastards who really needed to fill up last Wednesday, you’d gladly have paid $4.50 a gallon; all the more so if the line was shorter for all the people who suddenly realized they didn’t really need fuel so bad. So the price gouging law is what made fuel extremely difficult to buy.

Florida saw 246 price gouging reports during Wilma. Some are from assholes looking to make a quick buck, and some are from people looking to cover their costs while providing needed supplies to people in need.

Whatever. David Brown explains the idea better then we’re going to. Report price gouging if you must; just remember that that paying too much for something may be better then not having it at all.


Tuesday June 14, 2005

$1.50 ?!?

Over at City Debate, North Beach William breaks down the recent Metro-Dade bus rate hike. We agree that this is pretty straightforward price-gouging (the agency’s site, by the way, is unapologetic), but we disagree about the state of the public transit system. Considering how sprawled-out Miami is, the fact that any viable bus service is possible is impressive. And we love when they drive fast – there’s nothing like zipping through traffic, knowing that the 5-ton vehicle you’re in can hit a Hummer and win.