Scottsdale’s winter visitors have many agendas—golfing, hiking, clubbing, just to name a few. Sooner or later, almost everyone succumbs to shopping’s siren call. Like Las Vegas, this desert city is famously loaded with high-end retail opportunities (check those out at vast Scottsdale Fashion Square or newly opened Scottsdale Quarter). If you’re looking for a more local experience, try Scottsdale’s downtown district, which has become an incubator for indie shops that sell everything from books and bikes to evening gowns and sofas. This time of year, scout the shops for unique holiday gifts. If you can’t stuff your buys in your carry-on or car’s trunk, most places will ship. Here are a few worth a visit:
2B Mod. Design purists, keep on walking. But if you love mid-century furniture and your bank account, slip into this pocket-size shop, where you’ll find chairs, sofas, tables, lamps and more inspired by those classic designs of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s you only see in museums or rich architects’ homes. They also offer cool kids furniture and even have modernist cat condos and dog beds. Closed Sun; 4158 N. Goldwater Blvd.; 480-941-8192 or 2BMod.com.
Bicycle Haüs. No one’s suggesting that you peddle a bicycle back to Vegas, but if there’s a biker on your holiday gift list, this spot is nirvana. Besides carrying everything from beach cruisers to mountain bikes, this ever-growing shop has performance wear, helmets, shoes, backpacks, those Lance Armstrong-y shades, patch kits and more. There’s even an in-house massage therapist who’ll help you with muscle tension or assist with stretching. 7027 E. 5th Ave.; 480-994-4287 or BicycleHaus.com.
Bischoff’s at the Park. Anselm Bischoff’s grandfather ran Canyon de Chelly’s trading post, so he grew up steeped in Native American art. His Scottsdale gallery, housed in a gracious old bank building, is stuffed to the rafters with regional art, furniture, accessories and more. The best part? Tucked between cases of Zuni pawn jewelry and stacks of kilims are piles of books, covering everything you ever wanted to know about Southwest art and culture. Maynard Dixon bio? Check. The lore of cowboy boots? Check. History of the city’s landmark Camelback Mountain or a coffee table book on Mexican hacienda style? Check, check. 3925 N. Brown Ave.; 480-946-6155 or BischoffSouthwestArt.com.
Fashion by Robert Black. Robert Black ran one of Arizona’s largest and best-known modeling agencies for decades, so the guy knows his Blass from a Dolce & Gabbana. Last year, he opened a shop specializing in exquisite vintage-wear for women, covering the 1920s to the ’80s. Channel a sequined Cher with a Bob Mackie gown or make like a lady who lunches in a Chanel suit. Other labels that have twirled through the shop include Pucci, Halston and Trigère. Closed Sun-Mon; 7144 E. First Ave.; 480-664-7770 or FashionByRobertBlack.com.
Local Talent. Walk into this airy shop and you’ll find clothes, jewelry and home accessories created by some 40 Phoenix-area fashion designers and artists. You’ll walk out with one-of-a-kind clothes for men, women and children, and maybe a chunky bead necklace, art glass plates or an embellished evening bag. Closed Mon; 7050 E. Fifth Ave.; 480-874-1000 or LocalTalentaz.com.
SMOCA Store. The store at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is a great place to score big, beautiful art books, desk accessories and jewelry. This time of year, you can find artsy boxed Christmas and Hanukkah cards, and the staff can help with gift-wrapping. While you’re in there, do stroll into the galleries. Bridges: Spanning the Ideas of Paolo Soleri is one of the current exhibits. Closed Mon; 7374 E. Second St.; 480-874-4666 or smoca.org.
If You Go …
Where to eat and drink. Start with a salad of lamb’s tongue, rye bread and green beans, then work your way into the pasta with chanterelles and bacon at FnB (7133 E. Stetson Drive, 480-425-9463), a tiny eatery that emphasizes fresh and local. Bonus points for an all-Arizona wine list. A knot of rising-star young chefs gathered to create Crudo (7045 E. Third Ave., 480-603-1011), an Italian raw-fish restaurant, where you can dine inside or on the patio on squid-ink risotto or white anchovies with fried mozzarella. Kazimierz World Wine Bar (7137 E. Stetson Drive, 480-946-3004) offers a wild sipping cruise through Polish mead, a Jordanian cabernet or a British ginger current wine, to mention only a few choices. Live jazz is also on the menu. Get an espresso jolt at Sola Coffee Bar (7124 E. Fifth Ave.), a warehouse-style hangout, where local creative types congregate and The Beatles’ Rubber Soul plays on the turntable.
Where to stay. These two downtown hotels are walking distance to shopping: FireSky Resort & Spa, which features lagoon-style pools and a nice spa where you can recover from a day on your feet (from $129; 4925 N. Scottsdale Road; 480-945-7666, FireSkyResort.com); and Hotel Valley Ho, a swanky, restored shrine to 1950s modernism, with a spa and a Trader Vic’s on property (from $99; 6850 E. Main St.; 480-248-2000 or HotelValleyHo.com).
Getting around. Want to cover more ground? Jump on the free Downtown Scottsdale Trolley, which loops past hotels and shops (ScottsdaleAZ.gov/trolley).