The early-20th-century storefronts here have been spiffed up, and the downtown area along Glendale Avenue is known as the state's best antiquing district. Lately, some of the antiques stores have given way to gift shops, but there are still plenty of purveyors of old things, all within walking distance.
It was here, at Maudie Mae's Antiques & Fine Things (5817 W. Glendale Ave.; 623/463-3363), that we spotted that girdle as well as a great old spinning wheel. The shop features 21 dealers who specialize in everything from old tools to vintage clothing. Bo's Funky Stuff (open Thu-Sat and by appointment; 5605 W. Glendale Ave.; 623/842-0220) anchors the other end of Glendale Avenue and has been a downtown mainstay since 1982. The store is stuffed with 20th-century collectibles, including plenty of local nostalgia. We saw the ancient Coke machine from Navaro's (a beloved old flower market), plus the mechanical camel that once stood in an Apache Junction, Arizona, date shop.
Down a few doors, MilitaryItems.com (5623 W. Glendale Ave.; 623/934-8181) sells uniforms dating from World War I to the Vietnam era. We discovered real bomber jackets and soldiers' backpacks, plus a bazooka from World War II.
Just off the main artery, Glendale Square Antiques (7009 N. 58th Ave.; 623/435-9952) specializes in china, glassware, figurines, and - as we could tell from the tick-tick-ticking when we entered - clocks. Besides mantel and cuckoo clocks, the shop also has a good selection of pocket watches.
At this time of year, my daughter and I always top off an afternoon of Glendale antiquing with dinner at Haus Murphy ($$; 5819 W. Glendale Ave.; 623/939-2480), a German eatery with an antique-y ambience. As it gets dark, we eat dessert and take a final inventory of our loot, then we stroll out into the night, already planning our next foray.