Best Of :: Shopping & Services
So much of this "Best of" business is subjective, but about Bobbye Hall's we can objectively state the following: Bobbye Hall's Hobby House is the best hobby house owned by a 92-year-old woman named Bobbye Hall who still comes to work every morning at 9. Additionally: Hall's is the only full-service hobby house in the city. Other places may stock more model trains and what have you, but only Hall's carries the full range of remote-controlled model vehicles and rockets and kites and paint sets and so on. Hall's has stood at the corner of Bryan and Fitzhugh for 55 years. Every time we drive by it, we're amazed it's still open for business, that area of East Dallas not striking us as housing a high concentration of hobbyists. And every time we drive by, we promise ourselves we'll stop in when we have more time. Maybe this weekend.
Our experience with other stores that sell used CDs has been drought or flood, depending on who's been in lately to sell or trade. CD World's selection may not be of ark-requirement proportions every visit, but we've yet to leave empty-handed. The racks are divided by category and are in alphabetical order by artist with new, used and import CDs all together for quick comparison shopping. The local section is likewise well-stocked with both new and used (and we don't mean 10 copies of Deep Blue Something's Home and David Garza's entire back catalog).
Good Records is exactly what you'd expect from a store run by a bunch of local musicians: the latest indie label offerings, early-release copies of local records and the entire catalogs of seminal artists. From imports of alternate versions of Radiohead's latest to the aural history of Bedhead, they're all carded on the yellow shelves lined with colored lightbulbs. And if it's not on hand, the staff happily obliges special orders. But don't expect to find CDs here you could pick up at Target for $12, such as the back catalog of Metallica, which, allegedly, a fan hoping to snag a CD to be autographed by a band member dining in nearby Deep Ellum found out the hard way. "Good records" to him was just a matter of opinion.
As the organic health-food business becomes increasingly corporate (see Whole Foods' shareholders), the real thing is alive and well in the heart of Oak Cliff. For 24 years, Ann Munchrath has dispensed vitamins to undernourished Cliff dwellers. In 1998 she, along with son Matt and other family members, took a leap of faith and opened an organic grocery store that is the only thing of its kind south of the Trinity. The custom-built store is stocked with a healthy selection of rice cakes, whole grains, a mind-boggling selection of soy and rice milks, frozen dinners and just about every other organic food a health nut could want. Fruits and vegetables, bought from the Farmer's Market, are restocked daily. The meat section, though small, includes such rarities as Texas-raised lamb and bison. There is also a café that serves up smoothies, fresh juice, frozen yogurts and a chicken sandwich that will keep you coming back for more.
Back when the Trading Co. first opened its doors some two years ago, it was possible to peruse its racks and stumble across the rare and valuable oddity--say, the Criterion Collection This is Spinal Tap or The Usual Suspects, which was then out of print. It's a little harder to find such gems now that everyone, including your mom, has a DVD player; there's always someone digging through the bins, looking for a collectible to keep or sell on eBay. These days, we value the Movie Trading Co. for these reasons: For a few bucks, you can rent any disc in the store (just-released or very old) for five whole days (take that, Blockbuster); and the videotape bins are overflowing with odds and sods we never knew existed (a few months ago, we picked up hours' worth of Captain America and Captain Marvel serials dating back to the 1940s, and not long before that, we found a highlight reel of the New York Giants-Cleveland Indians 1954 World Series, and our pops was plenty pleased). It's kinda like Half Price Books: You walk in looking for one thing, and you walk out with five things you didn't know you needed.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We know. The Stoneleigh P has a better jukebox; says so in our 1997 "Best of" ish. So does the Metro Diner just down the street from the Elbow, at least if you like Muddy Waters with your coffee and smokes at 3 a.m. So do half a dozen other joints around town. It all depends on what you like, what you feel like hollering over, what you feel like grooving to before you land that pickup line with the precision of a spastic gymnast. Whim dictates we give this to the Elbow, just because it's the last bar we visited with a jukebox worth the ones and fivers we kept feeding it like a hungry beast with a bottomless appetite. There's just something about being able to listen to Chet Baker, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Johnny Cash, John Coltrane, Howlin' Wolf and Ronnie Dawson over a couple of Maker's on the rocks that makes some nights (or afternoons) more special than others. It's hard not to feel a little cocky with the Clash pouring out of the speakers; it's hard not to cry into your beer when George Jones leans over your shoulder and moans his sad somethin's.