Best Of :: Shopping & Services
There was a time--before most of us at the Observer were born--when it wasn't enough for a gas station to sell gas. It needed a little something extra: a petting zoo, a reptile display or (a favorite from that trip to the Grand Canyon back in 1966) a full set of 20-foot-tall Flintstones characters complete with an oversized replica of Fred's log car. Decades later, the spirit of the roadside attraction is alive and well downtown at Fuel City, where they've moved in a herd of genuine Texas longhorn cattle, a fake pump jack and some nice cactuses native to parts nowhere close to here. Country music on the loudspeakers and a Ponderosa-style store/taco stand only enhance the mood. For the big kids, there's a handy drive-up beer window with a killer selection. Gas, beer and cows--now that's some fine Lone Star living.
This bookstore on the first floor of the main Dallas public library is like a perpetual yard sale. You never can tell what books you might find, but they're guaranteed to be cheap. You can walk out the door with an audiotape, a couple of hardcover books and some paperbacks for less than 10 bucks. At these prices, the time spent looking for something interesting is worth it.
Handbooks, mouth books, bum books. Crossroads Market and Bookstore has sex manuals of every type. And they're just there on the shelf, not behind a counter or hidden beyond a velvet curtain. Just there by the cookbooks and romance novels and magazines and various knickknacks and greeting cards. But accessibility is only part of the issue. No one will look at you funny if you browse. Sure, you may giggle and blush to the shade of red found on the rainbow flags all around Cedar Springs, but no one will care. Not even the cashier, the woman standing in line to buy pie at the cafe or the guy using the Internet. Not that we would know, of course.
If you're looking for a way to get on Bowser's good side, this is the place to call. Co-owners Braden Tripp, a former chef, and Jonathan Pickens have a list of freshly made goodies that will have your pet slobbering more than usual. The menu has everything from Bow Wow Bagels ($4 a dozen) to Paw Paw's Old Fashioned Oat Meal Cookies ($5 per dozen) to Canine Cheese Sticks ($6 per dozen). None of the treats contains preservatives, artificial flavoring or color, and they're not all hot out of the oven. They'll even deliver frosty Pupsicles (with peanut butter and bananas) for the pooch who's been in the sun all day.
Yes, get a pet...and love it, and care for it, and KEEP it! In doing the research for this tender category, we were privy to far too many animals abandoned in moves or given away because they cost too much to feed (what?). And, of course, there's the unfortunate "he was cute when he was young, but now he's grown and, well, not so much." We advise never to utter those words near us. That's why we adopted our little babe (turned over for no apparent reason) at the Animal Adoption Center. It's a nonprofit, no-kill shelter, and it's in dire straits. For providing such amazing service and surviving for years on donations and the aid of volunteers, they've been "awarded" the daunting task of raising $50,000 or being forced to close. That sucks, because they care. For the adoption fee, the center has arrangements with vets in the area for complimentary spaying and neutering, and all animals are up-to-date on shots. Five years later, we're still grateful to the center for providing us with such an amazing companion, and he's grateful to them for making sure he lived to see adoption.
At some point, almost all of the big mall computer stores decided they couldn't afford to hire salespeople who actually know anything. Micro Center is the exception: Prices are competitive, but Micro Center also puts smart salespeople on the floor. Their own line of computers is usually a good buy, and the shelves almost always offer a fuller line of choices, from peripherals to software, than what you will find anywhere else. Another miracle: When the salespeople don't know the difference, they say, "I don't know the difference."