Best Of :: Shopping & Services
New York City has The Strand, Portland has Powell's, the Internet has Alibris.com, and Dallas has Half Price Books. It's as simple as that and has been since 1972, when Ken Gjemre and Pat Anderson stocked a converted Laundromat with some 2,000 books from their personal libraries and started the place. Thirty-two years later there are some 80 stores in 13 states, but we're betting none is as essential to its community as the Northwest Highway flagship is to Dallas; without this place, trust us, Dallas would be as culturally barren as Los Angeles. The recent addition of the Penguin collection, consisting of thousands of Brit paperbacks costing around eight bucks a pop, has only made us love this place that much more, if such a thing were possible. One tip, though: Never go here looking for something too specific, because odds are you'll come out disappointed; happens to us every other week, which doesn't stop us from going anyway. Just go to browse, and then scour every nook and cranny and corner, because you'll walk away with something you didn't know you needed but couldn't imagine living without.
Half Price Books
The new Sam Moon is only a stumble away from the old Sam Moon on Harry Hines Boulevard, but the larger parking area feels like a whole new world. The crowds are still crazy, and the patrons are still overly aggressive, but with more space, there's less a chance of injury. Who are we kidding, though? They could move Sam Moon to an un-air-conditioned warehouse in the bowels of the suburbs, and we'd still make the jaunt for the shiny baubles and "designer-inspired" handbags. We blame it on the cheap, sparkly chandelier earrings; we swear they hypnotize us.
We've seen the movie High Fidelity. Even thought about reading the book once. So we get the whole music-clerk snob thing. But it doesn't impress us. Not even a little bit. That's why we shop at CD Source in the Old Town shopping center. These folks know music, and their eclectic stock is often surprising. But by no means are these music clerks snobs. They know that people have different tastes, and they cater to everyone without prejudice. So we bought an Ashlee Simpson CD. Sue us. But even if the folks at CD Source looked down their noses at our poor taste in music and robbed us of our guilt-free shopping, we'd probably still go there. The prices are low, the new arrivals section always has something we want and their buy-back rates are pretty decent, too.
2706 E. Mockingbird Lane, #110
A man, at least once in his life, needs to go Tom Wolfe, take the money he saved for the kids' education and buy himself a killer suit. The best place to shop is at Neiman Marcus on Main Street in downtown. There he'll find Oxxford, Zegna, Armani, Hickey Freeman, Paul Smith and Brioni suits. And he'll find them in bulk, racks upon wonderfully tailored racks of clothing--as well as made-for-measure fabrics in the store, which result in still more clothing options. Neiman's is seldom busy during the weekday. Yet the sales associates do not meddle with a man's browsing habits. They answer questions when needed, sure, but then return to their spaces, and the browsing continues. Suits start at $900 and can run upward of $3,000. Tuxedos there can go for more than $4,000. Belts, ties, shoes, all the other accessories that accommodate a man looking great--they're available, too. Plus, a man can get a shave at Neiman Marcus, so there's no way he's leaving ugly, which leaves only one thing to do: strut.
For years (and years and years), comic-book lovers were pretty much S.O.L. when it came to the convention scene. They were almost always second-rate affairs that brought in third-rate talent. But then last year, Wizard magazine finally decided to bring its mammoth affair down south. There were so many booths packed into the Arlington Convention Center--bursting with toys and videos and original art and T-shirts and so many other things we could scarcely afford but bought anyway--that we got lost. Twice. Even though we had a map. And everywhere we looked, there was a writer or artist from Marvel or DC. Jim Lee, the artist who revived a flagging Batman franchise. Joe Quesada, who, as editor in chief at Marvel, revived a flagging company. Filmmaker and comics scribe Kevin Smith, whose appearance in town prompted at least 30 chubby gentlemen to dress themselves as Silent Bob, the character Smith has played in most of his films. It. Was. Awesome. Best part is, it looks like it's becoming an annual event: The second installment of Wizard World Texas is coming in November.
Though he's never let us paint his toenails, our boyfriend has submitted to some of our tamer grooming requests--i.e., "Let me pluck your eyebrows, sweetie." He probably didn't feel very manly as we fluttered around with our cold wax and tiny tweezers, bent on reshaping his brow growth. For men who are not quite as patient or just prefer to put themselves in the hands of professionals, Aqua Spa offers a "men only" night the last Wednesday of every month, where guys can indulge in massage, waxing, facials and other spa services without having to worry about disapproving looks from over-tanned trophy wives. If he still balks at a buttocks waxing (yes, they offer that), tell him, "That's OK, I'll just let my body hair grow out, too."