Best Of :: Shopping & Services
When Diana Thatcher's garden art and gift store across from the Dallas Arboretum simply wasn't turning a profit, she did what anyone else would have done: relocate to the Lakewood Shopping Center and focus her efforts on selling jewelry-making accessories and teaching classes. OK, so her plan was hardly conventional, but thinking outside the box turned Thatcher's hobby and passion into a strong business that's been able to hold its ground while battling tough economic times. How does she do it? By stocking the most sought-after items—including Swarovski crystals and freshwater pearls—and teaching classes on Fridays and Saturdays that are almost always filled up.
In addition to being affordable, the earrings, bracelets and necklaces here strike the perfect balance between boho and glam. There are always some pieces to go along with the store's incense, embroidered Mexican shirts and flowing skirts—think thick wooden bracelets and strands of chunky beads from Nepal, for example—but there's no shortage of glitzier options, either. You can count on a wide selection of chandelier earrings of varying designs and with different shades of glass, along with simple freshwater pearls and a broad assortment of turquoise, gold and silver. If you're after something shinier and blingier, you'll likely find it in the other case, which on a recent visit displayed a pair of enormous rhinestone earrings made of concentric circles. And the best thing about all this? Rarely does one of the store's adornments cost more than $25.
You can't get much more eat-local than growing your own food in your own backyard or in containers on your apartment balcony. But how? Northhaven Gardens, a long-tenured plant nursery next to the Jewish Community Center just off Central Expressway, has taken on a kind of second persona as a center for urban sustainable gardening. They sell everything from the right plants to the right mulch for the plants, but they also do much more. They hold weekend seminars on urban chicken-tending, for example. These events invariably blossom into high-spirited country fairs for city people.
Housed in a big old-school building with a broad, wide-open lobby, this branch actually has enough employees to make the lines few and short. Not only do you get to skip a long wait, which is a rare treat in and of itself, but once you arrive at a podium—or if your transaction is more involved, an office—you can count on being served by someone who knows how to do a great job. We can't, of course, vouch for the integrity of the broader mega-bank—which ones can you trust in this day and age?—but the folks at this location definitely know how to make your banking experience less troublesome.
There are plenty of joints in Dallas with a healthy beer selection, but soda drinkers are lucky to have more than five or six choices at any given establishment. Not so at Oak Cliff's Soda Gallery, where you'll find more than 150 different types of soda, from ginger ales to colas to root beers (which accounts for nearly 30 varieties all by itself), shipped in from locales as far-flung as Amsterdam and Japan and as close as Dublin, Texas. Make your own six-pack or purchase by the case if you so desire—just keep your hands off the Cheerwine, 'cause we need our fix of North Carolina cherry-cola goodness. Check the Web site for information on the occasional art exhibits and burlesque performances that share the space too. After all, the only thing better than drinking a cold cream soda is sharing one with someone in pasties.
We're starting to feel like a broken record when we say it (Get it? Get it?), but there's a reason Good Records winds up winning this honor every year. Sure, the selection of vintage tunes at Arlington's Forever Young Records is incredible, and anyone who's ever combed the rack at CD Source can tell you how endearingly weird their staff can be. But Good Records has so firmly entrenched itself in the local music community at this point that it's simply impossible for us to think of any other store as the best in town. This year's Record Store Day celebration was the stuff dreams are made of, a family-friendly affair with performances by a slew of local bands and lots and lots of beer on hand. Sure, the cops pulled the plug on Erykah Badu's set because of noise complaints, but that's how all the best parties end anyway. Here's an idea for next year, boring old Lower Greenville residents—plan a vacation for April 17 if you don't like live music, and let Good Records and the rest of us have one day to party. We know you have to contend with plenty of "scum bars" on a regular basis, but this is different, we promise. Deal?