Dr Delphinium Designs & Events
Most of us see the inside of a florist when our anniversary rolls around, when it's a major holiday (and around our house, Arbor Day counts as a major holiday), or when we're in trouble with the old lady. Dr. Delphinium, located in those most impractical spot in town (where the Dallas North Tollway intersects with Lovers Lane, making it danged near impossible to back out into traffic), has flowers for all such occasions. The cold-storage room is filled with all manner of flora, and the rest of the store overflows with exotic arrangements (some, less than $50) made for any day of the week. The staff is patient and helpful ("Uh, how do you say 'I'm sorry I ran over the cat' for $25?"), so much so we've begun to visit the good Dr. when we're just in the mood. Fact is, you know how we can tell this is the best florist in town? On Valentine's Day or February 15, this place is packed to the stems. The Dr. is in.

Highland Park Village
This is the most wannabe Beverly Hills area ever. The mall's layout and composition scream Southern California, as do the stores: Banana Republic for him and her, Williams Sonoma, St. John's, Hermès Paris, Chanel, Prada. And what Los Angeles establishment would be complete without an Ann Taylor, Chanel, Starbucks, and Jamba Juice (health drinks)? The parking lot is like an auto show, so unless you have a bankroll to spend or a loked-out ride, do yourself a favor and go to Syms, a few miles west on Mockingbird.
Time Inc. stopped publishing Life magazine in May, but nostalgia buffs still have a place to turn: Forestwood Antique Mall. Issues of the magazine going back to the 1940s are sold, many in excellent condition. Prices usually run around $15, depending on the issue. It's a small price to pay for a glimpse at some of the best magazine photography of this past century.

Stanley Korshak
We went on a search for a gown at the request of a friend who was to attend a high-profile, black-tie function. (Yes, we're female.) Buying ladies formal wear in a city this size is not as easy as you might think; we won't elaborate on how disappointing and downright ugly this search got. We can, however, recommend the quality and styles of gowns that we found at Stanley Korshak. The dresses came in a variety of sizes and were beautiful. The point of this story? 1. Start your search for a gown early. 2. Start it at this store. 3. If you aren't female, for God's sake, shave your back.

Best grocery store for last- minute wine and flowers

Kroger in Oak Lawn

Kroger
A discriminating friend recently walked into the Kroger at Cedar Springs in Oak Lawn. She had been lamenting the demise of Simon David stores with their wonderful selection of exotic items. (Unfortunately, the Tom Thumb replacements just don't have the same magic.) Imagine her surprise when she found that the flower selection at this simple store was larger than expected and fresh to boot. Thinking that this was a fluke, she came back a few more times and was not disappointed. It also carries a good selection of wine from respectable vineyards. (No Ripple or Boone's Farm Tickled Pink in sight.)

Best business start-up likely to kick butt

NextJet

When it "absolutely, positively" has to get there, don't be so certain it's Federal Express or UPS that is going to get it (whatever it is) there first, not with the recent launch of NextJet. The Dallas-based, Internet-enabled start-up guarantees same-day (instead of overnight) service for those who need the fastest delivery going and are willing to pay for it. By using a business model that relies heavily on the Internet, the company books existing carriers for its shipments, and has no inventory of airplanes to warehouse and maintain. NextJet plans to cater more to business customers, but everyday consumers who want something in the last minute--caviar from Iran, Maui Wowie from Hawaii--can get the service by paying the fare.

Businesswomen on a budget frequent this women's clothing resale store with a vengeance. One of our shoppers recently found an excellent deal on an Ann Klein suit. The atmosphere and staff are friendly, and you can usually find most items at 50-80 percent off retail department store prices.

Medallion is a good neighborhood place to go for a cheap haircut and interesting conversation. You can even get keys cut here; the machine is near the door. Rugrats are also welcome, but so are SMU students, young men, old men, anybody with hair follicles. Old-fashioned barbershops are a dying breed, veritable endangered species in an era in which "stylists" shear both men and women. So, men with hair, we call on you to unite in support of your local barbershop. You have nothing to lose but your bangs.

We're tired of all the product placement at the mega-toy stores around town. We're mortified that Disney and Pixar are having their way with our 3-year-old. Buzz Lightyear and Pokmon and Tarzan and Bullwinkle and Babe are making us hanker for a concealed-weapon license. Escape the insanity of being a target market for Rugrats and enter the Lakeshore Learning Store, where toys have a purpose other than lining the coffers of global media conglomerates. Here is a vast array of learning toys and fun toys (sans mass-media stuff) and knowledgeable sales people to help you strike the right balance between the two.

This shop actually has fine china in stock, not just a sample on the floor and a frustrating four-week wait. At $1,450 a plate, Flora Danica isn't for everyone, but it's nice to know you could run out and get a set in an emergency. At more reasonable prices are Wedgwood, Spode, Present Tense, and Richard Ginori, for the bride who wants everything.

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