Little feet grow faster than delinquent tax penalties, so it helps to have a place with lots of variety, colors, and styles of footwear plus terrific service. Stride Rite is not as cost-effective as burlap and twine, but at least with these shoes you won't find people from the government knocking on your door.

We're tempted to say, "Any place other than Fry's Electronics," but that's a cheap shot. (OK, not really: We once had a Fry's salesman talk us into a $2,000 computer that was out-of-date 13 minutes after we bought it. Then, when we got it home, it didn't work. When we brought it back, the salesman insisted there was nothing he could do for us, despite the fact it was under warranty and a piece of crap. We vowed never to return, and he said only, "Fine.") And, yeah, fact is, the best place to buy a computer is probably online, from the likes of Gateway or Dell--or just buy yourself a Mac and save yourself all that trouble. But Best Buy has always done us right: The salespeople have some idea what they're talking about, and if they don't, they get someone who does (unlike another store...ya listening, fellas?). And fact is, Best Buy's one of the cheaper computer outlets in town: A monitor we were going to buy at...well, somewhere else, was $50 cheaper. Seriously--50 freakin' dollars. And we didn't have to drive to Garland, park in Rockwall, and wait in a line that backs up all the way to Wylie.

Neiman Marcus Downtown
It's time to update that tired collection of half-empty bottles of Paco Raban and Grey Flannel. Get modern by going back so far in the past that it's new again with Neiman's exclusive collection of colognes from the 200-year-old Creed company of England. Or plant yourself firmly in the 21st century with a splash of Zaharoff. Big plus--the guys at the counter actually know every product they sell.

Wolf Camera has a wide selection of picture frames for your favorite photographs--or if not your favorite, at least those you're willing to display. Compared with other stores, prices are lower, selection is more varied, and you are more likely to find unique frame designs to match every picture. Prices start at $9.99. Brand-name frames include Burns of Boston, Carr, and Malden.
Flannery O'Connor was correct. A good man is hard to find, but a good all-purpose handyman is almost impossible to find in a city the size of Dallas. It's almost a disservice to call Snider a handyman. He does so much more than that. He does interior and exterior painting and carpentry and specializes in plumbing. He can handle small professional repairs to large-scale remodeling jobs. He is the choice of several professional interior designers to help carry out their plans for clients. We were as impressed with the quality of a paint job that he did for a client as we were with the price that he charged for it. So the next time you think you can build a fence as well as Bob Vila, do yourself a favor and call Tommy. You can stave off dealing with your own hand-eye coordination troubles a little longer.

The hobby of creating one-of-a-kind scrapbooks has been growing in Dallas--among our friends, at least. To help with this new trend is Scrappy's. The store carries an excellent selection of scrapbooking necessities, including adhesive stickers, unusual papers, books, binders, and ideas galore. The Scrappy's staff is friendly and helpful.
Worried that a mechanized car wash is going to suck the paint off your new roadster? Afraid that some unthinking automaton is going to scrape instead of scour, whack instead of wax? Fear no more, friends. Forest is a hand-wash car wash, eschewing rolling machines and whipping brushes for humans with sponges (and at reasonable prices). This people-centric motif extends to the rest of the car wash as well. Grab a plastic chair, either indoors or out, and browse the magazine rack. Feeling a little tense--some road rage perhaps--there is always Massages by George, the man with the chair who will cleanse your body of its toxins while the washers do the same for your car.

Neiman Marcus
Some men know how to dress well. Some men have significant others to help them dress well. For the other 80 percent of us, we have help from guys like David Mills. Mills has long been a treasured secret for shoppers at the men's department of Neiman Marcus at NorthPark Center. Ask him to find you a suit, and he can find it in less than 15 minutes. Ask him to put together a shirt and tie combination, and you'll be walking out with clothes that are elegant and uniquely flattering. His taste is impeccable. He's able to work with a variety of men's personal styles to assemble something that you find appealing. That's what makes him a favorite with many of the best-dressed men in Dallas.

Movie Trading Company
While the video chains are trying to catch up to the DVD-renting business that other specialty and independent stores already have, Movie Trading Co. already is several steps ahead. Go into any location, pick up any new or used DVD, and rent it for a few bucks. Try out the special features and see if it's good enough to add to your proud and growing collection. If you like it, you can buy it for the regular price minus the rental fee. MTC also stocks catalog and specialty items.
It almost doesn't matter what kind of price break you can get elsewhere on the same suit. In the end, the only break that really counts is the one your cuff makes before it hits your shoe. The only people who know how to do that are real honest-to-goodness, pins-in-the-mouth tailors with cloth tape measures draped around their necks, preferably bald, with thick glasses and a pronounced stoop. That's what you get at Culwell & Sons. That's why it's worth it.

On our way to The Gap, we stopped in at Bachrach out of innocent curiosity. We never made it to the original retail destination, and bought two excellent short-sleeve button-down shirts, which we wear every week (we still need more shirts). Anyhow, Bachrach is one of those "European"-style places, but that doesn't mean you'll end up looking frou-frou if you go there. The clothes are sleek and lightweight and should be worn by people who have a high opinion of themselves. We've been working out lately and, fairly or not, have somehow fallen into that category. The staff is very helpful.

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