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.
Our family-room couch, a nifty if rather impractical wood-frame affair, sells for a couple thou in most catalogs; we bought it for less than half that...even though, or maybe because, it used to sit on the Good Morning Texas set. (No truth to the rumor it's a former casting couch, though it has seen a lot of pussy lately--dude, our cats sleep on it.) We bought the couch and pretty much everything else in our house at the Gabberts outlet on Furniture Row, off LBJ Freeway and Welch Road. Everything at Gabberts' bargain-bin warehouse is dimes on the dollar, though you shouldn't confuse "discount" with "crap": Most of the stuff here--from the leather couches to the dining-room tables to recliners--is top-of-the-line furniture the main store can no longer stock or sell. And they're willing to part with it for cheap, cheap, cheap. They'll deliver too, which is important when you're trying to fill and empty house with a little one-stop shopping.

To all those who swore off candles when TV news programs sensationalized the lead content of wicks several months ago: It's OK. Ergo's wicks are made of cotton. The wax is soy-based and food-grade so that the candles burn cleanly and evenly, which means they stay attractive while burning. The Dallas-based candle maker, which supplies several upscale retail stores, sells its discontinued fragrances and overstocked merchandise at its outlet on Motor Circle near Stemmons from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday. Ergo's most popular scents, including Ch'i, Shanti, Duo, and Zen Temple, are available in a variety of sizes and containers. Choose from the aluminum travel cups to three-wick glass bubble jars at about 50 percent off retail prices.

Proprietors Robert Wilson and Matt Tully are looking for clients who want more than just a little off the top. They love doing out-of-town folks--Britney Spears' dancers came in for late-night drinks, hair coloring, and a cathartic bitch session--because, as Wilson says, "They won't be coming back, and I can really do my best work." This is not a threat from some kind of loose-cannon stylist, because he and Tully can take the plunge into "creative" without drowning in "tacky." Still, they often find that people looking for high-fashion cuts in Dallas skew to a conservative range of two or three looks. They make annual visits to hair shows and seminars with top cutters in Europe, and return itching to introduce the locals to something different. Sounds a little scary, until you sit down and talk with Wilson or Tully and realize that their brains contain a 1,000-page flip book of contemporary and classic cuts. It's not that they want to try something fresh for the sake of freshness alone--they won't make you the guinea pig for some au courant Czech crackhead's new style goof--but they want to try something new for you. In other words, their first goal is a client's attractiveness. Let their restless imagination be your reward, and once you become a regular, ask them about the monthly Saturday night "hair events" they host in their Deep Ellum salon.

Best place to buy gifts for vintage freaks and gadget geeks

Restoration Hardware

At Restoration Hardware, thumb-sized candle snuffers and a penguin-shaped cocktail shaker are necessities, not luxuries. The stores are also totally Wodehouse--the fine, polished wood furniture has the reserved elegance of Jeeves, while the tin toys and quirky high-dollar accessories are reminiscent of Bertie Wooster. There are recipe books containing only after-dinner drinks, and road-sign bingo cards, magnets made from milk bottle tops, and door-knockers suitable for Dracula's Transylvania spread. Then, lining the cash register areas are tubs and stacks of gadgets that you didn't even know you needed (canceled casino dice and a mini screwdriver key chain) and ones you're surprised you were able to live without (a car-trunk extender and a mouth-sized dentist's mirror).

Women (or anybody not into car repairs), pay attention: These guys won't rip you off. They're nice people who come through in clutch situations. First, they flip the towing bill for you and haul in your heap. Then they give you an estimate that is between $3,000 and $5,000 less than the dealership's estimate. If you don't like the price they quote you, they'll deal. Not to mention they do a great job repairing and rebuilding cars.

These sturdy oak half-barrels, still redolent of California cabernet, are generous enough to hold a water lily, a bog plant, and a couple of fish--and cost only $29. Finding out that your apartment's balcony isn't quite as sturdy as you thought costs a lot more.
This store has been here for 25 years, and you can't leave without buying a grill or something unwieldy you hadn't intended to purchase. The store has about 15,000 square feet of floor space, and the soft-spoken employees do a lot of work for their customers, including installing washers on faucets, pipe work, etc. They don't charge union rates, making their service cheaper than a plumber. They also install screen doors and know their stuff.

Best place to decorate a rat packstyle pad

Cool Junk

Thrift store stuff covered in lime green plants, mushrooms, and owls is just too Brady Bunch. While Greg may have loved Carol's groovy style, having a house that resembles a cartoonish oak grove growing under a toxic dump is just so lame, man. Think hip--make that hep. Bright aluminum tumblers, shiny cocktail shakers, Tiki masks, martini glasses with colored stems and skewers with plastic olives on the tips, worn playing cards, and jazz club-style art and mirrors are it, baby, and Cool Junk has it all. Though it's sometimes difficult to catch the store when it's open, finding one of those giant metal cigarette lighters that looks like an oil lamp is worth it. Watch friends try to pocket one and carry it home without a noticeable limp.

If you're looking for serious support, these little ladies have it. You don't just go grab a handful of bras and hope one fits. Oh no, before you even get to look at a bra, you're properly measured, advised on the best sort of support for you, and then allowed to try on the bras they select for you. Go with it, it works. If you're between sizes or a really odd fit, they'll alter them while you wait. Plus they have those cool gel bras for a poor girl's instant boob job.

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