Best place to get your tennis racket strung

Star Tennis

With a hot match at five in the afternoon you learn at three that the old racket badly needs to be re-strung. Not a problem at Dallas' newest racket sports specialty store. In addition to top-of-the-line equipment and accessories, an on-staff master racket technician--for you weekend players that means he's USRSA-qualified, has strung more than 6,000 frames, and knows how to operate something called the Babolat Star 4 stringing machine. While you're waiting, check out the nutritional supplements center or test-drive a few rackets.

It's still a free country, in theory, and your right to own a firearm is still protected. In Texas, it's a cherished right. To exercise this right in Dallas, take a drive to First Call Firearms, where Jerry Carroll will buy, sell, or trade guns with amiability and institutional knowledge. In Texas, gun rights include being licensed to carry a concealed weapon, and First Call offers four-day-long licensing classes ($110) that include lunch at El Chico. The best deals can still be found at gun shows, but for that personal touch and friendly training, First Call is the first choice.

You can always recognize the married couples that don't have kids: They go to dinner and talk all night about their dogs and/or cats as though they're children. They take their animals to things like Dog Day Afternoon at Reverchon Park; they enroll their dog in the Dallas Dog and Disc club, taking great pride in their puppy's second-place finish in the competition (and she's never even practiced!). We know, because that's us. See, we'd like to have kids, but they're just so demanding. Hey, if we gotta clean up the crap and spend all that money at the vet, at least we don't have to worry about Lily going on a first date or Groucho wrecking the car. (See how proud we are of our animals--we got their names in print.) Animals won't turn on you like children; their idea of revolt is chewing on a shoe, and big freakin' deal. But our Lily doesn't even do that, not since we took our 2-year-old Lab (when she was but a little puppy) to Nathan and Greg Shows at Best Behavior. After a mere three-week stay with this father-and-son team, our little Lily was sitting, staying, and heeling with the best of 'em; we were proud parents indeed. The Shows will not only train your animal, but they will offer refresher courses as well: Mom and/or Dad are expected to show up for class, since owning an animal is a family affair. The Shows boys will even board and train your dog when you're out of town, and they guarantee their work--but only if you do yours. If you don't, it's your loss. Maybe you don't like your shoes. Or your couch. Or your carpet...

Premiere Video
Finding a movie for a slow evening at home is an art, not a science. Oftentimes you don't know exactly what you want, and it's better to just roll the dice with a blind rental--or not-so-blind. The staffers at Premiere Video know their stuff and are eager to let customers tap into their institutional knowledge to guide them to a film. Know your genre and give them examples of other movies that flicked your Bic and they'll produce a winner. Most video stores in town are light on strange-o flicks and camp, but Premiere seems to revel in the arcane. If you want to see a new release, head to a big chain. If you want a more unusual movie experience, try Premiere Video.

The new facilities should be operational later this month. Expectations are that this 30-horse stable should continue to provide thoroughly engaging and educational horseback sessions for novices and veterans alike, offering both Western and English styles. The young teachers at this place expend much energy on their group sessions--which start at $150--teaching their students how to ride, care for, and love their horses. Safety is paramount.

Imagine a world where BCBG rubs shoulders with My Michelle, where Calvin Klein stone-washed jeans still sit on the rack and where any variety of teal green men's blazers are yours for the picking. Although you probably can't leave the store for less than $100, you'll walk away with several bags-full. Everything is at least 75 percent off the retail price. Add holiday weekend sales and the savings skyrocket to nearly 90 percent. The selection varies by season, but great bargains are abundant. Pick up women's Ralph Lauren sweaters for $15 and men's RL dress shirts for $5. Most formal dresses are mostly under $40. You can even find Nine West leather boots for $19.98. Expect to stay the entire day, and wear comfortable shoes. You have a lot of ground to cover.
If you like primary colors, rickrack, and bloomers, then this boutique is the perfect stop. While your children will still wear what you buy (a trend that comes to a screeching halt sometime around the age of 8), it's important to exploit these precious years and garb the little darlings in outfits that look appropriately juvenile. At this shop, the clothes look like they are made for kids, not wannabe teenagers. Soon enough, your offspring will be pulling on your purse strings asking for a visit to the Gap or Old Navy so they can appear just like every other overly coddled prepubescent infesting the planet. Enjoy the duck prints and apple appliqus while you still can.

It's located deep in the heart of the gay area of Oak Lawn, and as the whole city/state/country knows, gay people have the best taste in footwear. Period. Sole Kitchen has the best of both worlds: sleek New York City fashions and those boisterous Los Angeles-type boots. The place itself is decorated very nicely, with a '50s motif. It also sells watches and jewelry.
If you're looking for a bit of the exotic, check out Aarti Jewelers. Located in Richardson, this jewelry store features 22-carat gold jewelry from Italy, Turkey, India, and Pakistan. Prices are reasonable and there's a wide range to choose from: rings, necklaces, bracelets, all with unique designs. Rings can be fitted on site.

While it's easy to find gift wrapping services during the Christmas season, good wrappers are a bit scarcer during the rest of the year. Papyrus fulfills this need year-round. The store carries a lovely selection of cards and elegant gift-wraps for a variety of tastes. They can wrap packages while you wait. Next time you need that last-minute birthday gift-wrapped, spend the extra 10 minutes getting it wrapped here. If they hate what you got them, at least they're sure to love the wrap job.

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