Barnes & Noble Mockingbird
You know how these big new bookstores do us. They open with all kinds of promise; they're fancy; they have real book people working there. That lasts about six months. Then it goes downhill; they hire idiots, and it's like everything else: Nobody knows nuthin', they ain't got it; go back to Amazon.com where you came from. The difference here is that the huge new beautiful bookstore at Mockingbird and Airline, a few doors down from La Madeleine, is a joint venture between B&N and the SMU bookstore. There's a big section at the back for faculty authors. There is some oversight by the university. Maybe the connection with SMU will be enough to preserve the store's literate soul.

If you're going to go ahead and drive around all day like that, then you need to go and get yourself a good CB radio. The Smokey and the Bandit stuff is ancient history. CB's serious now. With a halfway decent setup, you can listen to serious truckers talking about the road, and you can talk to them yourself, seriously. Of course, they'll know right away that you've got a four-wheeler accent. Maybe if you go by Bonnie & Clyde's and get yourself a decent rig with enough reverb, you won't sound so much like a damn lawyer.

Follow rabbit trails through mountains of used monitors, rows and rows of pre-owned processors, stacks of second-hand software, all of it at ridiculously great prices. There are even barrels of brand-new modem cards at a tenth of what they would cost at the big places. And at the other end of Tran Computer is a fix-it department. A window on the future, when computers will be junk like everything else? This place is worth a visit if you don't spend a dime.

Anybody can sell you a toilet seat. But what if you have special toilet seat issues? What if you're looking for a certain retro toilet seat palette? Only at Teter's are you going to find an entire rogue's gallery of Toilet Seats of Yesteryear. They've got toilet seats in "Manchu Yellow," "Surf Green," "Aegean Mist," "Twilight Blue," "Bermuda Coral," you name it. At Teter's, you can find the one toilet seat that is perfectly matched to your temperament. One person goes with "Spice Mocha." But the next one chooses "Fawn."
If you're too lazy to schlep to all the various thrift stores in town and don't mind spending $10-$15 on an old T-shirt, Ahab Bowen is your place. People acted as if it were the second coming when Urban Outfitters moved into the upscale Mockingbird Station strip center, but a better and cheaper alternative has been on Boll Street for years. The selection is unbeatable (say, a Willie Nelson tour shirt from the '70s, with the Red-Headed Stranger on the front in his full outlaw glory), the prices are better, and you can pick and choose in the casual atmosphere of a yard sale, since Ahab Bowen is located in an old house. Go to Mockingbird Station to see a flick at the Angelika or grub up on a bowl of bread pudding at Cafe Express. Get outfitted at Ahab Bowen.
Paul Frank, that is. Don't know who he is? Ask any teen or young woman. The designer of apparel and home décor is the beloved creator of Julian the Monkey and other cute cartoon creatures such as giraffes, frogs and elephants. He may sell his T-shirts, backpacks, anklet socks, journals and purses to several sources--Fast Forward, Gadzooks, Pacific Sun and catalog company Delias all carry selected items--but Gifted has everything. And if something's not in stock, Gifted can special order. Owners Michael and Rebecca even promise that if Frank still makes it, they can get their hands on it. We just hope that includes the "animal crackers' parade" shirt we saw three years ago in Kansas. It was just the absolute cutest.

Two condom stores sit nearly side by side at the intersection of Greenville and Lovers Lane. While Condoms to Go is a Greenville Avenue mainstay, Condom Sense popped up more recently. What does it say about your neighborhood when two condom/sex-toy stores go mano y mano there? We're not exactly sure but definitely prefer to have condom stores than strip clubs as our neighbors. While others fear they represent Times Square-style blight, we think these stores add to the spice of life in the neighborhood. Where else can you get soap on a rope shaped like an oversized phallus, or gift bags that say, "Happy Birthday, you sexy bitch!" We also want to know: Should competition heat up between the two condomeries, will a prophylactic price-drop follow?

The best place to shop for ski clothes in Dallas is in McKinney. Has been since 1979. That's when Doug and Lynda opened what their son and current owner Brad now claims is the largest ski shop in the area (13,000 square feet) dedicated solely to winter sports (skiing and snowboarding). With skiing so damn costly, the shop caters to the average skier, forgoing the high-end lines for popular brands at reasonable prices. But don't expect to find any summer bargains here; the place will be locked shut. It's only open from September 1 to April 1, packing a year's worth of business into seven months, seven days a week. Hey, it works for them.
So much of this "Best of" business is subjective, but about Bobbye Hall's we can objectively state the following: Bobbye Hall's Hobby House is the best hobby house owned by a 92-year-old woman named Bobbye Hall who still comes to work every morning at 9. Additionally: Hall's is the only full-service hobby house in the city. Other places may stock more model trains and what have you, but only Hall's carries the full range of remote-controlled model vehicles and rockets and kites and paint sets and so on. Hall's has stood at the corner of Bryan and Fitzhugh for 55 years. Every time we drive by it, we're amazed it's still open for business, that area of East Dallas not striking us as housing a high concentration of hobbyists. And every time we drive by, we promise ourselves we'll stop in when we have more time. Maybe this weekend.

Best Oddball Extravagance for Giftgiving

The Nest

The Nest is tangled with pricey whimsy crafted by local and other artists. You'll find dazzling blown glass ornaments, painted furniture that should only be approached under black lights with the aid of hallucinogens, iron/steel works (things to stick in the ground and all that), candles that smell like a grandmother's dressing table and magic wands that don't vibrate. Plus, they have daffy table chess sets that serve as metaphors for nature's most virulent struggles: fish vs. fishermen; cats vs. dogs; and rockers vs. country crooners, among others. We're waiting for Rottweilers vs. Rugrats.

Best Of Dallas®

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