Looking for a place where a friendly staff actually reads the books they sell and will suggest something other than what's on The New York Times' best-seller list? Maxwell Books has been fighting the good fight against the warehouse chain stores and cluttered used book places since 1986 and is alive and doing quite well, thanks. The selection of hardbacks, paperbacks and children's books is good, and if they don't have exactly what you're looking for, they'll order it and give you a call in a couple of days. Check the shelves for personal notes written by staffers who critique many of the books in stock. You can also choose from a good selection of magazines and greeting cards. And watch the store's schedule of visiting authors who stop in to speak, read from their works and sign autographs. Additionally, you can buy gift certificates that will be honored at other independent stores throughout the country.

If Fred Flintstone needed to redecorate the cave, this would be the first place he'd try. Huge rough-hewn log beds, dressers that look like nicely stacked woodpiles, candlesticks made out of hefty iron spikes. The cowboys 'n' Indians air of the place and the mixture of cabin, ranch, cottage and Southwest styles give this Park Cities veteran a lighthearted, on-vacation feel. Great for adding a casual touch to a room or two.

Mockingbird Station
This mixed-use development is a strip of über-contemporary industrial design with an angular vertical emphasis containing luxury lofts, shops (Virgin Megastore, Urban Outfitters, pictured above, Bath & Body Works and more), restaurants (Cafe Patrique, Cafe Express, Rockfish and more) and the eight-screen Angelika Film Center & Café that features art films. This is a strip mall urban village industrial collage jumble that's just plain cool.
No place in the metroplex, maybe the universe, has the selection of buttons that you'll find at Pursley Discount Fashions. From designer to your everyday plastic, all sizes and shapes, ranging from 2 cents up. There are tens of thousands to choose from. If you sew and are looking for notions, this place is like a trip to Disneyland. While you're there, you'll also be impressed with the selections of designer fabrics at discount prices and ladies' sample clothing.
Outlet stores being what they are--discounted, picked-over merchandise that didn't sell well the first time around--it's hard to gush about this genre of retail. But Nordstrom brings in its goods fresh from its main stores several times a week, and the discounts are deep enough to make being slightly out of fashion, fashionable. The Rack is a Nordstrom-in-miniature, selling everything from swimwear to underwear to ready-to-wear. But it's the well-stocked supply of name-brand footwear that makes bargain hunting worth the hunt.

You can try all the discounts and chains. But when you have cleaning residue mucking up your carpets, call these guys. They don't stop until the water from their machines runs clear and your carpets are clean. And, well, that's what rug cleaners should do. Right? Clean your rugs. See the reason they are designated "best"? Good. Then have your rugs cleaned. So there.

For those of you who wouldn't think of squirting even every now and then from a bottle of WeedBGon, this is the store for you. They know how to do everything the right, organic way. Compost your hearts away, and pick up your ladybugs and a few good plants while you're at it.

Just the right size (pretty darned big but not overwhelming), owned and run by a family, easy to get to (Abrams and Gaston), the right mix of staff (grown-ups who know stuff, kids to load your car): Lakewood Hardware is still the best. You will almost never leave without the gizmo you need. You will never leave mad. Some people never want to leave at all.
There's no downtown-area grocery store, a major albatross for development hopes in Dallas' near-abandoned skyscraper zone. Adventurous urbanites downtown and in Deep Ellum must slog the distance to faraway groceries to stock their fridges and pantries. At least there's Henry Street Market. Lacking the requisite beer, lotto or cigarette come-ons in its front windows, you may overlook this humble Deep Ellum storefront. But inside are goodies you need in between shopping forays--Tostitos, toothpaste, pickles, cake mix, fresh fruit, Maxim magazine--and a few dry goods not normally partial to quick-stop joints: candles, picture frames and something called Ayurvedic soap.

After you sign your apartment lease, do not pass go and collect $200. Instead, point your large automobile toward Deep Ellum and cruise over to Home Concepts, the one-stop shopping location for futons, CD racks, couches, lights, computer desks and whatnot. The eclectic and large selection of merchandise is very affordable and not at all stodgy. Also good for decorating the college dorm room or (shudder) the condo.

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