Movie Trading Company

Used to be this place had the market cornered--back before Borders stocked its walls with DVDs, back before Fry's ordered imports and sold them for cutout prices (maybe they just don't know what they have, but we do). With Movie Trading Company on the verge of selling out to Blockbuster--haven't heard otherwise, at least since we ran a news item on the proposed buyout--our love for this homegrown chain might diminish; we fear the corporate mentality, since we work for one ourselves. But till then, we love the MTC for three reasons: the nice-price used copies, which sell for several bucks cheaper than new discs; the neighborhood favorites section, always a blast at the Oak Lawn location; and the way you can rent before owning, without Blockbuster's late fees hanging over your head.

We picked up an old friend at the airport recently. She married a high roller and moved from Dallas to Las Vegas. She's all tall and tan, strolling out of D-FW International Airport, sparkling with stunning silver jewelry, carrying a Louis Vuitton train case, with a Gucci bag hanging from her shoulder. "You look great!" we cried, then pointed to a particularly swell bangle bracelet on her right wrist. "Sam Moon, $7," she said, and she wouldn't start the evening's drinking or eating without a quick trip to Dallas' best import/knock-off store. Sam Moon recently moved to the new Sam Moon Center and filled up two big store-fronts with luggage, jewelry, purses and gift-y tchotchkes. We've never seen better--or cheaper--silver earrings, bracelets; better or cheaper watches; better or cheaper fake designer purses. We've never spent so much time and so little money for so much crap. Good crap.

Ask Robert anything. That's really all you need to know, but for the sake of being informative ourselves, we'll keep going. Pickerings will tell you what to plant and where, they'll design your flower bed and even plant it for you. They lay stones, landscape and guarantee their gorgeous assortment of plants. Need tools? Got 'em. Need decorative details? Got 'em. Need moral support because you suck at gardening and can even cause lucky bamboo to die? They'll give it to you. Pickerings has everything you need to get going in the garden, and you'll have a green thumb before you know it. But fair warning: They have a gift section that takes excessive willpower to get through without blowing your wad on a leaded stained-glass piece or an old metal horse feed bucket.

We'll never go digital; uploading JPGs to a hard drive is nowhere near as satisfying as going into a darkroom and losing yourself for hours in the magic of photo developing. Though Warehouse does offer prints and enlargements from digital files, the majority of products and services cater to film users. We can supply our 35mm, medium format and Polaroid cameras here with all the film we could ever want--we can even pick up a few cartridges of Super 8 for those retro home movies we love making. They also carry accessories, papers, chemicals and other nifty items like liquid emulsion, which allows you to make any surface--a brick, a plate, a cardboard box--into a photographic surface. All in all, you could outfit a modest photo studio and darkroom in one trip to Warehouse. So, whether you aspire to be the next Penn/Avedon/Leibovitz, or just enjoy shooting rolls of your dog in full military uniform, Warehouse Photographic has the hookup.

One might assume that calling a footwear store by a name like "Boot City" is a tall tale akin to the one about Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. But Cavender's has more pairs of boots than some Texas towns have feet to fill them. The stock ranges from basic leather ropers, work boots and lace-ups to the high-end labels such as Lucchese, Tony Lama and Harley-Davidson. And the stock of exotic materials reads more like an endangered species list than an inventory account, with entries for elephant, kangaroo, gator, ostrich, rattlesnake, caiman, iguana, crocodile and European goat. With a wide range of styles and sizes to fit kids, women and men, Cavender's has boots to fit any pair of feet. Except, of course, Paul Bunyan's.

Hey, these hepcats win every year, so you should know the drill by now. Rob will grant all your rockabilly, pompadour and buzz-cut needs. If you're in a band, go here. If you're ugly, go here. If you're not sure if you're in a band or ugly, you are high, so go here. You won't know the difference, but the ladies will. Rob does magic with female mops as well.

Froggies 5 & 10

Pez is no longer just that cheap toy with the stale candy you buy to keep the kids quiet in the supermarket. There are TV-show-character Pez, stuffed-animal Pez, automobile Pez, holiday Pez, mini-Pez and more. And at Froggie's, you can fill your Pez habit with Pez T-shirts, Pez magnets and Pez buttons, including a line of items sporting the phrase, "You're not famous until they put your head on a Pez dispenser." There's even a personal collection of Pez dispensers behind the counter.

Actually, "Best Pan-sexual Erotica (leather and gadgets)" would be a more accurate label for Shades of Grey, a fetishist's dream of a store even though it sacrifices snazzy décor in favor of clutter--the better to stock more stuff to titillate you with, my dear. Find racks and racks of sexy leather clothes--some vinyl, too--for men and women. The selection is the best, and custom leatherwork is available also. The store staff is friendly and more knowledgeable than we are about fetish-oriented apparati. We didn't realize, for example, that you could buy a gizmo that hooks to your shower head for full colonic cleansing and that cleanliness might not be your sole motivation. Shades of Grey has a good variety of body jewelry and is proud of its multisexual orientation. There's a small satellite store inside the Dallas Eagle, our city's highly regarded men's leather fetish bar off Inwood Road.

Clothes confound us. We be husky, and it is not easy to find nice clothes that make a husky man look good, unless you pay ridiculous prices. Then a friend told us about Todd Shevlin, who, since 1995, has owned, in a gentle fashion, the fashion store known as Gently Owned Men's Consignery, in Far North Dallas. (He recently opened a second store in Oak Lawn.) We arrived in flip-flops and a Green Lantern T-shirt and left in a $500 pair of slacks that cost us $99. Then we realized why the rich always look so nice. (Fabric that makes our huge ass disappear is magic, and magic pants are worth every cent.) Gentle owner Shevlin says he offers "the finest in men's resale...all our stuff is less than 2 years old, and it's in great, excellent or mint condition." GOMC sells and buys everything but underwear and socks; it even carries new inventory at 30 to 50 percent off retail. They carry everything from Armani to Hugo Boss. (We nabbed a new-inventory, Italian-made suit for about $400.) If you want to sell your slick duds, all consignment contracts are 90-day deals; the sale is split 50-50. You can use your profits to buy some nice threads from Todd. See how that works?

Western Warehouse has everything you'd expect: boots, hats, belts and belt buckles, jeans, boots, those collarless shirts Garth Brooks favored for a while and the loud, starched-stiff shirts loved by Brooks and Dunn. But it also has tiny Wranglers for mini-cowboys and cowgirls, tank tops and slogan tees for teen rodeo queens, Western-style tuxedo jackets and those polyester pants the indie-rock boys wear with their Converses. Not to mention the racks and racks of jeans and one of the largest selections of Levis, with stacks of styles and colors in dozens of sizes. The store--a warehouse in stature not just name--suits more styles than Billy Bob's casual. Even we found a shirt (with piping and pearl snaps, no less), which was about as likely as LeAnn Rimes recording an album to outsell Blue.

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