The Internet has revolutionized the way we communicate, allowing us to keep in up-to-the-minute contact with friends, family and associates around the globe. The only downside to all the instant chatter is its lack of intimacy. For those who still enjoy the old-fashioned art of writing by hand, a good pen makes the experience all the more pleasurable. In Dallas, Penwright is the best place to find a quality pen. Of course, Penwright sells the Rolex of pens--Mont Blanc, but informed pen connoisseurs appreciate the store for its wide selection of elite brands, which include Waterman, Parker, Delta and Stipula.

Best Place to Buy an Accordion and, uh, Food

Fiesta

Fiesta

There are plenty of reasons to shop at this grocery store, not the least of which are the fresh tortillas for which regulars line up from dawn till dusk. But we come back here for all kinds of reasons: the fresh tomatillas (we make a superior home-cooked salsa; you can't have any), the various Mexican ingredients for which Stephen Pyles pines (he doesn't use brown sugar, only canella), that authentic vibe of a store where whitey's too dumb to tread. And we love a place where you can buy an accordion from the merchants up front; we went shopping one day for a little mole sauce and came home sounding like Flaco Jimenez without the talent.

While some big-name designers are finding it's now cool to shop--and be sold--at Target, don't expect to see fashions by folks like Judith Lieber, Stuart Weitzman, Cole Haan, Chanel, Gucci or Prada being racked up near the snack bar anytime soon. Yet you can still find great prices on classy clothing at this North Dallas consignment shop, which specializes in designer and "better label" wear, much of it coming from closets in Park Cities and North Dallas homes. This 4,500-square-foot shop offers sellers a 50-50 split and season-long consignments, while buyers can choose from a wide variety of new and like-new clothing and save even more with frequent sales. (Whenever Foley's has one of its "Red Apple" sales, Clothes Circuit runs a competing "Yellow Banana" sale, with additional 20 percent markdowns on clothing.) On the Web at www.clothescircuit.com.

"Our philosophy is to build a home that's going to age like a fine wine," says Vintage Contemporaries' Jeff Fairey, who recently spoke from the comfortable interior of his latest project: a gorgeous Spanish Eclectic home, complete with clay tile roof, that's located in the M Streets but could fit right in on Lakewood Boulevard, alongside the 1920s homes built by noted Dallas architect C.D. Hutsell. As the company name implies, Fairey specializes in new homes made to look old. To accomplish that, Fairey does not cut corners on the materials or build blowouts that loom over the neighbors. Instead, he reduces the size of his homes and finishes them out with expert craftsmanship we thought had become a thing of the past. "We make our smaller spaces a lot more grand."

Part of the Bishop Arts District's Renaissance, this pleasant shop carries a wide range of gift items and objects from local artists. Among the constants are personal care items from the Thymes Collection and scented candles from Ergo and Votivo. Co-owner Michael Harrity says he has "without a doubt the strongest candle collection in Dallas." About 70 percent of the market's inventory is unique items, many from local artists, including furniture, paintings, pottery, turned wood bowls, handmade jewelry and metal sculpture. Prices range from about $10 to more than $150. Gift wrapping is free. Because the shop serves a wide geographic area, it has a wide price range that in recent years has been trending upward with the revitalization of the neighborhood.

As we anticipate Halloween, the fond memories of years past come flooding back--those days of pinning a black bath towel around our shoulders, wedging two pointy candy corn under our top lip and chasing our younger sibling with the forbidding chant, "I vant to suck your blood!" in the best Transylvanian accent we could muster. Now, as an adult, the times we thirst for human blood are rare. Yet, on some level, it would still be fun to have fangs. Enter Pamela Sedmak, owner of Fangtastic Fangs. For $125, she will hand-carve a set of fangs custom-fitted to your mouth. In the past 10 years, Sedmak has made hundreds of fangs for actors and Halloween costumes, but most of her clients are just "normal people." (Once vampirish dental prostheses are involved, "normal" becomes a very subjective term.) The fangs are incredibly realistic and durable--she's had her pair for 12 years--but she doesn't recommend eating ("OK, maybe a Jell-O shot") or trying to open beer cans with them. Plus, if Anne Rice likes them, how can we argue?

Grapevine Mills Mall

This 1.5 million-square-foot mall near D-FW has everything anybody could possibly want in the way of escaping the weather and wasting time. The 5-year-old mall is one of the largest in Texas and offers a bunch of stuff to do besides shopping. The mall has a 30-screen theater, restaurants and a GameWorks that has a bar. If you get bored with the mall, a Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World is right across the parking lot. There you will see all manner of outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen who make a pilgrimage to this fishing mecca. Also, when you get bored, play "Guess Which Shopper is From Oklahoma." That's always fun.

If you thought Whole Foods had a unique selection of soap, you haven't seen anything. Established in 1752, Caswell-Massey is, as it claims, "America's oldest chemists and perfumers," and now Dallas residents can shop at one of its newest locations. Need soap? They've got a skin-tingling array of domestic and imported soaps made of everything from oatmeal to lavender and beyond. The store also sells a wide array of other pampering products, including body oils, shampoos and crèmes. Unlike many toiletry stores, which tend to focus on her needs, Caswell-Massey carries a wide selection of men's products, including sandalwood and almond-scented shaving creams. They go perfectly with the house's very own silver-tipped badger shave brush. Remember those?

Let's say you've found a cherry 1946 Martin 6 horsepower boat motor in your grandfather's garage, but the rope-pull starter mechanism is broken. You know what most boat shops around Dallas are going to tell you? Tie a rope to it and use it for an anchor. But Barber Boats on Harry Hines is old-style, meaning they actually know how to fix stuff. Boat motors shouldn't be like computers: The answer shouldn't always be to throw it away and get a new one. At Barber it's not like that.

Perusing the racks, you may find the occasional space where a video once had a home but is now long gone. In its place stands a card berating the thief, with identification if possible. On their Web site, along with new arrivals and special event info, owner Ben Moore features a shoplifter of the week. Needless to say, in person or on the Net, the descriptions are never flattering and always entertaining. We love the ones complete with photos. While you're there, check out a cult flick or Mark Ryden's latest book.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of