For discount shoppers, the sign on the front of 75% Off Books probably says all it needs to say: Nothing Over $5. And it's no lie, no come-on that's proved false once you get inside. Everything in this place is 75 to 90 percent off the original price, and nothing costs more than $5. The books are all new, too, so there's no yellowed pages or musty smells wafting about. 75% Off Books buys its stock mostly as truckloads of assorted books from publishers. They're either overstock, samples left over from trade shows or books that have been slightly damaged in shipping. So it's not the place to go when you're looking for a specific title, but if you have the time, scour the tables at 75% Off Books; you might discover an armload of gems you didn't even know you needed. The store is also an excellent choice for parents and teachers. Each of the Dallas-area locations has up to 500 titles for children and young adults, and they both accept school district purchase orders. New titles arrive every week, so if you don't find anything on your first visit, keep looking; a second go-round might make all the difference.

Best place to Go Wedding and Western Wear Shopping

Marie's/La Zacateca�a

These two family-run stores share the same small Oak Cliff space. Wedding and quinceaeras (15th-birthday celebration) dresses line one side, cowboy boots and hats the other. Needless to say, the quality of customer service is much higher here than in a giant, impersonal department store.

So you think you want a purebred pup, something warm and snuggly that reminds you of Christmas. Well, think again. The majority of puppies are given away or abandoned within the first year of pet ownership. They require more time, effort, love and scooped poop than their new owners are willing to give. That's where rescue organizations like Golden Retriever Rescue of North Texas come in. GRRN takes strays, throwaways and giveaways--goldens only--and offers them a safe haven, a foster home where their needs--medical and emotional--can be assessed. The volunteer organization then rigorously screens future owners so that a dog that has survived one mistake won't have to be subjected to another. In 2001, GRRN rescued 160 dogs, but the new owners also find a home as well. The organization becomes a virtual online community, offering advice, guidance and expertise that enhance the chance its placements will succeed.

The last time somebody told us to "Bring gloves and a good attitude, be sweet and we'll help you," we were trying out a trendy sex therapist near Parkland hospital. When Orr-Reed CEO John Hargrove says it, he means something completely different. Since 1946, Orr-Reed has been in the demolition business, tearing away cabinets, moldings, mantel pieces and cornices from some of the formerly finest old homes in North Texas. They schlep it all back and stack it up and sell it from their 5-acre site near downtown. Hargrove says they have everything, and they don't charge antique-store prices, because they don't really spend a lot of time cleaning up the stuff or sorting it. Hence, the gloves and the good-hunting attitude; and, hence, the bargains. Orr-Reed reclaims old heart pine and other hardwood lumbers some customers use to build furniture or create hardwood floors. Hargrove says they do custom-fabrication work, too; but we just like the architectural junk and the thrill of the hunt.

If you are just looking to brighten up the house, or a routine stay-at-home meal, there's nothing wrong with picking up flowers at your local supermarket. Nowadays, even Minyard sells some bouquets that'll bring a little sunshine indoors without breaking the pocketbook. But if you are throwing a dinner party or, more stressful yet, trying to impress a date, the arrangements designed at Village Garden & Gallery will guarantee success. This store, located in the new West Village shopping center, goes far beyond the standard dozen roses in a cheap glass vase to creating true works of floral art, exotically arranged in unique pots and vases.

Top-quality dealers all over the country ship their best wares to Ralph Willard's wonderfully eclectic Tower Antique Show. In its ninth year, the Tower show typically offers authentic antiques (no copies allowed) from 50 to 300 years old. Expect lots of decorative and garden stuff, maybe a fifth of the furniture primitive, a fifth ultra-sophisticated, the rest somewhere in between. Everything in this show is interesting just to look at, let alone buy. It's so much fun, the Tower Antique Show is even a good date. Call for next show date and times.

Deep down, in some part of our aging brain, the old person we're rapidly becoming shakes his head and wonders, "What is this world coming to when teen-agers feel they need a spa?" Of course, in some other part not quite so deep, we're humming "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" and thinking this is just a fine idea. Apparently, so do the youngsters themselves. This spacious spa in a Plano shopping center offers a full salon, makeovers, makeup instruction and massages, all geared to the target audience of Seventeen magazine, which has a licensing agreement for the name. (The Plano location is the first of 36 planned.) Why would a young person need a facial or massage? Acne, for one, we suppose, but teens also face an inordinate amount of stress, hence the popularity of massages. The spa also offers services to boys, though, by gum, in our day no self-respecting boy...oh, never mind. We're old. If you're not, and you have a sense of style or need help in how to apply glitter makeup, this might be the place for you. They also offer nifty gift cards.

This tiny shop on the trendy Knox-Henderson strip is bursting with vintage and costume items (both old and new) at not-too-shabby prices. One staffer assembled an entire '80s outfit here--from Cyndi Lauper's tutu to Madonna-style fingerless gloves--in less than an hour. We were also impressed by a cap made entirely of flattened Coke cans and a glow-in-the-dark rosary. But they don't limit themselves to just clothing, shoes and accessories; other notable finds include a Kodak Brownie camera and nude women painted on black velvet. Every corner of the store is crammed with vintage goodies, including the walls and ceilings, so it may take a little patience, but there are treasures to be had. Remarkably, proprietors Debbie and Leslie seem to keep the entire inventory in their heads--useful when you just can't find that perfect mod halter-top.

Froggies 5 & 10

It's depressing to note how the classic Slinky spring toy has degenerated into a column of plastic rings: Plastic just doesn't scale stairs or chase cats as well as shiny metal. Relive your Slinky jubilations at Froggie's. They stock a Slinky cornucopia including the original Slinky, the Super Slinky, Slinky Jr. and the Slinky Dog from Toy Story. Froggie's even has a Slinky watch that, with a touch of a button, plays the Slinky jingle while a Slinky walks across the watch face. And don't think Slinkys represent the entire pinnacle of must-have novelties. Because Froggie's also stocks Andy Warhol dolls dressed in leather jackets and Campbell Soup T-shirts and a Spam puzzle that comes in a can. No watch that plays the Monty Python Spam song, though. Yet.

When a friend is getting married, the hassles abound, especially for the women. First, there's the hideous bridesmaid dress that costs way too much. Then there are the dyeable shoes to match the hideous dress you will never wear again. And then it's bridal showers and engagement brunches and bridesmaids luncheons, and the list goes on. But there is one part of the wedding extravaganza that's fun for all: the bachelorette party. And Just For Play has what you need to get this party started. There's all kinds of fun stuff, from tame to raunchy, depending on how crazy your particular bride friend is willing to get. And in case you missed the lingerie shower, Just For Play has plenty of that, too. Their Playboy line offers a variety of lingerie items that are cute, fun and sexy all at the same time. Oh, yeah, Just For Play probably has stuff for bachelor parties, too. But don't strippers usually bring their own supplies?

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of