Take it from someone who recently had a very fruitless search for cool jeans: It's worth a trip to Jean Connection. Somehow, this shop on Northwest Highway manages to get the sweetest designer jeans before even the hipper-than-thou department stores. They know the trends before they reach the mainstream here, so if you're the kind who is serious about your denim, make the trip.

We love Good Records, with its yellow racks with colored light bulbs, in-store performances, magazine selection and barbecues, and we shop there a lot. But we're cheap bastards, and CD World appeals to this side of us. There are rows and rows of new and used--from Turbonegro to Justin Timberlake--and all the local music that's fit to print (and sometimes not) with cheap prices all around. Also, CD World is more likely to have something for those gotta-hear-it-now moments, and the knowledgeable staff will be happy--all right, maybe a little surly--to special-order it if you think the fever will stick. But don't expect live music, unless you count that guy who's singing along at one of the listening stations.
Like those outlet stores that sell overstocked shoes and underwear, only this store sells groceries. They offer great deals on name-brand food, from breakfast cereal to hot sauce. The store is still new and finding its way, so the stock is a little unpredictable. You probably couldn't do an entire grocery run here, but you can really save money on what you do find, all well within the expiration dates. Whole-bean coffee is half what it costs in regular supermarkets, for example.

Because cigar smoking right now is about as hip as official Beanie Baby Club membership, you can actually get your hands on the best smokes from Don Diego, H. Upmann, Romeo y Julieta, Macanudo, Partagas, Hoyo de Monterrey and Punch without suffering from sticker shock. Montfort Cigars has a massive 600-square-foot walk-in humidor stocked with the best brands at terrific prices plus domestic and imported cigarettes and name-brand perfumes and colognes to stamp out the residual stogie stench pervading your clothes and hairpiece.

Vintage movie posters, placards and stills sit next to the latest-release materials in this quiet shop off Interstate 35. Stills and publicity shots are $4 for black-and-white and $5.50 for color, and poster prices run the gamut, offering an inexpensive way to build a shrine to the motion picture...or, in our case, the ultimate mystery man, Alfred Hitchcock. We found posters for Vertigo, Rear Window, The Birds and others for (gasp!) less than $20. We also found the very rare and slightly expensive poster for The Man Who Fell to Earth...totally worth some extra dollars for its pristine condition. The store offers some comics and a few collectibles, postcards and calendars and service from folks who know their film, and love it, too. They even helped us pick out Gary Cooper stuff to make into a scrapbook for our grandmother. They aren't devoted to only the mainstream and popular pictures in movie history. Think of an obscure film and, most likely, Remember When has something related to it. Now, who's the winner for Best Framing?

Two dozen roses for 20 bucks is a helluva deal these days, but somehow this no-frills operation manages it. Most of the time. Prices go up on Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and other occasions, but bargains are still available for most birthdays and anniversaries as well as those crucial "apology occasions" that often precede makeup sex. Your Florist opened in 1995 in a converted garage two blocks from its new expanded location. According to staffer Lisa Hill, the store is open 365 days a year and imports most of its stock daily from Holland, South America and California. Hill says the clientele for the bargain roses includes a cross section of the public, "from kids and blue-collar workers to some of the richest, cheapest people in Highland Park." For some crazy reason, the shop is also a mainstay for scavenger hunts. Hill reports that "about twice a month, people show up in limos to pick up a rose and a clue to their next destination."

The doctor has the cure for your symptoms. Whether you're in the doghouse or just wanna be someone's dog, Dr. Delphinium has a prescription for you. And, seriously, if you drop $150 on one of the larger designs, you'd better get some action either way. From fresh red roses in classic vases to contemporary exotic blends in tall glass cylinders and every space in between, this floral-design studio can fit any occasion. There are even dried flower arrangements, door wreaths and plant baskets. Just don't ask for the fern, carnation and baby's breath combo. Trust us. That's like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. Spring for the Birds of Paradise instead.
The ladies know how important a good eyebrow waxing is and that some people are better at it than others. But after the first episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy ran, the hetero dudes realized that it's a good idea to get rid of the monobrow look. For $10, the good people at CSSS will give you a top-notch waxing without making you feel as though you're in some stuck-up Uptown spa. If you're raising an eyebrow at us, stop it. We know what's good for you. Go and have your hair ripped off and tell us how good it feels, how good you look.

Our favorite Emeralds to Coconuts find is a dainty beaded bracelet. We liked it so much we went back for more to rebead into other objects. Each bead has a face painted on it, and, as in real life, each face is different and is supposed to reflect a different personality and emotion. Unlike real life, all of them are really pretty. Stupid superficial bracelets. But if you like your faces not so perfect, Emeralds to Coconuts also carries masks to hang on your wall. Next time you're accused of being two-faced, just say, "If you only knew."

Best New York-Style Italian Family Grocery

Jimmy's Food Store

Run by two Italian-American guys, third-generation owners; their mama makes the meatballs in the back. They make their own Italian sausage--hot, mild or how you like it. The wine selection is all Italian, all good and two bucks cheaper per bottle than the high-rent places. Every Italian condiment you can think of. People don't just come here from Plano. They don't just come here from Tyler. They come from as far away as Oklahoma City! You know why? Because they're New Yorkers, from Brooklyn and the Bronx, in particular, and they are starved for a grubby little joint with worn-out fixtures, homeless people out front and really, really great Italian groceries.

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