An evil-eye talisman is a Turkish charm that is supposed to bring luck and ward off those who wish to do you harm--both concepts we can get on board with. Plus, they look really cute on a gold chain or possibly a silver bracelet. Yes, we're superstitious, but not at the expense of fashion. In any case, the best place to go for the evil eye is Another Time & Place, on the trendy Knox-Henderson strip (a second location opened in Plano earlier this year). They've got evil eyes for every occasion and every person. Besides jewelry, there are evil-eye key chains, magnets, coin purses, door hangers and more. So, really, there's no excuse not to protect yourself. But that's not all. Another Time & Place is the trinket-shopper's crack house. The stuff's always there, and you can never get enough. But for some reason, we're always drawn to the good-luck charms; you know, like mini-Buddhas and three-legged pigs...OK, fine, make fun if you wish, but you might as well break a bunch of mirrors and stand under a ladder.

No other place satisfies kids and the inner child in their parents quite the way Zeus does, with a wide-ranging inventory containing everything from mint-condition artifacts meant to be kept behind glass to newer, cheaper stuff meant to be banged around inside a toy box. Stuffed animals, action figures, Barbies, movie tie-ins, board games, bobbleheads, even the McDonaldland Gang--they've got it all and then some.

Best High Fidelity-ish Record Store

AWOL Records

Other stores are too bright, clean and well-kempt to look like Championship Vinyl, the record store John Cusack owned in High Fidelity. But AWOL has that slightly disheveled, dank, grungy feel of home...for music nerds, at least. It also has Cusack character Rob's sense of categorization. How many genres of punk are there? We're sure there's more each time. There's also usually more junk, too. AWOL is one of the few places where you can pick up that out-of-print Fugazi album and a vintage radio missing a knob and a plug. Ah, just like home.

Best Place to Succumb to the Kitsch

Metro Retro

Metro Retro is like a flashback. A good one--typewriters, Formica tables, vintage rags, Centipede board games and the best in midcentury Christmas décor when the season's right. Looking at something that may need a little cleanup? Owner Andrea Jennings can probably offer a few tips on re-covering or chrome polishing. She knows her stock better than any other owners specializing in Donna Reed-era collectibles (although Metro Retro does offer other selections from various decades). Walk in and ask. If they've got it, you'll love it. If they don't have it, don't worry, because you'll probably find something better waiting on the shelf. Want an example? We went trolling for a birthday present, looking for a specific action figure. What we got was something better, a figure that was indeed active: a Redd Foxx bobble-head doll. Oh, yeah.

The news was bad. Some faulty wiring had caused a fire that put Mister Tuxedo temporarily out of business in July. But nothing could stop the unflappable Harold Bell, owner, proprietor and grand master of the witty comeback, from reopening as soon as the smoke cleared. He secured a new space close to the old one and has plans of returning to the original storefront as soon as it can be repaired. What Mister Tuxedo offers are quality goods and dependable service. Unlike chain-store rentals, there is never any fear that you might come up a stud short, or that your cummerbund will reveal an unsightly guacamole stain from the previous renter. Whether it's a wedding, bar mitzvah, high school prom or spring formal for the SMU Greek set, Mister Tuxedo will continue to be the black-tie specialist in town--just as it's been for the past 40 years.

Truth is, it isn't new--and most of the books aren't. But for a new book-shopping experience, this is the place to try. "We're a nostalgic place," says Jim Parker, who owns the business with his wife, Dee. Remember reading Ernest Hemingway's In Our Time or Jack London's White Fang? You can find collectors' first editions, many of them signed by the author, along with autographed copies of favorites by Stephen King, Anne Rice, etc. The prices are a bit steep ($350 for a copy of Mark Twain's A Tramp Abroad), but browsing is encouraged and enjoyable.
We'd walked past it an untold number of times, never once stopping to look inside what appeared to be just another one of those annoying hippie stores that sells incense and plays crap music by Enya. The front windows of downtown's Musemart advertised "Organic Iced Lattes" and had some funky copper disc thing that obstructed the view of what we had originally thought to be either a 99-year-old yogi in downward dog or a gigantic rain stick. One day, though, while ignoring our duties back at the office, curiosity got the best of us, and we ventured inside. Our first impression of the place couldn't have been more off. The tiny shop, nestled between greasy spoons and a Korean beauty salon, is an absolute treasure trove of imported and rare art and lifestyle magazines, 50 cent snacks and a collection of vinyl records ranging from bluegrass to trip-hop, new wave to classical. We even came across an original LP of Elvis Costello's My Aim is True. Not bad for a presumed annoying hippie store. Not bad at all.

Best Way to Save Yourself a Trip to the Spa

Beauty Store & Salon

Not only can you find every ointment, unguent, lotion, peel and organic skin- or hair-care concoction you'll need here, but the prices are usually lower than you can find at swankier spots. The really great thing is that there always seems to be a special going on. Whether it's a free this with your purchase or a free that done to you for coming in, we always feel pampered and prepared when we leave.

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.

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