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.
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?

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