With the exception of sex toys, nothing depreciates more than furniture. That's why we've always purchased our major pieces at consignment stores. Our fave is Consignment Solution because of the great rotating inventory--couches, chairs, tables, beds, desks, wall art, the whole magilla--and the friendly help. We've bought a $3,800 leather couch from Legacy Trading Co. for $1,200, a pair of $1,200 chairs for $600 each, and several times we've found the perfect dining set only to see it was already sold. So only go there once we've furnished our dining room. Otherwise you, too, will become our furniture enemies.

Talulah Belle

We admit it: We're kinda girlie. We like sparkles and shimmers and baubles and fluffy feathery things that go "poof" when you touch them. That's why it is imperative we shop at Talulah Belle only after payday. Otherwise, this amazing ultra-fem boutique in a Lakewood shopping center will send our checking account into pink-sugar shock. It's not that the store is that expensive; it's just that we want to buy so much. Despite its somewhat cramped space, Talulah Belle is brimming with must-have accoutrements, from the sensible (handmade leather purses and stylish pumps) to the eccentric (pompom diva slippers and rhinestone reading glasses). Ah, the practical and the ridiculous--two things we truly appreciate.

Mom had a very basic style of cooking: grab a big jug of Wesson oil; pour a half-dozen glugs into a skillet; add food; apply heat. This is why we tend to avoid restaurants that advertise dishes "just like Mom used to make." If only the old girl had Oil & Vinegar, our arteries and appetite for home cooking might be in better shape today. This shop offers oil as a work of art, selling infused vinegars and imported olive oils and other types of oil served from large glass carboys displayed like sculptures along a glowing backlit wall. Goodies such as white truffle olive oil and orange lemon basil vinegar are among the offerings, along with eye-catching jars of olives, garlic, mouth-watering spreads, herbs and fancy dishes to serve them in.

We know you expect some lame marijuana joke in this space, and we wouldn't want to disappoint you. Some readers may score their herb on a street corner late at night, but when you're looking for something other than Cannabis sativa, Redenta's is your best dealer. Before Redenta's, we had no idea that there was more than one kind of lavender (they usually have five or six varieties on hand). If lavender's a little too grandma for you, try a "pot" (ha ha) of pineapple mint or pennyroyal. And being an organic garden center, they offer a plethora of tools and supplements to keep your herb of choice healthy and robust without the use of environmentally unfriendly chemicals.

The well-heeled crowd at The Fitting Room, Bea Harper's Highland Park alterations shop, was in a buying mood earlier this month. Harper hosted a reception for Shari Lidji and her Red Llama Studio's collection of custom quilts designed for dogs, cats and even human beings. Lidji took dozens of orders and sold out of every stock item she had brought with her. What makes these quilts special is their combination of wit, workmanship, personalization and good design. Lidji, who sewed her first custom quilt 10 years ago, works with the client to create a design unique to its recipient. She will even incorporate photographs or fabric from a favored article of clothing. In-stock designs start at $55, with custom doggy quilts starting at $85, baby quilts at $225 and adult quilts at $500. "Our quilts are special," Lidji says, "but not so precious that you can't throw them in the wash. Unless we're asked to use certain custom fabrics, they all launder easily."

Hundreds of years ago, maybe thousands, computer stores were staffed by smart people. You had to write your questions down before you went in the store so you wouldn't get snapped at. Now the big-box computer stores are staffed by people who got fired by Wal-Mart for not being smart enough. You hope they won't ask if they can help. Ah, but there is an oasis of know-how: Micro Center in Richardson, in the Keystone Plaza on the southbound service drive of Central Expressway, half a mile south of Spring Valley Road. They build their own line of computers, stock all the peripherals. Great deals. Lots of really capable salespeople. Can't last.

Readers' Pick

Fry's Electronics

Various locations

www.frys.com

It's possible we should be older in order to admit how much we like the area around Knox-Henderson. Sidewalk-strolling, coffee-sipping, feeding the birdies--kinda sounds like a midlife urban experience. Still, we love Smith & Hawken, and when we don't catalog-shop (another blue-haired pastime?) we head to the cool historic building at Knox and Travis where the best garden decorations, hardware, birdbaths, flower-bed edging, mailboxes, topiary frames and yard art of all types are there for the taking. Residents of Knox-Henderson remember the 1920s building originally housing a flower shop--how quaint! We do think it's cool that, besides all the amazing products, Smith & Hawken maintains a patio for people-watching and brings plants and some merchandise out on the sidewalk on Saturdays.

Virgin Megastore

CD World, we love you. CD Source, you're all right, too. In fact, we have a special place in our heart for independent music stores the world over. But sometimes the big red letters of the Virgin sign are just too much to resist. Corporate America may be cold and impersonal--some would even say evil--but it also employs a slew of marketing geniuses. The listening stations at Virgin Megastore in Mockingbird Station are just one example. Whether your tastes are for rock, country, dance, jazz or gospel, Virgin has it all. Slip on the headphones, press play and you'll almost forget that you're browsing the aisles of a mega-rich megastore. One drawback, though: We're convinced the headphones are rigged, because more than once we've fallen in love at the listening station only to wake up the next morning with a CD in our changer that seems to have lost its luster. Maybe corporate America is evil.

Readers' Pick

CD World

2706 E. Mockingbird Lane, #110

214-826-1885

Best Place to Shop Young and Hip, or Best Place to Feel Like a Pervert

Hollister in the Dallas Galleria

In Hollister you will find the faded, tightly fitted ironic/retro/vaguely California T-shirts and washed, tattered jeans that are the rage among the young and hip. Some of the jeans, however, don't come off the racks; they're tied to the pair before them, which are, in turn, tied to the pair before them. So you ask permission to try them on, which brings the sales associates--beautiful, young, hip and eager to help--into the mix. These people want you to become them and suggest ways to achieve this end. Everything's overpriced, but for the sake of hipness, you buy. Or you don't. In Hollister, you either congratulate yourself on your coolness--if nothing else, Hollister's cool--or you look at the means by which you could reach coolness, and you walk out the door. Because acting cool is, duh, acting young. Does a 30-year-old want to dress as 17-year-olds do, even if the shirts are retro and remind the 30-year-old of shirts he wore at 17? Does a 25-year-old woman want to shop next to a 14-year-old boy? And why is it so dark in Hollister? Are there teenagers and college kids making out somewhere?

Half Price Books

New York City has The Strand, Portland has Powell's, the Internet has Alibris.com, and Dallas has Half Price Books. It's as simple as that and has been since 1972, when Ken Gjemre and Pat Anderson stocked a converted Laundromat with some 2,000 books from their personal libraries and started the place. Thirty-two years later there are some 80 stores in 13 states, but we're betting none is as essential to its community as the Northwest Highway flagship is to Dallas; without this place, trust us, Dallas would be as culturally barren as Los Angeles. The recent addition of the Penguin collection, consisting of thousands of Brit paperbacks costing around eight bucks a pop, has only made us love this place that much more, if such a thing were possible. One tip, though: Never go here looking for something too specific, because odds are you'll come out disappointed; happens to us every other week, which doesn't stop us from going anyway. Just go to browse, and then scour every nook and cranny and corner, because you'll walk away with something you didn't know you needed but couldn't imagine living without.

Readers' Pick

Half Price Books

Best Of Dallas®

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