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We're not giving this award because Sayre got us some sweet deal on a high-value property. In fact, he didn't even sell our house (we ended up renting it out), and our first two deals on the homes we wanted to buy fell through. We're giving this to him because he's everything you'd want in a real estate agent: fair, considerate, tough when he needs to be, honest and knowledgeable. We were the lowest-priced property in his portfolio (hey, we're in journalism), yet he never let us feel second-rate. He attended to every detail, he was always positive and he never got angry, even when we pulled out of two deals at the last possible minute over details some agents would consider minor. He never pressured us. "You do what you feel is necessary," he said an hour before an option deadline. "It's your house, not mine, and you need to know you're doing the right thing." Because of his decency, the home we finally bought was the right one. What else could you want in your real estate agent?
This is another one of those gimme categories, unless you like paying retail at Tower Records or still think renting at Blockbuster is the way to go, in which case we can't help ya. This place is a nirvana for the videophile who still has a laser-disc player or hasn't yet tossed out the VCR; the racks are loaded with cheap tapes and even cheaper discs, all of which sell for considerably higher among eBay collectors without access to a wonderland like this. And the DVD selection is amazing, from the boxed sets to the Criterion titles to the used stuff that sells for about 25 percent off the list price, or thereabouts. But be warned: It's like Half Price Books, meaning you won't always find what you need but will usually leave with a bag of stuff you merely want, even if you didn't know what you wanted when you walked in.
Movie Trading Co.
OK, you can't get shoes here for job interviews at law firms. But this is where to go for the best collection of shoes for active stuff, from walking to trekking, cross-training to motocross. You'll find a full array of brands--Vasque, Salomon, Montrail, Tecnica, Merrell, Clarks, Born, Dansko, Ecco, Blundstone and more. Great sales help. And the most important thing: the world's biggest collection of flip-flops. The flip-flops here range from slaps you could wear in the shower to finely crafted leather models you actually might be able to wear to that law firm interview, provided your mom owns the firm.
DSW Shoe Warehouse
8335 Westchester Drive
Architectural salvage always makes trash-picking or dump-diving sound so hip, doesn't it? It's a great way to spend a Saturday, and Dallas has a few very good places to scrounge when you're in the mood for a trash-to-treasure moment. The caveat, though, is that for something essential--claw feet for a cast iron tub come to mind--where weight-bearing and fit must be precise, you might be better off looking for reproductions of antique hardware or fixtures. Bring your measurements and any portable piece of your project to Elliott's Hardware, Dallas' reliable old standby of an independent hardware store. Near the center of the store is a specialty department with bathroom fixtures--including tubs with claw feet, faucet and drain hardware--and several hundred samples of drawer pulls, doorknobs, handles, towel bars and the gamut of stuff from roughly the end of the 19th century through the 1960s. Knowledgeable people staff the area, as if to remind you that Elliott's other major specialty is service. They'll look at samples with you and pull out catalogs until the sun goes down. If they don't have your first choice for style or exactly what you need, they know where to get it for you or where to send you to get it for yourself.
The name says it all. What, besides a great cut and color, do we want from our salon? Gossip. We don't care if it's celebrity slag, local politics or bar tales--we just want saucy spouting while someone works our lifeless mop into a brilliant work of art (that is also easy to manage, of course). Behind the counter, in that classic Diane Von Furstenberg, is Nicole, and she can make or break appointments--so kiss her ass. Todd, the big man on Gossip campus, is devastatingly skilled and a known Dallas hair guru. Bastien, our cut-and-color magician, works our locks into a frenzy while making great conversation (how we love the good ol' three-c stylist). Vivid art for sale, first-rate product and a salon full of amazing stylists...now we just need a drink and we're set. Oh, wait, they usually have those, too. Complimentary, of course.
2550 Elm St.
Named after a Hindu mantric word, Om Imports is sort of like Sam Moon Lite: fewer crowds, less merchandise, lower prices. This smaller version of the monster shopping complex known as Sam Moon Trading Co. opened this year not far from its more famous predecessor. Om has similar sparkly jewelry and hair doodads, and there's a smattering of purses and other trinkets as well. But comparing Om to Sam Moon may not be quite fair, because Om has something the giant discount metropolis doesn't: friendly faces. A trip to Om's checkout counter is rather pleasant; sometimes they even give you a coupon and a free gift with purchase, which is a far cry from the usual scowl and rush job you get at Sam What's-his-name's. We're not really into meditation, but it feels like Om has some pretty good karma.
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.
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.