To fellow members of PJA (Product Junkies Anonymous), do not enter Avocado tree. You will immediately be enticed by the cubbies of freshly cut soaps and the baskets of "aqua seltzers," luxurious bath products in scents ranging from oatmeal cookie to wild lavender to chocolate almond. Your resolve will be weakened by the silky lotions and creams, created in small batches with fresh ingredients and minimal preservatives by co-founders Cory Clark and Jesseca Zollars, who is also an aesthetician. Do not let the smiling faces of the accommodating staff lure you into smelling the soy wax candles, because if you have a functioning nose, you will not be able to leave Avocado tree empty-handed; you will find that you've bought enough deliciously scented products to last through months and months of baths and massages. You'll forgive yourself--probably while soaking in a spicy chai-scented bath--but as long as Avocado tree's around, you know you won't be able to kick the habit.

Best Locally Based Store That Sells Kiddie Clothes

Bebe Grand

We'll admit it: We don't really dress the kiddo in clothes from this Lakewood legend--because, well, he's a boy, and even the boys' clothes from Bebe Grand make him look, well, kinda like, uh, he's a girl. Or just, ya know, a little feminine. Hey, nothing wrong with it, especially when the clothes from Babies "R" Us make him look like a dork; better a sense of style than none at all. It's just that Bebe Grand carries fancy stuff from faraway places--like Petit Bateau from France, among others--which look awesome and last forever (oughta at those prices) but could make a linebacker look a little frilly. So why's it the best? Because no matter where else you go you will come back here for the dresses for the little girls or the jumpers for the little boys or the blankets or the baby books or the toys or the mommy accessories and everything else they sell here that turns a room into a nursery in which you'd wanna wake up on Christmas morning. In Paris, even better.

Scavenging on bulk trash days is almost second nature to us. We know that our neighborhood's old couches and bags of leaves are picked up every third week. These items hold no interest. It's the other little things--gnarled ropes of Christmas lights that someone was too frustrated to untangle, a not-quite-past-its-prime doormat--that we relish digging out of other people's junk piles. It's this give-and-take culture that's allowed Freecycle, a project that started in Tucson, to spread to more than 1,500 cities, according to www.freecycle.org. The D-FW group is one of the largest, boasting 5,490 members in its online community. It's a little like a classified ads forum, except that everything posted must be free. And nothing's too crazy--people offer everything from old lightbulbs to pianos and request anything from Girl Scout uniforms to bikes. You may not find exactly what you're looking for, but it's a lot easier and less degrading than trying to drag a discarded dresser four blocks under the pitying eyes of a city of Dallas sanitation crew.

Admit it: You've always wanted one of those giant Easter Island stone heads in your back yard, or a giant Buddha beaming beatifically from the begonias. At Big Mango Trading Co. you'll find a bonanza of backyard bounty that puts run-of-the-mill fountains and concrete fantasia to shame. Among our favorites: petrified wood garden stools and tables, Tibetan flags and cabanas made of teak and grass for lounging poolside. Inside you'll find exotic chairs and couches for use on porches and patios, including chaise longues made from bamboo. Can't afford to vacation in Southeast Asia? Buy the bamboo wind chimes, plant a concrete Lord Krishna beside the koi pond, hire a masseuse who specializes in Nuad Bo'Rarn, and say you went.

We could lament the passing of independent children's bookstore Enchanted Forest, as we did in 2002, but the homogenization of American booksellers is a tired story by now. You're gonna end up going to one of a handful of chains in Dallas, and Borders is the best pick. One thing that's extremely helpful is that they organize books by reading levels--from baby on up--instead of slamming the books on the shelf by author's name (which you hardly ever know, since most children's-book buyers are browsing). There is a good selection of foreign-language picture books; LeapPad books and cartridges (buy the LeapPad itself at Wal-Mart or Target; Borders' is too expensive); sticker books; Usborne titles (high-quality educational books favored by homeschoolers); and generally helpful staff. Also, Borders has a rewards program for kid-book buyers: Buy 10 kid items, get $5 off your next children's purchase.

Readers' Pick

Half Price Books

Various locations

If your hair is curly, what works better than cutting it is "taking the weight out of it," as our man Cruz says at Style Labb. Cruz grabs some sheers when he sees our heft approaching and goes about his work. His work is thinning the hair--keeping the length more or less as is but taking mighty swipes at the thick, gnarled curls that fester about. At one point, Cruz takes the salon equivalent of a steak knife and starts cutting away, from bald spot to bangs. At another, he grabs a fistful of curls near the back of the head, twirls them into one strand, then, like a lumberjack with a saw, slices at an upward angle into the hair. Finally, he takes the scissors, hair between his first and second fingers, and cuts down, not across. It's an interesting and artistic haircut, and when it's done, it's "pimped out," as Cruz likes to say. At Style Labb, it doesn't look like you just got a haircut. It looks like you got a great haircut a week ago.

Best Place From Which to Rent Any Movie Ever Made. Anywhere.

Premiere Video

Premiere Video

Not once have we called Premiere looking for some movie, be it brand-new or way-old or foreign or domestic or fiction or documentary, and been told, "Nope, sorry, don't carry it." Now, they may not have it, but that's only because someone else has rented it; wait a couple of days, and it's all yours. Let it be said once and never again: This place has everything. From every place. In the history of ever. Need some BBC series that hasn't even aired in the States yet? Got it. Need a copy of the banned-in-the-U.S. Larry Clark movie Ken Park? Got it. Need some old Betty Page erotica from the 1950s? Got it. Need some HK stuff that will never open anywhere outside of China? Got it. Need, oh, The Big Chill? Got it. Get it? Even better, the owners know more about the movies than we do, which is saying a lot considering we haven't seen daylight since 1989. And if you don't have one of those nifty all-region DVD players that let you watch imported movies months before they've even opened at the Magnolia or Angelika, they'll rent you one at Premiere. They get it, so you can have it.

We love candles. All shapes, colors and sizes. The one factor we're not so good with is scent. Rosemary and vanilla--those are fine, but give us any candle with a strong botanical (read: flowery) scent and our nose goes on a rampage of sneeze. It was purely by accident that we discovered a candle heaven when wandering the aisles of Fiesta looking for a paddleball. Almost an entire aisle held all possible options of votives, perfect for creating an exhibit of Catholic idolatry right in our own home. Tall red, Lotería themed, St. Luke, La Virgen de Guadalupe, short white, rainbow striped, they have them all. Most of them are a dollar or less...and many are scent-free. We turned our dining room into a flickering altar of flaming saints for less than 10 bucks. And the best part is, since they come in glass containers, there's no need for candle dishes and no messy trails of wax. Amen!

After visiting this establishment, the smell of chicken wings and dust will conjure memories of digging through piles of military decorations, some with mysterious Cyrillic letters, making us wonder if we'd just awarded ourselves the Russian equivalent of the Medal of Honor. This shoebox of a shop is crammed with souvenirs of wars from all over the world, including lots of World War II memorabilia. The selection of uniform pieces (helmets, jackets, patches) is extensive and even includes some non-military outfits, such as vintage Boy Scout shirts.

Actually, this oughta be called "Best Kids Clothing Store That Sells Clothes Adults Would Wear If They Made These Clothes In Our Size." Or something. We'd never been in this place, in its Stonebriar location, till a few weeks ago, but what we saw delighted and amazed us--clothes for a 1-year-old boy that didn't have trucks or teddy bears or footballs or Rangers logos on them, anywhere. No, what lined the racks was this wondrous selection of canvas utility pants and button-down twill shirts and cable-knit sweaters--and nothing more than $26, with most of the stuff even on sale. What really amazed us, and warmed our Gen-X hearts that still beat to a new-wave soundtrack, were the retro ringer tees with robots and rocket ships emblazoned upon the chests and the long-sleeve cotton shirts displaying merit badges like something sold in the back of an old copy of Boys' Life. The clothes go from 0 to 4, for boys and girls, and if there's not a location near you, try the Web site (www.janieandjack.com). How's this for an ad slogan? Clothes worth having a kid for. Really, they can have it. Least we could do.

Readers' Pick

GapKids

Various locations

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of