You see a mechanic shop in a modest older building, it can mean one of two things. They're going to rob you blind, stick the air hose in your nose and make you squawk like a dime balloon. Or you have finally found the treasure for which every car owner's life is an endless quest--the honest mechanic who actually knows how to fix cars. Lakewood Automotive (originally Zuhdi Texaco) is that treasure. They work on everything, ancient to brand-new. They're honest, their rates are reasonable. When you get your car back it works, and you never ever have to talk to someone whose little shirt pocket thingy says "Maintenance Counselor."
Don't wear sandals, and come ready to sweat and dig. Because at Orr-Reed Wrecking Co., they're stacking 'em deep and selling 'em cheap. Their specialty is architectural salvage, and you're likely to find a little bit of everything, including ancient gas heaters and clawfoot bathtubs. But the amazing thing is the number of doors of every shape, size and age. They've forgone the Home Depot tidiness, so to unearth these treasures, be prepared to wade through cobwebs or dodge broken glass.
Here's the thing about pawn shops--the inventory changes quickly and constantly. On Tuesday, you might be able to walk in and buy a Gibson Les Paul in near-perfect condition for a mere fraction of the original price. On Wednesday, you might venture back to that same pawn shop and find only a wrench covered in what looks like goo from its last plumbing job. But if you don't mind perusing the aisles and having nice conversations with the manager, there are two places you have to hit up. Regent Pawn and Village Pawn (the Oak Cliff locations) boast two of the best pawn shop managers in town. Mark of Regent and Robert of Village are friendly guys who don't mind answering questions or making deals, if what they have is what you're looking for. Both managers are in charge of several locations in the city, so they aren't always there, but a quick phone call to see if they're in is worth it. You'll have a fun pawn-shoppin' day and maybe even a fun bargain-huntin' day, too.
Sure, you can pay $100 for a ready-made veil or $500 to have your invitations printed. And if you have $600 just burning a hole in your pocket, send it immediately to us c/o our P.O. box. Didn't think so. Your frugality--er, your appreciation of good value--will lead you to Michael's, yep, the big-box craft store, where a creative bride can find most anything to fashion the accessories for her wedding. We made our own veil with five yards of tulle ($9.99) and a package of plastic combs ($2.69) in about 30 minutes. Then, not only did we have a veil, but bragging rights ("Hey, I'm a DIY bride!") and an extra $88 to spend on, like, maybe something we'll wear more than once.
It's not every day a girl needs a tiara, but this Plano-based online wedding superstore offers more than 650 of them priced from $18 to $500. Still don't see the one you want? They'll custom-design it for you. Called "The of Bridal Headpieces and Accessories" by industry bible Cyberbride, Romantic Headlines doesn't stop with tiaras. They cover the bridal party from head to, well, neck. We're talking veils, of course, plus barrettes, hairpins, combs, bridal headpieces of all descriptions, hair sticks, halos and hats. Yes, hats, some of them looking like Liz Taylor might have worn circa 1955. According to store co-owner Ed Jenkins, the store has helped outfit more than 30,000 weddings during its seven-year existence. They've also branched out to offer virtually everything anyone could think of to use in a wedding: bride's Bibles, family medallions, keepsakes, music and videos and novelty items including decoration kits for the getaway car and animal-safe rice that dissolves in the rain.
As a bride-to-be, you had best be prepared to take it hard. Not necessarily from your fiancé (that's negotiable), but from wedding service providers--florists, printers, dressmakers--who will gladly take advantage of you. Since many brides have a sky-high budget for their fairy-tale wedding, merchants don't blink at charging skyscraper prices. But if you're not looking forward to a five- or six-figure post-wedding credit card bill, check out the Pioneer Package at Texas Woman's University. For a reasonable sum, you can have your wedding in a historic building--the non-sectarian Little Chapel-in-the-Woods, dedicated in 1939 by Eleanor Roosevelt. The fee, which can cover 50 guests for $2,000 or 80 guests for $2,800, also includes an hors d'oeuvres reception at the campus' attractive Hubbard Hall and little extras like both the bride's and groom's cakes, reception table decorations, a champagne toast and a flower arrangement that's yours to keep. Unless you need to control-freak every last detail, the Pioneer Package is an idea you could easily get married to.
A good plan to make any thrift store trip less disappointing and more fruitful is to go in with a general idea of what you want (pants) rather than being set on a specific item (vintage Levi's 501s). The same applies to shopping for building and decor supplies at the Habitat for Humanity Outlet Store. If you're set on travertine tiles or a particular light fixture, go retail. But if you're a little more flexible (and on a tight budget), the donated items at HH can be spectacular deals. We saw laminate flooring and tile for about $1 per square foot and chandeliers for $100. It may take a little creativity to put together the odds and ends you can find here, but at prices like this (and since it benefits Habitat), playing Changing Rooms at home is a whole lot more affordable.
So it's not really a store. After owning retail shops in East Dallas and Plano for more than 25 years, Harry Walker has been there, done that. But his well-earned retirement lasted only a couple of weeks. Now Walker's "showroom" is a barebones warehouse space in northeast Dallas, where he offers antique English pine furniture to designers and the public at the same price. In addition to imported furniture, Walker now indulges his love of woodworking by crafting pine pieces to order: TV cabinets, armoires, beds, tables, bookshelves and china cabinets in styles that might be found in an old English country home. The showroom is not fancy--he just got air-conditioning--but the quality and prices are unbeatable. His hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (He's closed on Sunday, when Walker visits his mother.) But it's a good idea to call ahead and make sure he hasn't dashed out on an errand. It's that kind of place.

Readers' Pick
IKEA Frisco 7171 IKEA Drive, Frisco 972-712-4532
Yeah, yeah, we're just as excited about IKEA's opening as anyone else in North Texas. Woo-hoo, now we can have the same spindly bookcase and desk lamp that millions of other people have. We prefer our furniture handmade by hardworking people who appreciate quality and abhor vanity--and drive slow-moving, horse-powered buggies. We wouldn't seek out the Amish for a home theater system, but we do love their furniture. Amish Furniture Showcase offers pieces "built by hand without the use of electricity" by craftsmen in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The rocking chairs, especially the bentwood ones, are beautifully simple. Almost any piece in the store (maybe the 14-seat dining table?) could become a family heirloom.
What can we say? For years people have made road trips to Houston just to hit the big IKEA. Now we don't have to rely on the catalog or spend a night in the stinkhole of Texas for a little Scandinavian love. A tour through this expansive store proves that, yes, they did think of everything. Not only can customers peruse the four furnished example homes inside, they can buy almost everything they see, from furniture and appliances (OK, computers and televisions don't count) to décor and lingonberry punch. The upstairs area is a complete showroom of items in various settings and downstairs is everything you saw upstairs--only ready for purchase. They even provide tape measures, shopping lists and pencils so you can write down items, sizes and where to find them. Despite the crowds, IKEA had us covered. We saw a lamp and a cool frame in the showroom and headed downstairs to grab them. We left with the lamp, the frame, light bulbs and a small tool kit. Back home, we could turn on the lamp and hang the frame. No muss, no fuss, no extra trips. Very nice.

Readers' Pick
IKEA Frisco

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