You gotta love a shop that carries rhinestone tiaras and scepters for that little princess in your life. Om Imports has walls draped with inexpensive (seriously, like $4) necklaces, pendants, earrings, bracelets, rings and belts that glitter with imitation jewels. From fake diamond studs to chandelier earrings to necklaces guaranteed to turn your cleavage into a cascade of sparkle, Om will deck you out for that big event. No one has to know your necklace and earrings together cost less than a sawbuck.
Can't spend the time combing flea markets looking for cool stuff? Junkadoodle does it for you. This shop west of Inwood Village finds new and old stuff perfect for a casual home. (We usually hate plaques with cute sayings but almost made an exception for "Put on your big girl panties and deal with it." Almost.) Weathered dressers, funky chairs, offbeat art, refurbished light fixtures and iron bases for glass tables are in abundance. Western and Mexican kitsch abounds. Call it shabby chic or movie ranch rustic, Junkadoodle's style is witty and fun.
When you are painting your ceiling, paint from Lowe's will do. But serious painters head to Walnut Hill Paint for its variety and high level of service. Great for color-matching while you wait, the store carries ordinary brands such as Benjamin Moore but also stocks brands you may see in Metropolitan Home, including Pratt & Lambert, Martin Senour, Williamsburg Historical, C-2 Ultra Premium and metallics. They're also a great source for Cabot and Olympic stains, Dura Seal and Cook's Oil Glazing. They can also help you figure out the products and tools you need and often give hands-on training in faux finishes. Tell people your decorator did it.
With great gear for someone who will never get closer to a cow than steak at Del Frisco's, Cowboy Cool is a little shop with a big rhinestone heart. Our favorite boot: Liberty's 62 Muerto, a hand-tooled black number covered with bone-colored skulls and only $2,200. Jeans by Parasuco have Western details. Shirts come with snap buttons and names such as "Johnny Cash." The handmade silver belt buckles are a great way to get the feeling without breaking the bank. Owner Heath Calhoun's goal is a custom-made look bought off-the-rack. If you want to play the rock 'n' roll star who gets away from it all at his/her ranch in Wyoming, this is the shop for you.
If you want a Wal-Mart-sized selection of guns, go to Cabela's. But if you're looking for a gun to place under your pillow and you want the man who sells you that gun to treat you like a friend and not just another customer, go to Ray's Hardware and Sporting Goods. At Ray's, the men behind the glassed-in counters understand that buying a gun is a personal decision. Some gun owners want a pearl handle on their six-shooter. Others want a chrome-plated sawed-off shotgun. And some want the same model gun Robert E. Lee used during the Civil War. At Ray's they've got all that and more, which is why this is the favorite spot of elephant hunters and SWAT team leaders.
In the Brazilian Amazon the locals favor a thick red juice that tastes best when it's served in a wooden bowl. The juice, called acai, comes from little berries that grow high in trees. Until recently, acai wasn't available in the United States--even finding it outside of the Amazon was tough. Now you can buy it online in powder form. But the closest thing you're going to get to the real stuff is bought in pulp. Locally it's at Coisas Do Brasil. They also sells candies unique to Brazil, such as bananas sprinkled in sugar.
We were gonna mention the Virgin Megastore in Mockingbird Station till we remembered, yeah, that sucker's a furniture store now. Then we thought, oh, well, how about Tower Records on Lemmon Avenue? It's never taken home one of these coveted accolades, and it does have a pretty decent import section. Then we remembered, oh, yeah, Tower's in bankruptcy and probably not long for this world. So we're going to settle on an old favorite, and not just because bits and pieces of some of our collections now reside in the racks. Seriously, this is supposed to be the best, right? So what else do you call a store (two, actually) that stocks everything new, used and in-between (we call 'em "imports") and has room enough for more local discs than former Observer music editors' shelving units? Don't get us wrong: Good Records is great, absolutely, and tops when it comes to the in-store. It just doesn't have the stock, and cool only gets you so far when you want and can't have.
A&R Records, open since 1969, occupies a squat brick building in a part of town where it's necessary to keep the front door locked at all times. Inside, there's all the equipment needed to make a CD, a cassette or a record. What makes A&R special is that it's one of the last places left that still makes vinyl. The closest vinyl plant, according to the company's vice president, is in Nashville. A&R has pressed records for Prince, Beyonc and more local acts than they can name. Currently they do most of their work for hip-hop artists and DJs. The plant is usually open until 3 p.m., and the manager says he's more than happy to give tours.
Celebration Station
If you ask us, kids these days already know too much stuff. We blame it on those Internets, or maybe MTV. And that is why we love Celebration Station. The family fun zone is not educational, nor is it culturally significant. Not one brain cell will be taxed during an entire day there. Kids can drive bumper boats and go-karts, play paintball and miniature golf, hit the batting cages and the pizza counter. And when they're tired of getting hot and sweaty from physical activity, they can head inside and feed tokens into the arcade games in exchange for little yellow tickets. Come to think of it, there may be a lesson to be learned: No matter how hard you try or how much money you spend, you'll forever be 40,000 tickets shy of taking home that awesome lava lamp.
So a drunken night in a limo with confetti, a stocked bar and seven of your closest friends was not the best time to wear a white skirt. Now it makes sense. We use Freedom Cleaners in the Old Town shopping center because they can fix anything. They don't make promises, but they haven't let us down yet. Whether you're bringing in a sackload of work shirts or a party-battered white skirt, they smile and ask about your day. We actually believe they care. These people are nice, and we love them--almost as much as that white skirt.

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