Froggies 5 & 10
Toy stores come and go in this city like rain showers in June; if we had a nickel for every one of them that's come and gone in Preston Royal Shopping Center alone, well, we wouldn't be writing Best of Dallas items for damned sure. But this is sort of the best of all worlds for us: Froggie's has the kitschy throwback toys, the novelty nothings, the expensive gewgaws and trinkets that make every toy store more like a money pit. But it also has its Thomas the Tank Engine table (since adopted by every other joint in town) that keeps the kids busy for hours (share, damn it!) and a sizable book selection that allows us those joyous moments of silent introspection as our young ones settle in for a little Curious George while we peruse the musical instrument section and consider how badly we really want Junior to have a drum kit. And there's always Best Cellars next door--for the wine to go with the whine after you neglect to buy the young one what he/she really wanted, which you'll lose two days later anyway.
Titan Comics
We've come around on Zeus Comics & Collectibles on Oak Lawn Avenue; now that some of us have kiddos well on their way to becoming full-blown nerdlings, hey, we appreciate the action figure as much as the next dork (and if you touch that 1st Appearance Superman on our desk, we will kill you). For the same reason, we love Lone Star Comics, which has as many games as it does new issues of Astonishing X-Men. But when it comes to comic books, there's but one legit player in the area: Jeremy Shorr's Bachman Lake store, where back issues live forever in their plastic bags and cardboard boxes waiting for you to snatch 'em up; fanboys can't live by new product alone, after all, not with the recent renaissance in comics in which new writers, such as Brad Meltzer and Grant Morrison, take old stories you thought disposable as a kiddie and render them indispensable as a grown-up. And Titan is all about breeding the next gen of fanboy: Shorr's got a play area for the little ones, next to the rack of kids' comics (Teen Titans much?).
Dr. Lynne (as she prefers to be called) tackles migraines, aching joints and that nagging pain in your lower back (you know the one) with no pretense, just a skilled hand and one helluva friendly staff. Her practice, Uptown Chiropractic, is a sanctuary of healing, conveniently located near lunch hot spots and errand destinations, so there's no excuse not to fit a visit into that busy schedule. After a lifetime of headaches, a couple of wreck-related injuries and a fear of chiropractors, we've found our savior in the one who made them all things of the past. Plus, the office throws these festive patient appreciation events that make us feel, well, appreciated. It's a doctor visit we never dread. And that's saying something.
Owner Tony Gates and his Urban crew have won before in this category, and we're not opposed to throwing it their way again, because they seriously never fail us. Five minutes from needing a delicate pair of earrings, a knickknack that screams "whimsy!" or the perfect touch of random to add on to a joint gift that needs our personal stamp, Urban always has the answer. For flustered shoppers, they provide friendly help when needed but also know when leave to us alone to overanalyze our options (Hmmm, fantastic, modern vase vs. bold, yet flirty bracelet, vase vs. bracelet...) in both their original Skillman Street location and their new digs on Lemmon Avenue, just opened this year. And, of course, there are the flowers. What's more endearing than adding fresh flowers to your gift? (Maybe buying said gift on time, but that's so not our style.)
David Day Redenta's Garden
Let's face it, Mother Nature is pissed. In the face of droughts, onslaughts of disease and pests and record heat, gardeners have but one choice: Go native. Plants and vegetables that evolved to deal with North Texas' semi-arid climate and endemic pests need less to produce more, eliminating midnight stealth watering and complicated concoctions of fertilizers and pesticides. Redenta's has long been the champion of native plants and organic gardening, and its two locations are known for wide selection and expert advice. Not only will Redenta's help your garden go green, but it will also help keep it that way.
Emeralds to Coconuts
Planning a Saturday shopping trip? You'll be running all over town. Here for shoes. There for jewels. Hither for purses. Thither for dresses. If all that consumer commuting has you down, head to Emeralds to Coconuts, your one-stop shopping for all that is casual, eclectic, traditional, gaudy and simple in women's clothing. Known for their linen and cotton apparel, Emeralds also has a fantastic selection of scarves and jewelry, along with the trendiest, and yet most practical, footwear of the season. There's a distinct import flavor to Emeralds to Coconuts' selection of colorful worldly goods but enough basics to keep a girl happy too. It's always refreshing to get out of the mall and into some 'nuts.
Oriental is a third-generation company in business since 1911, and unlike much of their competition, they know what they're doing. Most companies use steam-cleaning equipment on Orientals and Persians, which gives only a surface clean. Companies that don't know a Mazlaghan from a Bibikabad can get into all kinds of trouble with dyes, materials and construction. Ellen Amirkhan, third generation proprietor of Oriental Rug Cleaning, is a respected lecturer and published author on the topic. Oriental blows rugs free of grit, then immerses them for washing. Then the rugs are rinsed, groomed and dried. Finally they are inspected for spotting or to see if they need to be washed again.
We like art. We like supporting local artists. We hate the dearth of places that offer pieces by local artists. We're not talking about galleries or studios that just hang paintings or photos, we're talking about shops that offer a selection of works you can wander through. We want to walk in and peruse wall art, furniture, decorative objects, jewelry and more, knowing that among the fanciful items there are local artists waiting to be discovered. ART is ART is such a place. The Lakewood storefront run by mom and daughter team Renata Holder and Carrie Stollings is replete with one-of-a-kind items ranging from mid-century side tables to ultra-modern chairs, from abstract floral paintings to landscape photography, from blown-glass vases to plastic ashtrays. The store has a friendly vibe that's only natural since the gals are so supportive of local creatives. Thus, we were naturally drawn to supporting them.
If we had to guess, we'd say that a music video is way out of the picture for many local bands. Too expensive, no contacts, lead singer with acne--there are handfuls of reasons. Screw all that. Dallas bands have a secret weapon if they just know where to go. There's a Kurosawa and Malick right in their own backyard. Too strong a reference? Yeah, probably, but the team behind Tactics Productions has outrageous skill and serious cred. In the summer of 2001, Kristofer Youmans (producer, director) and Kristopher Hardy (director, director of photography) directed their first video, Centro-matic's "Janitorial on Channel Fail." The study in vibrant color and cruising movement led them to create visual launching pads for bands such as The Hourly Radio, Burden Brothers, Rocket Summer, Baboon, the Fags, Deathray Davies and the Paper Chase (for whom Tactics crafted one of their finest productions and their own favorite, "Said the Spider to the Fly"). The team since has expanded to include Justin Wilson (editor) and Erin Fairbrother (producer) and has garnered much attention for this year's study in fraternal order, Slowride's "Morals and Dogma," as well as the intimate expression of Centro-matic's "Triggers and Trash Heaps."
Let's say you decided one evening to get a piercing or two. Hey, there's a studio--let's stop here. A few days later, maybe a Sunday afternoon, your piercings are giving you problems and that studio's not open. In fact, you can't find a piercer on duty anywhere. Until, fortunately, you stop at Taboo Tattoo. Tim leads you to his studio and fixes your problem--at no charge. And gives you some great aftercare tips. A few days later, another problem--again, Tim takes care of you for free. In the meantime, you've also looked at his piercing portfolio at tabootattoodallas.com and seen the rooks, daiths, navels and surface piercings that he's done. You've wised up. Next time a large-gauge needle comes near your body, Tim's going to be the one wielding it.

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