Borders Books & Music West Village
So, are you a grazer or a hunter? Would you rather meet a best-selling author or save some money? Too tired at night to read for pleasure and want books on tape? These are the questions that make the pick for Best Bookstore a crapshoot. If you're the kind who likes to browse blindly and hope to stumble across an interesting book, and you want to save money, you have last year's Best Bookstore, Half Price Books. Truth be told, we're really the shallow sort who loves the latest best seller and freshest celeb mags, so it's really down to Borders or Barnes & Noble, and the nod goes to the Borders in West Village. Why? It's Uptown, which is next door to Downtown, where we really would like to see a new bookstore thrive. We also dig the tucked-away feel upstairs, the reasonable selection of books on CD (more please) and the fact that there are actual homes, restaurants, shops, bars and a movie theater in close walking distance. You know, sort of what we want in the heart of the city. Just sayin'.
Everything But Water @ NorthPark Center
Yes, we know. Buying a swimsuit is akin to torture for all but women born to be Victoria's Secret models. But Everything But Water, which recently acquired the Just Add Water stores, makes it less painful and even kind of fun. Because they have so many different kinds of suits, you can hold out hope of finding one that makes your legs look longer, tummy look flatter, breasts look more voluptuous and back-end look less like two watermelons in a gunnysack. Are you a bikini girl, a racerback athlete, a tankini mom, a Brazilian thong kind of babe or just an ordinary woman looking for a one-piece that flatters? Do you need one size for the bottom and another for the top? Would a little "power netting" (a girdle-type fabric) come in handy? Everything But Water has dozens of designers, and suits are in stock no matter what the season. (Ever tried to find the perfect swimsuit in January for that long-awaited cruise?) They've also got little helpers, like removable waterproof bra boosters. Just because you're not a lingerie model doesn't mean your cleavage has to hide its glory in a dumpy swimsuit.
Good Records
We're almost embarrassed to call it a CD store. That's because Good Records harks back to the days of yore for which every hipster yearns (even if said hipster was born five years after those days were over): the halcyon days when independently owned record shops served as gathering spots for geeks, freaks, cool people, old hippies and all those in between who had one thing in common. They. Loved. Music. Unlike some of those old-school vinyl spots, however, Good Records is no dusty, low-ceiling basement; rather, it's a comfy, well-lit affair stocked with everything from the hard-to-find to the everybody-wants. Plus, GR hosts a stunning lineup of lauded bands, local and national, at its always packed in-stores. The store might as well be a nightclub. Add to that a staff that knows their stuff, a location right in the heart of things and clientele that doesn't just zip in looking for the latest Fergie single—hell, they'll stay there all day, just shooting the shit about everything from local music to Jimi Hendrix—and you got not just a Best of Dallas, but a best in the country.
Apple Store
There are plenty of computer stores in town. Say you're an I.T. geek and you like to build your computers from scratch. Then Fry's is the place for you. But if you're like the rest of us, you want your computers simple, like plug it in and hit the button simple. And, if possible, you want your computers cool. Unless you've been living on another planet, you know that Apple pretty much has the lock-down on both simple and cool when it comes to computers. And there is no cooler place to buy a computer, or an iPhone that just dropped in price by $200 (yes!), than the Apple Store on Knox Street. Frosted glass doors, hardwood shelving, a black-clad staff that looks straight out of Banana Republic. Plus, the service is excellent, and the gadgets are so very cool. Calling the technicians "geniuses," however? Not so cool.
Reventé Upscale Resale
Stores filled with faded jeans and worn T's are fine, but sometimes you need a quick stop-and-shop to score something you could actually wear to some snazzy function. Reventé is moderately sized and well-organized, which limits the swoon factor. And it's full of well-maintained clothes ranging from shirts and pants that fit into the business casual category to suits and skirts and hot little dresses you could wear on a night out. The salespeople are accommodating and know the merch. No digging through piles of thrift store threads. This boutique is an old-fashioned dress shop (with accessories too) full of gently worn outfits to fit any budget.
We are not wealthy people. We do not wear silk suits or tip barkeeps $100 bills. Neither are we drug addicts. We don't feel the compulsion that rules them. Unless, that is, the air conditioning goes out at home on a Sunday night in August, then by God, we whip out the wallet and call for service RIGHT NOW, because rather than face the night in Texas without refrigerated air, we'll spend like a Rockefeller with a snoot full of toot and no preset credit limit. Must...have...air...conditioning. Lucky for us, the folks at Total know our need and will actually send a technician when you call, nights and weekends. Better still, they don't show up wearing eye patches, carrying parrots and cutlasses. Twice this summer, Total was the first to show up, once on a Sunday and once at 11 p.m. They told us what they charged coming in and showed up with the parts needed to feed our chill jones. Cheap? Well, we're talkin' A/C repairmen here, but they're reasonable and honest, so we could sit comfortably afterward in that sweet, cool air.
There's something so very therapeutic about stringing beads. And satisfying too. When you're done, you have new jewelry. At this nook in Lakewood, they teach beading and jewelry-making classes that'll make you feel like you've gone away to summer camp again. Make necklaces, bracelets or earrings using the glass, ceramic and gemstone beads they carry. Mix onyx with turquoise or pearls with wood. Be bold, be creative. Be still for a minute. That's what it's really all about.
Pet Supplies Plus
Our cats have eating issues. Our dog is fat (hey, we're working on it). As multiple pet owners, we suffer from a freakishly keen sense of smell that calls for a particular brand of cat litter. At Pet Supplies Plus we walk in, load a cart with both types of special cat foods, diet dog food, our perfect litter, kitty vomit stain remover (don't ask) and a few toys and treats for good measure, and we go home happy. The goods are priced for mutt budgets. And we've found things here no other pet commissary carries. Like, the calming spray for carsick kitties. Doggone fine store.
Neiman Marcus
They don't make them like Darla Fulp anymore. She's old-school Neiman's, the kind of retail employee who would have made Stanley Marcus proud. At other stores, the help ignores you when you need another size and goes on break when you're stripped to the skin in that hot dressing room. Not Ms. Fulp, who will do whatever it takes to make you a happy customer, even if that means finding you a Diet Coke and a cookie to quell that late-afternoon shopping slump. Her specialties are ladies' lingerie and loungewear. She can find you the perfect bra, with a pretty slip and panties that match. She's a godsend for elderly customers who have problems with zips, buttons and hooks. And she's super-friendly, but not in that creepy overfamiliar way. Shop with her once and she'll remember you, your mom, your sister and your aunt and give you a hug next time you're in her department. Ms. Fulp, from the bottom of our cleavage, we salute you.

Best Dressy Men's Clothing Store We Can Afford

Billy Reid

Billy Reid @ NorthPark Center
A month later, we're still trying to recover from the tragic fact our feet are too wide for the handmade lace-up cap-toe cordovan boots at Billy Reid's. Apparently, he thinks his male customers have feet the size of an 8-year-old ballerina's. But the fact we so hate that we can't fit into the shoes we love, love, love and are still pimping this pimpin' store only confirms our affection for Reid's sole Dallas outlet, one of only four in the entire country. We do love the clothes, chief among them the selection of leather boots, not to mention shirts that look and feel tailored just for you, most of which run well under $150 and even half of half that during the annual close-outs. But the joint also has a vibe you don't expect, in or out of a mall setting. Hardwood floors and comfy antique couches and cozy dressing rooms are part of what makes this place our home-away-from-home when we're out shopping. That, and the fact assistant manager Jeff Denton seems to recall everyone's name and size after one visit, be it you, us or Outkast's Andre Benjamin. Oh, and they do sell women's clothes too—and if we were a lady, we'd look amazing in that cream Camel cardigan.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of