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.
Winedale Tavern
Parked in the middle of the loudest, smelliest stretch of Lower Greenville, where overcrowded bar-slash-STD-troughs dominate the landscape, the Winedale Tavern is a sliver of a place with a long, long bar that's conducive to just one activity: drinking. No cozy booths inviting yuppie groups to get all Friends in the corner. No flashy neon lights draw crazed groups of girls who "just wanna dance" to overplayed '80s hits. Just four tiny tables are crammed against the walls, used for storing copies of yesterday's paper and empty ash trays. No, the Winedale wants you up at the bar, where you'll always find the same 10 people, an attentive bartender and a reliable game of Photo Hunt. All you need to bring is one friend, a good attitude and lots of quarters for the jukebox.
Betty and Cesare Nadalini raised a large family on Swiss Avenue for years. Then fate intervened and forced them to go live in a gorgeous villa in Tuscany. Boo-hoo, right? There they now produce a handmade "estate-bottled" extra virgin olive oil made only of olives from their own farm. You can read about it and order some at tuttatoscana.com, or for about 35 bucks a half-liter you can buy it at Flavors from Afar. The tastes of Tuscany don't come cheaply, but because of the Dallas connection at the source, every drop of this olive oil has some local flavor too.

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