Centennial Medical Center
Giving birth is a bitch. Pain, screaming, pushing, crying—and that's just what the fathers go through. Try being a new mom getting that fat little human being out of you-know-where in something even close to a peaceful environment. It's surprising what a difference little things make in this high-stress situation. Centennial Medical Center goes the distance to turn the birthing process into a pleasant, calm experience. Chances are, if you're giving birth here, you'll get your own room, but that's not even the best part. Parents of newborns are treated to a gourmet meal during their stay, courtesy of the hospital's chef. It's a delicious way to celebrate the family's newest mouth to feed.
Wig Paradise
Nestled in a narrow nook at Wynnewood Village Shopping Center is one of the hottest hairgoods happenings in the wild and woolly wig scene of Dallas. Didn't think there was a wig scene? Dallas is home to more than 30 specialized wig stores. Add beauty supply businesses that sell wigs and the number rises into the hundreds. What sets Wig Paradise apart? Customer service. Patrons who walk through the doors are immediately greeted by a friendly and attentive staff that make it their mission to help you choose the wig best suited to your needs. Experienced technicians are on hand to cut, trim, thin and style your wig right there, right then. The stock is not limited to full cap wigs, but also includes falls, pieces, braids, wiglets, puffs, clip-in hair extensions and other creative hair solutions available in both synthetic fibers and human hair. Look for staffers Linda or Shannon to give you advice and a true analysis of what looks best on you. It could be the difference between looking like a million bucks—and looking like you've got a wig on your head.
Among environment-conscious gardeners, "locally grown" is the hot trend. Buying local products supports nearby growers and manufacturers, boosts the local economy and, for the consumer, means fresher items that have spent less time in a truck and endured fewer preservative processes. For many backyard gardeners, locally grown means your very own veg patch outside the back door. Rabbit Hill Farm, whose products are sold in a number of gardening stores hereabouts, is based in Corsicana, where they give a crap about organic gardening—rabbit crap, to be specific, which is rich in nitrogen and doesn't need composting like other manures. They also sell worm castings, called "black gold" and highly valued as a soil amendment. Rabbit Hill Farm uses both to blend special gardening products such as Bunny Trails and Native Texas Plant Food. If you want to try your own hand at vermicomposting (using a bin of worms to break down kitchen and yard waste), order some of their red wrigglers. Appropriate somehow to receive a wriggly ball of worms by snail mail.
House of Dang
A place as esoteric and edgy as the House of Dang really shouldn't be quite so reliable, but there's just no denying it. Whether it's Mom's birthday, your nephew's bar mitzvah or a just-for-the-hell-of-it present for a down-in-the-dumps friend, dang, this house has the perfect thing. For Mom, how about a one-of-a-kind coin purse made from vintage fabric? And that nephew would be down for a big red pillow with a screen-printed monster face, right? The list goes on, from cuddly onesies for babies to funky-fun handmade jewelry. The House of Dang features affordable, high-quality everything for anyone. Best of all, most of their merch is locally made, so you know you're giving one of your neighbors the gift of steady employment.
Bubble, bubble, there's toil and trouble setting up a 200-gallon saltwater aquarium on your own. If you're determined to do it, pay a visit to the Buy and Sell forums on the Web site of the Dallas/Fort Worth Marine Aquarium Society. You'll meet fellow hobbyists who can outfit you with price-savvy used equipment and stock, from tank to Tonga branch and metal halides to Montipora, often at 50 percent (or less) of the cost of a new item. And considering aquarists' love of upgrading and the large membership of the forums, you're likely to find that the item you want (or someone who wants to buy your item) is just a short swimming distance away.
Accents Fashion Accessories
Dallas is a fine place to shop, but this city does an awful lot of importing chic looks from somewhere else. Like other stores, Accents Fashion Accessories in the West Village brings in a fair amount of imported baubles, but their in-house designers outshine them all. The store sparkles with color in the afternoons when the sun pours in, highlighting the displays of hundreds of pieces of wildly colored jewelry made by the Accents crafters. Luminescent beads and gems are an Accents specialty, and anyone who craves a little extra shimmer to glam up a cocktail dress or a favorite T-shirt will find it among the gleaming treasures here.
Only a real runner can help a runner find the right running shoe. Duncan Cragg, a Dallasite by way of South Africa, is not only a runner extraordinaire, he's an expert on kinesiology and stride and all of that high-tech study-of-movement blah-blah. He'll tell you which styles and brands of shoes you'd need depending on what distances and speeds you're running, then have you put them on and take a jog around the in-store track. He'll analyze your gait and pronation and produce the perfect shoe to further your fleet-footed dreams. Ready, set, go!
Nordstrom at NorthPark
Almost everybody has feet—and if you don't we're sad for you—but there's only one place to go to dress them up for both men and women, and that's Nordstrom. More than $500 to spend on footwear? Come on over and sit next to us, Richie Rich, and we'll tell you all about the Santoni and Ferragamo men's loafers that would look just peachy on you. But don't worry, they have comfortable, stylish pairs for less than $100 or so. Need a pair of strappy, tiger-print pumps? Well, they may not have your size, fella, but for women there are enough brands and styles, in prices ranging from less than $100 to more than you even want to think about, to waste an entire weekend afternoon. Don't let the cheesy piano player fool you: Nordstrom may look intimidating if your idea of fancy shoes is spelled p-a-y-l-e-s-s, but if you look carefully and shop the sales, you can walk out with happy feet wrapped in a pair of super-comfy ECCOs that will last four times as long as those cheap honkers, and that's a bargain.
Elm Street Tattoo
Over the years, Elm Street Tattoo has earned random bits of publicity—on TV, blogs and in rags like this one. But it's not that they needed any, really. Good word of mouth is the biggest prop anyone can give a tattoo shop, and they get plenty from thousands of blissfully inked customers. The shop is home to celebrated Big D tat gun-slinger Oliver Peck (winner of the 2001 Guinness World Record Challenge for most tattoos in 24 hours, mind you), along with skin-prickers Dean Williams, Adam Stewart and Mark Galvan. Peck and company offer tattoos ranging from traditional sailor themes to Dia de los Muertos designs, pin-up art and complex original designs. The crew offers fine detail, topnotch healing advice and a super-clean environment in which to undergo the needle.
Dolly Python
Hey, one man's trash is another's treasure and pleasure—or so we tell ourselves when that hoarding obsession kicks in at Dolly Python. Old toys such as 1950s Erector Sets in the original boxes or Lincoln Logs! Wooden Fisher-Price Little People! Retro tapestry and leather suitcases! Vintage shoes and old books! It's a perfect storm of nostalgia and avarice—or old crap, if you're not the sentimental kind. Among our favorites are the not-quite-perfect paintings of people we don't know, items we truly covet and will, when we have a place larger than a one-bedroom apartment, display in places of honor.

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