Best Thrift Emporium 2007 | Garland Road Thrift | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
Smelly, cavernous and always too hot or too cold, depending on what'll make you most uncomfortable for the season, Garland Road Thrift is everything a real thrift store ought to be: Kind of a dump and full of great finds. Garland Road Thrift is where tony Lakewood folk and fed-up packrat grandmas get rid of their excess goodies. The prices are clutch-the-pearls low. We found a barely used alligator handbag for $10 and a mink stole for $20. Go through the racks for gems like a strapless velvet cocktail dress or pin-striped blazer. And do not miss the wall-to-wall housewares section, perfect for anyone seeking to complete their beer stein, gold-plated animal statue or hand-painted teacup collections. If it floats your boat or came over from the Old Country in one, it's probably for sale at Garland Road Thrift.
Throughout this Best of Dallas issue you'll no doubt find a dozen or so entries for NorthPark Center retailers, and why not, as the recent addition has turned the swell into the swellegant. But our kiddo has but two great loves in the new wing: Teavana, because he inexplicably loves him a hot MattéVana, and Puzzle Zoo, the California-based toy store with four locations, ours being the sole spot outside of the Golden State, lucky us. The place seems small, but it's packed with everything imaginable for the kid or the kid within: hundreds of Star Wars action figures and toys (some of which came from old Target and Wal-Mart racks, upping their rare factor), educational doodads for those more inclined toward the learnin', up-to-the-second movie tie-ins, PixelBlocks and puzzles, remote-controlled extravaganzas and penny-ante whatchamacallits your parents played with when they were kids. And the rich geek can walk back to the glass cases lining the back walls to gaze at the really expensive toys. Speaking of, how much is Dr. McCoy's tricorder again? Oh, that much.
A grocery store can be as much a status symbol as designer shoes. Manolo fans clip-clop to Central Market. Birkenstocks hike to Whole Foods. Sensible Nike wearers sprint to Tom Thumb with loyalty card in hand. But what about workboot people and flip-flop people and generic sneaker people? They shop Fiesta, where you'll find only a few Lean Cuisines but dozens of brands of tortillas, salsas and ethnic spices. The international foods aisle is well-stocked with imports. When's the last time you made a pan of spaetzle anyway? This store shows international flair and shopping here is a good show too. It's hopping at every hour of the day. On Saturdays and before holidays, Fiesta actually feels like a party.
Face it: Antique stores are just resale shops, offering stuff that has managed to outlive the abuse dished out by a series of households where real people ate, slept and kept up with the Joneses. In most antique stores or malls, merchandise is wide but not deep—in other words, a little bit from various eras, countries and styles. Specializing in antiques and collectibles from France, The Whimsey Shoppe gives shoppers a unique window into French history, culture and style (with a dollop of cheek) in two huge stores: 12,000 square feet on Henderson Avenue and 11,000 square feet on Oak Lawn Avenue. The owners, Suzie and Wendell Patterson, scour the French countryside, traveling more than 2,500 miles on each shopping trip, so you don't have to. (And really, who'd want to do all that French traveling, with the culture and fine food and wine and whatnot?) The Pattersons suck it up for you, God love 'em, coming home several times a year with containers of French antiques that range from rustic farm tables to beds that would be perfect in Marie Antoinette's boudoir. Then they send customers The Whimsey Report, a pamphlet of black-and-white drawings of unique items and an account of their adventures in antiquing through Normandy, Burgundy, Champagne and Provence that touches on politics, food and fashion. (Really, we don't envy them. Rubbing our noses in it? No, not at all.) Specialties include French farm tables, armoires and copper. It only takes a few pieces to make it appear as if you found them on your last trip to the Languedoc. Like you'd ever want to go there, what with Oklahoma so close.
If you refer to your pets as your "babies" and always make sure they get their dinner before scrounging up something for yourself, then chances are you know how hard it is to find a good veterinarian. We've seen them all: the unprepared recent graduate who keeps leaving the room to flip through medical journals; the good ol' country boy who's better suited to working on horses and cows; the overly cautious vet who can't take your pet's temperature for fear they'll feel a little's far too easy to end up at an office with one of those. But at East Lake, you can finally relax and leave your cat or pup in the capable hands of friendly experts in a comfortable, clean environment. And sure, there are cheaper places out there, but when it comes to our precious little fur-covered children, why settle for anything less than the best?

Best Video Store (Especially If You Want to Meet Jim Schutze)

Premiere Video

That last part there's not really a tease: Mr. Dallas Observer is a regular customer, always in line with a copy of Chinatown, Deadline U.S.A. or All the President's Men—or A River Runs Through It, hawhawhaw. Because, see, Premiere has all those movies—and pretty much everything else ever released on home video, in this country or any other. They also stock every British TV series not yet on BBC America. Put it another way: Go to Premiere right now with a list of your 10 favorite movies, and if Premiere doesn't have, oh, eight of them in stock right now, Jim Schutze will give you his copy of Red Shoe Diaries Vol. 12.
What really makes a good vintage clothing store is variety. Of price, style, era and finery. We want to peruse chiffon formals from the 1950s and rock tees from the 1970s. We want a lot to choose from but not so much that we can't push back the racks to see what's there. Pandemonium's retro fashionistas Leslie Daum and Debbie Cardenas stock their charming pink house on Henderson Avenue with gently used clothing and accessories they've painstakingly inspected and deemed worthy of new owners. Need a patent leather handbag or a pair of Jackie O sunglasses? A sequined ball gown? A vintage leather jacket? Pandemonium probably has them. And these ladies keep prices so reasonable, you can shop early and often every season. Daum and Cardenas also have their own Pandemonium line of separates made from recycled tees and other vintage fabrics. Check out the Our Lady of Guadalupe circle skirts and just pray they have your size.
IKEA just can't be beaten in this category because of the sheer breadth and wow factor of its (cheap) inventory. Start with (cheap) kitchen cabinets and appliances. Add the (cheap) bathroom sink, cabinets and towels. Move on to the bedroom for everything from mattresses to wardrobes, comforters to chests of drawers. Did we mention they're cheap? Outfit the media room, the home office, the dining nook. Yeah, some IKEA merchandise might fall apart after the first party, but it's possible to find everything you need to build a comfortable nest from the studs out without going broke. By the time you need to replace it, your taste will have changed anyway. And maybe you won't be so damned broke.
Five or 10 times a day at Froggie's 5 & 10 on Knox, the phone rings and high tiny voices ask if the new Webkinz are in. If you're not a child or you don't know one, Webkinz are the stuffed toys that come with secret codes tying in to a Web site full of stuff to do with your new "pet." But no toy, no entry to the Web world. So Webkinz, which some kids collect by the dozens, tend to get grabbed up at toy stores as quickly as they arrive. The staff at Froggie's, however, love their little 'uns, so they limit the purchase numbers per buyer and they'll even hide a 'kinz or two under the counter for their best customers. While you're in the store, check out the massive collection of wind-up toys, old-fashioned yo-yos, board games, magic tricks, old-timey candy and booklets of temporary tattoos. And do pet Fric and Frac, the store's resident kitties, who like to catnap in the sunny front window.
This ain't no Western store for gringos, unless you're the sort who likes pink Mexican wedding shirts with scorpions stitched on the sleeves. Whatever your ethnicity or fashion bent, the folks at El Nuevo Estilo will welcome you like family. The store opened 16 years ago as a hat shop, and cowboy hats are still its specialty. Customers drive in from Amarillo and Midland to buy hats here that aren't sold anywhere else. Ask the owner to show you the lid with the hidden weed compartment (it's called El Dealer) or the style with the 18-karat gold "placa" on its brim (it's called El Mafioso). You may think it takes a touch of sunstroke to drop $500 on a straw cowboy hat. But for rancheros from Durango and Sinaloa, that makes perfect sense.

Best Of Dallas®

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