Best Place to Spend a Sunday Afternoon 2009 | Half Price Books | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Sundays are usually the day of the week people pick to do around-the-house chores or just be lazy on the couch while watching Lifetime movies. Why not leave your home and stretch your legs before you are stuck in a cubicle for the next five days at work? The Half Price Books off Northwest Highway is the perfect solution for that. Well, of course they have books, being a bookstore and all, but they also have a used records section that you could easily spend hours rummaging through. If you are low on cash or just not feeling the current books you have, then you can sell them back to Half Price for some dinero. Black Forest Coffee is also attached, so you can enjoy an Americano while reading The Secret Conversations of Henry Kissinger.

Pfft. The Mrs. just doesn't get it. Why would anyone want a ginormous, wooden scale model of HMS Surprise, the ship featured in novelist Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander series? she asks. That feather-light, radio-controlled indoor airplane? You'll just break it, she says. Doesn't she know by now that tin soldiers, RC helicopters, model rockets and superfast RC cars...these are not things a man wants. He needs them the way a woman needs shoes. Pleeeeease? Don't you know us by now? Apparently, she does. But never mind. Someday our ship will come in and we'll be here, in the coolest big-boy toy store in DFW, credit card in one hand and a Christmas list as long as our arm in the other. In the meantime, you'll find us here on any given weekend, our face pressed against the Surprise's glass case, a bit of drool leaking from the corner of our mouth as we dream of sailing or flying or zipping away in our model life.

Olympic gold medalist and UT-Austin swim star Ian Crocker and his partners, Olympic and National Champs Neil Walker and James Fike, opened their swim school at the swanky new indoor pool facility in Rockwall this summer. In the first week, they had 150 kids—second-graders to high school students—trying out for club teams and signing up for pre-competitive coaching and one-on-one lessons. These clean-cut swim veterans aren't the whistle-blowing hard-core types. They're gentle with the kids and are dedicated to creating strong young swimmers with great form and a love of the sport. The Crocker Swim School also gives back 5 percent of their earnings to community charities. Way to make a positive splash, guys.

If you're looking to save a few bucks on a haircut, stop reading right now. The Johnny Rodriguez Salon doesn't boast about providing low-cost styles and cuts, instead focusing on being the best while catering to the needs of its upscale Highland Park clientele. Before the snipping begins, a consultant assists in identifying a hairstyle that represents each person's lifestyle, needs and goals. Need some coloring? Colorist Brian Thibodeaux is not only the best in the biz, but his lively conversations will keep you coming back.

Become a human pincushion to lose weight? Why not? Dr. Mark Currington, whose office is an oasis of calm, has a sure hand with those hair-thin needles, inserting each one quickly into energy points up and down the body. Acupuncture for weight loss is a painless (if controversial) procedure that involves wearing a tiny pin pierced through ear cartilage, plus a series of once-a-week needle sticks. "It's drug-free and the only side effect is better health," says Currington, a chiropractor who also does traditional spinal adjustments. We'd be skeptics if it weren't for 5,000 years of Chinese medicine and our own experience. Six weeks of acu-punking, plus the regimen of vitamins and supplements Currington recommended (he never does a hard sell, which is also a healthy approach) turned down the volume on the hunger monster and 20 pounds simply melted away.

Any tanning salon site that grabs your attention by comparing you to that famous friendly ghost must be worth looking at. Park Cities Tan must know this, because the first thing you see on their site is "Hey Casper!" After that, you look at yourself in the mirror and start to notice you are quite pale, almost transparent. Then you see that they have been open for the past 24 years, so something must be working for them. Ten minutes later you are a new customer and on your way to a bronze-looking future. With this tanning place, it's all about the bulb-changing process in their beds. They switch them out frequently, which means stronger bulbs, darker tans, fewer trips and less money.

It's hard to believe that a simple concept like the Buffalo Exchange, where customers can buy, sell and trade clothing and accessories, needed to be imported from someplace else, but the city's best thrift store was born from Kerstin and Spencer Block, who opened their first store 35 years ago in Tucson, Arizona. Now with 35 stores and two franchises in 13 states, business is booming, and it's easy to see why. Focusing on selling only trendy and vintage fashions, Buffalo Exchange offers patrons a wide array of T-shirts, dresses, shoes, belts, purses and jewelry to suit every size and budget. The store is meticulously organized, and its upfront policy on accepting items is appreciated. If you want to take the money and run, you'll get 35 percent of what they'll price it at, and if you want to swap it for something else, they'll hand over 50 percent of the price in store credit.

Kidrobot—it's just a toy store, right? And a pretty lame one at that, considering that the store's flagship product, the Munny, is nothing but a blank, 7-inch-tall, white vinyl doll that will cost you $29.95 to customize on your own. Uh, not so much. If that's all Kidrobot was, there wouldn't have been a line 400 hipsters long waiting outside the store's door on its grand opening. Just the fifth Kidrobot store in the world—New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami boast its only other homes—the Dallas location is no bigger than a cubicle deep and eight cubicles wide, in office worker terms, or big enough to fit only 20 customers at a time, meaning some customers waited almost four hours just to get in the place. Yep, Kidrobot's just a toy store, not a sign that Dallas might be getting a little bit cooler.

Having trained more than 300 women in his women-only boot camp fitness groups over the past few years, Dallas trainer and entrepreneur Scott Colby knows what works and what works quickly to get ladies in shape. Nicknamed "The Abs Expert," Colby has a no-nonsense but still decidedly laid-back approach. He lays out each day's one-hour routine (using kettlebells, medicine balls and sometimes sledgehammers) and puts the women through their paces with no yelling, no grunting and no put-downs. He's a gentleman, keeping a respectful attitude around all the sweaty Bettys. With a hurting economy hurting his biz, Colby recently instituted a "first two weeks free" program for all new clients, and he offers a free workout for men and women every Saturday morning at the SMU track bleachers. Nice to find a trainer whose strongest muscle is his heart.

We always admired (sometimes in shocked amazement) the bold fashion choices of Carrie Bradshaw. She taught us (along with Sex and the City stylist Patricia Field) the subtle art of combining vintage and contemporary styles. The show has been off the air for five years, fashion has moved on and we've found a new Kerry to admire—Kerry Bonnell of Archive Vintage. Her charming store on Maple Avenue looks more like a high-end boutique than a typical vintage store: no overcrowded racks or musty, sweat-stained garments here, just lots of high-quality, immaculate-condition couture. While perusing the tidy racks, we gently stroked a Chanel suit, a Halston ultrasuede dress and an Alaia leather overcoat. But for those who can't drop four figures on a fabulous frock, Archive's newly opened Back Room has more traditional vintage fare: denim jackets, tooled leather belts and bags, and rock show T's. Either way you go—haute or not—Archive will remind you that decades-old clothing can be decidedly au courant.

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