Best Water Bottles 2010 | Whole Earth Provision Co. | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

For sheer variety and selection, the water bottle section at the back of Whole Earth Provision is hard to beat. Klean Kanteen, Thinksport, Lifefactory, Steelworks, SIGG, Camelbak, Nalgene BPA-free: They have them all, along with some nice water bottle accessories like Neoprene sleeves and web holsters. Every time we see another story about that entire new continent of trashed disposable water bottles forming in the ocean—The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, as Wikipedia calls it—good reusable bottles look better and better. Then we cross our fingers and hope we don't read one day about an island of reusable steel water bottles somewhere. That would be worse.

Don't kiss behind the garden gate, love is blind but the neighbors ain't. Don't know if Garden Gate owners Junior and Maria Villanueva had this childhood rhyme in mind when they named their Uptown floral shop and located it in a charming two-story Victorian house behind a white picket fence. But the warning seems apt. It's a very short fence, and the house offers lovers and other strangers a beautiful assortment of arranged and stemmed flowers, as well as knickknacks, stuffed animals, glassware and other gift items. Garden Gate does big-ticket arrangements for special events, weddings, Sunday church, the opera and charitable brouhahas. But it never seems to lose its feel for the little guy—the husband who pissed off his wife right before he left for work or the boss who wants to get his administrative assistant something special for her special day (Administrative Professionals Day: April 27, 2011, in case you missed it this year). Garden Gate is made even more hospitable by shop dog Peddles, who greets all visitors with the same wag of the tail.

The kind of person who can't stand it when a carefully chosen piece of flair goes unnoticed is precisely the kind of person you're likely to run into at Lula B's, the Lower Greenville-to-Deep Ellum consignment and vintage shop transplant. Upstairs, it's cowboy boots and vintage dresses. Downstairs, it's booth after booth of mid-century and antique furniture, housewares and...wait, what is that thing? Who knows? But the price is probably right, and once you put it on display in your living room, surely someone will happen by and christen it an ashtray/changing table/magazine rack. Whatever the case, Lula B's purchases are remarkable for their propensity for being remarked-upon, whether your taste tends toward old-school Scandinavian-style furniture pieces or another lederhosen-wearing ceramic goat for the collection.

Goody Goody

Here's what we usually don't like about jewelers: They use jeweler lingo, and they make us feel like we've touched stuff we're not supposed to. Not so at Sergio's Jewelry. The mom-and-pop storefront nestled in Casa Linda Plaza is well-merchandised for browsing (like, actual shopping!) while you wait. And when we've talked to Sergio (just Sergio, according to employees), he was friendly, used layman's terms, showed us various ideas for a design change, consulted with us on the care of a prized heirloom (and made us swear never to sell it, unlike the last jeweler we saw who practically chased after us), and provided us with some repairs, which were done on a quick turnaround. And all these goods and services came at shockingly reasonable prices. We've never been back to the same jewelry shop twice. That is, until we found Sergio's.

Yes, we know it's the economy, stupid, and there is something downright ignorant about giving a high-dollar, high-fashion men's boutique recognition when jobless claims are up, home prices are down and unemployment hovers just under 10 percent. Sure, there's always the Men's Wearhouse or Jos. A. Banks to keep us mediocre. But with Pockets Menswear, albeit at their tony Highland Park digs, there are fine Italian threads (Ermenegildo Zegna) and personal service from owner David Smith and devoted salesman Doug Duckworth, and aren't we supposed to be promoting the small business owners of the United States to keep this country strong and good looking? So in the interest of America, we recognize Pockets, as we have in less troubled times, for its quality, its friendliness and yes, its $2,000 suits. A man's got to dream, doesn't he?

Dallas-based Compostmania is quickly becoming a national source, maybe international, for state-of-the-art composting know-how and technology. Where else could you find more than 15 types of composting bins, including a spherical composting bin that looks like something that just landed from Mars? Proprietors Robert L. Olivier and Karl Warkomski are serious and diligent in keeping up with the state of the art in compost, but their site is also welcoming and intuitive for newcomers. Their page includes the following promise, probably not available anywhere else on the Internet: "Whatever your worm bin problem—from foul odor, to excess moisture, to the dreaded 'worm crawl'—these troubleshooting tips will help." When you need guys like this, you really need them.

Oliver Peck, the man behind this Deep Ellum tattoo shop, does a lot for this city—far more than he probably gets credit for. The guy throws some of the best parties around, gladly dresses up in drag to perform in some of the city's best tribute bands and earlier this year, he helped California's MusInk Festival, which combines a rock 'n' roll festival with a tattoo convention into one awesome blowout, expand to Fair Park. But the man who kicked Kat Von D to the curb also does something else pretty rad: Every Friday the 13th, he opens up his shop for a 24-hour period and, with his team of artists, bangs out tattoo after tattoo—all with the number 13 contained somewhere within—to a never-ending line of ink junkies looking to score their fixes. And he does so cheaply, too: The tats cost just 20 bucks ($13 plus tax and tip). Wearing one of these designs is like a badge of honor for the customer. And for Peck, it's yet one more chance to break a Guinness Book of World Records mark for most tattoos applied in 24 hours—a mark he already owns, by the way.

Tired of your designer exercise-wear looking ragged and droopy after a long Sunday of fighting the crowds at Whole Foods with your Adorable Spouse and Gifted and Talented Children just so you can pick up the week's whey protein and spinach supply? Make the move from the overrun organic megastore to the underdog, Henderson Street's Newflower Market. The Colorado-based chain's (we know, we know) Dallas outpost has plentiful parking, knowledgeable staff and the affordable high-quality organic goods that help you and your middle-class guilt sleep at night. The good sushi's still there after 5 p.m., and like the Newflower-branded staples like olive oil, vinegar and canned veggies, it's available for a fraction of the cost at other high-end grocery stores. What Newflower lacks in sprawl, it makes up for with straightforward, reliable offerings for everyday market trips.

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