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Froggie's 5 and 10 has managed to capture the essence of what it means to be young in its small store on Knox, making it the perfect stop for folks of all ages. Whether it's greeting cards, a Slinky, candy or a vintage lunchbox, you'll find it crammed into the shelves at Froggie's, and somehow the employees know exactly where to track down anything your heart desires. You might fancy a magic trick for the kiddo, a retro toy for yourself or maybe a gag gift for your buddy, but you'll buy something. Just be careful. Even though the prices are fair, you'll end up draining your bank account in no time.
First things first, Voodoo Chile is not actually a voodoo shop. Though, we're sure many a late-night shopper has been fooled by the shop's name and the red glow of its lights that are clearly visible from nearby Lowest Lower Greenville Avenue sidewalks. The eclectic vintage shop is open only from 7 p.m. until midnight most nights of the week, and that unpredictability is part of the shop's fun–especially after having dinner and drinks (or, yeah, just drinks) at one of the nearby restaurants or taverns. We never know what secret treasure we'll find while buzz-browsing through the vintage threads, amazing ashtrays, primo eight-tracks and LPs, old Halloween masks, movie flats and original art. Some say Voodoo Chile's mysterious curator is actually named Jimi Hendrix, and we prefer to maintain the mystery. Clearly the guy's a fan, having named his shop after the 15-minute Electric Ladyland track, but Voodoo Chile's speakers are just as likely to be blaring Édith Piaf or '60s surf tunes as psychedelic blues-rock. Don't even bother asking how much those Piaf records are, though—they're not for sale.
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.
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?