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.
Some things you never knew you needed—that is, until you saw them at Junkadoodle. Once a month during autumn and spring, the whimsical flea market on Lovers Lane just west of Inwood Village turns into a huge block party. Independent retailers rent small spaces in the parking lot and in the front yard of the boutique and try their luck hocking weird artifacts to a slew of curious passersby. Peculiar paintings, sculptures, old furniture, handmade items and vintage bread boxes are easily found among the smorgasbord of stuff. Just be sure to have a good poker face when haggling for a better deal. After all, one man's junk is another man's treasure.
Between the kick-ass in-stores, the Music Movie Mondays series and their annual Record Store Day blowout, Good Records would probably win this award even if it only stocked records that earned an 8.0 or above from Pitchfork. But there's a vast world of music in these racks (from psychedelic, country and soul classics to the latest, greatest indie-rock hits and everything in between) and the staff—including Jacob Douglas, owner Chris Penn and beloved experimental curmudgeon Mark Church—will be glad to help you wade through it all to find your new favorite record. Just make sure to buy it when you find it, 'cause someone has to buy all that "free" in-store beer you've been drinking.