The Joule Hotel

So you need to buy a prezzie but have no idea where to start. TenOverSix, a sleek, Los Angeles-based boutique with a second outpost in The Joule Hotel in downtown Dallas, is gift heaven. Owners Joe and Kristen Cole and Brady Cunningham have sharp eyes for good design and a tendency to stock the unexpected. Clothes and accessories from designers Chris Benz, Pamela Love, Maison Kitsune and Phillip Lim are in the mix, which is constantly rotated and updated. Price points start low for dainty bangles and organic lip balms, a $15 handmade wooden box or a DVD of the latest Frederick Wiseman documentary. Splurge, if you must, on a leather tote from Marlow Goods (still under a thou). Variety is this boutique's gift to shoppers.

Online eyeglass retailers such as Warby Parker have become popular because they offer stylish frames at an affordable price point. But when optometrist Stephen Wilkes and his son Paul opened Glass Optical on Davis Street in Oak Cliff last year, we realized what we were missing. Get an eye exam from a doctor with 30 years of experience and then shop from his curated selection of handmade eyewear that outdoes the online outfits and those chain eyewear shops. There are lots of trendy frame styles and cute sunglasses here, whether you require a prescription or not. And take your time. Glasses are art for your face.

Massages are great any way you can get them, but there's nothing better than a spontaneous rubdown. Spas are expensive and require appointments well in advance, so when you're feeling particularly tense after a long work day, unless you can convince your unenthusiastic significant other to help you out, you're massage-less. Enter Sole Therapy. For $35, the reflexology joint next to a Tom Thumb in a strip center will give you a great hour-long, deep tissue, full-body massage, no appointment necessary. You're fully clothed and in a room with other people, but if you can adapt to the eccentric aspects of the experience, you'll find plenty to like, like the green tea foot soak to start and the healing hands ironing out those knots in your neck.

Charles Smith II has whatever "it" is, and it's brought him success in the realms of basketball, modeling and now fashion design. The New York-born designer moved to Dallas to play basketball at Lincoln High School and his skills on the court got him scouted by the NBA. Even now that he's switched tracks to fashion, with a degree from the Art Institute of Dallas, he has no intention of fleeing to his much more fashion-oriented hometown; Smith is determined to influence Dallas' high fashion scene for the better. His signature aesthetic is gothic (imagine what a bagpipe-playing motorcycle gang might wear), featuring a lot of black and white, leathers and zippers. He's put out a couple of high-end couture lines, but recently launched a more affordable ready-to-wear line, S2. You can purchase his wares online now, but look for them in brick and mortar stores in Dallas soon.

smiththesecond.com

They say questions such as "Do you like scary movies?" can be high predictors of compatibility. We just skip the cutesy small-talk and take dates to Voodoo Chile, a record/art/vintage clothing/glass pipe/gift shop in a red one-story house off Lower Greenville. It's a bastion of character and weirdness. And Voodoo Chile has plenty in common with scary movies anyway. Art by mysterious owner Jimi Fukushita is laden with creepy, provocative imagery and the shop stocks a bunch of books about the Third Reich. You can learn a lot about a date just by asking, "Have you read Mein Kampf?"

The Toy Maven

Whether you have a kid or just know one who needs bribing, Toy Maven has the goods. Say you're rushing to a 4-year-old's birthday party and have no clue what a fun or age-appropriate gift looks like. The staff here can quickly guide you to the perfect plaything based on the interests of the small human in question. You might even be surprised at what you're tempted to buy for yourself. How about some glitter pens for your office? Or a LEGO model of Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water? Play on!

There are car washes all over the city, but where do you go when there's 6-month-old Slurpee muck lining the bottom of your cup holders ... with pennies stuck in it? In times of auto-interior distress, Forest Car Wash & Detail has all kinds of wash and wax packages, but the most thorough will run you only about $100 and have your car looking like it just came off the lot.

Some stains just can't be washed out at home. If you need dry cleaning, special laundering or help with damaged garments, Sunshine Laundry and Dry Cleaning has about 75 years' experience. They've been on Maple Avenue this whole time (their current location is across the street from their original home), with the same iconic sign and expert service. The staff knows at a glance how to handle fancy fabrics. Turnaround time is quick, if you need it. They also have a (very affordable) tailor on site.

Everybody in East Dallas living in an old house or apartment building held their breath when Lakewood's Ace Hardware got kicked out of its longtime location in the Lakewood Shopping Center across from Whole Foods. Sure, other places have hardware. But nobody has the experienced, knowledgeable staff that proprietor Khandoo Nagar had assembled over the years at Lakewood Ace. For a year or so, the store was in semi-sketchy quarters while a brand-new building was being constructed. But now they are at home in a slick, conveniently located new space at Gaston and East Grand avenues. And they still know what you mean when you say you need one of those "prongy-type deals" to hold the lampshade up.

Figure anybody can sell you some shiny gewgaws. But what do you do if the jeweled piece you thought was perfect for your sweetie turns out to get shrugs and winces when you hand it to the recipient? No need for psychodrama over whose taste is better. Take it for a makeover to Ralph Austin Jewelers, an unprepossessing little shop in the Skillman Shopping Center in East Dallas. They'll take that ring (or bracelet or necklace) and modify it, or melt it down, make a new design, 3-D print a model, create a mold, cast it anew and, using your gold and stones, give your sweet thang the hunk of jewelry of his or her dreams. Prices are reasonable. Service is 24-karat friendly. Yep, this place is a gem.

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