Best Of :: Shopping & Services
Behind every successful working parent is good childcare. Seriously, if you don't have a good, reliable source for childcare, you're screwed. And even then, chances are that you're still going to question whether you're doing the best thing for your kids. Spanish House, which has built a devoted following among East Dallas parents, takes all that doubt out of the equation. Their Spanish immersion nursery and preschool programs combine the necessity of daycare with the power of dual language learning. Staff speak to the children primarily in Spanish while providing top-notch care and creative educational programming. The drop-off line is a mix of local artists and musicians, professionals and mother's-day-out types who enjoy peace of mind while their kids learn español. One caveat: Get your bebé on that waiting list while they're still in utero. The waiting list here is muy gigante.
Your friend with the good hair gets it done at Dear Clark. This friendly, full service salon has a variety of stylists, all of whom are willing to help you find a new look, whether it's ombre, balayage or neon pink. Plus, they'll serve you a mimosa while they tame your mane. Whether you know what shade of red you want or you just broke up with your boyfriend, they'll leave you looking good. The only downside is the valet parking, but hey, this is Dallas, and at least it's free.
Forget a savings account. Treat yo' self. This Los Angeles transplant in the Joule Hotel offers nothing but the best. You deserve that $75 shirt. It's made from bamboo and the ultra chic shop girl says it never smells bad. Oh, and toss in that $65 candle. Sure, they're the cheapest things in the shop, but you'll feel so luxurious when you walk through downtown Dallas after spoiling yourself. If you're really looking to break the bank, put together a full outfit from brands like Cheap Monday, Deer Dana and Creatures of Comfort, but maybe get advice from the shop girl before you pull the trigger on those culottes.
In March 2014, Lake Highlands got a kick in its vintage game. Where a weary Dollar General once stood, excitement was building with every bronze figurine, Lucite lamp or Eames-era chair positioned in the booths of Top Drawer Antiques and Mid Mod Shop. What was once a 7,500-square-foot store offering rows and rows — or hours and hours — of treasure hunting has in the past year expanded in the neighboring space for what's now about 13,000 square feet of accessory heaven. (There's 7,000 square feet more to come as the store expands again after the start of 2017.) Western art, bar sets, vintage ashtrays, light fixtures, Pyrex, classic toys. Top Drawer's larger pieces (full Danish modern dining sets, pristine couches, dressers) are exquisite, but there's just so much fun to be had poking around for the lamps, the art and the small items that are, like the name says, top drawer. The best part, however, is the staff, who clearly adore what they do and what they sell. Reed Sutton, owner and matriarch, runs the place with daughter Corey Sutton on the daily, and if it's busy, their husbands are there too. It's a labor of love to manage approximately 70 vendor booths at any given time, but there's a lot of laughter behind that counter. With stock constantly turning but wonderfully curated, the Suttons have given Dallas a great way to shop down memory lane.
Warby Parker has every style of glasses and sunglasses you could imagine. That isn't the best part. They'll let you try out up to five sets of frames at home for no charge. That also isn't the best part. The best part of Warby Parker is the price. Their stylish, durable frames are all available for a flat $95, single vision lenses included. For anyone who's suffered through paying $300 or more for "discount" glasses, Warby Parker and its try-before-you-buy Dallas showroom is a godsend.
Owner Jason Cohen, a partner in Curiosities antique store, takes his eccentric eye out into in the garden for this new store and finds predictably unpredictable treasures — an antique wheelbarrow right out of Peter Rabbit, tin chicken fountains that spit, a twig rocker, a bell jar in which a perfectly bleached bird skeleton flutters above a mossy nest and a variety of quirky wind-driven ornaments and gewgaws. A visit here may change your whole vision of what a garden can be.
Sometimes playing games is actually good for one's relationships. Game playing has even been known to foster new ones. At least, that's the case when the games are played at Common Ground Games. No one is required to play Cards Against Humanity. Most of the game playing during the week revolves around Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, Pokémon, Star Wars: LCG and community-centric games. Thursday nights from 6 p.m. to close serves as a new game demo and board game night, and most every Saturday from noon to 8 p.m., there's open gaming (although, technically, Common Ground is always open gaming, that's just the day there's no scheduled game event). Attendees can buy, borrow or BYOBG, then grab a table. All are welcome: That is to say, there's no intimidation — backgammon, Risk, Telestrations, Mysterium and Tyrants of the Underdark are all perfectly acceptable. Most folks bring fellow players with, but friends can be made over shared strategies and/or snacks. As always with gaming (and relationships), snacks and hydration recommended.
We've lost our significant others for hours on end in this unassuming warehouse that's stocked to the gills with, well, wood — and we've been lured in ourselves by the promise of design inspiration. We weren't disappointed. Inside Wood World, there is indeed a world of lumber in all its forms. You'll find exotic varieties, like Peruvian walnut and beautiful striped zebrawood or plain old plywood in all its practical glory. And when the vast array of timber starts to make your head spin, the well-versed staff is there to tell you what pieces are best for your big ideas, what tools you'll need, and whether or not you're about to bite off way more than you can chew.
High-end florists are in no short supply in Dallas, but we've always had a soft spot for this one in particular, founded by local floral dynamos Luit and Jamie Huizenga. Now run by Doan Do, the shop still consistently produces some of the most artistic, elegant and stunning arrangements in town thanks to the efforts of its long-term designers, most of whom have been churning out paves, bouquets and custom florals for close to a decade. The mix of French, Eastern European and Latin American aesthetics is an obvious indicator of the diversity of the staff, and the shop's loyal following among Dallas high society is a nod to their artistry and emphasis on quality. We love the less traditional offerings, though: Beautiful succulent blends with impeccable construction, funky orchid designs and whimsical color combinations never fail to floor their recipients.
We're sticklers about bedtime for the most part, but once in a while we are more than happy to bust up a bedtime routine in favor of busting a move. Local party doyenne Alicia Duncan provides the venue for kids to break out and get down about twice a month at the venerable It'll Do Club, and while the dancers are teeny-tiny, the good times are in no way diminished. One recent Friday, the lighted dance floor was packed with toddlers and preteens, decked out in strobe-lit jewelry and hopped up on food from Easy Sliders (one of Disco Kids' frequent food truck vendors). The music was loud enough to facilitate some serious grooves, but not so loud that the pediatrician's gonna kill your buzz, and those kids were jammin'. And the parents weren't exactly wallflowers — the full bar is available and the DJ occasionally inspired some parental booty-shaking with well-placed Prince or B-52's tracks. For upcoming Disco Kids events, which are $5 each for kids and free for parents, see their official Facebook page.
Known as "the big, purple building on the square," Recycled Books is a beacon for book and music lovers from across the country. Located in the historical Wright's Opera House on the corner of Locust and Oak streets in Denton, Recycled offers three levels filled with shelves of used books. It's quite a change from the tiny storefront on University Drive where Recycled first opened in the early '80s. Today, the used bookstore is emblematic of Denton's "independent and arts-loving spirit" and offers rare books, records, CDs, DVDs and VHS (as well as other collectibles) all at affordable prices. "Just as Walt Whitman commented that great poetry requires great audiences, Recycled is able to be what it is because of its great customers and the community it's a part of," its website reads, and the Observer agrees.
There's nothing like a well done military surplus store. Sure, they often appear the same, with racks of old uniforms, displays of button insignia, dangling backpacks from various nations and cheeky T-shirts that say "Infidel" in Arabic. But the Army Store, Dallas' oldest surplus store, takes the concept to a professional level. The prices are reasonable, the stock is clean and well-presented and the staff friendly. Even better for aficionados, the stock rotates nicely so fresh finds are there to reward repeat visitors. The family-owned store doubles as the best place in Dallas to buy airsoft paintball weaponry.