Best Of :: Shopping & Services
The era of the camera store has ended for the most part. Dallas is lucky to have held onto a few stellar shops that serve specialists and the analog market well. One of those institutions is Competitive Cameras. The family-owned store has kept its inventory relevant to the specialty (lenses and bodies for medium- and large-format film cameras) and popular recent offerings for digital recording such as camera gimbals and GoPro equipment. It carries the best brands in photography from Canon to Tamrac. Competitive Cameras outfits some major corporate clients, including Neiman Marcus and The Dallas Morning News, but also is able to assist the novice photographer in setting up his or her first DSLR. The staff is very knowledgeable, almost to the point of being fervent about a shopper's purchase decisions. Competitive Cameras has been a Dallas staple for 35 years. Here's to hoping it lasts another 100.
If you have time to wash away your worries, then King Spa is your spot. This Korean spa is always open, and it's a culturally unique experience. In addition to the expected saunas and massages, King Spa also offers a theater, Wi-Fi lounge, water park with a bar inside the pool and children's play room. The food court offers Korean cuisines, fried chicken and smoothies. King Spa is as campy as Pee Wee's Playhouse. Although it's a Korean bathhouse, there are sphinxes protecting a gold pyramid sauna, the female and male bathhouses have ceiling art of the birth of Venus, and the lounge furniture looks like something out of the Rococo period. This is what makes King Spa an unforgettable experience. It's bizarre in appearance yet still delivers everything wanted out of a spa and water park. You could go with the intention of losing weight by bouncing between the fire sudatorium and ice room, or for weekend drinks with friends in the massage pool or to practice yoga in the salt room. The reasons are endless. To find the best deals, King Spa's website; the experience could cost you as little as $24.
Readers' Pick: The Spa at the Joule
For many of us, a nail maintenance routine is one of the few times each month that we pause and allow ourselves a little glamour, blissfully alone. What better way to enhance that experience than to combine it with another of the world's most relaxing, indulgent hobbies: drinking. At most nail salons, you can get a glass of franzia or André Brut, but at DFW Nail Bar, a liquor license means you can order an old fashioned or a vodka tonic at a 15-foot-long bar. Drinks are complimentary, up to two per person, and once you're good and blitzed, you can warble out a few tunes in the salon's karaoke room. Owner Jennifer Tran has been in the nail business for 25 years and says she came up with the unusual concept through her world travels. The 5,000-square-foot spa opened in Denton last year. There are more than 500 polishes to choose from, plus six facial and massage rooms where you can be rubbed down with all-organic products. Stop by for happy hour discounts from noon to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.
Readers' Pick: Hollywood Nails & Spa
Follicular euphoria is the main side effect of getting your hair done at Pura Vida Salon. "To me as an artist, a head of hair is a canvass," owner James DeFrange tells the Observer. DeFrange says many clients used to say to him, "I want this, but I don't know how to say it in your terms." That was the birth of the salon's unique consultation process. Before an appointment, each new client sits down with a stylist, who goes over a host of pre-chop/hair painting questions. Our favorite: "In one word, what do you want to hair to look like?" The stylists are meticulous, and it shows in their work. Despite its opulent surroundings (following a move from Knox-Henderson to new location in Uptown last year), Pura Vida is UINO — Uptown in Name Only. Devoid of any pretense, the prices are reasonable, and DeFrange and his team are prone to bursting into song while clutching scissors, as was the case during a recent visit when Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" came on.
Readers' Pick: Vertigo 12 Hair Lounge
Don't try to deny it. We've seen you hauling ass down the Tollway, one hand on the wheel, the other holding a mascara brush, attention focused on yourself in the rear-view mirror. Make a stop by The Lash Lounge in Preston Forest Village. There, the friendly, professional staff will carefully glue on natural-looking, long-wearing eyelashes. Lie back on a comfy table, close your eyes and let the trained aestheticians give you the battable eyes you desire, one skillfully placed lash at a time. It's not cheap — around $300 for your first visit — but there are discounts for regular customers, and you can come back for lower-cost fill-in treatments to keep those lashes thick and full, and the rest of us from dying in a fiery wreck for the sake of beauty.
The word vintage has become synonymous with expensive, but at Vagabond on Riverfront Boulevard, you can still get a great deal on nostalgia. This store carries everything from accessories to dresses, T-shirts and winter coats — and it doesn't price the merchandise very carefully because the emphasis is on moving a huge quantity of goods. Everything costs $5 to $15, so if you're willing to spend an hour or two sifting, you're guaranteed to walk away with some finds that would cost quadruple the price elsewhere. You'll be left in peace to do it, too, since even on a Saturday morning the store is usually empty, save for a single employee and the occasional college student who goes in looking for a costume for that evening's party. On a recent trip, we came away with seven '60s sundresses for less than $100.
Readers' Pick: Dolly Python
From the moment you step into the wide world of florescent-lit knick-knacks, electronics, clothing, kitchenware and other whatnots, you'll know Garland Road Thrift is the best place to spend an hour or two on a Saturday afternoon. This East Dallas thrift haven is equal parts dingy and charming with less-than-cheap additions to any movie, Hawaiian T-shirt or tacky holiday glassware collection available. Perhaps the store's best quality, though, is its selection of former grandma pantsuits that explore every color of the rainbow and can be easily transformed into chic, Instagram-worthy blazers for mere pennies on the dollar compared with retailers. But if neon-coated shoulder pads aren't your thing, keep looking. That perfect hat, pair of shoes, children's toy or couch is just around the corner.
Whether you want to expand your creative horizons with multimedia workshops or need a specialty pair of scissors to slice through the outline of your paper art, Oil and Cotton has you covered. This adorable collective offers supplies you didn't know you needed. From its collection of stationery almost too cute to write on to kaleidoscopic bullet journals to super fancy pens and pencils, this Oak Cliff favorite is sure to exceed your expectations. Get involved in any number of artistic adventures with workshops such as how to take the perfect Polaroid, watercoloring, printmaking and calligraphy. Kids' classes are available, too, with plenty of caffeine and booze for you only a minute's walk away.
From apparel to home decor to endless other novelties, Jade and Clover offers local, handmade and eco-friendly products perfect for when you forget about that birthday party in a couple of hours. Jade and Clover is in the heart of Deep Ellum, and its whimsical and eccentric aesthetic matches its shelves of scented candles, succulents, flamingo-shaped neon lights, unicorn-themed anything, jewelry and many other universally loved commodities. Don't know the gift's recipient that well? Don't worry — the shop offers gift cards that are also redeemable for any of its various art workshops.
Lucky Dog Books offers vinyl records, cassette tapes, CDs, VHS tapes, DVDs, old Playboy magazines and more. But we think its collection of rare and unique used books, such as zines, comic books, graphic novels, trade paperbacks, cookbooks, biographies, novels and nonfiction long-form stories are what make this place special. Even more special is its running selection of free books and other various media. Get dust on your fingers with the shop's wall-to-wall shelves of secondhand books and find classics from Jack Kerouac and Robert E. Howard to self-help books to get you through that life crisis. Lucky Dog gets away with prices higher than usual for secondhand because of its tremendous stock of hard-to-find books. Considering the immense collection, it's adisable to ask the clerk if you can't find a specific title. Chances are it's tucked away somewhere.
A good apartment complex in a good neighborhood with an affordable price can be hard to come by. Luckily, Avana West Lemmon, near Uptown and Highland Park, fits all the categories. Not only is it a fairly large apartment complex with a swimming pool and gym, but it offers a community for its residents with regular get-togethers, events, and an online portal for residents to communicate with neighbors, sell items or offer advice on things to do. It sits on top of Highland Park Emergency Room and is a few blocks from the Ivy Tavern, making it a great place to be if you need a quick doctor's visit or a drink.
Readers' Pick: The Village
There are few stores that offer a better shopping experience than Nordstrom. Whether you're in NorthPark, the Galleria, Stonebriar or any other location, you will be treated like royalty at Nordstrom. Not only are the employees quick to offer advice on what clothes or shoes to buy, but returning something couldn't be easier. It doesn't matter if you bought it online, in store or months ago, Nordstrom takes back anything. And with its new curbside service, you can order something online during work, stop by your favorite Nordstrom and text the service bar that you would like your order at your car, and then you're off. You never have to step foot in a store and deal with other shoppers looking at the same shirt as you. Yes, shopping just got lazier — and thus better.