Eye Doctor's Office & Eye Gallery
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As catchy names go, Eye Doctor's Office & Eye Gallery isn't going to win any marketing awards. But as some dude once wrote, what's in a name? What's inside the plain-looking Preston Center shop is Dr. Bob Consor and his skilled staff, who'll take the time to give you the most thorough, high-tech, informative eye exam possible. (Did you know that exposure to UV light can cause tiny scars on the whites of your eyes? We didn't until we got an exam here.) Once you get your prescription — double checked by machine and human — it's time to go to the front of the shop, where you can choose from a complete range of affordable to high-end designer eyewear. The office will handle the insurance filing for you, it they offers gift cards to cover a big chunk of the cost of a pair of backup glasses or sunglasses. How good is it? Some fool we know very well bought a pair there, asking for something tough because he's rough on glasses. Exactly one week later, he sat on his titanium-framed beauties and snapped them. A quick stop by the shop, an embarrassing explanation and 30 minutes later, he walked out with an identical pair, gratis. Yeah, so what's in a name?

Readers' Pick: Warby Parker

For the longest time, Weir's has been on the lists of our readers' nominees for best furniture store, and we just didn't get it. We went in there a few times years back, and the collection always struck us as — how do we put it? — Southwest McMansionesque. Overstuffed, heavy wood, busy fabric patterns and leather that would look perfect in an upper-middle-class living room in a 4,000-square-foot manse in Grapevine. But times change, and so has the neighborhood around Knox-Henderson. So when one of our staff moved into a townhouse north of Uptown last year, he stopped by Weir's and found a surprise. Clean, modern designs. Nothing Euro-odd, but more akin to Crate and Barrel than stuff fit for a room with a deer's head on the wall (at prices way below Crate and Barrel's and quality far beyond Ikea's). Like we said, times change, and if you're contemplating joining the great migration to Uptown, you could do much worse than stop by Weir's to fill your new digs.

Readers' Pick: Nebraska Furniture Mart

Best Vaping Shop
Elijah Whites

For something that evidence suggests can help people stop smoking, vaping gets a bad rap. That stems, we think, partly from the Wild West days of unregulated vaping, which pretty much allowed anyone with a garage and an internet connection to order gallons of propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin and toss whatever flavorings and nicotine in it they wanted. Those days are coming to an end, thanks to a new set of FDA regulations that may one day be enforced. Artisan Vapor Co. is already ahead of the curve. With more than 30 locations in DFW, it offers more than 160 flavors of vaping liquids from Artisan and other manufacturers, all made in certified labs that meet FDA standards. The Lemmon Avenue location has a comfy, well-appointed bar with couches and chairs and a full range of quality gear that comes with a 30-day return policy if defective. It even offers a $10 annual membership that gives customers unlimited samples, free basic maintenance on their vaporizers and access to members-only sales. It'll even coach customers on how to step down on their nicotine doses if they're trying to kick the habit altogether.

Readers' Pick: DFW Vapor


For nearly 15 years, Frank Rico has occupied a tiny niche in the Hillside Village Shopping Center. Well, that is, Rico and a rotating roster of pairs of beloved shoes and bags waiting for pickup by their owners. Behind and next to the mirrored front counter, above and below the shelves, sandals, boots, heels and dress shoes sit shined, resoled, their scuffed toes smoothed, their scraped heels mended. A rack of hand-healed bags stands sentry. Steadily throughout each day of Rico's six-day workweek, customers bring in their favorite shoes to have new life breathed back into them by his skilled hands. The shoe service is a family business, so Rico's son, daughter and wife are familiar faces to regular customers (something that brings a smile to his face when he mentions it), but that's a distinct contrast to what he sees every day: "Nothing is ever the same," he says, describing his work. "Every [shoe] problem and everything I see is special and different." It's this excitement for his discoveries and problem solving that undoubtedly helps him turn around many of his clients' items on the same day. If it's badly needed, he does his best to get it done.

Best Little Shop of Horrors
Nicholas Bostick

OK, "shop of horrors" is an overdramatic description of owner Paul Riddell's gallery of carnivorous plants, which he recently moved from the former Valley View Center to a space near U.S. 75 and Spring Valley Road. You won't find Audrey growling "feed me" among his custom-built terrariums of carnivorous and exotic plants. On the other hand, Riddell named his place after The Day of the Triffids, the apocalyptic sci-fi novel by John Wyndham featuring man-hunting plants. It's so incredibly creepy that you might find yourself laying in a stock of Roundup to have around, you know, just in case. The fearless Riddell, meanwhile, is in the middle of a soft opening and will officially open his new space to the public — by appointment only — in October. You can see a variety of his imaginative mini-environments devoted to these strange species and maybe even take one home for yourself. If you dare.

Best Sign Painters
Daniel Driensky and Sarah Reyes

While the Dallas of tomorrow may be crashing toward an all-digital internet of things, luckily there will remain holdouts to remind us of the power and beauty of old-school analog craftsmanship. Count Sean Starr and his wife, Kayleigh, among them. Their Starr Studios in Denton specializes in hand-painted and gold-leafed signs, each a unique and carefully crafted work that only human minds and hands can create — at least for now. You may have seen the couple's work on the cover of the Toadies album Heretics, for Shinola Detroit, for Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. or on the bright red and gold old-style storefront at J. Hall & Co. Gentleman Tattooers, 1709 Lamar St. "Sign painters" understates what the Starrs do. They are artists, and as proof of that. they recently opened a gallery to show their work, as well as curated shows by other artists, in the Design District.

Best Real Try at Bike Sharing
Sarah Schumacher

Bike sharing first came to Dallas at Fair Park in 2014 under the city's cunning plan to encourage more cycling by putting its first bike-share racks in a place few people go and allowing them to rent a bike and ride ... well, nowhere, basically, before heading back to the fixed racks. "Dallas Unveils World's Saddest Bike Sharing Program" was the headline on our story announcing the program. Garland-based company VBikes took a slightly different tactic — call it "the not stupid one" — this summer when it opened its bike-sharing system in Dallas. First, it put their bikes where people are — in Klyde Warren Park, for instance. Second, it uses an app-based system that lets users wave their phones over a bike's smart lock, ride it wherever they want and leave it there. Lastly, VBikes priced it right. While the city charged $5 for the first 30 minutes and $2.50 per hour after for the privilege of riding in circles around Fair Park, VBikes are $1 an hour with a limit of 10 hours per day. The bikes are GPS equipped, and the company's goal is to eventually have enough bikes in the city so you're never more than a half-mile from one, meaning you won't necessarily ride somewhere and get stranded because someone used your bike while you stopped off to shop or drink. Imagine that: a bike sharing system in Dallas that turns bikes into a usable mode of transportation. Wonder if the guys behind the company would be interested in managing other services in Dallas, like City Hall.

Winco Foods
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Imagine a grocery store that offers name brands at prices cheaper than Walmart while also being fair to its employees. This is not a dream, shoppers; this is an actual place you can visit 24 hours a day. It is Winco, where you can fill a cart to the brim with produce, bulk foods, fresh baked goods, meat, beer and anything else that's on a typical shopping list, and walk out with a receipt for less than $200 without using any kind of rewards card. (It doesn't have them.) The employee-owned, Idaho-based grocery chain has opened nine locations in North Texas since 2015. The most convenient one to Dallas is just across LBJ Freeway in Garland. The chain cuts costs by asking you to bag your own groceries (bags provided), and it doesn't accept credit cards, only debit. But unlike Aldi, there are lots of options, the quality of the merchandise is indistinguishable from more expensive stores, and Winco even carries some organic brands.

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