McBride Music and Pawn
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For 47 years, McBride Music and Pawn has been operating in downtown Denton as a family-owned business. A fixture on the square since the late 1960s, it is one of the oldest and best recognized independently owned pawn shops in North Texas. The inventory consists of typical items found at a pawn shop — electronics, gold and diamond jewelry, and guns and knives — but it's known for its selection of quality guitars, from sunburst Fenders to Gibsons and Martins. A firearms dealer for as long as it's been swapping guitars, the pawn shop also boasts more firearm loans under its belt than any competitors.

Good hotels might not be hard to come by, but great ones that exceed all your expectations are. Four Seasons is that hotel. It's kid-friendly, it's adult-friendly, it's wedding-friendly and it's the kind of place you seek out if you just want a nice spa day alone. Four Seasons has dive-in movie nights during the summer, a 7,166-yard golf course, 431 rooms with walk-out balconies and a spa experience that will make you want to forget about all your worries in the world. Seriously, even if you already live in Dallas, Four Seasons offers up to 10 different massages, 12 different facials, several other body treatments, and more. Four Seasons is there for all your relaxation and getaway needs.

Readers' Pick: The Joule

Best Vinyl Record Store

DFW has exploded with brightly lit, carefully curated record shops in the last three years. Shake Rag isn't that. It's been open for 10 years on Live Oak Street in Old East Dallas, and shopping there is more like attending a music nerd's estate sale than it is visiting a traditional record shop. There are tons of records to choose from at reasonable prices, yes, but there's also just about any kind of music equipment or memorabilia you can imagine, from amps to guitars, clothes, record players, old concert posters and more. The place is packed to the gills. The owner posted to Facebook that he's tired of people asking how long he's been there and commenting on his insane amount of inventory. When last we visited, he said he's planning to close the shop down in the next year or so. So visit while you can, and keep your eyes peeled for a liquidation sale.

Readers' Pick: Good Records

Few things draw smiles out of people like a photo booth. It's closed off, so you're not worried about looking like a doofus in front of a whole group of people. The Photo Bus has taken this concept, usually seen in malls and boardwalk carnivals, and put wheels on it. The Photo Bus, a creation of the wedding photography company Coburn Photographer, is exactly what it sounds like: a photo booth built into a small Volkswagen van that customers can hire for parties and outdoor gatherings. You climb into the back of the van with your friends and kooky props and pose while professional photographers snap your photos. They can also print them out right in the van or even upload them to Facebook for you if you're one of the few people left who still haven't bought scanners. The Photo Bus recently added a new "GIF Booth" feature to the van that allows photographers to take a series of animated shots and fit them into a custom-designed frame or background that you can upload to your social media and play on an endless loop for your followers' endless amusement.

Readers' Pick: Premiere Booth

So you finally did it: ditched your car and become a bike commuter. We're proud of you (but unless your workplace provides showers, we probably wouldn't want to get a whiff of you). Then the totally expected happens: a derailleur gets out of adjustment, a wheel out of true or, Dallas streets being what they are, you break a spoke or a rim. You can hop a DART bus if it has a carrier and bring your machine to a local repair shop, but you might as well buy a bus pass, cause you're going to be waiting awhile to get your ride back. Or you can go online and book a visit from VeloFix, a new mobile bike service that brings the repairman to your home or workplace, getting you back in the saddle often in the time it takes you to have lunch. VeloFix Dallas is part of a new national franchise operation. It offers a complete range of services, from replacing chains and tires, to basic tuneups and complete overhauls.

Nothing about moving is pleasant. Sure, if you've got bucks, you can hire packers to load your stuff, deliver and unload it, and haul away the empty boxes. If you're like most people, the process begins with that sad, humiliating hunt for cheap boxes — begging friends on Facebook, furtive dumpster diving for retail stores' discards. We're here to tell you there's a better way. It's called Bungobox. For less than the price of buying new cardboard boxes and without the hassle of wrestling with packing tape, it'll rent you a wide selection of sturdy, easy closing, plastic moving crates. And it'll deliver the boxes to your old home and pick them up at the new one. (Within a limited area, of course. We're talking local moves here, not Seattle.) Bungobox has various packages; prices vary depending on how much stuff you need to haul. The base rate for a one-bedroom apartment move is $56 for a week. That gets you 23 regular-size crates, two extra large, a wheeled cart to move them and 25 labels. Prices go up for larger packages, but discounts are available for multiweek rentals, and wardrobes and other packing supplies are available. It doesn't make moving a pleasure, but it certainly beats rummaging through the trash.

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
Courtesy Artisan Vapor

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.

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