Best Plants for People Who Kill Plants 2017 | Sol and Succulent | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

If you've long maintained a black-thumb status, you probably just haven't met the right plant. Succulents are what plant killers come to for redemption: If you can handle putting them in good light and watering them when the soil dries out, you can keep them alive despite your shady houseplant past. And if you think you're ready to commit, Sol and Succulent can get you started. Designer Katy Murray goes next-level with her arrangements, infusing your interior space with growing, breathing greenery that grabs plenty of attention — without taking too much of yours. Find succulents (and the occasional cactus) that mix texture, color and type in handmade concrete pottery, terra cotta earthenware, wooden containers, glass terrariums and other delightful arrangements at local markets and festivals. Murray also accepts custom orders at her website.

Even as Spark of Change die-hards since day one, we're still amazed by the energy that local stylist Lisa Slusher's jewelry designs give us. Solo crystals dangle from elegant chains or nestle among charms. But somehow, they're transfixing. People stop you on the street to ask about them, and when you wear them, you can't keep your eyes off them. Slusher intended them as a means for wearers to set intentions and to remind themselves throughout the day to find joy, aspire to serenity, banish negativity and elevate energy levels. We find that we can't help but feel a little spring in our step when we put on Spark of Change pieces, which now include elegant earrings, attention-grabbing rings and mood-lifting bracelets. Shop the good vibes locally at Gypsy Wagon or online with local pickup available.

By "pet store," we don't mean a best place to buy pets. For God's sake, don't buy pets. Operation Kindness, Dallas' animal shelter, and tons of adoption events every weekend around the city and at pet supply stores are where people get their furry companions. Once you get the little critter home, though, it's going to need plenty of pampering. Things to scratch. Toys to chew. Boxes to poop in. And good food, not that ash-filled stuff from your local grocer. Pet Supplies Plus has every accessory Rover or Miss Kitty could desire (or, in the latter case, ignore) and a huge variety of all-natural, age-appropriate foods. Taste of the Wild, Blue Buffalo, Merrick and a ton of other high-quality brands line the shelves, guaranteeing that your best friend is eating healthy while you're microwaving yourself a frozen burrito. (Healthy pet foods aren't cheap, but true love demands sacrifices.) Not sure what you need? Pet Supplies has the friendliest staff of any retail establishment of any kind in the city.

Readers' Pick: Hollywood Feed

When our arthritic pooch came home from a traditional grooming shop unable to walk from being crammed in a crate after her beauty session, we knew we had to find someone who made house calls. Local vets recommended Haute Dog Haircuts, which dispatches an experienced groomer to your home for a curbside glamour session that minimizes anxiety for nervous pups and their owners. Brandee and Shannah are pros. They'll work with your schedule, treat your baby like royalty in their souped-up groom-mobile and even post fabulously styled snapshots of your best friend on Facebook when they're done. These women form long-term relationships with you and your pet, which is important when old age makes baths at home a challenge and hinders your buddy's ability to stand for long periods of time. They make it work with a gentle touch, accommodations where they are needed and probably a fair amount of treats. Scheduling (limited to pets under 35 pounds) can be done online or by phone.


Established in 1990, Condom Sense claims it is the largest and oldest novelty and sex toys store chain in Texas. Its a selection of more than 35,000 products to help liven up your sex life makes it hard to argue. The store has a large collection of massage oils and party supplies to make your bacheloror bachelorette party unforgettable, as well as the latest sex and fetish toys, from anal toys such as beads and balls, plugs and probes to vibrating clamps, whips, ticklers and paddles. The staff is friendly, professional and knowledgeable.

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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

Hannah Ridings

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.

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