BEST GIFT SHOP
Hannah Ridings

The flower-covered storefront of the Deep Ellum gift shop brings a nice touch of nature to the gritty neighborhood. The store carries the kind of items people won't regift no matter how last minute that Christmas party is but ultimately wins us over with its ability to help make our thumbs green faster than the Hulk's. The shop's DIY plant kits are meant for the aspiring gardener and are an easy and satisfying hobby to get into. The entire store is an homage to wellness and Zen with inspirational books and a boutique candle selection. While in reality we take our sweatpant-wearing worst to Walmart, this is where our Instagram best deserves to shop.

RISO BAR has been cooking up an abundance of goods since their interactive exhibition at the SMU Pollack Gallery. Although they have been unable to open the riso workshop to the public at this time, one of the impromptu ways the collective has put their talents to excellent use has been through their online shop: Artists For Public Relief. Featuring local artists (with an emphasis on student work), each print is produced on Riso Bar's machines, and all proceeds go directly to BYP100, The Black Trans Advocacy Coalition and Mothers Against Police Brutality. (Riso refers to a type of stencil printing on a special machine.)

Shopping at thrift stores can be time consuming. Hours may pass before you find something good, and even then it's at the cost of a rip here or a questionable stain there. Myriad: Curated & Creative is an antidote to the trials of that near perfect thrift find. In addition to her curated collection on Etsy, creator Audrey Clark also offers "custom curation," a personal-shopping service in which the shopper can request a specific piece which Clark will then find and revamp to the buyer's taste. Every piece is locally sourced, wallet-friendly and full of character, creating a welcome reprieve from both the "ills of fast-fashion" and extortionate vintage store garb.

A brief scroll through vegan chef Brandon Waller's Instagram is, to say the least, mouthwatering. The mac and cheese, falafel burgers and chicken and waffles look deliciously sinful, though because they are vegan, could also potentially be considered healthy. Waller is set to open a Bam's Vegan restaurant later this year, but during the wait, access to the coveted Southern-fusion recipes offered at The Farmer's Market is essential. In addition to e-books, Bam's Vegan offers food for delivery such as nachos and Creole gumbo and an array of sleek trademarked merchandise at its online shop.

BEST NEIGHBOR
Ranger Ewing

Norman Roscoe is a screen-printing boutique belonging to Ranger Ewing and musician Eric Pulido (E.B. The Younger, Midlake). A staple of the Denton square, the store carries the brand's impressive selection of retro-inspired T-shirts, stickers and other dècor, but it's the company's solidarity that makes it even easier to support. When the pandemic began shattering Norman Roscoe's neighboring businesses in late March, the brand started its Give Back series, donating $10 of sales per T-shirt to the business of the buyers' choice. Through the initiative, the company has raised more than $120,000 for Denton businesses. Through the writing on the graphic tees, you can also proclaim your love of individual causes ("Black Lives Rule") or your disdain for local traffic ("I hate I-35"), whatever mood strikes.

Dallas designers have not fallen short in the challenge of coming up with intricate and stylish designs, but the face mask cake goes to Fort Worth band Toadies, whose mask is both a humorous and serious PSA while maintaining that elite, in-the-know feel for rock music fans. The band's merch includes a black mask that reads "Do you wanna die?" Which is, of course, both a comment about COVID-19 and a lyric to "Possum Kingdom," the band's hit song from their 1994 album Rubberneck. The song's lyrics are as dark as modern times: "Do you want to die, do you want to be my angel?" Maybe we should try reciting them next time we encounter a Karen throwing a fit because she's been asked to wear a face mask in a public space.

No matter how hard tracksuits and sweatpants try, it's nearly impossible for any other fabric to match denim's unparalleled reign. Deep Ellum Denim was founded by friends Jeff Kauffman and Bennie Reed, a pair of self-described denim "nerds," historians and expert curators. The shop specializes in raw selvedge denim (a fashion word that means that the jeans are woven on an authentically old-fashioned loom). The store carries jeans for men and women and brands range from their own Texas-made hand-crafted versions to Japanese and other international brands. Canadian tuxedo enthusiasts need look no further.

BEST ANTIQUE STORE
Kathy Tran

Since 1992, Lots of Furniture has stood strong on Riverfront Boulevard, providing design aficionados with antique finds, not the usual old garage sale crap you find at most vintage shops these days. The warehouse-style store has no tea room or well-decorated booths, making the shopping experience refreshingly transactional and cost-effective. Each piece is filled with history and built with enduring quality, including an abundance of delicately carved wood furniture. If you're looking to make your home a piecemeal catalog collection of utilitarian comfort — with a side of Swedish meatballs — go to Ikea, but if you're looking to collect pieces that your heirs will fight over, this is the place.

Tiffany Rae Grimes is not so much a colorist, but an artist who uses human heads as a canvas. The Dallas stylist has a gift for the avant-garde, matching the most fantastical of clients' requests with colors found only on an acid-enhanced rainbow. Grimes can whip up vanilla-mocha looks faster than your basic lower-back-tattooed ass can order Starbucks, but she's at her best with her signature mermaid looks. Not only is Grimes a color wizard, but her salon's focus is on fragrance- and allergy-free, holistic, eco-friendly and cruelty-free products.

Fitness is even better when it's equitable, and that's the case for donation-based yoga at Black Swan. There's a community that's loyal, which makes sense considering its welcoming environment. Suggested donations are just $10-20 per class. They also have online yoga from its teachers for those who aren't taking their mats out of the house during the pandemic.

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