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The Smart Shopper
Before You Buy, Test Drive
Loan Agreement
Surf & Shop
Taking Care of Bidness
Shopping Dallas 2005
The Ultimate Guide for The Smart Dallas Shopper Last year, in our annual celebration of all that is shop-a-licious in Dallas, we - the editors of D Home - travelled from the bowels of Oak Cliff to the hinterlands of McKinney to uncover shopping destinations that delighted, surprised, and, ultimately, brought us (and our checkbooks) to our weary knees. Twelve months later, with our bank accounts back in the black and our feet fully recovered, we steadfastly trod upon the retail battlefield yet again. But this year our plan of attack was different: Let’s be smart shoppers. You know the type: the ones who can sniff out a bargain like a fine Bordeaux, who can haggle with a merchant until he’s begging for mercy, and who know that the best deals aren’t always in the stores (hello, eBay). We trained with the best, put our knowledge to the test, and discovered that smart shopping isn’t just smart: It’s also a fine art as well as a pure joy. Herewith, we present D Home’s ultimate guide for the smart shopper. Break out the credit cards with a clean conscious: your financial planner will thank us later.

The Smart Shopper
The best and the brightest of what Dallas has to offer
BY TODD JOHNSON AND MEGHAN RICHARDSON

Smart Ideas

 
1.  Two blocks west of Oak Cliff’s Bishop Arts District, Patina Bleu is hard to find but worth the search. Owner Gregory Barker rescues weathered furnishings and gives them a new lease on life. Light fixtures and chandeliers are his specialty, as shown by this rewired Italian-style green lantern ($525). 835 W. Seventh. St. 214-941-1131.  >>

 
<< 2.  Instead of buying your pots and pans at retail prices, why not purchase quality cookware with a little character. The Whimsey Shoppe has a wonderful selection of antique copper pots, ceramic terrines, silver, and more. Shown here: A 19th-century French Kuggelhopf mold, $175, a French terrine, $90, and a copper sugar pan from Normandy, $95. 2923 N. Henderson. 214-824-6300; Oak Lawn Plaza, 1444 Oak Lawn Ave., Ste. 215. 214-745-1800.

Smart Buys

 
1. Chill smart with Nambe’s new Chill crystal martini glass, $50, and metal martini shaker, $125. The unique design is sure to ignite conversation, even if the martini doesn’t. Available at Neiman Marcus downtown, 1618 Main St. 214-741-6911. www.neimanmarcus.com>>

 
<< 2. Chic, affordable, and Armani - we’ll take it. Smink carries some of Armani Casa’s most beautifully hand-blown and mouth-blown glass vases, some with hand-ground detailing. Prices range from $125-$185, and most are available in transparent or black glass. Shown here: Acaia vase, Daffy vase, and Deta vase. Inwood Village, 5370 W. Lovers Ln. 214-350-0542. www.sminkinc.com

 
3.  Forget sticky notes and to-do lists. Write in style with Madison’s faux crocodile scratch pads, $56-85. They come in two sizes and all the colors of the rainbow. Don’t forget to personalize yours for an extra $15. 45A Highland Park Village. 214-528-8118. >>

 
<< 4.  Spring has arrived, and with it Baccarat’s new transparent, spiral-cut Orgue Vase, $135, perfect for the colorful wildflowers popping up everywhere. Keep it simple with a single bud, or fill it with lovelies gathered during a picnic. Baccarat, Galleria Dallas, 13350 N.
 
Dallas Pkwy. 972-386-4100.
www.baccarat.com.

5.  Need a gift in a hurry? We suggest Tiffany & Co.’s Century sterling silver barware, introduced in 1936. The Art Deco design is clean and simple with a contemporary flare. Prices range from $125-$1,600, and who doesn’t want a blue-boxed present. 13350 Dallas Pkwy., Ste. 1020. 972-458-2800; 330 NorthPark Center, 214-378-9800.  www.tiffany.com. >>


Smart Taste

 
1.  North Dallas foodies flock to Cookworks for their divine dinnerware and gourmet goodies. But those in the know make a beeline for the back of the store where resides Teuscher’s signature champagne truffles: a delicate blend of fresh cream, butter, and chocolate with a champagne cream center and a dusting of sugar. Delicious, yes, but we’re partial to the Floretines: milk and dark chocolate pralines studded with candied nuts, bits of fruit, and chewy toffee. 5213 Alpha Rd. 972-960-2665. >>

 
<< 2.  One trip to Oil & Vinegar and you’ll discover that not all oils are created equal. Sample any of O&V’s numerous olive oils while you peruse their various salts, spices, and sauces. Galleria Dallas, 13350 Dallas Parkway, Suite 2705. 972-788-2722.

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The Smart Shopper
Before You Buy, Test Drive
Loan Agreement
Surf & Shop
Taking Care of Bidness

Before You Buy, Test Drive
Avoid buyer’s remorse and take that must-have purchase out for a spin first. It’s easier than you think.
BY KAREN EUBANK

So you just aren’t a visual person? Or, come to think of it, a spatial one? Love that antique sideboard but can’t quite tell if it’s going to look right, much less fit, in your dining room? Well, you can breathe a little easier and never experience buyer’s remorse again. Dallas is full of wonderful stores that will let you take chairs, rugs, and artwork out for a spin before making your purchase.

Most antiques companies have approval policies in place that vary from 24 hours to two weeks. Leave a check or a credit card number for security and away you go, lamp in hand, to see how it looks with your newly inherited Empire sofa. Large pieces can be delivered for a nominal fee. If the piece is especially large and you find it won’t work, there could be a charge for restocking. This usually amounts to a small percentage of the item’s cost.

Childress Fabrics and Custom Upholstery will do whatever they can to accommodate a customer, according to Ken Childress. "We send out bare chair frames everyday. Our pieces are hard to maneuver once upholstered but with the frame, you can still tell if it will fit the space. It’s a good way to do a trial check without having to order the piece."

"Our typical approval is 24 hours, but you can call me and I’ll work with you," says Mike Thompson of Sticks and Stones Garden Market. Customers can take out gorgeous garden swans, iron benches, and birdcages to see if they add the perfect touch to a backyard. Thompson will even deliver for free - if the object fits in his car.

Both Gerald Peters Gallery and Banks Fine Art will allow artwork out on approval. Uncommon Market’s Don Mayborn reminds us honesty is the best policy. "One time a painting came back that was on approval. Some time later a photograph of the woman we loaned it to was in the society section, with the painting behind her. We would have loaned it to her anyway, it’s just nice to know if they want it for something specific. We will always work with you."

Feizy Import & Export will draw up a consignment if you don’t have an account and let you take one of their gorgeous rugs for up to two weeks. Showroom lighting can be very different from that in your home. You have to see a rug both in morning and afternoon light to really determine how it will look. 

Companies that don’t have an approval procedure in place usually have generous return policies. Wondering what a chandelier will look like in your daughter’s bedroom?

You’ll have to purchase it, but as long as you don’t actually install it, Lamps Plus will give you 21 days to mull it over. The Bombay Company has a 30-day return policy, Target’s is three months, and Pottery Barn will let you return items for up to a year. Buyer’s remorse be gone!

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The Smart Shopper
Before You Buy, Test Drive
Loan Agreement
Surf & Shop
Taking Care of Bidness

Loan Agreement

When a smart shopper can’t afford to buy, she rents.
BY KAREN EUBANK

Photography stylists and movie-set designers have a closely held secret. Those fabulous bookcases filled with antique tomes? Rented. Ancient stone urns overflowing with flowers for the wedding scene? Rented. Shops that lease great items are no longer the private domains of the stylist. Whether you are having a major soiree, putting the house on the market, or trying to jazz up the home for out-of-town guests, consider the best trick in town.

 
Furniture Accessories
Many antiques stores are willing to rent, especially to established clients. Orion Antiques has provided pieces as backdrops for catalogs as well as weddings. Bruno de la Croix-Vaubois, owner of Country French Antiques, has rented for years. "If someone is having a party and needs a certain piece, we will work with them. Depending on the item we usually charge 5 percent."

A rental company that has white lizard banquettes, Venetian mirrored console tables, and Phillipe Starke chairs? Suite 206 opened its doors in April to give Dallas high-end contemporary seating, tables, bars, lighting, and accessories. General manager Josh Madan refers to the look as "luxury lounge." It’s all on line at www.suite206.com and about time.

Greenery
Plantkeeper Inc.
rents greenery. Have your flora delivered on Friday for a Saturday party and picked up on Monday (before you have a chance to kill it).

Planning a Zen wedding or an Asian-inspired soiree? Sunshine Miniature Trees will lease Bonsais, as well as any other exotic plant your heart desires.

Gunter’s Greenhouse is an orchid lover’s mecca. With more than 20 varieties to choose from, they can scent the air of your next luau with dozens of catteleyas. If you’re looking for color, they have Phalaenopsis in every hue.

Party Elements
Your next Oscar-watching party will be a real hit with an eight-foot tall replica of the man himself from M&M The Special Events Company. They rent to filmmakers and the average Joe. Everything from a vintage chuck wagon to a 3-D fiberglass zebra can be yours for a few days.

** SHOPPING TIP**
Why stop at renting cool things simply for the home? With styles changing every few months, take advantage of Bag Borrow or Steal. This why-didn’tthink-of-that website delivers the latest Dolce & Gabbana handbag for a small "rental" fee. Carry a Kate Spade clutch then trade it for a J.Lo tote. It all starts at $19.95.

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The Smart Shopper
Before You Buy, Test Drive
Loan Agreement
Surf & Shop
Taking Care of Bidness
 
Surf & Shop
Point, click, and spend. Internet shopping is easy and a joy when visiting these smart sites.
BY TODD JOHNSON

One-of-a-Kind Finds

Moss
www.mossonline.com 

SHOP HERE FOR: Conversational pieces with a hefty price tag.

THE LOWDOWN: Former fashion entrepreneur Murray Moss’ Soho shop in NYC is internationally known for its sophisticated selection of porcelain tableware, crystal and 

 
cutlery, and furniture and lighting from some of the greatest designers of the 20th century.

WE FOUND: Limited-edition (only seven pieces) porcelain big pot with hand embroidery by Hella Jongerius for the low, low price of $6,960. >>

DON’T MISS: Moss’ "Bling- Bling" section, featuring fur-trimmed digital cameras, gold-plated lemon juicers, and other sparkling treasures.

Cerealart
www.cerealart.com

SHOP HERE FOR: Campy and surreal delights.

THE LOWDOWN: Blurring the boundaries between high and low culture, this poppy web site features whimsical finds by artists such as Keith Haring, Momoyo Torimitsu, and Ryan 

 
McGinness.

WE FOUND: "The Saddest" ghost lamp by Marcel Dzama for $150. >>

DON’T MISS: Laurie Simmons’ set of pastel dessert plates, featuring collages of cake, candies, and cookies arranged by flavor. Yum.

The Guild
www.guild.com

SHOP HERE FOR: Unusual arts and crafts.

THE LOWDOWN: Launched in 1999, The Guild represents more than 1,000 North American artists, working in media from print to glass to studio furniture. The choices are plentiful but shop wisely: The Guild features true treasures as well as amazingly bad art. Remember: Beauty is in the eye of the credit card holder.

WE FOUND: A lovely and colorful ceramic sake set for $115.

DON’T MISS: The Custom Design Center, where you can commission custom art and furniture for home or office from many of The Guild’s featured artists.


Blasts From The Past

Rejuvenation
www.rejuvenation.com

SHOP HERE FOR: Period- authentic lighting and architectural parts.

THE LOWDOWN: Need a knob for your M Street tudor? This Portland-based company offers more than 500 products for homes built from 1880-1960.

WE FOUND: An antique Art Deco chandelier featuring an elegant pressed neoclassical drapery pattern for $1,450.

DON’T MISS: Rejuvenation’s clearance section, where prices are discounted by 15-50 percent.

Vintage Posters International
www.vintagepostersinternational.com

SHOP HERE FOR: What do you think? The name says it all.

THE LOWDOWN: Proprietor Susan Cutler offers an extensive collection of authentic 

 
European stone lithographic posters from 1890-1950.

WE FOUND: A haunting 1957 lithographic by Jean Cocteau titled "Matarasso." >>

INSIDE TIP: This is not an e-commerce site, so you’ll have to e-mail for prices. However, move fast. Pieces sell at a quick clip.

Urban Archaeology
www.urbanarchaeology.com

SHOP HERE FOR: Salvaged and restored architectural finds.

THE LOWDOWN: This NYC-based company not only restores antique hardware and lighting 

 
but also creates its own lines of lighting, bath accessories, and medicine cabinets.

WE FOUND: A French 1820 merman statue. >>

DON’T MISS: UA’s broad selection of vibrant tile and stone for your next backsplash remodel.


Home Decor

Room & Board
www.roomandboard.com

SHOP HERE FOR: An alternative to Crate & Barrel.

THE LOWDOWN: From mid-century modern to Asian to arts and crafts, this Midwest based 

 
retailer carries stylish furniture to fit any budget for every room of your house.

WE FOUND: A sleek outdoor chaise (part of the Montego collection) made of rust-proof stainless steel and South American hardwood for $999. >>

DON’T MISS: Retrospect, R&B’s line of classic American furniture based on vintage designs.

West Elm
www.westelm.com

SHOP HERE FOR: Modular design at affordable prices.

THE LOWDOWN: This is the place to shop to outfit your new downtown loft: soft 

 
contemporary furnishings without the hefty price tags.

WE FOUND: A tall cased handblown glass lamp in aloe with shade for only $99. >>

DON’T MISS: The prices are low enough but West Elm’s sale section is a great steal.

Wisteria
www.wisteria.com

SHOP HERE FOR: Third world finds with rustic charm.

THE LOWDOWN: This Dallas-based company unearths global goodies from India, South America, Indonesia, and beyond. Their finds are charming and affordable - the perfect match for your pricier antiques.

WE FOUND: A handsome mother-of-pearl wall mirror for $279.

DON’T MISS: Wisteria’s entertaining section, full of exotic tableware and serving pieces.


Great Gifts

MoMA
www.momastore.org

SHOP HERE FOR: Tasteful gifts for the artist in us all.

THE LOWDOWN: New York’s lauded Museum of Modern Art is also a great place to shop, featuring designs by the likes of George Nelson, Wilhelm Wagenfeld, and the everywhere-it-seems Philippe Starck.

WE FOUND: Jon Russell’s slick lucite Ghost Candelabra for $65.

DON’T MISS: MoMA’s dream collection of architecture and art books. Make your coffee table happy.

Garrett Wade
www.garrettwade.com

SHOP HERE FOR: Tasteful tools for that special guy.

THE LOWDOWN: Think of Garrett Wade as an upscale Lowe’s: power tools, hardware, and all types of workshop essentials showcased on an elegant website. But it’s the garden tools that excite us most: snips, shears, and scissors galore. You’ll wonder how you ever pruned without them.

WE FOUND: A set of three hand-forged and shaped traditional Chinese scissors for $13.80.

DON’T MISS: GW’s selection of pocket knives. So handsome and useful, they make the
perfect gift.


Deep Discounts

Overstock.com
www.overstock.com

SHOP HERE FOR: Big bargains on designer goods.

THE LOWDOWN: It’s like shopping Last Call without getting elbowed by a pushy Prada-clad housewife. Best of all, no matter what you buy, it’s always $2.95 or less to ship. The inventory is immense which means you’ll have to dig through the dregs of decor to find a prize or two. But the payoff is worth it.

WE FOUND: A set of Bulgari champagne flutes - originally $1,200 - for $400. Don’t get too excited. They’re already gone.

INSIDE TIP: The good stuff goes quick so don’t wait. Overstock’s return policy is generous - return shipping is free, but they do charge a $4.95 restocking fee - so impulse buying is not only okay but encouraged.


 

The Best of the Rest
Don’t put that mouse down. You’re not done shopping.

Bluefly.com
End-of-the-season discounted inventory of bedding, pillows, and cashmere throws.

Chiasso.com
Inexpensive modern furnishings with a serious sense of whimsy.

Georgeglazer.com
Antique globes for your favorite study.

Tabletools.com
The latest gadgets and gizmos for the well-stocked kitchen.

Sparkability.net
Bad name. Great, way-mod nursery furnishings.

Pearlriver.com
Cool Asian furnishings for your Feng Shui fix.

Holdeverything.com
Attractive and functional organizational tools to keep yourself contained.

Worldpantry.com
Everything from chutneys to chipotles to keep your inner Foodie satisfied.

Whotelsthestore.com
If you like the uber-sleek hotel chain, you’ll love its collection of bedding, accessories, and tabletop.

Modernseed.com
If your tiny tyke prefers Le Corbusier over Looney Tunes, this is the site for her.

Peacockalley.com
Don’t know your weft from your woof? Check out the bedding purveyor’s online glossary and linen care section.

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The Smart Shopper
Before You Buy, Test Drive
Loan Agreement
Surf & Shop
Taking Care of Bidness
Taking Care of Bidness
Online auctions are littered with great deals and can be great fun. They can also be addictive and dangerous. Buyer beware.
BY MEREDITH DALEY

Online auctions are a pleasingly subversive experience. You can surf to your heart’s content and find anything from a bad oil painting of a Ferrari at sunset (at last look, still available at www.Auctionfire.com) to a set of six G.I. Joe action figures in mint condition, as well as items you might actually want or need. The key is to know what you are buying and who you are buying from. And, because online auctions are great fun, one must studiously avoid getting hooked.

The Players
Part of the mystique of online auctions is the anonymity. In cyberspace, you are simply a user name. One name will do, but if you become an active buyer, you should consider using two or three. Experienced bidders track active buyers because they are presumed to be knnowledgeable, and their bids serve as a means of gauging value.

Sellers require scrutiny. Check their ratings and look at recent feedback. If you are bidding on something that is relatively pricey, you and Mr. Seller need to talk. He should be willing to answer all of your questions, via e-mail or by telephone. Ask if there is a return policy. If the item is in less than brand-new condition, you will want to have a detailed description of any flaws or repairs. Remember, one man’s "little tear, barely noticeable" is another man’s "ripped to shreds." Also, ask about shipping and handling, as well as insurance. If you do end up a winner, remind the seller that he needs to retain the shipping and insurance receipts in the event  you need to file a claim. 

Getting What You Want
The most successful online auction players are detectives. They know how to search for what they want. Misspellings are the mother lode. Lalique could be Laleek. OK, that’s extreme, but you get the point. Try every variation you can think of and you will be astounded and pleased at what turns up. Get to know the sellers. If you lose out on a piece, contact the seller and ask if he or she has any other similar pieces. The savvy online buyer can develop a new world of sources who will be willing to deal direct.

How Much to Bid
If you’re looking at an investment item, it’s homework time. A number of websites compile lists of recent auction sales. Price guides abound on the Net:


You may have to wallow through a lot of entries, but it’s worth it, especially if you intend to bid aggressively on a valuable piece.

Proxy Bidding
Proxy bidding is where you give the auction house authority to bid up to an established limit on an item. The house enters your opening bid, then bids on your behalf throughout the auction. If the bidding stops at your high bid of $40, you’ll win the item at that amount (even though your ceiling might have been $48). In an auction with little competition, it’s an effective method of bidding and prevents you from making an emotional buy.

The Deal on Sniping
Sniping has become more the rule than the exception, especially in a competitive bidding situation. This is where you literally swoop in at the very last minute with a topping bid. Sellers and competing bidders don’t like sniping, but there is no rule against it. (A couple of the many software options: www.ezsniper.com, www.powersnipe.com). If you are bidding on your own, it is imperative that you know when your auction ends. A majority of online auctions for antiques, art, and collectibles end on Sunday between 8 p.m. and midnight, Pacific Standard Time. Book, movie, and CD auctions often end on Saturday.

Payment Options
Obviously, never pay cash. If you are buying a high-ticket item, avoid paying with a cashier’s check, certified check, or personal check. Using a credit card will provide you with some protection if the item arrives damaged or flawed in some way that the seller did not disclose. For anything over $250, it may be wise to use www.Escrow.com and pay an escrow fund, which will not be released to the seller until after you approve the purchase. Funds like these usually charge about 5 percent of the total amount purchased.

Always insist on independent authorization from a third party if you are purchasing something that is really expensive. Watch shipping and handling charges.

Bidder Beware
Fakes abound. One can only hope that the story about the individual who paid $1.8 million for a collection of Picasso drawings and paintings - complete with phony documentation - is an urban legend. Antiques are just as tricky. The Wall Street Journal has estimated that up to half of the antiques offered in online auctions are not what they are claimed to be. A final caution: Online bidding is fun but seductive. So seductive, in fact, that there is now a diagnosis for people with a compulsive disorder to Internet addictions. If you can resist the bad painting of a Ferrari at sunset and the pristine set of six G.I. Joes, you’ll probably be OK.


 

Low-end Prices, High-end Taste
If clearance couture is what you seek, look no further.
BY DAWN McMULLAN

Crate & Barrel Outlet Stores
1317 Inwood Rd. Dallas. 214-634-2277; 820 W. Stacy Rd. Allen. 972-678-2888.

Crate & Barrel is all about current style, so seasonal turnover to its outlet stores is high. How about a mighty mini-bar juicer from $29.95 marked down to $19.95, a Charleston outdoor dining set down to $499 from $895, or a St. Tropez picnic blanket from $29.95 down to $14.95?

Peacock Alley
2050 Postal Way. Dallas. 214-520-6736.

Just west of downtown off Hampton Road, you’ll find luxury linens at Target prices. Generally 30 to 80 percent off, deals that are yours to find include 100-percent Egyptian cotton towels, regularly $35 down to $17; a Newport pale blue and floral duvet set from $450 to $112; and a seersucker duvet and coverlets from $350 to $25. Get additional discounts at Peacock Alley’s annual sales in January and July.

Weir’s Clearance Center & More
4510 Buena Vista. Dallas. 214-528-0321; 5801 Preston Rd. (upstairs). Plano. 972-403-7878.

Examples of pieces - either damaged, close-out deals purchased just for the store, or customer returns - include a blue denim sofa for $500, a Martha Stewart-style Hampton bunk bed for $499, and a Henredon sofa that retailed for $2,329 on sale for $999.

Neiman Marcus Last Call
Grapevine Mills Mall. 214-513-1527.

True Last Call devotees know that new merchandise comes in every Tuesday and Thursday, which is when treasure hunting is at its best. A Neiman Marcus card gives you 5 percent off at Last Call and Horchow (owned by Neiman Marcus). Discounts run from 30 to 75 percent off, including Prada shoes for $169, Giorgio Armani jacket for $223, a chocolate brown men’s crocodile wallet for $185, and Kate Spade diaper bags for $150.