photography: Bittano by Joshua Martin; Toy Maven by James Bland; Nest by Elizabeth Lavin Bittano, The Toy Maven's Candace Williams and Nest

Best of Big D 2011: Shopping

The top spots for finding whatever you want in Dallas.

Best Shop for Affordable Women’s Clothing
Bittano

One
of the reasons high-end clothes are revered is because of the exquisite
detailing. To find that quality in affordable duds isn’t easy, but
somehow Bittano manages to do it. From shoes to coats and everything in
between, the store has a large selection of on-trend, designer-detailed
pieces that can’t be found elsewhere. Even better, you will rarely see
anything in the store priced more than $100.

Readers’ Pick: Just Add Jeans

Best Toy Store
The Toy Maven

Owner
Candace Williams is committed to education, and it shows. Most of the
shop’s playthings manage to sneak in some learning. For adults shopping
solo, the friendly staff will point out new items and suggest a good
place to start. And then they’ll leave you to wander and wonder at the
dazzling array of gadgets, games, and accessories to choose from.

Readers’ Pick: Froggie’s 5 & 10

Best Furniture Store
Scott + Cooner

Yes,
last year we gently chided Scott + Cooner for being a bit pricey, and
that’s still true. But you have to pay for beautifully designed modern
furniture like this. If you’re looking for a comfortable, chic sofa or a
conversation-starting piece for anywhere in your home, this is the
place.

Readers’ Pick: Weir’s Furniture Village

Best Home Accessories Store
Nest

Nest
just keeps getting better; the new store on McKinney has the perfect
edgy background for a home store that has gone from stodgy to high
style. Let buyer Donald Fowler give you a tour of some of his favorite
finds from around the world, and you will leave with something perfect.

Readers’ Pick: The Gypsy Wagon


Best European Antiques
East & Orient Company

The
stone courtyard of Betty Gertz’s ivy-covered store on Slocum Street
only hints at the wonders you will see inside. Gertz started her
antiques collecting when she and her husband lived in Hong Kong (hence
the name), but the collection is primarily European, set up like a Paris
salon from the Belle Epoch. 1123 Slocum St. 214-741-1191.

Readers’ Pick: Country French Interiors


Best Children’s Clothing Boutique
Baby Bliss/MiniMe

Baby
Bliss’ selection, hand-picked by proprietors and parents Carrie and
Clark Barnard, is on-trend without being cheesy. We love their devotion
to offering organic and green products, as well as the casual, comfy,
mix-and-match options from brands like Tea and Zutano. And with the
recent addition of MiniMe for infinitely cooler older siblings, this
Park Cities boutique has become a one-stop shop for stylish families.

Readers’ Pick: Animal Crackers

Best Sneaker Shop
Luke’s Locker

When
our running shoes hit mile 350, we turn to Luke’s. The staff is
courteous, helpful, and, above all, not pushy. We once went in
complaining of calf problems and were seconds away from buying a new
pair of shoes. Instead of pushing us, the staffer suggested
modifications and explained that the problem wasn’t our shoes. He was
fine with not making a sale. He really just wanted to help. That’s why
all our new pairs come from Luke’s.

Readers’ Pick: Luke’s Locker

Best Children’s Furniture
Baby Bliss

We
love children’s furniture that avoids twee and goes straight for
hard-core style. Baby Bliss carries geometric bassinets, craft tables
and minichairs in acid-bright colors, and a monkey rocker that’s part
imaginary friend and part pop art inspiration. Modern moms will raise a
glass to the return of chic.

Readers’ Pick: Wee Dreamscapes

Best Jewelry Designer
Amber Venz

We
love a designer who knows how to hammer out a collection that leaves
preciousness in the dust. Amber Venz’s gunmetal bracelet and squared-off
chain gang wristlet accomplish that in spades. But we knew we’d found
our soul mate piece when we saw her Mary Harness, a full-torso silver
chain yoke with a cascade of Catholic charms down the back. Chalk one up
for Texas chutzpah. ambervenz.com.

Readers’ Pick: Amanda Sterett

Best Bookstore
Half Price Books

Walk
into Half Price Books. Walk out with six new (to you) books and two
records (you don’t even have a record player). If it were any other
place, you’d feel bamboozled. But Half Price is a locally grown
business, and the flagship store is stuffed with just about every piece
of reading material imaginable. The prices are nigh unbeatable.

Readers’ Pick:
Half Price Books

Vintage Martini's Nicole Jones
Vintage Martini's Nicole Jones photography by James Bland
Best Vintage Clothing Store
Vintage Martini

If
you’re into digging through junk to get to buried treasure, we suggest
Gratitude. If you want to skip the preamble and find real vintage
designer gold (maybe Anna Sui boots or an Alexander McQueen gown), head
to this Carrollton boutique. If you’ve got your eye on a 1950s frock
that just won’t fit, fear not. An in-store seamstress will get you
zipped up in no time.

Readers’ Pick: Dolly Python

Best Comic Book Store
Zeus Comics and Collectibles

If
you gave up on comics on your way to college and adulthood, don’t
worry. Zeus owner Richard Neal did, too. But he was lured back in 1996
by Grant Morrison’s JLA and Chuck Dixon’s Birds of Prey. So Neal is the
right guy to welcome you back. His store is stocked to cater to the
neophyte and the deeply geeky in equal measure, thorough but not
overwhelming. Bonus: Zeus also has its own web series, The Variants.

Readers’ Pick: Lone Star Comics

Best Floral Shop
Bows & Arrows

Brooklyn
transplants Alicia and Adam Rico took over a former Lower Greenville
tattoo parlor space two years ago and transformed it into a hipster
hangout full of art, vintage finds, and flowers. Oh, yes, those
beautiful flowers. The Ricos’ arrangements are lush and romantic but
never typical. Featuring woodsy touches, Bows & Arrows creations add
a youthful zing to everything. Perhaps that’s why the Bush family made
it their official florist.

Readers’ Pick: Dr. Delphinium Designs & Events

(clockwise from top left) Amber Venz, Bows and Arrows, Gregory's and Collage
(clockwise from top left) Amber Venz, Bows and Arrows, Gregory's and Collage photography clockwise from top left: Amber Venz by Jonathan Zizzo; Bows and Arrows by Stephen Karlisch; Gregory's by Jonathan Zizzo; Collage courtesy of Collage

Best Shoe Store

Gregory’s

The
fact that you’ve never heard of designers like Lesilla and Dogana is
precisely why you must head over to Gregory’s. Nowhere else in this city
will you find the likes of its selection. Stilettos, sandals, boots,
flats, and even sneakers, all in statement-making styles, keep celebs
like Jessica Simpson coming back for more.

Readers’ Pick: Lou Lou

Best Bicycle Shop
Oak Cliff Bicycle Company

Other
bike shops in town will sell you a bike, and it will, more than likely,
be perfectly fine. But Oak Cliff Bicycle Company will sell you on
cycling as a lifestyle. That doesn’t mean the pros here will try to sell
you a bike and a bunch of accessories. They want to see you (and
everyone else) on two wheels, and they will work with you to make that
happen, even if that means your bringing them an old bike to fix up
rather than buying a new one. Also, they carry brands (like Swobo) no
one else in town does.

Readers’ Pick: Richardson Bike Mart


Best Record Store
Good Records

You
probably buy a fair amount of music on iTunes. Don’t worry. We do, too.
But Good Records is the best argument against that. It is a celebration
of music, providing a visceral connection that just isn’t possible via
ones and zeros. In Good’s candy-colored clubhouse, time stops, your
shopping list grows, and music is magic again.

Readers’ Pick: Good Records

Best Vintage/Antique Furniture Shop
Collage

Any
fan of iconic mid-20th century design hungry for five-star fare could
sate themselves wholly at Collage’s masterfully curated outpost. Run by
Abby and Wlodek Malowanczyk, designware purveyors since 1986 (the store
moved from Laguna Beach to
Dallas in 1990), the shop is a treasure
trove of museum-quality midcentury classics. From Finn Juhl’s sinuous
chairs and George Nakishima’s woody masterpieces to Ettore Sottsass’
quirky objects and rare finds by Paul Laszlo, Collage’s roster has prime
pickings for the scrutinizing connoisseur.

Readers’ Pick: 20c Design

We are 1976, Owners Derek, Jully, and Vynsie Law
We are 1976, Owners Derek, Jully, and Vynsie Law photography by Trevor Paulhus

Best Gift Shop

We Are 1976

Put
away the picture frames and obnoxiously scented candles, and give a
gift worth remembering. This Henderson Avenue indie boutique bills
itself as a design toy store for grown-ups. You’ll be hard-pressed not
to find something that will make your gift recipient smile: Japanese
ceramic sashimi plates, a squid-inspired tentacle ring, limited-edition
screen-print posters, and swarms of Asian-inspired toys and collectibles
that bubble with whimsy and personality.

Readers’ Pick: Nasher Sculpture Center Store

Best Shop for Designer-Label Women’s Fashions
Forty Five Ten

When
you want flashy labels that prove you’re a country club member, visit
any department store. When you’re a die-hard fashion lover, looking for
tougher-to-find lines and a highly edited mix, head to this McKinney
Avenue jewel, which even stocks some exclusive lines. Even heavy-hitting
designers love the shop. Last year’s 10th anniversary party included
guests Thakoon, Narciso Rodriguez, and Ippolita.

Readers’ Pick: Nordstrom

Best Men’s Clothing Store
Barneys New York

Visiting
Barneys is like going to church. A hush-hush reverence permeates this
NorthPark bastion of high fashion. It’s a welcome respite from the
clogged clearance racks and harried experiences found at lesser stores.
Truth is, for first timers, Barneys’ tasteful exterior can come off as
distant and aloof. But once inside, you’ll find dapper, friendly
salespeople ready to help you. Its combination of boutique mindset with
unparalleled breadth of inventory from the likes of Armani, McQueen, and
Berluti makes Barneys the finest shopping experience. Can we get an
amen?

Readers’ Pick: Nordstrom


Art of Old India's Brandon Brown
Art of Old India's Brandon Brown photography by Billy Surface
Best Asian and African Antiques
Art of Old India

Going
into Art of Old India is like entering a temple, with its smell of
incense and dark, hushed interior. When your eyes become accustomed to
the surroundings, the Zen master himself, Pankaj Dalal, will lead you
through a treasure chest of Indian and Central Asian artifacts, cloths,
and architectural temple pieces. Om, shanti.

Readers’ Pick: Joel Cooner Gallery

Best Place to Buy Jeans
The Blues Jean Bar

Shopping
for a pair of jeans can be a nightmare, but it’s a breeze at this denim
“bar.” Rather than searching racks for hours, you just let the ladies
behind the counter know what you’re looking for. Need a dark-washed
boot-cut in a size 6? Here are four pairs from the best lines in the
biz. Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am.

Readers’ Pick: The Blues Jean Bar

Best Women’s Clothing Consignment Shop
Clotheshorse Anonymous

With
uber-strict guidelines for the pieces it accepts, it’s amazing that
Clotheshorse Anonymous has such a vast inventory. The store won’t take
in anything more than two years old. And if it’s not in mint condition,
forget it. Lucky for us, preference is given to articles by top
designers, so spotting names like Louboutin and Versace is not uncommon.
But you know what is? The prices, which are dirt cheap.

Readers’ Pick: Clotheshorse Anonymous
 

Best Women’s Clothing Boutique
Elements

One
of the reasons Elements has remained a Dallas fashion staple for 12
years is because it’s never gotten cocky. Connie Sigel has always kept
abreast of the fashion industry. This has enabled her to consistently
fill the boutique’s racks with innovative, trend-setting brands. The
large selection of cutting-edge clothing, shoes, and accessories makes
it almost impossible for any sane female to leave empty-handed.

Readers’ Pick: Melanie Gayle

Best Custom Clothier
Hadleigh’s Bespoke

Husband-and-wife
owners Ed and Gable Shaikh continue to rewrite the custom clothing
story in Dallas, offering an ever-expanding line of suits, shirts,
neckwear, watches, and even luggage from their Highland Park Village
shop. Our favorite new find is Hadleigh’s tuxedo slipper embroidered
with the company’s logo. It’s certainly a chic way to complete your
summer ensemble and announce to the city that you’re a Hadleigh’s man
from head to toe.

Readers’ Pick: Lombardo Custom Apparel

Best Lingerie Shop
Trousseau

We
love Intimacy as much as our readers, but what we really desire when
shopping for underpinnings is the focused, cultivated collection we get
at Trousseau. Nasrin Hormozi stocks her shop with everything from cute
HoneyDew panties to extravagant La Perla sets, so prices run the gamut.
Expect serious quality, too. Before stocking a line, Hormozi inspects
every detail.

Readers’ Pick: Intimacy

Best Pet Store
Pet Supplies Plus

We
love froufrou doggie boutiques and rhinestone collars, but this
warehouse is what keeps our furry friends healthy and happy. Don’t
expect bone China dog bowls, but do expect comfy homes, feeding
accessories, a colossal collection of food, and toys galore at
discounted prices.

Readers’ Pick: Green Pet

Ylang 23
Ylang 23 photography by Elizabeth Lavin
Best Jewelry Store
Ylang 23

We
like a store named after monumental moments in life. So we like Ylang
23. Owners Joanne and Charles Teichman met on the 23rd, got engaged on
the 23rd, and were married on the 23rd. But that’s not reason enough to
buy jewelry from them. The real draw is their huge variety of pieces by
great designers. Which means there is  an option for everyone, from the
young and hip to the more sophisticated.

Readers’ Pick: Bachendorf’s

Best Garden Shop
Nicholson-Hardie

Besides
the beautiful flowers, landscape services, classes, and garden
accessories, what we love most about Nicholson-Hardie is the
knowledgeable staff of Texas-certified and master-certified nursery
professionals. They’ll not only sell you a plant but also show you how
to care for it as well as advise you what you should and shouldn’t plant
in your garden.

Readers’ Pick: Nicholson-Hardie

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