Readers’ choice: Spec’s, 2750 S Hulen St, FW
Critic’s choice: Marquita Sims, Whole Foods Market, 801 E Lamar Blvd, Arl
In the rare instances when customers get pissed off about something –– “my gawd, you’re out of kumquats!” –– they don’t stay angry for long. That’s because Sims oversees customer service, and how can anyone stay mad when staring into the kindest, gentlest, most pleasant face you’ve ever seen?
Readers’ choice: Floyd’s 99 Barbershop, Montgomery Plaza, 2600 W 7th St, Ste 138, FW
Readers’ choice: NV Salon & Spa, 6500 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW
Critic’s choice: Goldwaves, 5137 El Campo Av, FW
Goldwaves sets the standard. The staffers are friendly and knowledgeable. They call to remind you of your appointment. They know your name when you walk in (and are quick to offer you water or complimentary wine). There’s music, but it’s not so loud you can’t hear yourself think. And they teach you about the products being used on your hair (even while shampooing) but won’t give you the hard sell. And, perhaps best of all, your new ’do will turn heads.
Readers’ choice: Salty Dog Tattoo Shoppe, 3938 NW Jim Wright Fwy, Lake Worth
Critic’s choice: Tattoo Ranch, 108 W Exchange Blvd, FW
It’s hard to pin this one down: You want good artists, a clean and sterile environment, and a colorful atmosphere that blends shop décor with the kind of hi-larious BS you hear at a barbershop. The folks at Tattoo Ranch have the steady hands and vivid imaginations crucial to quality body art, and the plush, turn-of-the-century brothel vibe makes it easier to grin and bear it.
Critic’s choice: YWCA Resale Shop, 6500 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW
The YWCA serves hundreds of struggling families each year (particularly children), and proceeds from this shop allow the agency to provide even more help. But even if benevolence isn’t part of your shopping criteria, you’ll still find it a great place for used clothing, furniture, and accessories. The store has been around for 10 years and bills itself as the place for “fashionistas on a budget.” Just follow the red-brick road.
Readers’ choice: Spiral Diner & Bakery, 1314 W Magnolia Av, FW
Critic’s choice: PalletSmart, 5321 White Settlement Rd, FW
Kevin Rennels and John Zaskoda create the coolest things from used wooden shipping pallets: tables, bars, headboards for beds, entertainment centers, or whatever else you want. While acknowledging that plenty of others use recycled pallets, the guys are proud of the excellent quality of their wares. “Why make something that will soon have to be recycled again?” Zaskoda says. PalletSmart has recently moved into new digs, giving them more space to amplify their imagination.
Critic’s choice: Yarmulke-like beanie placement
Whether you call them beanies, toboggans, or watchcaps, the knit dome made for cold weather has been a pretty tight fashion statement at least since Jack Nicholson entered the Cuckoo’s Nest. But what’s up with all these young cool kids A) wearing them in triple digit weather and B) carefully perching the skully on the back of the head so their hair spills out like the Monkees’ Michael Nesmith? Go to any bar on Magnolia or people-watch at Doc’s, and you’ll probably see some hipster wearing his or her hat like Link from Legend of Zelda — if Link blew all his rupees on pitchers of PBR.
Readers’ choice: Guitar Center, 721 Ryan Plaza Dr, Arl
Critic’s choice: Zoo Music, 3409 Indale Rd, FW
This is what a used guitar store ought to look like: old, cramped, stuffed to the gills with inventory, and staffed with employees willing to buy, sell, or trade. Electric, acoustic, and classical guitars hang on walls all the way to the ceiling. Meanwhile, the floor is stacked with newish and vintage amplifiers, drums, P.A. equipment, keyboards, and accessories. The store offers repairs, rentals, and guitar lessons. It’s one-stop shopping for musicians and gear-heads alike.
Critic’s choice: Toy Works, 6333 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW
This family-owned specialty store focuses on educational toys like word games and puzzles. In the process, the shop is creating its own niche market. With this kind of retailer around, Toys R Megastore isn’t the only game in town, thank goodness.