Best Of :: Shopping & Services
Why buy your "How to Talk Texas" books, Houston skyline postcards and Lone Star flag barbecue aprons at some sterile mall when you can do so in the heart of the city, at the foot of the statue of Sam Houston himself? Those who say downtown is a vacuum for shoppers likely haven't yet discovered this 6,500-square-foot Texana delight located on the first floor of City Hall. In addition to the usual Texas-proud inventory, the shop features snazzy, colorful decor, museum-quality displays, a theater that screens historical films, and informative computer stations all surrounding a larger-than-life bronze representation of the first president of the Republic of Texas.
For a comic-book novice -- and by that we mean someone who has a few books in their collection, as opposed to 20 to 30 boxes filled with intricately filed volumes -- it must be a burden going to a comic-book store these days. Clerks and employees who work at a handful of these spots (we won't say which) can be some snooty poops sometimes, condescending just because you don't know the difference between a Frank Miller Batman and an Alex Ross Batman. Plus, most of these stores have such a cluttered, dank, grungy vibe, you feel like you're walking into a smelly porno shop and should be ashamed of yourself. Fortunately, you don't get that feeling when you wander into Bedrock City. There's a wide selection of books, the staffers are accommodating, and the store doesn't skimp on its spacious, easygoing environment. (Sunlight actually finds its way into this place.) Comic book hunting should be a fun little pastime. The folks at Bedrock City make sure you don't feel like an ignorant perv while you're doing it.
Houstonian Chloé Dao spent eight years in New York City, including a stint at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Now she's brought her talents home. She and sister Kim opened Lot 8 in the Rice Village at 6127 Kirby Drive two years ago, specializing in off-the-rack trendy clothes and local designer one-of-a-kinds. Dao has lots of her own fashion fun on the racks and offers alterations and custom designs. Her specialty is dressing you up in wedding, prom and party frocks. While she's more downtown, compared to Vanessa Riley's uptown designs, expect Dao to create quite a name for herself among Houston's fashionistas.
With Ann's help, you can buy off the rack and look like you're wearing a designer original. You walk in, step behind the green velvet curtain, take off your clothes and try on the outfit you like. Then she measures and pins and makes it so that your horrible oversized outfit looks like it was made to order. One really cool thing about Ann is her one-hour service. If you have a hot date that night or forget to try on that bridesmaid dress until an hour before the wedding, she can help. You'll have to press for an estimate in order to get something other than "not much." You'll also want to check a day or two ahead of your pickup date if you've told her there's no hurry. Sometimes Ann interprets "no hurry" as "lowest priority." But remind her you want to wear that sassy little number tonight and she'll sew like the wind.
Dave Payne can do just about anything when it comes to the guitar. Besides his own beautiful playing and singing, which runs the gamut from classical to funk, he's got enough patience and good grace to teach anybody else how to follow his lead. Everybody from middle-aged engineers looking to perfect all those blues licks they've been working on for decades to adolescent punk rockers (that include groups such as the Collapsing Horse and Chowderheads) to teenage girls interested in pick-styled classical guitar has benefited from Payne's good-humored teaching style and gentle manner, which make the hard work of learning how to play a whole lot of fun.
Some people kill plants. Some overwater their petunias until they turn to mush. Some just don't want to dig in the dirt. So they hire other people to make their backyards pretty. It's too hard and too hot to plant plumerias and palm trees yourself. It's time to call Vicente Torrez. The bamboo trees he planted last summer have stretched up to the sky. The ginger and elephant ears are thriving. The plumeria may not have made it, but the confederate jasmine is growing up the fence. So if you are your garden's grim reaper and plants die the minute you walk out the back door, we suggest you call Vicente. His green thumb is big enough for the both of you.