Best Of :: Shopping & Services
CarSpa is a big lube shop/car wash in Midtown, but unlike similar places, CarSpa doesn't have the mall-on-Christmas-Eve parking-lot atmosphere that might make you change your mind before pulling in for a quick oil change. The shop doesn't do appointments, so it's a first-come deal. But the wait shouldn't be longer than an hour. A straight oil change costs $25, and that comes with all the standard fluid, tire and belt checks. The price might be a tad more expensive than at other places, but it includes a free car wash when the oil change is complete. If you roll on dubs, you can get a professional polish for an extra $20.
Kuenhert's Auction house is not quite a store, but there's not a more exciting way in town to shop for fabulous French antiques, plush Persian rugs or even a palette full of kooky knick-knacks, old toys, or strange hats. Every Thursday night, the hearty souls who are game enough pick up a number, sit down in the audience and wait for the auctioneer to start the bidding. Everything goes and there's no minimum bid, so stunning deals are to be had by all. Designers have been going there for years; now it's your chance to get in on the action. All it takes is a quick hand and a strong heart — once that arty armoire is yours, there's no returning it.
Want to add a distinct look to your bedroom furniture? You could always pick up one of the many tree-killing catalogues from your recycling pile, or head to Adkins in Midtown for antique glass drawer pulls. Try those great Grecian urns to flank your apartment's porch, or Art Deco tiles for a kitchen backsplash. But if you like something, buy it. Part of the charm at this rambling, sprawling old house festooned with old lawn furniture is the fact that once an item is gone, you may never see another like it again.
Viet Hoa is the Fiesta of Asian supermarkets and a pure delight for seekers of groceries and colorful oddities alike. It's big, it's clean and on any given day, you can find silk flowers, flip-flops and thousand-year-old eggs within a few steps of each other. The back wall is covered with tanks full of unusual sea creatures and case after case of fresh fish. If seafood isn't your thing, the array of roasted and barbecued meats could turn a vegetarian carnivorous. On the way out, a dizzying and attractive selection of jellied products is tempting enough to make you want to eat white fungus and mung bean...and like it.
Space City Wheels is what you might call a high-end auto parts store. Not a lot of air filters and brake fluid, but a helluva lot of chrome. Space City Wheels strictly sells rims and tires, and the shop's showroom alone is worth a visit. It looks like a strip club or casino filled with a lot of rims. Anything in the showroom is in stock — from the 22-inch Giovannas to the 30-inch Dubs — at Space City's huge warehouse. Full-service installation is included with purchase, and the store can almost guarantee same-day service. Space City is family owned and operated and has been for 15 years. Be sure to check out the yellow and black ATV decked out with ridiculously large rims. Bonus for the store's motto: "We open Sundays."
A beginning fisherman (or woman) could get lost in this sprawling tackle store in south Houston. But the staff can hook you up with all the equipment and knowledge you need to be on your way. Unlike other big-box outdoor stores, Fishing Tackle Unlimited is straight fishing. There's plenty of gear for any kind of angling — in-shore, offshore or fly. The shop hosts a couple instructional classes and demos throughout the year, but on any day a staffer will take you to the parking lot and teach the technique with a casting or fly reel. Fishing Tackle Unlimited also has a nice variety of kayaks, which it rents for $50 a day. If you get serious about kayaking, the rental fee can be applied to the purchase price. You can also try out a kayak in the store's big outdoor pool.