Best of Houston®

Best Of 2012

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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Candy Store
Kegg's Candies

Walk into the Kegg's Candies Meyerland-area store and you might think you see chocolate cupcakes among the offerings. Look a little closer — the yummy cupcake-looking treats are actually oversize peanut butter cups that have a big taste to match their size. Kegg's dates back to 1946, when Robert Kegg started experimenting in his mom's kitchen. That quickly led to a shop in the Rice Village. The shop has since changed hands, but current owner Carl A. Bartuch Jr. has maintained the Kegg tradition of using only the finest fresh ingredients to create delightful confections. Along with dozens of types of delicious concoctions, there are plenty of novelty items (light and dark chocolate shaped like poker chips, sports equipment, letters and the like). You don't have to have a pocket full of money to enjoy Kegg's goodies — milk chocolate rounds, pressed into turtle, sand-dollar, flower and butterfly shapes, among others, are all less than $1. For a behind-the-scenes look at Kegg's candy kitchen, visit the factory location (8168 Westpark) for a self-guided tour. See candy made from start to finish, and stop by Kegg's in-factory store and ice cream parlor, where you'll find frozen custard and Italian ice in addition to chocolate candy.

4934 Beechnut St., Houston, 77096
MAP
713-664-4593
Best CD Shop
Half Price Books

Do people even buy CDs anymore? They must, because Half Price Books keeps stocking them. The budget-media retailer may not have a Cactus-like variety, but it usually has a few titles by most major artists, especially if they weren't big blockbuster albums. It also seems to specialize in CDs by artists you had almost completely forgotten about but who had one or two songs you'd pay two or three bucks for — hell, you'd do it with iTunes, except here you get a whole album. While you're there, don't forget to browse Half Price's vinyl selection, which is likewise better than you'd think. Or hell, pick up a book or two while you're at it.

1011 Westheimer, Houston, 77006
MAP
713-520-1084
Best Art Supplies
Texas Art Supply

Sure, you may have seen this one coming a mile away, but it's not without reason: Simply put, this place meets the needs of anyone from casual doodlers to professional painters. Brushes, pens, ink, clay, paper, stencils, mosaics, fabric — there's no way you can spend five minutes at Texas Art Supply and not feel your creative side getting goosed. And even if you're just looking for a gift for an artistically inclined friend and you don't know canvas from ­papier-­mâché, you don't have to worry about feeling intimidated or overwhelmed; the crack staff is eager to help, and they know their stuff. Texas Art Supply is an institution in Houston, and if you haven't been yet, then it's time to find out why.

2001 Montrose Blvd., Houston, 77006
MAP
713-526-5221
Best Perfumery

We like smelling good — and our significant others smelling good — without spending a fortune. And we learned the hard way that this isn't reasonably accomplished by buying knockoff brands at gas-station convenience stores. (We also learned that Drakkar Noir actually isn't the best man-scent out there, regardless of what that dude selling it out of the back of his van told us, but that's a story for another time.) So that's why Perfumania is our number one choice when it comes to cologne and perfume. You get a huge selection without putting a huge dent in your pocketbook — and we're talking top-shelf stuff, too, not just the same-old, same-old you can get with a free gym bag at any department store. If you want to expand your olfactory horizons, there's no better place to start than Perfumania.

5000 Katy Mills Circle, Katy, 77494
MAP
281-644-4030
Best Novelty Store

Because you just never know when you might want to buy a Pink Panther clock at 1:30 in the morning. Fantasy Gifts and Toys resembles an overstuffed, naughty museum, and has been outfitting Houstonians who are up to no good for more than 30 years. Conveniently located near most Lower West­heimer bars including neighboring Catbird's, Fantasy offers hundreds of glass pipes (many made by local craftsmen), vaporizers, hookahs, papers and any other smoking accessory you can think of down to the skull ashtrays. Then there's the T-shirts, rock posters, candles, costumes, other miscellaneous gifts — antidepressant refrigerator magnets or Reservoir Dogs figurines? Tough call — and an entire wall of, well, adult toys. Sometimes that Pink Panther clock just isn't enough, and only something called a "Naughty Judge" or "Wabbit Tickler" will get the job done.

1340 Westheimer Rd., Houston, 77006
MAP
713-526-9522
Best Vintage Store
Replay on 19th

Laura Levine and "Crazy" Mike Hildebrand curate their Heights-area store so carefully, they almost have an encyclopedic knowledge of every item and its location. Looking for embroidered cowboy boots, Polynesian mod or an old concert T-shirt? Just ask at the desk, and if they have it (they likely do), they'll take you right to it. Prices are super-reasonable considering you're saving yourself the hassle of digging through bargain bins at thrift stores, plus they take trades and get new items at least once a week. One of our favorite things to shop for at Replay is vintage swimsuits. Follow them on Facebook for advance notice of new hauls.

373 W. 19th St., Houston, 77008
MAP
713-863-9344
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Best Candy Store: Kegg's Candies

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