The Guild Shop Walking through the doors of the Guild Shop is like being on stage with Monte Hall. On the price tags you'll find three prices. Next to each price is a date. The price goes down as the dates progress. So if you think you can hold out for a few days on buying that wicker wheelchair or matching set of tombstone salt-and-pepper shakers, you might save up to 75 percent -- provided no one else wants it. It's a tricky proposition. You may really want those vintage Star Wars bed sheets, but surely you can't be the only one. Should you get them now or wait a week and save $8? Let's make a deal, indeed.

Academy Sporting Goods Whether you're looking for a Mossberg Maverick 12-gauge 28-inch synthetic shotgun or a Beretta U22 Neos 4.5 handgun, Academy is your place. With low daily prices on all hunting and protective firearms ($219 for a Smith & Wesson 22A; Rimfire is practically unheard of), they've got specialty gun shops around town beat by an average of $50, and enough ammunition in stock to make David Koresh green with envy. The knowledgeable gun staff will gladly help you fill out the 4473 ATF worksheet required by Big Brother. Once it's determined by the FBI that you're sane and of age and meet a few other state requirements (only Texas residents may purchase handguns in Texas, for instance), it's off to happy hunting land or target practice country or wherever the hell you want to go -- hey, you've got a gun now, it's your shot.

Best Place to Buy an Engagement Ring

I.W. Marks A quarter-century in the making, this jewelry emporium in Braes Heights Center has ten -- count 'em -- ten cases of engagement rings. There are diamond solitaires set in platinum, loose diamonds and the wildly popular three-stone engagement rings. Want to treat her like J.Lo with a pink, yellow or blue diamond ring? I.W. Marks has it. In fact, there's enough bling in this place to cause serious eye damage if you're not wearing shades. Have you found the stone but not the setting? If they don't have the style you want, they'll make it for you. And the best part is, they have remarkable seasonal sales. But no need to tell the little woman that.

Andree's Corner This consignment store is no secret to thrifty Inner Loop 'rents. Located at the busy corner of Kirby and Sunset, it has trendy items for every stage of a kid's life. Andree's knows every mommy (and daddy) needs more time, so the old house is divided into different rooms for girls, boys, shoes and maternity wear. And books and toys are everywhere. With eight years of experience in the kid business, the staff knows how to choose quality goods. Your tot can dress in designer baby clothes for a fraction of the cost or sport cool vintage wear for the same prices offered at stores like Target.

Half Price Books Half Price Books rules this town when it comes to getting quality reads on the cheap, and the Rice Village store is the chain's monarch. Here you'll find volumes on just about any subject imaginable -- thanks to the area's college students, who consistently trade in their required reading for beer money. Whether it's your soul that needs mending or your carburetor, this store's got what you need. Fiction, travel, history, psychology, cooking, mystery, drama, sci-fi, antiques, self-help, computers -- these are but a few of the subjects crammed into every cranny of the store. There's also an ample foreign language section and volumes upon volumes on the arts, including painting, sculpture, dancing, architecture and, of course, dancing about architecture.

Haute 2 Trot If your pooch is tired of being in the doghouse of fashion, browse the Web site of local canine couture outfit Haute 2 Trot. Founded four years ago by interior designer Elise Winslow Kelly after she couldn't find any decent clothes for her pampered Chinese crested, Haute 2 Trot has become the ne plus ultra of four-legged fashion. And forget about argyle sweaters. Whether outfitted in Kelly's pink faux fur coats with diamond buttons, tasseled dresses made from Dupioni silk or diamond-studded collars inspired by Dior, Houston's dogs never looked this good. Kelly also offers monogramming, custom fitting and special services such as painting your dog's portrait on a leather jacket. So get with the program, dog people. Milk-Bones and tennis balls are, like, so 2000.

My Cigar Shop: Cigar Factory Sure, there are a lot of tobacconists around town who have nicer stores and more selection than Reno Bayo, but the man wins out because of the little things. His shop is nestled in a strip center between a pedicure place and a tattoo shop, making la-di-da pretension an impossibility. Inside is a small humidor with stogies that are all Cuban seed, all long filler, all hand-rolled and all good. Or if you'd rather roll your own, Bayo will be happy to show you how it's done. Hell, even the surgeon general would be impressed with this man's skills.

Arne's Located in a spooky, red brick factory building in the industrial strip between Montrose and the Heights, Arne's is the perfect department store for all of your ghoulish needs. Hike up the stairs and past the still-operating conveyor belt and you'll find enough freakish fashion options to outfit an apocalypse. Whether you're into witches, devils, vampires, demons, trolls or fluffy bunnies, Arne's has got you covered. Choose from not one but two varieties of beehive wigs, ten kinds of boas and four types of horns that attach to your head. Arne's is the Wal-Mart of the underworld; creepy deals slither off the shelves. Get a witch's cauldron for only $3.96 or a plastic butt for $4.92. With so much to choose from, you might have a hard time making up your mind. If all else fails, go for the pregnant nun, complete with inflatable belly.

Flea Market Row Driving up Airline past I-45 and 610 on a Sunday afternoon, you might think you're approaching a Rolling Stones concert or a sold-out Houston Texans game. But nope. You would have known if the Stones were coming to town, and the Texans play in that building down by the Dome. So what the heck is going on up here? Just an average Sunday on Flea Market Row, with half the city out on a shopping -- and drinking -- expedition. The markets are within walking distance of one another and all feature live music from the region's best Latino musicians. The fare is traditional: bootleg Chingo Bling T-shirts, Dope House Records CDs, Mexican blankets, Day of the Dead stuff, tools and cigarettes. Bring ten bucks and get a beer, some nachos, a rusty pipe wrench and a butane lighter and stroll to the sounds of mariachi, Tejano, cumbia and even some rock en espaol.

Jim Burwell Rover Oaks Pet Resort offers boarding, grooming, classes and all the other amenities available at today's high-end pet facilities. But more important than the expensive clippers and gourmet dog food is owner-founder Jim Burwell, who has an uncanny ability to communicate with dogs. Not some weird "dog guy," he's more a gentle "dog whisperer." Even when coaching large groups of animals, his soothing tone and gentle demeanor have pooches eating out of his palm. Burwell can take on spastic Jack Russells or bossy, burly boxers and gentrify them into well-mannered mutts. (Does he secretly stash a steak in his pocket?) His pleasant persona is so reassuring, you wouldn't have a problem leaving your kids with him, much less your golden retriever. Burwell's Rover Oaks is the perfect place to let the dawgs out.

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