The Purple Turtle Coffee Company

Lots of places in the city offer good cups of coffee, but how many offer you a cup or a bag of beans that were roasted that very morning? Take a drive out to La Porte and visit the Purple Turtle Coffee Company, where they roast coffee beans daily. From Ethiopian Genuine Longberry Harrar to Colombian Supremo Huila, this little place has something for all lovers of Joe, including the exotic Kopi Luwak, made when a weasel-like creature called a civet eats coffee berries, which are then harvested after they pass through its system. At $75 for a half-pound, it's the most expensive cup of coffee you'll ever have in your life.

Central Market

Are you a fool for flounder? A sucker for salmon? A cuckoo for cod? Ah, well, you probably see where we're going. And that's straight to Central Market, where seafood is delivered fresh six days a week and you'll find one of the biggest selections in the city. And if you're stuck in the same old rut, menuwise, you can exercise your seafood palate, 'cause the Market has 100 varieties of saltwater and freshwater fish. Plus, their profishional experts will prepare your selection to your liking while you see what else the store has to offer. Now you have an excuse to go mad for mahi-mahi, to go wild for whitefish...

Southern Importers

Want to throw a grog-soaked debauch that would do Blackbeard proud, or a teetotaling little pirates' bash? Either way, Southern Importers has you covered. There, you can not only pick up pirate guy stuff like eye patches, hook hands, sashes, cutlasses and ruffled shirts but also bonny "pirate wench" attire. They'll even hook you up with skull-and-­crossbones tableware, glittering doubloons, treasure chests and wall hangings. (Check out the "Pirate's Cove" link on their Web site.) And on top of all that, they'll help you transform your living room into a pirate's lair with freebooter "insta-themes" to attach to your walls.

Whether you've been quilting for years or are just starting out, It's A Stitch is the place to go. The three Houston-area locations offer the best selection of materials, patterns and threads, not to mention instructional books, movies and loads of fun accessories. The stores also offer classes for every experience level, attracting quilters of all ages.

For collectors of new and old vinyl, regardless of what genres of music one collects, making the voyage out to this giant music cache near 1960 is like going on a Haj to record Mecca. The first time one visits, it can be more than overwhelming. Cardboard boxes of the most recent store acquisitions cover the majority of the floor. With a stock of thousands and such a constant flow of records, you never know what you will find. For those who love to scrounge through piles upon piles of records, it doesn't get any better than this.

Wear It Again Sam

If used threads are your bag, baby, then you should know why we're so happy to see Wear It Again Sam...again. The store once graced the vintage strip on Westheimer, but after a dispute with the landlord, owner Sam Van Bibber had to shut it down. These days it's on W. 19th St. in the Heights — the latest hipster hot spot. Guys, gals, kids and furniture shoppers can all find items from the '40s through the '80s. Clothes are moderately priced, with the quality making each well worth the dollars on the tag. Sam and Co. keep the racks updated, and you'll usually find new selections every month in the 50-percent-off sale room. Here's to hoping this landlord isn't as crazy as the last.

There's a television anchorwoman from a nearby state who comes to Houston to spend her annual wardrobe budget in one place. Nope, not the fantastic department store known for its service that begins with "N" (of course, that would be Nordstrom, not Neiman Marcus). It's Syms, that big ol' hulk of a store just outside the beltway. Get beyond their proclivity on the Web site to trademark phrases like "Educated Consumers" or "Names You Must Know" — the place is humongous, clean, well-organized (rare for bargain houses) and full of designer goodies, at about one-third the price. Sure, you have to change clothes behind little swinging doors best used in a saloon, but you can get some serious bang for one-third of your buck, from tuxedos to books on tape. There's just one store in the Houston area — and it's hoppin'.

If there is a hub in Crystal Beach, the long, narrow strip of often ramshackle beach houses, tumbledown seafood restaurants and dive bars along the Bolivar Peninsula's Highway 87, the Gulf Coast Market is it. Known locally simply as "the Big Store," this gas station/supermarket/bait camp/hardware store/book­shop/souvenir emporium is as close to big box retail as anything gets in this stuck-in-the-'70s-and-proud-of-it town. (And ahoy thar! They also offer an entire array of pirate-themed booty in the souvenir section.) Nowhere else in this "sleepy little drinking village with a serious fishing problem" can you tank up, wire cash, deck yourself out in a pirate do-rag and stock up on those Gulf Coast staples – beer, bait and crab boil. Just look for the big gray castle rising out of the sandy prairie.

Premium Goods

You won't find the latest high heels here, nor will you find ostrich-skin cowboy boots. But plenty of people still line up to buy shoes at this Rice Village-area sneaker boutique. When this sister store of the original Premium Goods in Brooklyn opened in our fine city, it brought with it New York's sneaker-collecting culture. What you'll find here are the latest ­limited-edition Nikes and unique artist-designed shirts. Buy a pair here, and you'll almost never have to worry about running into someone wearing the same shoes again.

Getting older ain't so bad when you can do it with flair. The Rice Village outpost of the national Reading Glasses To Go stocks thousands of fashionable reading glasses, including the white ones Meryl Streep wore in The Devil Wears Prada. Quel chic. Wanna look cool while reading Proust at a sidewalk cafe, but need a little help with the small print? Try one of the sun readers they carry. And think how much fun it will be when the cute waiter brings your espresso and you slide your dark glasses down your nose to appraise him over the rims.

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