The residents of Montrose have had a deep rivalry for years. Like Republicans and Democrats, they hold arguments at bars that evoke the silliness of Dr. Seuss's The Butter Battle Book. All the fuss is over which is the better convenience store, Hollywood or Pak's. Well, the final answer is Pak's. The colorful clerks' personalities are as varied as the beer selection, and good-to-quirky music is constantly being played. It's always clean inside, and stopping and getting into a rather lengthy conversation with the clerk or fellow customers seems more normal and acceptable than awkward.

Forget about that scene in Marathon Man — Dr. John Barras is a cutie pie with a sugar-sweet staff, high-tech tools and an ubër-cool office of hardwoods and distressed walls. If a dentist's office can look like a boutique, this is the one. He specializes in "sedation dentistry" — as in, we'll relax you and even put you to sleep if need be — and his staff gives squeaky-clean cleanings. So just relax, don the headphones or position the flat-screen TV overhead and say "ahhhhhh."

The Fido-friendly folks at Jester Plaza ­Veterinary Clinic will treat your best pal like he's family. At their doggy day care, pooches of every size and shape hang around the place getting pets, pats and even occasional kisses. And if they need a round of shots, dear Dr. Stephen Burda is right there — the day care is inside his clinic, after all. They also offer grooming services for any pup in need of a shave and a mani-pedi, and a yard out back is perfect for catching Frisbees. But the best thing about this doggy day care is that the canines kicking back at the clinic are clearly happy to be in the company of some very ­caring humans.

Rosalind Campbell and Blanca Aguirre, ­intrepid employees of Drive Thru Cleaners (owned by Michael Kaufman), have seen it all. If you inadvertently leave a thong (okay, in our case, granny panties) in your slacks, they ­discreetly hand it back. Need a fast fix for soiled clothing after a careless barista puts a cracked lid on your pumpkin spice latte, and your new suit — bought especially for that day's big meeting — gets a bath in the $5 brew? Sometimes, the only way to get it cleaned fast and best is by getting down to your Underoos — after all, you're wearing your car! "One man came in here and stripped down to his shorts," Rosalind told us. But he walked into their establishment to do it; we have the decency to stay in our car. (They deliver, if you're shy.)

If you go to 3000 Richmond, you won't see much besides an ordinary office building. But if you go behind that building — on a weekend morning, of course — you'll find a thriving, eclectic, Green-with-a-capital-G farmers market. Everything from grass-fed meat to coffee to veggies is there; local gardeners are welcome to bring their produce and try to sell it. Go around and sample stuff like it's a Sam's — an ecologically friendly, warm and fun Sam's.

Flea Markets are always a fun way to kill your Saturday, if you find the right one. There are the wrong ones with nothing but bootleg CDs, guys selling car stereos and, inexplicably, that weird D&D dude hocking all the swords and knives. Sunny Flea Market isn't that. This place is a bargain hunter's paradise; it's doubtful there's anything here the price isn't negotiable on. Most important, people bring in tons of used stuff to sell, so you have no clue what you may luck out and find. Anything from old Nintendo games to vinyl albums to vintage furniture can all be found while you're eating a nice cup of corn or something on a stick. Food is always better when it comes on a stick.

The family-owned Fannin Flowers, Inc. is open 24 hours a day, just in case you need chrysanthemums at three in the morning or a hibiscus at dawn. They have rows and rows of cut flowers in bulk or arrangements, along with tropical and bedding pants. There's so much on display that it creates a steamy jungle effect; the green just envelops you. On a recent visit, we saw colorful pepper plants and fruit-bearing orange trees next to exotic orchids and dramatic ferns. You can pre-order flower arrangements or choose from the extensive array already on hand. Flowers and plants are flown in weekly from California and across Latin America. Just tell them what you want, and they'll get it for you (it's in season somewhere). With more than 25 years in business, Fannin Flowers knows what's blooming.

The Brookwood Community sits on a massive patch of farmland near Brookshire, and it serves more than 100 people with disabilities who produce high-quality home items and foods that are sold at three stores and online. It's hard to visit the Westheimer location without loading up on inspirational gifts and lovely knickknacks. You can feel good vibes emanating from, say, a ceramic Celtic cross or an elaborate wind chime. This is a perfect place to get a gift for that pious aunt.

So, you need to replace a pane of glass from a cheap but cute little Zen lantern from an out-of-the-way shop in Carlsbad, or maybe you want a glass top for a birdbath you mosaicked to make a unique patio table. Bobbitt Glass is happy to custom-cut whichever size, thickness or tint you need — they treat the little guys as well as they do some big residential developer. You know where this place is; you've driven past it, on the corner of W. Gray and Montrose, about a million times. Pun alert: They really, truly do have an employee named Frank Payne Jr.

This converted house in the Heights is full of richly renovated Mexican furniture and accoutrements. And an adjacent building on the same lot has even more decorative items, such as tasteful disco balls (is that an oxymoron?) that feature crystals, hold candles and come in five different colors. While those stick out visually, it's tough to choose from the broad selection of colorful imports — many from Mexico, but relatively unique.

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