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.

Bobbitt Glass Co.

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.

Ja-Vi Boutique

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.

Central Market

At Central Market, the grocery store that's more a lifestyle than a retailer, there's "all-natural" everything. Meats have "no antibiotics or hormones ever," fish selections are farm-raised and flown in for the freshest taste, and the vegetables are hand-selected. But there's more than just great food and a friendly staff at Central Market, there's also a wealth of knowledge that they're willing to share with you. From well-informed stockers to expert chefs, everyone at Central Market wants you to know what you're eating and how to make the most of it. Can't come into the store for one of the dozens of cooking classes? No problem, there are great recipes online. Want to stretch that dollar just a little bit more? Subscribe to the Central Market Foodie Finds newsletter. No time to cook? Not to worry, Central Market has dinner in a bag, with entrée, salads and sides for two, for less than $14. How's that for convenient?

Getting one's hair cut can be a very dicey affair. In the first place, a decent cut is going to cost you, and after you've forked it over, you have to watch to make sure you get what you want. And then there's all that attitude at some of the swankier spots. Thank goodness for Jeff Parker at Hot Tops. He takes his time, works with your strange cowlick to give you what you ask for, and won't charge you an arm and a...well, head of hair (most cuts are just $65). He'll work with your schedule to fit you in for that hot date, he massages your scalp with every cut and he's even been known to cut hair on ailing folks out of the salon. There's just not a lot of stylists like Jeff out there — a very talented, super-nice guy who'll go out of his way to make you look hot.

Southland Hardware

The thing about this store is that it seems so out-of-place, sandwiched between the oh-so-hip Montrose bars/tat parlors/dildo-supply outlets and the posh River Oaks boutiques. But there it is: a freakin' hardware store. Established in 1953, this maze-like mother is crammed floor-to-ceiling with tools, lawn ­supplies, paint, fertilizer, propane...and they cut glass, keys, pipes, you name it. In these days, when Home Depot and Lowe's (the Chili's and Applebee's of hardware) herald the expansion of suburbia, it's good to know that genuine neighborhood hardware stores still exist. Now quit lollygaggin' and go buy some power tools.

Hendley Market

Hendley Market is the perfect place to buy '60s-era toys and wax lips for kids, knitted catnip-filled toys for cats, old coins for house-sitting neighbors and embroidered linens for co-workers. There are antique oddities such as medical instruments, quirky old books, gift items that hark back to the Victorian Age (in a good way, not a chastity-belt way) and Mexican retablos. It's a charming haven from the usual "sun 'n' sand" beach tourist claptrap predominant on an island.

Mi Tienda

Visiting Mi Tienda is like taking a quick trip to Mexico. When H-E-B decided to open the store, they wanted to create the most authentic Mexican grocery in Houston. They surpassed this goal. If you make it past the self-selection bakery, where you'll find tons of Mexican sweetbreads, you'll stumble across the fresh juice and aguas frescas bar with a selection like no other in town. Hungry? You won't be disappointed in the taco stand, where you can pick up your favorite Mexican plate for under five bucks. The fresh cheese and crema display will wow you, as will the ceviche stand and one of the biggest displays of fresh fruit and vegetables available. The meat counter is also like no other and includes a walk-in refrigerated section with whole pigs for sale as well as the special barbecue cooker known as la caja china.

Rick's Darts & Games

Whether you're a kid or just a kid at heart, we're pretty sure you're going to like Rick's. For 34 years, the shop has provided a plethora of games and toys to keep just about every hobbyist smiling. Besides the eponymous darts, Rick's has kites, cards, dominoes, go, chess, billiards accessories, murder mystery sets, puzzles, yo-yos — you name it. You can also order online, by phone or mail. Even if you're not a hardcore hobbyist, we suggest you swing by and check out the variety of cool games on hand that can make your next party a little more memorable. Seriously, turn off that darn Xbox and go find something that'll kick-start your brain.

I W Marks

When you want diamonds, you want I W Marks. The largest independent jeweler in Houston, this family-run business generates more than $10 million a year in sales. But while great service and an unbeatable selection earned I W Marks our Best Jewelry Store nod, the company's also high on our list of socially responsible corporations. In addition to selling jewelry (which it does really well), I W Marks supports the community with generous contributions to the Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony and Houston Ballet, as well as the Ensemble Theatre and Society for the Performing Arts. Sell a great product, good for you. Invest those profits in the community, good for us.

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