West Alabama Animal Clinic

Dr. Danielle Rosser brings her golden ­retriever to work every day. Lucky dog. The homey atmosphere, friendly staff and fat cats lounging on the counter create an old-time ambience, but the new two-story, state-of-the-art, $1.5 million building next to the original clinic is nothing but high-tech animal health care. Need a DNA test to determine your mutt's ­heritage? Done. Doggie needs dental work? Done. Boarding your pup or cat? Check them into the new clinic's facilities for a relaxing stay. There's grooming, day care and ­behavioral medicine — everything for the pampered pet in your life.

Movies! The Store

When you enter this neighborhood spot, owner and manager Rob Arcos greets you with a smile and a wave. You can walk in totally clueless about what to rent, and Rob will happily offer recommendations on anything from TV shows to indie and foreign flicks. He has a lot of stuff you haven't heard of and, since he's seen all his stock, can tell you if it's good or bad. While his collection isn't comprehensive, it has everything we've ever needed for a slothful weekend of movie marathons. Awesome daily specials (including two-for-one catalog items on Wednesdays) keep this local business competitive with Netflix. But if lust is your vice, you're better off trying 420 down the street — contrary to what some think, Movies! does not have a "back room."

Retropolis

Retropolis is a little overstuffed with goods from the '30s to the '80s, but any true vintage buyer knows it's all about the hunt. The place is known for its well-stocked (and fairly priced) selection of vintage dresses, pearl-snap cowboy shirts and jewelry, but there's always a wide range of wares from every era. We recommend giving yourself a couple of hours to wander through this Heights location. It operates like a vintage mini-mall, with a variety of vendors always adding their latest finds to the mix. The prices meet the condition (in other words, if you want something nice, you'll pay for it) but nothing is too steep, unlike the prices you'll find up the road.

Sound Exchange

Sound Exchange has been slanging rare and collectible records to Houston's stone-cold junkies for years now. And those junkies have good reason to be repeat customers; the incredibly fresh selection and well-priced bins of '60s psychedelic music and soul are hard to beat. And the two owners are courteous enough — or fiendish enough — to regularly slip you some hip sounds from their secret stash. You'll most likely leave the place as high as can be with a fat sack of vinyl under your arm and a little coin left over in your wallet.

You go to all the trouble of coming up with a catchy business name like "Two Girls and a Broom," and the next thing you know everyone's talking about some hideous YouTube video that sounds very, very similar. You could change, or you could take to heart the words of cubicle-slave Michael Bolton in Office Space: "Why should I change my name? He's the one who sucks." Likewise, Two Girls and a Broom have decided to soldier on with their moniker, providing timely, efficient and friendly cleaning service. They're committed to using "green," environmentally friendly products and getting done as fast as possible. But no, don't ask them if they have a cup.

Penzey's Spices

Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama would surely weep tears of joy upon walking through the door to Penzeys spice shop. Located on the fringe of the Height's über-hip West 19th Street, this cute boutique is a sumptuous ode to the senses. Cinnamons, curries and chilies galore — this place has them all, and more variety than even the most expert chef will know what to do with. Next to the bottles packaged for sale, each spice is kept in a glass jar with a brief write-up about its history, there for your smelling enjoyment. Spice geeks and neophytes alike can spend hours wandering the aisles and reading recipes. There's even a coloring corner for the kids while Mom and Pop relax and breathe it all in.

Best Of Houston®

Best Of