Vinyl Junkie
Another much-needed record shop was added to the healthy yet modest music-store scene when this East End indie swung open its doors on November 1. Owned by South Dakota transplants Titus Haag and his wife, Vinyl Junkie focuses on punk and hardcore rarities (though one can also pick up a reissued Elliott Smith LP from time to time), which means that crate sifters are likely to find efforts by White Flight, Flaming Tsunamis, Brain Killer and Acephalix. When you tire of rummaging through the titles, feel free to post up to one of the space's couches, where Haag's adorable pit-bull puppy will be at the ready for some quality spooning time. The shop also hosts punk and metal shows that end at a reasonable hour.
Super H Mart
Clean, brightly lit and full of bargains, Super H Mart is still the standard by which we measure all Asian grocery stores. Food court with a wealth of ethnic specialties on the go? Check. Bakery with glamorous cakes and fascinating pastries? Check. Produce section stocking hard-to-find fruits and veggies? Check. Seafood department that will sell you a live fish and slice it any way you want it? Check. Kimchee department the size of a convenience store? Check. Toilets and industrial rice cookers sold next to Kellogg's cereal and sake? Check and check. Super H Mart has it all.
Pawn shops and gun stores are fine places to pick up a handgun or rifle if you like paying higher prices than usual to pay someone's rent or overhead costs, but the real gun enthusiasts in town all know that their best bet is hitting up the traveling High Caliber Gun & Knife Show, at its three Houston-area stops. Most every weekend in either Conroe, Pasadena or at the George R. Brown Convention Center, dealers from around the region show up to sell new and used handguns, rifles, survival gear and other related paraphernalia. Need a clip for your AR-15? Just ask around. Looking for a copy of the last Ted Nugent cookbook? Just head to one of the booths selling literature and other pamphlets. It's probably right next to the new Sarah Palin pop-up book.
Dr. Gleem Car Wash
Getting a car wash can be terminally boring: There's only so much time you can spend looking at rows of Christmas tree air fresheners and risqué mudflaps while you wait for the workers to scrub months' worth of grime and pigeon droppings from your neglected car's hood. That's why we like Dr. Gleem, which can turn even the biggest procrastinators into Type As. To wit: This venerable establishment offers not only car washes but oil changes — and has a barbershop and diner. That's right: You can grab a burger and get a haircut while your sweet ride is washed and lubed. We can't think of a more productive way, other than napping in the janitor's closet, to spend a lunch hour. Thank you, Dr. Gleem.
Black Dog Records
Well organized, easy to browse and stocked with foundational albums in the rock, soul and jazz genres, Black Dog Records is the spot to visit whether you are just starting a record collection, want some classic jams or are in need of replacing weathered first-edition pressings. For the wayfaring "music sounds so much better on vinyl" hipsters who happen to wander into the shop, Black Dog conveniently displays and sells LPs by indie rock faves Fleet Foxes and My Morning Jacket. The staff also boasts a vintage attitude — no noses in the air or poopy lips — that's refreshing in this age of music snobbery.
Big Kat's Tattoo and Barbershop
Bart Maloney has good hands. If he's not snipping away at the brand-new Big Kat's Barber Shop — he specializes in shear cuts and razor shaves — Maloney may very well be across the street at the Continental Club or Big Top, caressing his steel guitar in Nick Gaitan & the Umbrella Man, the Octanes, or all-caps '40s swing revivalists BANGBANGBOOM. As trusty with the clippers as he is with the strings, Maloney is also a good-humored, funny fellow who never lacks for an amusing anecdote about the goings-on around "The Island" at 3700 Main. Follow him on Twitter and you'll understand: "I wanna make a hood version of Hungry Hungry Hippos and call it Hungry Hungry Hookers."
Sinfull Bakery doesn't have its own store, but you can pick up its vegan delectables at Central Market, Whole Foods, Onion Creek Café and others — check the Web site for the full list. According to the bakery's Web site, the whole thing didn't "just start as a hobby" for owner and baker Brittany Dylan-Carnes. A vegetarian who's allergic to dairy products, Dylan-Carnes had to come up with special ways to satisfy her "ever-growing sweet tooth." And it paid off: She's come up with tasty vegan recipes for cupcakes, cookies, muffins, pies, kolaches, scones, sweet breads and other goodies. She can even make some items gluten-free or agave-sweetened, if such things float your boat. What's that, you say? You're skeptical that anything vegan can be tasty? Well go ahead and give Sinfull Bakery a shot. We're pretty sure you'll turn into a believer.
Graustark Laundry
They say you should never trust your lacy underbits to an untested laundromat. After learning the hard way too many times, thank goodness we found Graustark Laundry. Whimsical bubbles painted on the outside greet laundry-doers at this comfortable and friendly Museum District spot. If you're lucky, you'll even be greeted by Newt, the sweet rescue bulldog that plays behind the counter. It's never crowded, the machines are always clean, and clothes actually wash fresh and come out dry. (Plus, Graustark Laundry is right next door to newly opened Black Hole Coffee House, a perfect time-filler.) If you're too lazy to spend the time, leave your wearables in the capable hands of Graustark's lauded wash-and-fold service. One last perk for those who stick around through the spin cycle: free hangers.
Urban Tails Pet Resort
It doesn't matter if your dog is a mutt or a pedigreed champion, Urban Tails Pet Resort is the perfect place for your canine friend. Your pooch will have a choice of luxury loft lodging (with lots of perks) or cage-free sleepovers, so Fido can snuggle up with his friends on a large bed. There's also day care, a low-chlorine indoor swimming pool, gentle, low-stress bathing, grooming, nail clipping and dental hygiene services, all with your dog's complete comfort in mind.
One thing that sets Family Thrift's 12 area locations apart from the competition are the hours. Unlike so many local thrift stores, they are open late — until nine p.m. on weeknights. That gives the working stiffs who need the cheap clothes a chance to get there. We also love their rewards program, whereby every dollar you spend is a point toward a discount if you come back in on the Sunday of the same week. (In other words, if you spend 50 bucks on Wednesday, Sunday's purchase will be half-price.) And we also love their outlet stores — one on Little York and the other on Red Bluff in Pasadena — where unwanted clothing from the other locations winds up eventually. Those stores get new merchandise every Thursday; every item is on sale for $1.75 for the rest of the day, and it gets cheaper each day until it reaches a quarter on the following Wednesday. That's right — a quarter. Cheap at twice the price, even if it is ugly as sin.

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