Need a website? Web hosting? A server to rent or buy? Local programming whiz Keith Christensen started out renting a house near the Galleria and over the years expanded his data solutions business to include Voice over Internet Protocol, which allows users to make calls through their computers, for businesses large and small. He's now relocated to an industrial site to house a massive generator to ensure reliability for clients during power outages. The folks at Trinicom are reliable, respond speedily to emergencies and won't take advantage of their superior knowledge of IT buzzwords to overcharge you.
Tiese Jordan's housecleaning service, A Natural Woman's Touch, is a refreshing change from the services with an ever-changing, anonymous cast of characters who wham and slam through your home in between five other homes within the same day. Jordan will bring help if needed for larger jobs, such as a move-out, but usually she flies solo and, amazingly enough, gets more done. She doesn't adhere to one of those checklists most services keep to, or an "I don't do windows" mentality. Keep putting off a thorough sweep of the garage/refrigerator/hall closet? Jordan capably and calmly assists — or even takes over the burden entirely, whatever suits you best. Added bonus: She remembers where you like to keep things, so you won't have to face the frustrating task of hunting down household items after a cleaning.
Prestigious Nails & Spa
Manicures are like summer romances: They're meant to last awhile, then fade away just as you're ready to replace them. Prestigious Nails in the Heights is the perfect place for a fling-worthy manicure, with minimum investment and maximum reward. The space, painted a soft sea-foam green, is well-lit and incredibly clean. Mini waterfalls create a calming effect as the nail technicians get to work shaping your finger toppers. Standard manicures are never rushed and include a cuticle trim, several coats of polish and a lotion-soaked hand massage, all for a mere $11. (For French, it's $16.) The fabulous work and dirt-cheap prices are no secret, so call ahead to make a reservation or expect a bit of a wait. Like any good lovin' for a steal, it's worth it.
1/4 Price Books
The last time we were in this store, we were standing in line, eager to purchase an out-of-print book, while a middle-aged man two spots ahead of us paid more than $100 for some rare finds, including a copy of Alice in Wonderland from the early 1900s. But instead of walking out with his books, he turned around and handed Alice to the young woman standing in line behind him. He had noticed her poring over it earlier; it was obvious she was in love with the book, but unable to afford it. When it was finally our turn to buy our $8 book, the owner waxed philosophic about how you'd never see anything like that in any of the chain stores. He's probably right; we'd never seen anything like that before. The owner said there was something about his store that brought out the best in people. We had to agree. Not only did we get a great deal on a rare find that day, we got to witness an even rarer display of awesomeness.
What you want from an auto mechanic is pretty simple: Competence, sure, but more than that you want someone you can trust, someone whose eyes don't light up as he looks under the hood and imagines all the wonderful things he can charge you for. Arthur Cruz fits the bill. His shop is tucked away in a southwest-side neighborhood, but it's worth finding. He's helpful, dependable and gets the job done without fuss. And he's got an A-plus rating from the local Better Business Bureau.
Reeve's Antiques
Run by a father and son in the hot little Montrose block at Taft and Hyde Park, Reeves Antiques specializes mostly in mid-century furniture and decor at prices that are half of what you'd find in those shops on the Westheimer strip. Turnover is high, which means you'll find something new each time you look, but it also means you shouldn't hesitate too long over the 1962 Broyhill Brasilia dresser you love. And it's not just big names like Heywood-Wakefield and Ethan Allen. At Reeves, we once found a matching solid-wood tallboy and dresser handmade in the 1940s by a skilled Houston carpenter. Talk about buying local.
Let's say you're the type of person who loves to ride a bike but isn't necessarily a fanatic about the accoutrements — fancy bike shorts and little caps and things like that — or having some absolute top-of-the-line $5K wheels. Let's say you just want something that will reliably get you from point A to point B and you don't want to break the bank getting it. Cyclone is your place. While the true masters of hardcore racing will prefer higher-end shops like Boone's and West End, Cyclone is the first-call spot for dirty riders who prefer the sidewalks and wear their street clothes. Uniquely in Houston, Cyclone sells lots of used bikes and accepts trade-ins, so if that temperamental skinny-tired road bike isn't working for you, you can wheel that prima donna into Cyclone and ride off on a rugged mountain bike, occasionally as an even swap.
This family-run business has been buying, selling and trading jewelry, watches, guns, instruments, appliances and other stuff for more than 30 years, which means they must be doing something right. And get this: If you already have a loan at another pawn shop, Mason Road will pick up that item and give you a lower interest rate. Oh yeah, they also have repair services. And cash loans. They cover all the bases and put a premium on customer service. They also have specials, like online coupons you can print out for a cool 25 percent off many items. It's not your average pawn shop — and it's likely to become your favorite.
Hubbell & Hudson Bistro
Photo by Troy Fields
Who says The Woodlands is boring? After all, the suburb to the north gave birth to the coolest grocery store to come along since Central Market. And it's been such a success, in fact, that Hubbell & Hudson just opened a second location, the first being located in prime territory along the Waterway and across the street from Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. In addition to a fully stocked gourmet grocery store, this flagship location also offers cooking classes, a ready-made foods section, a full deli and an attached bistro that's making some of the best and most underrated food up north.
Replay on 19th
If the jumbled feel of Retropolis gives you hives, head down 19th Street in the Heights to Replay, where you'll find a younger, more curated collection of vintage fashion, owned by "Crazy Mike" Hildebrand and Laura Levine. The shop is arranged thematically, from Aloha wear in one section to '70s jumpsuits in another. Become a regular shopper there and the staff is likely to cut you a deal by handing you a business card good for 20 percent off that never expires. They also buy well-cared-for clothing and negotiate trades. Savvy shoppers who join the Replay on 19th Facebook group also get advance warning when a new shipment of clothing arrives or when there's a close-out sale.

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