With a lot of Laundromats, we sometimes feel like our clothes come out even dirtier; it seems like the median age of washers and dryers in the city is a quarter-century, and owners never seem to want to splurge on amenities like air conditioning or asbestos abatement. In short, a typical trip to the Laundromat during a Houston summer can be like sitting around tapping your feet in the ninth circle of hell. And then there's Soap Suds Laundry, where the equipment appears to have been manufactured in our lifetime, the interior is spotless, the Wi-Fi is flowin' and the flat-screen TVs give you something to stare at other than your tumble-drying dirty drawers. Or if you don't feel like hanging around, take advantage of the convenient drop-off service.

It's not a bad problem to have. In the past few years, Houston's record scene has exploded. One of the newest kids on the block, Heights Vinyl, has already made an impression with its in-store shows, collection of old, refurbished turntables and clever record-pricing system based on the characters from the movie Reservoir Dogs. The shop cleans and evaluates every record it intends to sell, sometimes replacing the inner and outer sleeves, so prices can be a bit higher due to the quality. It's also the place to pick up supplies for cleaning those records you found at the thrift store, or for making sure your dad's old turntable is in tip-top working order.

Leave it to a store devoted to magazines actually printed on paper to not have an online presence. That's because Issues doesn't screw around. They claim to have more than 3,000 titles, and we believe it: The no-frills space is jam-packed with every magazine you've ever heard of, and a ton more that you never knew existed. There's nothing else like it in Houston. Just stop in one day without a particular magazine in mind and browse around. We guarantee you'll fall in love with some mag that explores whatever weird, obscure hobby or music or plant life you're into, and you'll be hooked.

The titular double-Rs are Rodney and Rhonda, part of this family-owned establishment that's been around since 1993. And Shaw's does it all: buying, trading and selling jewelry, electronics, firearms, musical instruments, sporting goods — you name it. They also offer check-cashing and payday advance services. Oh, did we forget to mention that they can repair your jewelry and watches, as well as custom-design your jewelry? (They have a G.I.A. graduate gemologist on-site.) Decent loan rates, friendly staff and a remarkable selection of items make this store a must-see for anyone looking for a great value.

This low-cost but reputable massage chain allows its members to frequent any Massage Envy facility, no matter the franchise owner. So for $49 per month, you can get a one-hour massage all over the country. But why skip around when the best is in Houston's very own Meyerland? Barbara Peschon is trained in a number of types of massage — including craniosacral, sports and prenatal — and is certainly qualified to provide a relaxing session. Savvy clients, though, will sign up for her trigger-point work, which has been known to alleviate excruciating tennis elbow, fractured feet, chronic migraines and any number of ailments we stressed-out humans accumulate throughout life. Warning: That brand of work does not feel good — until you hop off the table, that is. Honorable mention at that location: Jesse Penilla.

Believe it or not, one of the best diving sites in the world is located just a few hundred miles south of the Texas/Louisiana border. The Flower Gardens, as they're known, are an oasis of coral only 60 feet below the surface of the water, surrounded by oil rigs and the much deeper waters of the Gulf. Plenty of dive shops in town can arrange trips out there, but Gigglin' Marlin is one of the few that will certify you, rent you gear and make sure you have the most out-of-this world experience in the process. The staff is extremely helpful and accommodating, whether you're trying to learn to dive, want to rent or buy dive gear, or need your tanks or regulator serviced. They've also got a full-blown travel service booking trips to the Flower Gardens, wreck dives, the Tortugas and more, and an indoor heated saltwater pool for dive instruction and beginners' swim lessons.

Located in a 1920s-era building that formerly housed the precursor to The Houston Post, the Magnolia symbolizes sleek, understated elegance. From its rooftop pool to its hardwood-floored lobby to its modern-yet-cozy rooms in between, everything about the Magnolia was designed with a sharp eye for detail and dignity. There is no gaudiness, no feeling that — unlike some other boutiques — it will look garish and dated in a handful of years. Besides the delicious, complimentary evening cookies, your stay includes downtown car transportation; for a little extra, treat yourself to special packages including a massage, a five-course meal at the popular Strip House steakhouse and the Deluxe Romance Package, as well as other perks.

Think of Toys To Love as the Sharper Image of toy stores, catering to brainy tykes and parents. Meaning, a lot of the items at TTL have an emphasis on fun and learning, and aren't geared to a marketing campaign or an awful movie. This shop has been locally owned for nearly 20 years, probably providing products for some of you reading this. Their stock of board games will test the noggin of even the smartest egg in your house.

Wabash's motto couldn't be more apt: "A little bit of country in the heart of the city." In addition to organic plants of all genera and species (their fruit tree selection is especially diverse), Wabash also sells fauna: roosters, chickens, the biggest eggs you've ever seen, Cornish hens, bunnies and more. The store has a small-town feed-and-seed feel. You'll find literally everything you need for gardening there, and also veterinary supplies, raw goat's milk, an extensive library and one large cooler full of cold-ass Texas beers.

As various in-and-out places continue to pop up near main intersections throughout Houston, this little spot in the Fourth Ward has been quietly building a dedicated following of loyal customers for the past five or six years. Despite this, there's almost never a wait. They can do a hand-wash and wax in 30 minutes flat for less than a Grant, giving new meaning to the term "detail," but the job never feels rushed. You also feel more like a client, not just another customer. A friend of ours swears it's the only place he'll trust with his beloved motorcycle.

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