Whether it's for Halloween, a theme party or just because you feel like dressing up on a random Tuesday, Party Boy is your destination for great deals on a wide variety of costumes. They've got your superheroes, your pirates, your cops, your flappers. They also have everything you need for an awesome theme party, whether you want to treat your guests to a luau, a Mardi Gras bash or a night under the disco ball. Party Boy can also help with your kid's birthday party needs, offering more than 25 patterns for paper dishes — from Winnie-the-Pooh to High School Musical and so much more. Just remember: When you think "party," think "Party Boy."

Camera Co-op

When you're ready to move up from your cell-phone camera to something a little more professional, Camera Co/op should be your first stop. They cater to all types of photographers, from digital warriors who always have a spare memory card on hand to those who still like to do their work in a darkroom. It also has that lived-in, mom-and-pop-store feel that comes from having been around forever, a tribute to the fact that they've managed to adjust with the times and technology. If there's anything you need related to cameras, you're damn near sure to find it at Camera Co/op.

Just thinking about this shop's remarkable selection of pipes gives us the munchies. These are pure works of art, some of the finest glassware we've ever seen, and we're not just saying that because we're in an especially mellow place right now. Generic "smoke shops" are a dimebag a dozen — you see them in just about every strip mall, and they're all interchangeable. But the guys at BC are artisans. They're passionate. And it's reflected in the inventory. The Web site proudly proclaims, "'Cause it's the...DANK!" Truer words were never coughed out in a smoky haze.

Hidden in an unassuming shopping center between Fondren and Gessner, this combination carnicería, taquería, frutería and grocery is the best place to buy all the fresh ingredients you need for a magnificent dinner. The fajitas are of excellent quality and can be purchased marinated in a powerful and tasty blend of chiles and other spices. You will also find pollos enteros, menudo, asado de puerco and steaks. Complete your shopping with fresh fruits and vegetables, pan de dulce and tamales. If your hunger gets the best of you, they also have a counter with daily lunch specials, soups, tacos and aguas frescas.

Spec’s Fine Wines, Spirits and Finer Foods
Jeff Balke

In the world of liquor stores, Spec's is the undisputed king in Houston. And the featured jewel in the crown is the company's Midtown location, which can be described as a wonderland full of beer, spirits, cigars and specialty foods. Every aspect of this store is top-shelf, with low-priced selections of your favorite tequilas and whiskeys; specialty beers such as Saint Arnold Divine Reserve; and those high-end bottles that you only see in rap-music videos. The staff is always available and friendly, and if by some remote chance they're out of what you need, no worry; they'll find it for you at one of their 70 other locations.

It's one thing to carry board games, card games and miniature war games, but what's really impressive about Asgard Games is the amount of space they devote to giving the gamers of Houston a place to play. From flattops for Magic: The Gathering to elaborate battlegrounds for miniature armies, there's a good chance that if you've got a physical game, there's a place to play it at Asgard Games, and with their weekly tournaments for the more popular games, you'll never be in need of an opponent again. There's even an online forum on their Web site to help gamers connect with each other outside the store.

Sloan-Hall

Some of the quirkiest, most beautiful and eclectic jewelry we've seen in Houston has been inside the glass cases of Sloan/Hall. Though it's not solely a jewelry store per se, the store's owners, Marcus Sloan and Shannon Hall, seek out artisan jewelry from artists like The Woods and Ileana Makri, which includes everything from a delicate bangle in the shape of a snake with diamond eyes, to stackable rings in a variety of gemstones, to tiny string bracelets with 14k gold "sequins." If you're shopping for a gift, be sure to also check out their excellent selection of cards.

You're going to want to devote some time to Kuhl-Linscomb's sprawling campus, just east of the Whole Foods on Alabama and Kirby. The store is actually five separate showrooms, some in old houses, featuring everything from antiques to candles to jewelry to furniture and linens to an apothecary section with an old-timey feel to it. It's a great place to register for a wedding or housewarming, but it's also a convenient one-stop shop for things like stocking stuffers for literally everyone on your list or for that little something that says, "I'm thinking of you."

Collectors Firearms

Gun lovers in Houston are particularly blessed — unlike some cities, Houston has its fair share of gun stores. But for selection, service and price, it's hard to beat Collectors Firearms. In business for more than 30 years, Collectors boasts an "ever changing inventory of 7,000 guns" as well as thousands of books and a wide range of ammunition and accessories. You can check out the inventory online, which includes everything from the latest Sig Sauer handhelds to antique muskets. Whatever your preference — be it over/under shotguns, Glocks, Browning rifles — Collectors is bound to have it.

For 59 years, Village Shoe Shop has been on a mission to help people find shoes that fit perfectly. How, you ask. Well, for one, they customize shoes that support and hug every contour of your feet — they'll make a cast of your feet and then hand-craft your shoes. And we're not talking clunky orthopedic wear, but stylish get-ups in a variety of styles. They'll also repair your shoes, spiffing them up until they look almost like they did the first day you walked out of the store in them. We suggest you check Village Shoe Shop out — your aching feet will thank you.

Best Of Houston®

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