Houston has bigger record stores, and others that delve deeper into more obscure musical realms, but none that have quite as much off-the-wall local character as Sig's Lagoon. A couple of years ago, the cozy little shop on Midtown's "The Island" inherited the inventory of San Marcos's shuttered Sundance Records (where Sig's owner Tomas Escalante not only worked in his college days but also met his wife), increasing its stock by not only tens of thousands of LPs, but Sundance owner Bobby Barnard's vast archive of posters, flyers, newspaper clippings, magazine covers, cardboard cutouts and ticket stubs that now adorn the walls. Walk into Sig's today and you can read about late H-town rapper Big H.A.W.K. and notorious '70s lawyer/scenester Sanford Radinsky's untimely deaths as you shop for LPs, CDs, books, posters, action figures, T-shirts, tickets to Continental Club shows across the street and more. No other record store in town can say that, that's for sure.

If you're in the market for fashionable, sometimes limited sneakers to pair with a new snapback hat and Houston-centric shirt, you might like Premium Goods. Drake does. The Rice Village sneaker boutique was the site of Drizzy's Houston Appreciation Weekend pop-up shop. Why? Because the store is cool as hell. Premium Goods has the latest sneaker releases, and some really terrific Houston apparel designed by one of its own employees. You can find modified The North Face shirts labeled "The Third Coast" and redesigned LA Clippers logos that read "Houston Sippers." Slick-looking feet and flashy hometown pride are just a visit away.

It's easier than ever to go online and purchase what you need, especially when it comes to electronics. Everyone knows that. Now consider the nightmare scenario: Your computer dies. Suddenly you can't just jump online and order the right part for the problem. If that dreaded day ever comes (or if you're just the type who likes to hold something in his hands before buying it), you'll be glad you have Fry's. This store has everything you need for your computer, inside and out, and at fairly reasonable prices to boot. When you need that part now, Fry's has you covered. Because you don't always have the time to wait on two-day shipping.

Whether you're looking for a fancy new SIG Sauer or a pair of antique flintlock duelers, Collectors Firearms is your target. What began in 1975 as a 600-square-foot shop has grown into a major showcase boasting an inventory of more than 7,000 guns as well as a ton of ammo, scopes and other accessories. The weaponry lining the walls and display cases is vast, and features everything from new and pre-owned pistols, rifles and shotguns to samurai swords and military antiques. One thing we really like is the continually updated inventory on the website, so you can keep up with new acquisitions, like a brand-new Glock 17 9 mm and an ultra-rare Mannlicher carbine. This place is No. 1 with a bullet.

Houston's weather extremes — heat, drought, flooding, hurricanes — can be stressful for even the hardiest of trees, weakening them and leaving them prone to breaking. It seems every big thunderstorm downs trees and leaves streets filled with fallen branches. Tree Climbers tree removal service, staffed with fast-working, smart and trusty crews, can save the day. Tree Climbers doesn't push to chop down every tree in sight. If all your tree needs is some prudent pruning, the experts at Tree Climbers will say so. They care about each tree, what's best for it and what's best for you. Most important, they understand the meaning of the word "emergency." Did a huge oak tree crash through the roof of your garage? Tree Climbers crews respond quickly, with the same sense of urgency and concern for safety that you have.

It's hard to find a cigar shop that truly feels like the real deal these days. That's where McCoy's Fine Cigars comes in. We can't help loving a shop that's family-owned and located in downtown Houston, with the bonus of actually being all about good cigars. They have an excellent selection — more than 100 top brands are offered at prices that, you know, we can actually afford — and this is a shop devoted to fine cigars instead of to the status symbol of having a cigar. You won't find a bunch of bros puffing away, and the store is as far from uppity as a joint can get. It's the kind of place where you'll find real cigar lovers, and such spots are few and far between, so enjoy.

For those looking for a fun way to kill an afternoon without falling into bankruptcy, Speedy's gives one helluva return on investment. Speedy's has the best go-karts in Houston, but the off-track there is solid entertainment, too. The mini-golf course isn't bad, given the sorry state of Houston putt-putt. The arcade, on the other hand, is totally rad, with plenty of classics. Whether you're trying to get a high score on any of the various games of the Pac-Man family, reaching deep into your memory banks to see how many combos you can still remember from Street Fighter 2 or just trying to impress your date with some skee ball, Speedy's is a fun throwback to the days when every mall had an arcade. Bring some cash and a few friends, and be prepared for a good couple of hours.

Dogs are the best and we really love them, but sometimes we need a little help because, say, our furry friends have taken to getting into the trash or shredding books to ribbons or trying to attack other dogs on sight. That's where Donald Chambers comes in. Chambers is a certified dog trainer and a born dog whisperer. Even the most neurotic of canines (the ones who think trying to bite strangers is an acceptable way of saying hello) will leap into Chambers's arms and do just about anything he asks them to. He's the best because instead of judging our dogs and all their problem behavior, he sits down and figures out how to understand them, work out whatever is bothering them, and make things happier and mentally healthier for everyone involved.

Leaving your dogs with someone else isn't always easy, which is why it's important that you already feel comfortable with the people you're leaving them with before you drop them off. From the first phone call, the folks at Lakeside will make you feel as if you don't have a thing to worry about. Don't worry if your dog is one of those "doesn't play well with others" types; Lakeside is good with all canine personalities, and will work with you to make sure it's a happy experience for your four-legged friend. They'll even give you a call a few days after your visit just to make sure your dog is still doing fine. You'll appreciate that type of dedication.

There are plenty of plants that will grow in Texas, but not all of them belong here. That's where Buchanan's Native Plants comes in. As the name implies, this Heights nursery specializes in plants indigenous to the Lone Star State. We're talking about Texas Firecracker, Texas Kidneywood, Texas Olive, Texas Persimmon, Texas Sage, Texas Sotol, Texas Star Hibiscus and even a few without the word "Texas" in their name. (But who would want those?) If you're looking to grow something green that's also distinctly Texan, this is the place to go.

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