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It's clear that Flowers Etc. by Georgia is a family-owned business from the moment you walk through the door. The small group of employees will ask you exactly what kind of arrangement you're looking for — a birthday, a graduation, a get-together at home — and will take you into the floral cooler, where it instantly smells like paradise. You can choose from a wide variety of daisies, daffodils, greens and a half-dozen colors of roses. You can go the DIY route, picking your flowers as you go; you can leave it to the experts to make the recommendations; or you can pre-select an arrangement from the shop's website. Flowers Etc. by Georgia offers about 60 options. Gift baskets and candles are also available in the shop.

Jeff Balke

Whether you're looking for a unique libation only rarely heard of in these parts, or are only after a standard excellent bottle of something red, Spec's Wines, Spirits and Finer Foods, located just outside of downtown Houston, is the best place to go. But be prepared; you'll be walking into an absolute wonderland of booze when you enter the store. The downtown Spec's is the mothership of all the satellite stores in Houston, and as such it has just about anything you can think of on its shelves. Plus, you can always wind your way over to the grocery and deli section if you want a little something to nibble on while you enjoy your alcoholic beverage of choice. And if for some reason you don't quite know what you want, or are simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of options arrayed on aisle after aisle, the super-helpful and extremely knowledgeable Spec's employees have you covered.

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When you have put off getting your bridesmaid dress hemmed until the last possible moment and are desperately praying for a miracle solution so the bride won't throttle you, Bridals by Nancy is the place to go. Tucked into a tiny shop on a corner in Rice Village, Nancy will not bat an eye when you carry in your too-long dress, or your too-expensive-to-simply-throw-them-away jeans, or your vintage swing dress that's roughly 80 years old but only needs to be stitched up in 15 different places to be wearable again. She will simply take the item you have proffered, examine it, give an incredibly reasonable price for the work and then have it neatly, sturdily done when you come back at the appointed time. Altered clothes will fit to perfection, and any patches will be so seamlessly and thoroughly done that the items will look like new.

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Although we are lucky to live in a city that is full-to-bursting with able medical specialists, we're still a little skint when it comes to holistic practitioners, a notable exception being Dr. Moss, whose approach to optometry is rooted in general health strategies and cutting-edge approaches to vision correction. In addition to the usual Victorian gadgets, eye tests and hypnotic lulls one encounters in every eye doctor's office, Dr. Moss puts in the extra time — the extra time reading about progressive medical practices, the extra time looking at the whole messy spectrum of well-being, and, rarer yet, the extra one-on-one time with her patients.

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There's nothing "basic" about Splash's basic wash package, which runs a reasonable $18-$35. The attention and care Splash attendants give to your vehicle, from the lowliest bucket to the fanciest Italian import, is a marvel. They will vacuum, wash, Armor All, and generally primp and preen your ride to your heart's delight. For a few bucks more, you can step it up to the executive wash package, which includes cleaning the dashboard, door panels, console areas and seats. For the super-serious driver, Splash offers premiere detailing services like shampooing, deodorizing, deluxe leather conditioning and oxidation removal. You'll leave feeling like your vehicle is brand-new, and for the amount of time most Houstonians spend in traffic every day, it's well worth it.

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We haven't always exercised regularly or eaten healthy — hence that unfortunate summer we came down with scurvy. But, with just a little effort, we got our act in shape, and a big part of that was the Vitamin Shoppe. Sure, we felt out of our element the first time we walked in, especially since we were holding a bucket of fried chicken. But the employees were patient, courteous and knowledgeable. They explained all the different powders and supplements without pushing any product or trying to rush us out the door. It's amazing — we started to feel better even before we left. We're pretty sure you will too.

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Dick's has a way of immersing shoppers in whatever sport they're browsing for in the way a cruise line brochure might sell you a vacation. Deer heads are mounted on the wall in the hunting section. Pictures of sweaty runners with to-be-envied steel abs seem to be racing along the walls. Golf clubs line the putting green, where you can try them out. The point is, Dick's has a way of convincing you that you deserve the highest-quality equipment, for any sport or activity. Whether you're in need of football cleats or hockey skates, kayaks or snowboards, Dick's has everything for both serious athletes willing to lay down the cash and casual shoppers who just want to pick up a lawn game and some jogging shorts.

Houston Press file photo

Memorial City Mall is not without its quirks. You have to go outside to get to the Old Navy. The part of the mall next to the ice rink is a weird, pretend ski lodge. One of the anchor stores is a Target. But that's kind of the magic of the mall. What other mall in Houston gives you the chance to get an American Girl doll styled after you as you grab a bite at Tout Suite and check out the model trains courtesy of the Houston Tinplate Operators Society? Memorial City Mall isn't a place to be seen or a place to kill a few hours before a concert. It's a place you go to hang around for a few hours and give in to the eccentricities of the place. And with the addition of The Square, there are even more reasons to kill a day at Memorial City.

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It feels like there are roughly a million drugstores within the Houston city limits, but that doesn't mean all those pharmacies are actually good places to get your prescriptions filled while also finding fun new face creams and picking up a last-minute birthday present. That's where the Walgreens on West T.C. Jester comes in. There are plenty of fun goods to look at and potentially impulse-buy while you wait on your prescriptions, but the magical part about this Walgreens is you will almost never have to wait long. The pharmacists behind the counter know what they're about and are quick to get prescriptions filled, and if you're getting something new that you have questions about, they'll be glad to answer them. On top of that, if for some reason they can't fill a prescription, they will take the time to figure out what the problem is, whether it's an insurance issue or the fact that the entire chain just happens to be running low on a particular medication. From there, they'll make the phone calls needed to get the prescription approved or to find a pharmacy that can fill your order, and they're always nice about it.

Photo by Troy Fields

With more than 17 years of bartending experience in her back pocket, Monique Hernandez runs a tight ship at Field & Tides, the go-to Heights eatery for pimento balls, scallops and more Gulf Coast delights, with a cocktail list that's incredibly food- and user-friendly. While offering hospitality with panache and grace, Hernandez is the type of bartender that epitomizes what the job is all about: making customers happy and crafting complex flavors into refreshing, approachable quaffs. Her spicy, snappy play on a margarita is worth the trip alone, but you'll also want to sample the showstopping El Vaquero, a frothy mezcal sour with the restaurant's logo, FT, stenciled across the top.

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