Not all pawn shops are created the same. Some have the same dusty merchandise day in and day out; some are so dark and dingy that you just wind up feeling depressed; and some are so poorly organized that it can take half an hour to find the item you're looking for. But Money Mart is a real oasis: a huge, clean, well-lit, well-organized store with an ever-revolving inventory of quality merchandise — electronics, jewelry, designer handbags, you name it. The prices are fair and the customer service is superb. It's worth looking here before making a trip to your go-to retail store — chances are, you may wind up with a much better deal.

Collectors Firearms

From the tiniest pea-shooter to the most exotic antique flintlock, Collectors Firearms has your back. Or your hip and ankle, for that matter. Started in 1975, this Houston mainstay has been providing people with a huge inventory of quality pistols, rifles, shotguns — and even knives and swords — at great prices, with excellent customer service from real experts. Colt, Winchester, Smith & Wesson, SIG Sauer — whatever your brand, you won't be disappointed. Collectors Firearms boasts a regular inventory of more than 12,000 guns, from as low as $100 to $500,000. (We like to stick somewhere in the middle.) You can also salivate over the new arrivals, along with the regular stock, online.

Best Manicure
Photo by Ruth Johnston via CC

Getting a manicure isn't only about a glossy coat of polish, but the overall experience during that manicure and the rejuvenated look of your nail beds and hands. Bliss Day Spa offers one of the best in Houston, with a price that includes it all. For $25 you're welcomed into the clean and organized salon, which boasts a spectrum exclusively of OPI polishes, followed by an exfoliating scrub, with a generous massage of the hands and forearms. The salon is extremely tidy and comfortable and has a variety of tasty drinks, both with and without alcohol. There's a two-drink maximum, but we say go for the screwdriver. One cocktail (or two) later plus a change of polish, and you'll be set for at least a week or more, assuming you don't go rock climbing with your bare hands.

Best Jewelry Store
Photo by ilovebutter via CC

This family-owned institution first opened its doors in downtown Houston in 1945. In 1992 the store moved to its current location in Upper Kirby/River Oaks, and all this time, Reiner's has prided itself on offering the finest-quality rings, necklaces, watches, earrings and other accessories in the city. Whether you want to choose from a wide selection of beloved designers like Benchmark, Goldman, Stuller and others, or want to custom-build your own piece, the Reiner family is there to help. (Check out their online Pendant Builder to get an idea of the possibilities.) This family has been a trusted name for more than 70 years — and there's a reason for that. Come by and see for yourself.

Best DIY Bike Shop
Photo by Doogie Roux

A project of the nonprofit Tour de Hood, Third Ward Bike Shop is a bike repair shop for the community and, often, by the community. Those who know nothing about fixing a broken chain can either drop it off for repair, or, more encouraged here, learn how to do it themselves from some of the shop's volunteers. For veteran cyclists, general manager Angelo Coletta offers a garage somewhat overflowing with tools and parts that anybody can use to fix up their bikes for $10 per hour. The shop often takes bike donations, and for Tour de Hood's weekly bike ride on Wednesday nights, anyone can borrow a bike for free. Coletta is always looking for knowledgeable volunteers to help with bike repairs and credits them $10 an hour toward purchasing a new bike if they'd like.

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