Heck, I didn't notice that you were in NW Houston. That's where I lived for 35 years, till retirement. Woodcraft moved from their old address on Hwy 290 to their new shop at I45 and Hwy 1960.
Another place to look for wood in Houston is Houston Hardwoods, on 290 and a short ways outside the 610 loop on West 34th street, just east of 290 by maybe 600 yards. Go in the big open front door and on your right, near the restroom, is their rack of scraps of wood - pieces not big enough for commercial sale, but big enough for small projects. They usually have all sorts of wood types, some rather exotic. I always look around in there to see what they might have. You just pick what you want and get one of the guys there to write up the ticket and you pay in the office.
I haven't ever checkered handgun grips, though I wish I knew how. As for making the grips, I'd suggest that you start with a soft and easy to shape wood (white pine, for instance) to get a feel for what you need to do. Practice on the cheap soft wood and then move to the 'good stuff' when you feel ready.
And back to Woodcraft for a second...they'll have plenty of good looking wood - Rosewood, Satine/Bloodwood, zebrawood, Bocote, and on and on. Some of it's pretty expensive. The grain and coloring varies with individual chunks of wood, so you can have a look a plenty of wood to choose what you want. If you like dark woods, have a look at the Australian Blackwood. I made a rolling pin from that wood for a lady coworker and there isn't now a better looking rolling pin on planet Earth. It's deep black, with gold and white running through it. And man did it take a shine well.
I live up near Waco now, but if it wasn't so far from you, I'd offer to help a bit. If you don't mind making a drive (about 150 miles), PM me after you choose the wood and buy it and I can put all my woodshop to work for ya. It'd be fun. Whatever wood you buy, get enough that you can scrap some if you mess it up.