Best Of :: Shopping & Services
This store's name says it all. Here you'll find everything from geeky school-band instruments (and a host of instructors expert in their use) to pro gear that would do Van Halen proud. What you won't find is superstore attitude. According to Gary Patterson, who owns the business with four of his family members, "90 percent of our customers walk in and say, 'Man, I went over to such-and-such and couldn't get one person to help me. And when they did, they just wanted to sell me something more expensive than I needed because they work on commission.'" By contrast, Universal focuses on selling what its customers need and sticking to their budgets.
Denver's jailhouse certainly doesn't rock, but those bright-orange jumpsuits sure are purty. If committing a crime, getting arrested and doing time in the pokey isn't worth it for you, though, why not just pretend? Where the Buffalo Roam, a novelty shop on the 16th Street Mall, sells orange jumpsuits, T-shirts, button-up shirts and a variety of hats with the words "Property of Denver County Jail" stenciled across them. While the city's corrections director, Fred Oliva, didn't have much of a sense of humor about the grim garments, that hasn't stopped people from snatching them up (after paying, of course), says a store employee. And why not? After all, the clothes look criminally cool.
Since it opened in February, Art-N-Soul has become like a Star Wars' Mos Eisley Spaceport for Denver-area graffiti artists who appreciate the difference between a fully conceptualized work of street art and a hastily thrown-up "tag" that's all autograph and no picture. Open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day except Mondays, Art-N-Soul is where you will find local graffiti writers showing off their sketch books and talking craft while local hip-hop maven Fly Jedi mixes beats and rings up sales behind the counter. Dominated by eye-popping wall murals by Denver writers Chase and Jehr, the shop carries a full line of graffiti-culture accoutrements. These include canvases and black books (both priced at just 50 percent over wholesale), T-shirts, underground hip-hop CDs, graffiti magazines While You Were Sleeping and Scribble, and custom-designed spray-paint caps used to adjust the width and rate of paint flow. Art-N-Soul is also one of the few retail outlets in the country to carry Belton Molotow Premium spray paint, the celebrated but hard-to-come-by German line designed by and for graffiti artists. "That's the butter stuff, right there," says Jehr. And the motto on the cans says it all: "Use for art, not vandalism."
Got gas? It's not just for dental patients anymore. Quasi-legal and relatively harmless, recreational doses of nitrous oxide are widely available hereabouts in the form of "whippits." Small aluminum cylinders of pressurized gas, whippits are sold in head shops and adult bookstores under the guise of chargers for homemade whipped-cream makers. But the price of nitrous in Denver is no laughing matter. Capitalizing on the underground nature of the product, most outlets charge an outrageous $28 to $35 for a case of 24. There are exceptions: Thankfully, the Joker has the best deal in town, at $15.99. At those prices, just say N20.
You can get reasonably priced cases of whippits (around $20) and sensibly priced whips ($30, more or less) at the Crypt. There's a bigger selection of novelties next door, but the pickin's are pretty good here, too. The rest, as they say, is up to you. Just whippit good.
Now you can wear your heart on your sleeve and your flag on your biceps -- and have something more than a permanent blemish to show for it. Last October, in the wake of September 11, the epidermis etchers at Dark Millennia Studios instigated this offer, though word from the Millennial staff is that there wasn't much of a response. The offer still stands, just like the good old American spirit: Declare your love for your nation in permanent ink, and 10 percent of the fee will go to the Red Cross or United Way in your name.