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Best Of 2004

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Best Of :: Goods & Services

Best Factory Outlet Center

Opened in October 2001, Colorado Mills has yet to catch the retail fire its developers had hoped for. We don't quite understand why. It's an easy distance outside of town -- the "scenic" route along Colfax provides a bonus driving tour of Lakewood's finest dive bars -- and its ninety shops are a manageable mix of upscale, stylish and practical, with good deals in every one. (Slightly less scenic but more direct routes along Sixth Avenue and C-470 provide easy access for those in a hurry.) There's a food court with ample seating, a family fun center and, best of all, a Super Target. True, the Outlets in Castle Rock have eight more stores, and bargain shopping at Loveland's outpost of outlets is a tad more picturesque. But Colorado Mills has something its competitors don't: an As Seen on TV store!

Best Free Service

The Denver Public Library's newly revamped website offers a welcome selection of no-hassle, no-cost online resources for cardholders, from complete car-repair manuals (wiring diagrams included!) to Bradford legal forms and movie, music and book reviews. An astonishing range of periodical databases offer full-text articles from health, business, popular and scholarly publications. And don't get us started on the genealogical tools and links. Log on and dig in.


Best Free Service for Smokers
Colorado Quitline/Colorado QuitNet
Patrick Merewether

Cold sweats, cravings, minor panic attacks. Never mind actually quitting -- these are some sensations experienced by dedicated smokers who simply stop to contemplate a puff-free life. But deep down, even the heaviest huffers know what a wretched, toxic habit smoking is. It's just that giving it up is so damn...hard. Colorado Quitline and QuitNet, free services operated by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, make it easier by offering online and telephone counseling, referrals and medical info to those hoping to snuff their addiction. Funded by money from the huge multi-state tobacco settlement of 1998, Quitline and QuitNet are known to be effective strategies: Smokers who use the services are three times more likely to stay smoke-free for at least six months longer than those who never pick up the phone or log on. Ready to kick? Reach out and touch someone.


Best Free Service for Gardeners

Aspiring gardeners who don't know the difference between a weed and a seed pod will find plenty to dig into on Colorado State University's Master Gardener website. So will those looking for specific information on delightfully dirty subjects like composting and mealworms. The site is an exhaustive font of information for both the seasoned and the stupefied, with tips on everything from lawn care and pest control to plant selection and keeping your window fern alive. Visitors can also ask questions directly of those earthy wizards known as master gardeners. It isn't easy being a green thumb, but CSU's site makes it a little less mind-boggling.


Best Downtown Service

Face it: Parking downtown will always be a pain. But the Tabor Center parking garage is an oasis in a desert of parking meters. It costs twelve bucks to park there all day, but the garage is much more than just an auto warehouse. Different services are available on different levels of the structure: Leave your car on Level E, and Center Line Detailing Car Wash will clean it ($15 to $25) while you shop. On Level C is same-day dry-cleaning and auto repair: Midas Auto Service Experts will pick up your vehicle, change the oil or whatever else you need and return it to the garage. Speedy Auto Glass will even come and fix windshields. What parking meter can do all that?


Best Way to Reduce Your Parking Fine by 37 Cents

Yeah, parking tickets suck. What makes them even worse is writing a check to cover the cost, tracking down an envelope and a stamp, and remembering to put the hateful package in the mail. While the Denver Parking Violations Bureau's website doesn't entirely take the sting out of the process, it does eliminate some of the additional tasks. By clicking the "Pay-By-Web" button on the home page and following along step by step, users can charge a ticket to their Visa or MasterCard, saving a few pennies and some additional frustration in the process.


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Best Factory Outlet Center: Colorado Mills

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