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Readers' Choice


Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best First-Friday Freebie
Friday Night Blow Outs

First Friday is one of Denver's most reliable monthly happenings. Thanks to Matthew Morris Salon, a chic beauty spot on South Broadway, culture-consuming Denverites can look their best while scoping the city's hot spots for high and low art. During Friday Night Blow Outs, held the first Friday of every month, Matthew Morris offers free polish changes and blow dries in a chatty setting filled with beautiful people. Cocktails are always on the menu, as are a wide array of services and sensual spa treatments -- for a price. And though their work is not the stuff of ARTForum, Morris's talented staff can certainly count themselves among the city's creative class. Just ask anyone who's ever popped in for an updo.

277 Broadway, Denver, 80203
Best Free Service
DVD rentals

Going to the library has never felt so naughty. Walk into the Ross-Cherry Creek Branch Library and you'll be greeted at the door by DVDs -- rows and rows of them. The bookshelves here are a mere backdrop; the establishment has long since embraced that which draws in its patrons. And the movie selection -- oh, the selection. New releases like Borat. Season after full season of Six Feet Under. B-movies with no hint of literary value, such as American Pie: Band Camp. Grab two, grab four -- hell, grab seven, the maximum you're allowed (the librarians get that all the time). And when you check out, the only plastic you'll need to flash is your library card. This being a library, everything is gloriously, scandalously free. Melvil Dewey may be turning in his grave, but we movie buffs wouldn't have it any other way.

305 Milwaukee St., Denver, 80206
Best Hotel Bargain
Comfort Inn Downtown

Situated across Tremont Street from the legendary (and extremely expensive) Brown Palace Hotel, the Comfort Inn Downtown affords many of the same luxuries at a fraction of the price. Towering over the Brown at 24 floors, the Inn is less polished than its five-star counterpart, but the art-deco-style standard corner rooms feature comfy beds, floor-to-ceiling windows and spectacular panoramic views of the city. Suites are also available. Because the Comfort Inn is affiliated with the Brown, guests have access to the latter's 24-hour room service and spa, as well as other amenities. The difference is that after soaking up the ambience of the Brown's beautiful atrium lobby or Ship Tavern, Comfort guests can sneak back across the street to their humble digs, with an extra $200 of unspent cash in their wallets.

401 17th St., Denver, 80202
Best Dollar Store

Those who enter the Dollar Tree to slum for 99-cent chatchkes and crappy closeout merchandise might be surprised when they emerge from one of the chain's metro-area outlets with a cart full of things they actually need. Dish towels, extension cords, Tupperware, lightbulbs, work gloves, fabric softener, plastic dinnerware, beef food. All the same stuff you'd buy at the supermarket, but for a buck. Sure, the generic children's conditioner smells kinda weird -- but it's only a dollar! Same with the fancy wrapping paper, picture frames and jugs of jalapeos. Dollar Tree stores are, for the most part, spacious, well-organized and absent of the peculiar scent of many under-a-buck retailers, which means you'll have plenty of peace while examining the wide assortment of ceramic puppy-dog figurines.

Best Strip Mall for Cheapskates

JCRS is best known as the home of Denver's venerable tourist trap, Casa Bonita, but that's only the beginning of the low-rent excitement. Where else in town can you find a Save-A-Lot grocery store, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar discount stores and an ARC Thrift Store -- not to mention a post office and a place hawking discount video games? Imagine all the essentials of life in one place: food, clothing, cotton swabs, stamps, waterfall divers, Donkey Kong. It's the kind of one-stop paradise Colfax was meant to be.

Best Cheap Car Wash
Octopus Car Wash

Mag chloride still stuck to your car? Dog slobber on the windows and fur on the seats? Maybe a spilled Big Gulp left sticky spots on the console. For just $6.99, Octopus Car Wash will have you in, washed, waxed and on your way. For the more deluxe treatment -- which you'll want for that pet hair -- you'll still get out for less than $20. Just be sure to tip.

7490 W. Colfax Ave., Lakewood, 80214

Best First-Friday Freebie: Friday Night Blow Outs


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