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Best Of 2009

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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Place to Get Your Holes Drilled
A & B Bowling Supply Co.

Move over, Hollywood stars: At A & B Bowling Supply, the red carpet is reserved for practice bowls. The plush runner is not there to look good; it's laid out so bowlers can learn the proper handling of their balls. This is the place to go when you need custom drilling while you wait. Be sure to ask for Neil Mortenson; he's sharp as a pin, throwing down bowling wisdom in the form of epigrams. He keeps his finger(s and a thumb) on the pulse of the bowling world and can poetically let you know how the Sarge-Easter Grip helps to stimulate a really high rev rate, as well as how to get spinners to hook into winners. Customers who deal with Neil insist their averages are better, and happily return to purchase trophies and shirts with lettering. It's a place with service to spare.

7885 W. 16th Ave., Lakewood, 80214
MAP
303-238-1343
Best Anime Store
Gimme Anime

There's a lot to recommend about Gimme Anime, but integrity is the foremost reason to feed your cultish obsession for Japanese animation, comics, serial graphic novels and accessories there. Owners Roger Morse and Emily Morse-Lee run a strictly bootleg-free business and stand by the quality of the stock, both new and consigned, that they put on the shelves of their Aurora strip-mall shop. But it's also an encyclopedic go-to for the very best stuff around, decked out with locally made fan art, where they'll gladly bend over backwards for you with special-ordering and wish-list services. Plus, the store offers a Gimme Manga frequent-buyer's card that will net you a free Fruits Basket (or other serial comic) for every nine that you buy and will provide meeting space for fellow mangamaniacs. That's not just retail; that's community.

2495 S. Havana, Aurora, 80014
MAP
303-369-0043
Best Boulder DIY Boutique
Common Threads

Common Threads is a combination high-end used-clothing consignment boutique, local-product gift shop and creative lab, where you can learn to repurpose your newly purchased secondhand rags or send your kid to a spring-break sewing camp. Designed also with a dual purpose — to serve at-risk girls from Boulder's AIM House with special programs and to cater to the public at large — its all about the woman-to-woman experience (though guys are certainly welcome) with a green tinge, offering everything from a mentoring helping hand and a friendly stitch-and-bitch atmosphere. Believe it: This is the boutique of the future.

2707 Spruce St., Boulder, 80302
MAP
303-449-5431
Best Bridal Shop
Anna BÉ

Anna Bé is exactly what you always imagined a wedding-dress shop would look like: a charming boutique with exposed brick walls and four neat rows of simple, elegant designer dresses; one massive pedestal before a three-tiered mirror; and not another bride in sight. Adorable, never-pushy co-owner Anna is only concerned with you. She'll bring you and your friends champagne and stay out of your way while you try on the first few dresses. Then she'll casually hang a dress outside your door and suggest you give it a try. It looked plain on the hanger, but on you, it's absolutely perfect.

3215 Zuni St., Denver, 80211
MAP
720-855-1111
Best Coin Dealer in Uncertain Times

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. In a perilous economy, lots of people look to precious metals and collectable coins, but there are plenty of weirdos in the field as well as professionals. We like Dave Eichenberger's shop because the folks there are friendly, well-versed in the eccentricities of coin collecting, never intimidating and eminently fair, both in what they sell and what they pay for old coins and jewelry. Dave dispenses good advice for collectors, can spot a three-legged buffalo nickel in a pile of mere spenders, and can perform a quick assay to let you know if Grandpa's ring is real gold or 99 percent pure ersatz. And that's what you want from professionals these days: a quick winnowing of the chaff from the golden wheat.

548 S. Broadway, Denver, 80209
MAP
303-778-6076
Best Collection of Photography Books
Camera Obscura Gallery

So the photography nut on your gift list has asked for a stack of hardcover photo books by people with names like Lee Friedlander, Alfred Stieglitz and Annie Leibovitz. Don't know where to turn? Camera Obscura Gallery has plenty of fine art; in fact, the gallery and store claims to have the biggest selection of photography books in Colorado. Plus, they'll let you peruse the books before you buy them. Spend an afternoon there flipping through some of the best photos ever — then solve your gift-buying problems in a flash.

1309 Bannock St., Denver, 80204
MAP
303-623-4059
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Best Place to Get Your Holes Drilled: A & B Bowling Supply Co.

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