Best Of :: Shopping & Services
SoBo, which incorrectly begins at First Avenue and Broadway and works its way south to Alameda, has been a work in progress. But a few crowning touches — a slow influx of new and trendy restaurants, a stabilized lineup of boutiques and the recent instigation of the Tigalo block of shared quarters for Buffalo Exchange and Fancy Tiger — have made all the difference between its designation as a street with a few shops one sees while rushing by and that of a real shopping destination. People are stopping more than they did before, and they're going to do that more and more. The charm is already there, and the variety is plentiful. If the Broadway stretch can address its cons in the future — narrow sidewalks, fierce traffic and parking nightmares — with a project like the one just finishing up on Tennyson Street, there's no telling how high this district can fly.
Readers' Choice: South Pearl Street
An icon of Colorado's medical marijuana scene, Twirling Hippy Confections owner Jessica LeRoux was baking and selling her special cheesecakes and developing a following years before the medical marijuana industry took hold. But even with the transition to a commercial kitchen, her recipes are still some of the most delicious around. Her seasonal cheesecakes — like pumpkin pie around Halloween and Palisade Peach in August — have become fan favorites, but we love the simplicity of her traditional chocolate-and-caramel turtles, dubbed "Terrapins."
Clothing designer Tina Joliffe and artist Vincent "Cheap" Fasano needed a place where they could combine their eclectic interests under one roof. They found it in Fast Geek Boutique, where Joliffe's cute frocks and Fasano's outsider art are both part of the decor, along with a mélange of accessories and sewing supplies. That alone would seem enough to fill the boutique's close quarters, but there's more: books and zines from Fast Geek Press (including poetry by Vincent's twin brother, Charly), cassette tapes by Analog Empire, artwork by found-object assemblage artist Heretik and local-music recordings from Suburban Home Records. And if that's not enough for you, Fast Geek also now houses 2011 Best of Denver winner eyeLAB, an eyeglass service offering trendy prescription eyewear on a sliding-scale basis. Now, swallow your shrinking pill like a good little Alice and walk in the door.
No matter where you rank psychics on the bullshit scale, local spirit-charmer Lawrence Woodson is good for an afternoon of personal reflection. With a family history in the business and sixteen years of experience on his own, Woodson moves past the crystal-ball shtick and into therapy territory by using his clients' personalities and histories to reinterpret them in the animal kingdom. Incense, deep conversation and lots of shut-eyed imagination all feature in his $45 attempts to match people with their animals. Woodson himself is a coyote, while members of the military, he says, are often chimpanzees. In rare cases, it's possible to have two animal spirits, but don't worry: Woodson doesn't charge extra.
A collaboration of Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy and Rocky Mountain PBS, this website offers video clips that show parents how to introduce songs, rhymes and "fingerplays" that will help stimulate and educate their offspring. There are different levels of pre-reading skills involved, targeting pre-schoolers, toddlers or swaddlers. It's a great way to get your rugrat building a vocabulary for that long journey to graduate school.
FACTORY | made divides and conquers: On one hand, it's a buyer's showcase for mostly local designers and independent manufacturers of furniture, body products, jewelry and accessories, stationery, clothing and just about anything freshly made by hand on the Front Range. On the other, it's a creative lab that provides tools and materials, fabrication space and production resources for sound, video and graphics, as well as networking and instruction opportunities for growing cottage industries. A living, breathing amalgam, FACTORY | made serves as a model of the future, encouraging discourse, creativity and community for people who might previously have worked alone or on the fringe.