Best Of :: Shopping & Services
We've always admired the way the Pavilions management has been willing to stick its neck out by offering space to such indie enterprises as Cali & Mo, which launched its first store there five or so years ago. That practice, paired with a strong commitment to a core group of appealing national retailers, from the Gap to Forever 21, has kept the large holes left by the departing Virgin and Nike stores from bringing the whole place down. And in the last year or two, the Pavilions seems to be solidifying, rocking it on the strength of its Forever 21 superstore and the entry of H&M (which just added a new in-store Marni shoe shop) into the game. The Pavilions knows its place. It's not overwhelmingly large, and it has something for everyone, including a movie theater, a book store and a bowling alley. The mall also plays host to the annual Downtown Denver Arts Festival over Memorial Day weekend, as well as a number of offbeat events, such as last fall's Project Runway-style Cut 'n Sew: Yves Saint Laurent Challenge for local designers. Lastly, we simply love that the Denver Pavilions is downtown, adding its urban flavor to the 16th Street Mall experience.
Readers' Choice: Pearl Street Mall, Boulder
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.