Best Of :: Shopping & Services
Unlike many of the markets that have sprouted up across the metro area, the Boulder Farmers' Market is truly a farmers' market, a place set up so that local farmers can sell their goods and customers can meet the people who produce their food. You can stop by a stall and ask the farmer why your raspberries at home are dying, how he cooks chard or how his crops were affected by last year's flood. You can discover new and interesting vegetables you'd never find in the store, like small creamy-white eggplants or the huge, delicious, pale-lilac variety called Violette di Firenze; the market also features amazing plants to put in your own garden. Not a vegetarian, but don't want to feel guilty about eating meat? The ranchers and chicken farmers will describe in careful detail the lives of the creatures they raised — none of which suffered the way commodity animals do. Buy duck or duck eggs. Try goat. The market also boasts, among many other things, baked goods and toffee, great coffee, salmon, bread, honey and jams, soaps and flowers. And as the summer unfolds, you'll find — more or less in this order — strawberries, apricots, plums, peaches, raspberries, crisp apples and succulent pears.
A one-stop shop for all-organic personal care, Vert Beauty knows that a happy customer is a conscious one. Opened just a few months ago, the Highland shop has already cornered the market on a long-awaited necessity: all-organic, cruelty-free, responsibly sourced bath and beauty products for men, women and children. From fragrances for the home and body to moisturizers, sunscreens, skin tonics and the latest in makeup trends, Vert carries the same products as a department store, but all from ecologically responsible sources. The staff has decades of combined experience in the cosmetic industry, plus a wealth of knowledge on the latest in sustainable beauty trends, and they're happy to walk customers through new beauty routines. Vert also offers on- and off-site makeovers, makeup tutorials and wedding and special-event consultations.
How best to keep tabs on the inevitable road closures and accidents in winter? You could wade through ads on commercial radio in hopes of catching a traffic update. Or you could whip out your phone and check the Colorado Department of Transportation's Twitter account, where the agency posts regular updates on interstate and surface road closures throughout the business day. @ColoradoDOT is short and to the point, with the latest information on closures and delays caused by various acts of nature (and out-of-state ski-trippers) crammed into 140 characters or less. The best part: Unlike radio, Twitter works in both directions, so the department's social-media managers can (and do) answer questions directed at them. Just make sure to pull over before whipping out your phone: You don't want to be the subject of the next tweet.
In the age of so-called affordable care, we like the idea of checking with a nurse about what the doctor is or isn't telling us. Centura offers one of several nurse hotlines in the area. Unlike Denver Health's round-the-clock operation, the Speak to a Nurse Hotline is available just twelve hours a day, but if you're calling during business hours, you can generally count on the friendly, accessible manner of the knowledgeable staff, who boast an average of 22 years of experience.
Early this year, Denver County Court opened a Civil Self Help Center in the City and County Building, staffed by a bilingual attorney, to assist the beleaguered in navigating the forms and processes for self-representation in small-claims matters, protection orders, evictions and more (but no legal advice allowed). Add to that the self-help centers for probate, domestic relations and juvenile cases, and the do-it-yourself litigant has a good chance of asserting the right to a fair hearing.
You say "po-tay-to," I say "po-tah-to": Do you ever get into this type of spat with your search engine? Now, thanks to the Denver Public Library, there are live librarians at your fingertips, via the library's ASK US! 24-hour chat service. All you need is your computer and questions that need answering, and they'll expertly guide you through the process of finding the answers. More than just a standard homework-helper line, ASK US! is a also gateway to databases not available on the web, shared with one-on-one instruction, any time of day or — you know who are — the middle of the night. Sometimes the human touch really does make Internet research easier.