Shopping & Services

  • BEST EXCUSE TO PLAY HOOKY

    Boulder Arts and Crafts Cooperative

    One February day, would-be customers of the Boulder Arts and Crafts Cooperative encountered this sign on the entrance: "We will be closed Tuesday, 2/21, for Feng Shui adjustments." Where there's a will, there's a shui.… More >>
  • BEST FREE SERVICE

    Easter Sunrise at Red Rocks

    If you only go to a church service once a year, make it the Colorado Council of Churches' Easter Sunrise at Red Rocks. For 58 years, Denverites have been hauling their blankets, parkas, umbrellas and Thermoses up a huge sandstone hill to find religion in the world's most beautiful amphitheatre. Choirs, gospel singers, preachers, drummers, dancers and string players have… More >>
  • BEST FREE SERVICE -- SECULAR

    RTD schedules downloadable to PDA www.rtd-denver.com

    There's nothing worse than lugging around RTD bus schedules: The right one is never at hand, and when you do find it, hiding at the bottom of a bag, it's crumpled and expired by months. Time to go paperless with RTD's wireless services. At rtd-denver.com, you can download the schedule viewer onto any PDA, then synch regularly to keep data… More >>
  • BEST FREE SERVICE -- UNOFFICIAL

    Capitol Hill trash pickup

    The combination of high-density apartment buildings in Capitol Hill and the high number of homeless, indigent and cracked-out folks who roam the corridors around East Colfax Avenue creates at least one harmonious, if accidental, civic service: free trash pickup. The City of Denver restricts depositing large items in alley dumpsters, but Colfax crackheads are happy to retrieve old mattresses, broken… More >>
  • BEST FREE RESOURCE

    Household Hazardous Waste Swap Shop Curbside Inc. 1-800-449-7587

    In addition to its once-a-year, door-to-door hazardous-waste pickup service, Denver also has a drop-off facility, the Household Hazardous Waste Swap Shop, where you can take up to 125 pounds of oil-based or latex paint, moth balls, solvents, hobby supplies, fluorescent tubes, car batteries -- whatever eligible toxic materials you have lying around the garage -- for free recycling and/or disposal,… More >>
  • BEST FREE HELP

    Sky Ridge Medical Center

    Nearly every hospital in the area has volunteers on site to assist patients in any way possible. But Sky Ridge takes this service to a new level: Rather than just a handful of volunteers at the facility, there's a veritable legion of them, and they're consistently the nicest, kindest, best-informed and most accommodating helpers imaginable.… More >>
  • BEST WIFI DOWNTOWN -- FREE

    Taki's - CLOSED

    Taki's has long been a favorite among bargain-minded Denverites seeking great, healthy food at stunningly low prices; this Colfax mainstay even has free delivery. In keeping with that Japanese-flavored generosity, Taki's began offering free WiFi to customers in 2005. So now you can cruise myspace.com while slurping up spicy ginger miso or download iTunes over a barbecued tofu steak. Arigato,… More >>
  • BEST WIFI DOWNTOWN -- PAID

    Hyatt Regency Denver

    The new Hyatt Regency by the convention center is pretty fly. But while rooms can be pricey, anyone with a laptop and ten bucks can spend 24 hours in the lap of this luxury hotel, thanks to its T-Mobile Hot Spot. Settle into a cushy chair in the spectacular lobby or bar area, hold your cell phone just right as… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS

    Denver Maps www.denvergov.org/denvermaps/

    Denver Maps puts Google Maps to shame. Not only can you get aerial photos, but you can ask the online mapper to show Denver City Council districts, police stations, golf courses, future streets, a Wastewater Management Platmap Index, Enterprise Zones, schools, polling places, bike paths and more -- all layered on one map. There's also a list of every neighborhood… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO GET THE DIRT ON YOUR NEIGHBORS

    www.cbirecordscheck.com

    Murder, drugs, arson, rape, sexual assault, armed robbery, shoplifting, burglary, DUI, arson, larceny, assault, menacing, prostitution and soliciting a prostitute -- it's all at your fingertips, thanks to cbirecordscheck.com. For a mere $6.85, you can get the criminal history of anybody who's ever been arrested in Colorado. All you need is a name, date of birth and vague description (e.g.,… More >>
  • BEST BUSINESS NEIGHBORHOOD

    Microbusiness Development Center

    Small businesses hatch and grow at the Microbusiness Development Center, a one-stop non-profit business resource that helps low-income entrepreneurs through micro-loans, skills programs, a computer lab and general boosterism. Clients who've gotten a jump start from the organization include a seamstress, importers of African merchandise, a gelato-maker, a 24-hour personal receptionist, numerous caterers and even the maker of a squeeze-free… More >>
  • BEST START FOR SELF-STARTERS

    SCORE 721 19th St., #426 303-844-3985, ext. 213 www.scoredenver.org

    For 42 years, the non-profit SCORE has offered free confidential counseling and low-cost workshops for entrepreneurs trying to start, operate or rescue a small business. The Denver chapter (there are offices in Longmont and Steamboat Springs, too) has more than eighty counselors -- mostly working or retired executives -- whose tips on financing, marketing, accounting and fine-tuning business plans come… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO TAKE OFF -- GROUND

    Luxury Lowrider www.luxurylowrider.com

    Tyler Stans knows sweet rides. To see him tooling around Denver on one of his custom lowrider bicycles, his dreads trailing behind him, is to see a man who understands style. Stans started chopping Schwinns three years ago after a friend pulled three old bikes from the trash and sold them to him for $300, and proceeded to make a… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO TAKE OFF -- AIR

    Cheap, Non-Stop Flights to Mexico Denver International Airport

    Used to be the only ways to get to Mexico were to sign on for some cheesy tour or sit at the Colorado Boulevard on-ramp to I-25 South with a "Mexico or Bust" sign, a handful of pesos and a willingness to do anything the trucker who picked you up demanded. Anything. A few selective-memory blackouts and a couple of… More >>
  • BEST RIDES -- LEGAL

    Rocky Mountain Rastacar Transportation

    Keith-David Hammock works seven days a week, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., shuttling the city's inebriated in a converted RTD Access-A-Ride van that was gifted to him by the Bianchi brothers, owners of Sancho's, Quixote's, Cervantes' and Dulcinea's. In exchange for driving Bianchi bar customers between the hippie empire's establishments, Hammock can transport whomever else he pleases, wherever they… More >>
  • BEST RIDES -- ILLEGAL

    G-Ride

    The Jester, a gypsy cab driver, has weathered some turbulence this year. But he recently rescued his storied lime-green Chevrolet Impala from hock and is once again rolling around D-town in style, offering clandestine rides to the stranded and the impatient. In the plus column, he picked up Sound Tribe Sector 9 from an after-party, and the appreciative rap group… More >>
  • BEST RIDES -- UPSCALE

    Central Car Service 303-866-0123

    Taxis are not glamorous. They're temporary and transitory, the mobile equivalent of a phone booth: meant for quick use and quick turnaround by lots and lots of people. But with Central Car Service, being driven around town can be damn near classy, thanks to a fleet of newer Cadillacs outfitted with lush interiors and functional air-conditioning and stereo systems. They'll… More >>
  • BEST RIDES -- IN YOUR OWN CAR

    NoDuiDenver.com 1-877-NODUIDEN

    NoDuiDenver.com has done the barflies of Denver an immeasurable service by eliminating the morning-after "Where did I leave my car?" game. For just a little more than the cost of a cab, NoDui's drivers -- a plucky, sober, background-checked army -- will drive you home in your own car when the party's over. And don't worry if you're too sauced… More >>
  • BEST USED-CAR OPTION

    Precision Auto Diagnostics

    You can rely on all the dealership blather about their certified "pre-owned vehicles" -- or you can invest a modest sum in an independent inspection before sinking your insurance settlement into that white-smoking clunker. Precision's Leo Russ has taken on dealers on behalf of extended-warranty companies and now stumps for consumers in person and online at www.anti-lemon.com; he's opinionated, intimately… More >>
  • BEST WHEELING AND DEALING

    The Import Warehouse 235 Broadway 303-629-0966

    Recently moved to a better showroom and expanded to include broker services, the Import Warehouse is an oasis of decent used-car deals amid a desert of hide-burning dealership experiences. The inventory is European (mostly Volvo, Audi and Volkswagen) and no-haggle priced, the staff is low-key and helpful, and here's the best part: One percent of the purchase price is donated… More >>
  • BEST PARKING-METER VALUE

    1400 block of Wynkoop St.

    The best parking value downtown is the meters lining the west side of the 1400 block of Wynkoop Street. Though they face one of LoDo's spendiest lots, these babies dole out a half-hour per quarter -- for up to five hours. That's right, mathematicians: For a scant fiddy cent, you get a whole hour to booze, shop, eat, whatever. You… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO NOT GAS UP

    Denver BioDiesel www.denverbiodiesel.org

    Nobody believes in biodiesel as the fuel of the future more than north Denverite Lorance Romero, who mixes his own vegetable-oil-based B100 brew under the aegis of the Clearing House collective and Denver BioDiesel. It takes a lot of space to both fill and store barrels of the clean-burning energy source, so Romero is pleased as punch with his brand-new… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY ANTIQUES, EAT GELATO AND CATCH A SHOW WHILE CHASING OFF BUMS

    Upper Larimer St.

    Jack Kerouac and friends would surely be surprised to find what the past twelve months have brought to their skid row. Early pioneers such as Architectural Antiques and the Larimer Lounge stood watch over gang turf wars and armed robberies, but now Espo's Gelato Shop & CafŽ, the Barkway, Checkpoint Racing, Meadowlark, Art & Anthropology and a gaggle of lofts… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET YOUR HAIR CUT, DRINK COFFEE AND LOOK AT ART WHILE CHASING OFF HOOKERS

    Bluebird District

    The latest entry in the pantheon of "new" -- new country, the New West, the New South -- is New Colfax, and its epicenter is the Bluebird District, named for the iconic theater at Colfax and Adams Street. Over the past eighteen months, Cafe Star, Hooked on Colfax, Babooshka salon and ism Gallery have joined such stalwarts as Goosetown Tavern,… More >>
  • BEST NEW STORE ON COLFAX

    Steve's Snappin' Dogs

    Colfax Avenue is hot -- hot dog! You may have seen Steve and Linda Ballas before, in their popular, dog-slinging pooch coach at farmers' markets and other outdoor events around town, or at the Corporate Deli, which they used to run downtown. (And here's food for thought: Linda is the daughter of Blinky the Clown.) Now the couple has staked… More >>
  • BEST NEW STORE ON BROADWAY

    Cargo 210 S. Broadway 303-733-2909

    Like a true traveler, Ivy Morgan's Cargo comes and goes, sometimes packing up in the night and leaving an empty space behind. And now Cargo has returned, this time to a funky South Broadway storefront, but it's selling the same sort of reasonably priced Nepalese, Thai and Indian imports as before, including a great selection of quality incense and those… More >>
  • BEST STORE IN CHERRY CREEK

    Tattered Cover Book Store 2955 E. 1st Ave. 303-322-7727

    You could write a book on what the Tattered Cover and its principled owner, Joyce Meskis, have meant not just to Denver, but to lovers of literature and free speech everywhere. That book begins in Cherry Creek North, where a pre-Meskis Tattered got its start in a little cubbyhole in 1972. Under Meskis, it kept moving to bigger and better… More >>
  • BEST STORE ON BOULDER'S PEARL STREET MALL

    Installation

    Often the hottest-selling items at Satellite Boardshop weren't the skates and snowboards, but the shoes. So owners Raul Pinto and J.G. Mazzotta opened a second Boulder store devoted entirely to street footwear, particularly special-release shoes by Adidas, Nike, I-Path and Vans. Though the location they chose has been a killing field for a bunch of boutiques over the decades, Installation… More >>
  • BEST STORE AT DENVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

    The Colorado Collection Concourse B, Gate 44 303-342-7878

    The Colorado Collection is a hard-to-find sanctuary in a land of cheap, tacky souvenirs. Before the locally owned boutique took off with DIA in 1995, the Colorado Collection was located downtown, and owner/goldsmith Lauren Wahlstrom sold her work out of the shop. Wahlstrom has since passed away, but her family still owns and runs this store specializing in unique, original… More >>
  • BEST STORE IN BELMAR

    Ricochet 7166 W. Alaska Dr., Lakewood 303-937-7733

    New urbanism, you're looking good! And in Belmar, the classy development that took over the former home of Villa Italia, Ricochet could be the main reason why. This great, girly store got its start on South Gaylord, then pioneered Lakewood's new-urbanist outpost, making the area safe for cool greeting cards, fun accessories and little gewgaws you can't live without.… More >>
  • BEST STORE ON LITTLETON'S MAIN STREET

    CreARTive, the Studio - CLOSED

    Creative impulses abound in the 'burbs. For proof, just take a walk down Littleton's Main Street, a century-old strip now filling with chic shops, good restaurants and upscale services. Inspired by what you see? Step around the corner to CreARTive, a bungalow staffed by artists and filled with work spaces. This two-year-old enterprise features studios dedicated to artistic endeavors ranging… More >>
  • BEST STORE IN OLDE TOWN ARVADA

    Misty Hills Books - CLOSED

    Even when Denver was a wild frontier town, it had a public library, and bookstores remain a major hallmark of civilization in the area. Even as big chains gobble up much of the market across the country, niche stores hold on tight to the hearts, minds and wallets of loyal customers. Over the past two years, Misty Hills Books has… More >>
  • BEST STORE ON WEST 32ND AVENUE

    West Side Books

    West Side Books has been a part of the Highland community since before "community" became a buzzword. The expansive used-book store feels like walking into a friend's old-school loft, with its concrete floors, rough walls and high ceilings. There are chairs and carpets everywhere, and the books themselves are housed on a mishmash of shelving that appears to have come… More >>
  • BEST STORE ON THE 16TH STREET MALL

    Aveda Institute

    The Aveda Institute is like the Vassar of beauty schools, and its rigorous fifty-week program turns out students ready to coif the most fashionable heads around. Until then, the grasshoppers charge a mere $12 for a haircut, which includes a shampoo, wash and style, and facials can be had for $30. The Institute opened last year in Media Play's old… More >>
  • BEST STYLE FOR THE MONEY

    Emily Griffith Opportunity School

    The salon services at the Emily Griffith Opportunity School's student salon are so cheap you might be tempted to get your hair done twice in one visit. Outside of a Third World country, where else can you find a $5 haircut, a $7 facial or a $4 manicure? Staffed by students enrolled in the school's cosmetology program and supervised by… More >>
  • BEST LATE-NIGHT HAIRCUT

    Woonoh's Hair Salon 705 E. 6th Ave. 303-839-1843

    A cheap wooden sign outside Woonoh's Hair Salon sums up the bare-bones barbershop in three perfectly hand-drawn words: Nite Hair City. Stylist Woonoh will gladly take appointments at nearly any hour, especially late into the evening. With only one chair and one sink, there may be some waiting, but the place feels like a private oasis of blow-dryers and bleach… More >>
  • BEST NON-SURGICAL FACELIFT

    Eden II Spa

    Looking for a little nip-tuck without the nasty side effects of the scalpel? Try Eden II Spa's Four-Layer Facelift. The gentle peel hydrates the skin, working over time to fight the effects of city living with all its smoke, pollution and booze. Aesthetician Ceara Quintanilla brushes a dose of vitamin C enzymes over your face, then does a mask with… More >>
  • BEST NON-SURGICAL LIPOSUCTION

    Seams Like Magik www.seamslikemagik.com

    Do contemporary women really want to squeeze all of the air out of their lungs just to be skinnier and sexier? Yes -- and no: Corset-maker Jane Campbell gives them the hourglass look without all the pain of lacing up a corset. Campbell fashions her modern, steel-boned waist-cinchers from gorgeous brocades and fake-snake fabrics, so they feel as good as… More >>
  • BEST BOOB JOB

    SOL

    SOL should be a rite of passage, a secret world that aunts open up for their nieces. It would prevent long-term scarring from harsh department-store lights and help end the unfortunate phenomenon of ill-fitting bras. Owners Jeanie Peterson and Cindy Johnson have been running SOL in Cherry Creek since 1997, and almost every woman who goes in comes out a… More >>
  • BEST METROSEXUAL HANGOUT

    MetroBoom 1550 Platte St. 303-477-9700

    Metrosexuals, you no longer need skulk into women-oriented salons to get groomed. Jung Park, an MBA candidate at the University of Denver, has come to your rescue with MetroBoom, a place where you can get a real salon haircut as well as upscale grooming products, titanium cuff links, button-down shirts and trendy designer jeans and tees. Park makes men out… More >>
  • BEST SPOT TO SCOPE HOTTIES

    Whole Foods

    She's gazing intently at the nutrition label on a box of Melba Rounds. She's slender, with short hair, and wears her pants rolled up around her calves like she doesn't even care. If she were at a Safeway, she'd be the most beautiful girl in the store -- hell, in the zip code -- but at Whole Foods in Cherry… More >>
  • BEST SPOT TO SCOPE SMART HOTTIES

    The Apple Store Cherry Creek Shopping Center

    The inhabitants of the Apple Store -- a Mac user's Zion -- are just as sexy as those shoppers at Whole Foods across the street, but here there's a good chance that they're hot and smart. Maybe it's just their proximity to the Apple "geniuses" -- those geeks-in-a-good-way trouble-shooting Powerbooks in the back of the store -- that makes them… More >>
  • BEST WOMEN'S BOOKSTORE

    Word Is Out - CLOSED

    Owners and life partners Louise Knapp and Spider Kornblith have womanned Word Is Out for nearly twelve years, and at their place, you find obscure books on any famous or semi-famous woman, from H.D. to H. Clinton. The sunny shop also carries music, jewelry, T-shirts and posters by feminist artists, LBGT pride paraphernalia, and libby/pro-peace bumperstickers. There's even a personal… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BUY THE BOOK BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

    Relatively Wilde

    Category Six was a Denver institution for more than twenty years, and now the bookseller is ready to start on its next twenty as Relatively Wilde, renamed in honor of Oscar Wilde by life partners Ron Metz and Marc Crouch. Bringing in their quilts, crocheted hearth rugs, Roman busts and two dogs, Bob and Tucker, Metz and Crouch gave the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO RENT BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN AND BAREBACKING MOUNTAIN

    Videotique

    Videotique celebrated its twentieth anniversary last year, and the independent renter is still going strong. The compact shop may be shoehorned into a tiny strip-mall corridor, but it's also packed wall-to-wall with more than 10,000 rentals. Though LBGT titles are the house specialty, you'll find everything from art-house cinema to big-budget Hollywood fluff. And the "black-book" section of adult films… More >>
  • BEST BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN ROLE-PLAY OUTFITS

    CJ's Leather 212 S. Broadway 303-715-1157

    Carlos Larranaga is a master tailor and designer who's been creating hot custom leather garments for the LBGT/BDSM community for 35 years. He first fashioned his cutting-edge kinky couture at storied San Francisco leather shop Image, then moved his material to Denver in 1997, where he's been hard at the 5helm ever since. Whether you're a fierce leather-contest competitor who… More >>
  • BEST TOYS FOR GROWNUPS -- BEDROOM

    Hysteria Sex-Positive Boutique - CLOSED

    Denver's newest sex-toy store also happens to be its classiest. The husband-and-wife team of Elizabeth Hauptman and Pete Yribia opened the bodacious boutique last April to give this town some sex-positive vibes. Modeled after the feminist sex shops Good Vibrations in San Francisco and Toys in Babeland in Seattle and New York, Hysteria sells high-quality erotic toys, books, videos and… More >>
  • BEST TOYS FOR GROWNUPS -- LIVING ROOM

    Plastic Chapel - CLOSED

    The Peter Pan syndrome has been in full force in Denver since last fall, when Dea Webb and David Wendt opened Plastic Chapel, their closet-sized toy store for adults. Come in for the urban vinyl figures normally found by collectors at Kidrobot stores, and stay for the always-changing inventory of knife-wielding, smoking, scowling skateboard-art aliens; Dalek's must-have Space Monkeys and… More >>
  • BEST GIFT SHOW

    Spring Fling Denver Turnverein www.springflingdenver.com

    First came Gifts for Yule, an absolutely yummy holiday gift show that's run for several seasons at the Denver Turnverein, bringing cool stuff -- folk art, vintage linens, pottery, lotions, jewelry and clothing new and old, antiques and all kinds of whimsical what-have-yous -- together under one roof. And this year, show founder Samantha Robinson introduced Spring Fling, a new… More >>
  • BEST HIPPIE TRADE SHOW

    Conscious Creations Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom www.eclecticgroovetherapy.org

    There's only one place in town where you can barter with hippies for handmade crafts, partake in drink specials, listen to spaced-out music and enjoy homemade chocolate-chip cookies on a leisurely weekend afternoon: Conscious Creations, the flea market/ art bazaar that takes place at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom from 2 to 5 p.m. the second Sunday of each month. The market's… More >>
  • BEST BRIDAL SHOW

    Wedding Wednesdays Old South Pearl www.weddingwednesday.com

    We love Old South Pearl Street, a homey stretch in the 1400 and 1500 blocks of South Pearl where you can meander from store to store, stop for coffee, grab a meal and gab with the neighbors. There are no bright lights or hard-sell vendors -- which means this is also the perfect environment for a wedding expo. On the… More >>
  • BEST HIGH HOLY DAYS ALTERNATIVE

    Judaism Your Way 303-320-6185 www.judaismyourway.org

    Many modern Jews would rather eat glass than set foot in a stuffy shul on Yom Kippur, but they still want to connect with their Jewish culture and customs. For them, there's Judaism Your Way, which hosts religious events in unconventional surroundings. Last fall the group offered free, family-friendly High Holy Days services at Hudson Gardens, which culminated in… More >>
  • BEST SANTA SUIT RENTALS

    Englewood Recreation Center

    You never know when you're going to need an emergency Santa suit. The two available at the Englewood Recreation Center are luxurious crushed-velvet jobs, complete with everything required to ho-ho-ho it up, right down to the flowing beard. And even Mr. Claus himself could borrow one in a pinch, since the suits fit up to a size 48. Advance reservations… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR DEADLY STYLE

    Rave's Oh My Goth

    Denver has its own unchallenged Mistress of the Dark -- and it's not Elvira (who grew up in Colorado Springs, after all). No, it's Raven, Mistress of Mootown. After debuting in 1995, Rave moved four times and went through numerous incarnations before finally settling into the old Enigma space off East Colfax in July. Now Raven has a stellar staff,… More >>
  • BEST POTIONS

    MoonDance Botanicals

    Tonja Reichley calls herself an alchemist, and it's easy to agree when you watch her mix her signature potions and lotions in the back room of MoonDance Botanicals. Before setting up shop in the Golden Triangle, Reichley studied in Ireland with an honest-to-God Celtic herbalist and learned to brew fresh, all-natural products designed specifically to combat the dry Colorado air.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DECOMPOSE

    Prairie Arts League/Prairie Wilderness Cemetery project www.prairieartsleague.org

    The national eco-friendly movement toward green burials has a new friend in the Denver-based Prairie Arts League, which aims to preserve a large tract of Colorado prairie as a wildlife refuge. To finance the project, the group is selling space in a cemetery that will be a final resting place for folks who want to be scattered to the winds… More >>
  • BEST DOGGY DRESS-UP

    macymacy 1612 E. 17th Ave. 303-320-1161

    Any excuse for dog owners to set foot into macymacy is a good one. Owner Macy Matarazzo runs the cleverest, most pet-friendly shop in town, if not the universe, offering a fine array of pet paraphernalia, goodies, outrageous doggie togs and greetings from the store's tiny Chihuahua model/mascots, Murray and Meatball. Even if you've never had the urge to dress… More >>
  • BEST FUR ON A CELEBRITY DOG

    Larry El Salon 265 Detroit St.

    How can you not know Larry? Sugar, everyone who is anyone knows Larry. Larry is not just some metrosexual mutt; he's hunky hairdresser Steve Trujillo's beautiful bichon frise -- as well as Denver's most famous celebrity dog. It's a well-known fact that Larry eats more gourmet meals, dresses in more designer dog collars and has more frequent-flier miles than all… More >>
  • BEST SHOP DOG

    Eliot T-Trove Asian DŽcor

    The staff at T-Trove is quite capable of helping you find what you're looking for in Asian furniture and home accessories, from humongous antique leather drums to delicate silk table runners, carved teak screens, cloisonne vases, tea sets and jewelry. Still, it's nice to have Eliot, a Belgia-Malinois mix, serving as a four-legged concierge and adding a touch of canine… More >>
  • BEST SHOP CAT

    Vincent Mona Lucero 2544 15th St.

    In the confines of this oh-so-au-courant boutique, nobody is hipper than Vincent, the gray-and-white feline who bounds to the door to greet visitors, appraise their footwear and, occasionally, escort them to the counter to peruse the shop's fresh and stylish clothing, jewelry, cards and accessories. Owner Mona Lucero may have her own line of separates and handbags, but this is… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO FIND YOUR PLACE IN THE PACK

    Ohana Care Center

    Dr. Mary Mich is a massage therapist extraordinaire and chiropractic goddess, but it's Jake, her adopted Australian shepherd/Border collie mix, that makes her service undeniably special. Jake carefully inspects the personality and temperament of each patient Mich sees to determine the best course of treatment: Alphas get the ultimate privilege of scratching his belly, while betas get herded. Round 'em… More >>
  • BEST NEW PET SERVICE

    Online pet licensing www.denvergov.org/petlicense

    Pet licensing is a doggone drag, no doubt about it. First, there's digging up the dog's rabies-vaccination information, then finding the time to get down to the Denver Municipal Animal Shelter on Jason Street -- not an easy site to locate. Still, it's a worthwhile endeavor, especially since licensing fees help cover a portion of the shelter's costs, including those… More >>
  • BEST PET BEDS

    BuddyBeds 303-744-0424

    Got a dog or cat with aching bones? Slip them into one of Debra Holte's high-quality, memory-foam pet beds, which offer orthopedic benefits similar to those enjoyed by two-legged hospital patients. What started as a home business has gone through the roof, with residents of the country's most animal-friendly city clamoring for BuddyBed's removable, waterproof, washable, antibacterial covers made of… More >>
  • BEST DOG PORTRAITS

    LuLu Bella www.lulubellaart.com 303-455-6943

    Local artist Julia McClurg has a way with pet portraits, and the proof is in dozens of commissions she's received since setting up shop. She captures the personality of her subjects instead of just reproducing their images, and as a result, her whimsical paintings are far better suited to the living room wall than the doghouse.… More >>
  • BEST ALL-COLORADO BANDWAGON

    Colorado Cupboard

    Sisters Dayna Nixon and Shari Triche are natives of New Orleans, but that hasn't stopped them from becoming some of this state's most vociferous "Buy Colorado" boosters. They opened Colorado Cupboard almost two years ago, filling it with only certifiably Colorado goods: candles, organic honey, peanut butter, jewelry, photography, soaps, lotions, prepared foods, chocolate, cookies, baby food and more. The… More >>
  • BEST ONE-STOP BARGAINS

    Central Park Center S. Rosemary St. and E. Iliff Ave.

    It's not cost-effective to drive all over town when you're shopping for bargains; what you pay in gas is likely to offset any real savings. What you need is a single spot with numerous stores for the frugal-minded -- a spot like Central Park Center, a thrifters' paradise in southeast Denver. This mall features not one, not two, but three… More >>
  • BEST GIRLY GEWGAWS

    Pandora Jewelry

    Pandora Jewelry carries much more than just jewelry. There's Angel Snot (sticky, gooey, sparkly stuff that comes in an egg), Dress-Me-Jesus dolls, hula-girl dashboard ornaments and bacon-strip band-aids, just for starters. And who can live without tater-tot pencil toppers? If kitsch isn't on your shopping list, you can stock up on hip gifts, including groovy greeting cards, luxurious candles and… More >>
  • BEST BRAZILIAN JEWEL

    Arco-Iris Designs

    Rosi Macedo is a diminutive gem of a jewelry designer with a monstrous talent. After years of study and designing in Rio de Janeiro and New York City, the Brazilian native moved to Denver and opened a shop here in 1993, where she creates gorgeous custom jewelry using semi-precious and precious stones in gold, platinum and silver. Her work is… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BAG A BAG

    The Pink Purse

    A cute bag is a girl's best friend. And, like girlfriends, you need more than one: Each bag in your collection should fulfill a specific need, appeal to a certain facet of your ever-changing, sparkling personality. The Pink Purse celebrates such diversity with a selection of hip pocketbooks that range from functional to outright silly. Hooray for the Zippurse and… More >>
  • BEST FRESH FOOTWEAR

    The 400 - CLOSED

    Staying on the cusp of urban-sneaker culture is a tough mission that involves a constant dialogue between the word on the street and the drafting table. But Kris Fry and brothers Randy and Mark Kleiner decided to give it a shot last year, opening The 400 as a real working retail laboratory. Besides doing research for clients in the skate,… More >>
  • BEST SPECTACLES FOR LIBESKIND WANNABES

    DisRespectacles

    What you put on your face has to be carefully considered, since that's where people look first, and the glasses you wear should speak for you. If you want your face to say "hip" and "cutting-edge," head to DisRespectacles, the only outpost of this big-city-style store outside of New York. For chunky, oversized shades, updated aviators and freaky, fat rectangular… More >>
  • BEST POKER TOGS

    PokerMade Apparel www.pokermade.com

    If you're gonna play poker, you're gonna have to dress poker. If you were a bulldog, a visor and cigar would be all that you'd need. But two-legged folk like a fuller house. That's what area tournament player/ real-estate investor/Vegas hustler Michael Turnbull banked on when he created PokerMade, an online shop hawking T-shirts, caps and women's panties emblazoned with… More >>
  • BEST UPSCALE CONSIGNMENT

    Your Best Friend's Closet

    If you can squeeze into something smaller than a size fourteen, Ranelle Gregory's inviting vintage, thrift and consignment clothing shop is a bargain paradise. Fittingly, Your Best Friend's Closet is best experienced with a friend, so take one along who enjoys stroking fabric, eyeing jewelry and mining for good labels. Help each other pick out outfits and then model the… More >>
  • BEST DOWN-SCALE THRIFT STORE

    Safari Seconds Thrift Store

    Safari Seconds isn't the biggest, the cleanest or even the most discerning thrift store in town, but it supports a very good cause: The shop is a fundraising venture of the non-profit African Community Center and employs immigrants in need of social acclimation and job experience. Tucked behind Manos, Safari Seconds can be tough to find, but there are a… More >>
  • BEST VINTAGE SELECTION

    Eras Vintage

    Eras Vintage is everything a good vintage store should be: cozy, cluttered and brimming with surprises. Every time one layer is excavated, another trove of treasures is uncovered. Proprietor Bobbi Boynton opened her shop last May and filled it with hats and shoes and bags and clothes and pitchers and needlework and Tom Collins glasses and more; the list goes… More >>
  • BEST FANCY-PANTS BOUTIQUE

    Swank

    Located in super-hip Highland is the equally hip Swank. On the scene for just a year, Swank has the quintessential elements of a successful independent clothing store: itty-bitty clothes; oversized, crystal-encrusted jewelry; sequin-adorned everything; and no more than three of one item. Jeans that already look worn and whiskered to perfection -- at a mere $100 per pair -- line… More >>
  • BEST LAUNDRY-DAY ESCAPE

    Clean Green Coin Laundry 4301 W. 38th Ave. 303-480-1861

    Michael and Susan Mote believe that doing laundry doesn't have to be boring. So when the couple bought Clean Green nine months ago, they went with an atypical look for laundromat decor. They decorated the outside with lodgepoles, boulders, trees and a rustic welcome sign; on the inside they hung plants, vintage skis and pictures of mountain scenery for a… More >>
  • BEST CHEAP WALL ART

    Photoswest.org

    Denver's evolution from a vast prairie to a bona fide big city has been closely chronicled by photographers. Shutterbugs started snapping in the mid-1800s, and they haven't stopped since. And an exhaustive archive of their work -- more than 600,000 historical images -- has been compiled by the Denver Art Museum, the Colorado Historical Society and the Denver Public Library's… More >>
  • BEST CREATIVE CLASS DECOR

    BetterWall.com

    Can't afford a real Monet, Chuck Close or CŽzanne? BetterWall.com has you covered: Instead of a cheesy framed poster by an Old Master or modern maestro, BetterWall.com specializes in museum-exhibit banners. Remember the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art's controversial show Will Boys Be Boys advertised with the banner featuring Chloe Piene's topless Little David? The seven-foot-by-two foot original can now… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PIMP YOUR PAD

    Room - CLOSED

    Whether you like Ike or hang with the Rat Pack, Room is the perfect introduction to mid-century style -- like a trip to the set of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Vintage credenzas, new-but-retro chrome-and-glass coffee tables, overarching floor lamps suitable for Beat-poetry jams, sprawling sofas, martini-ware and mobiles galore. It's all sooo crazy, cat.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PIMP YOUR SOUND SYSTEM

    National Speaker and Sound

    Whether it's pimpin' out your house or turnin' out your club, National Speaker and Sound has set the standard for sound quality in Denver for more than two decades. Head salesman Neil Grudzen has sold, cajoled, referred and deferred advice to the brightest lights on the Denver music scene since the mid-'80s. An independently owned store, National Speaker continues to… More >>
  • BEST ASIAN INSPIRATION

    CaShi Gallery - CLOSED

    Carolyn Shaver and Steve Thurston have been in the Asian import business for years, traveling to the Orient and shipping back trunks, wardrobes, ginger jars, old baskets and more. They took their passion a taste further, however, when they opened their small store on South Broadway and added a self-packaged line of high-quality teas from from China, Sri Lanka, Taiwan… More >>
  • BEST ASIAN TREASURES -- CHEAP

    Truong An

    Truong An is a humongous jumble of Asian imports that spill out of the doors and onto the sidewalk, everything scented with the exotic aroma of smoky fountains, peculiar herbs and stacks of fragrant joss sticks. Kids love picking through the origami kits, puffy stickers and Pucca and Mashimoro cartoon-character stationery, while adults can't get enough of the Buddha statues,… More >>
  • BEST ASIAN TREASURES -- MODERATE

    T-Trove Asian Decor

    T-Trove Asian Decor is the kind of place people visit just to hang out and relax. Buoyed by the sweet odor of incense and the sound of trickling indoor fountains, this is an oasis of calm. And if you're there to buy, T-Trove encourages you to think grandiosely large or infinitesimally small, since it sells everything from miniature Chinese folk-art… More >>
  • BEST ASIAN TREASURES -- PRICELESS

    DecorAsian

    There are a million stories to be told at Boulder's DecorAsian, where the artifacts breathe with history. Owner Rusty Staff stocks the place with a traveler's eye -- he owns Asia Transpacific Journeys, after all -- personally bringing back much of his stock from the exotic places he visits. There are temple doors, carved ceiling panels and gilded monks' chests… More >>
  • BEST ITALIAN TREASURES

    Vario of Cherry Creek

    Italian majolica pottery is like a priceless drug. Oh, to own a wall of classic Deruta platters hand-painted with roosters and peacocks and patterns done in such vivid colors they'll make you cry. Vario is majolica central, simply brimming with grapevine-encrusted bowls, lemon-embellished plates, terra cotta horse heads, shimmery lead-crystal goblets, clocks, elephants, birds and cats, each one a true… More >>
  • BEST TIBETAN TREASURES

    Tibetan Sisters Art 2817 E. 3rd Ave. 303-320-9400

    Tibetan refugee Palden Yangsto Hester is the real thing, a forced emigree whose heart still burns with love for her birthplace, even though her family was persecuted and some members killed. Now settled here, Hester imports wares from Tibet, Nepal and India, selling them in a richly appointed Cherry Creek North emporium under a banner that roars "Save Tibet." The… More >>
  • BEST GARDENING TREASURES

    Maxine's Market

    Maxine's isn't so much a garden shop as a shop that speaks to gardeners. Megan McNeish has created an indoor/outdoor theme, with sweet-smelling sachets, French glassware and luscious ripple-edged dishes cohabiting with birds' nests filled with tiny blue eggs, glass cloches housing sprays of forced tulips, pillows made from burnt orange- and celery-colored umbrella fabric, wirework furniture and doormats made… More >>
  • BEST BOTANICAL SHOP

    The Apiary

    Walk into Jean Snow's Apiary and you'll find every nook and cranny loaded with untold stories of long ago. The aroma of orange blossoms emanates from a tree in the window, and Snow's motto -- "Nature makes the most amazing things" -- manifests itself on every shelf, as it has for more than thirty years. The shop pays homage to… More >>
  • BEST GARDEN GNOMES

    Mile-Hi Statuary

    Saints and pigs, gargoyles and gMile-Hi Statuary 5048 Morrison Rd. 303-934-3244reyhounds, dragons and geese, lions and tigers and bears -- oh, my! Mile-Hi's amazing selection of fountains and yard ornaments outpaces that of the garden stores, many of which offer similar products at a higher price. Another advantage to shopping here: You can request your rabbit, gnome or Elvis… More >>
  • BEST TOOTH-FAIRY PILLOWS

    Starlet 3450 W. 32nd Ave. 303-433-7827

    Not much has changed in the world of the Tooth Fairy since you were a kid, except maybe the rate of exchange -- and the packaging. Kristi Howard crafts Tooth Fairy pillows for her store, Starlet, sewing them in bunny-soft chenille with pockets just the right size for a bitty tooth, quarter or folded bill and personal note, and ribbons… More >>
  • BEST BABY SHOWER GIFTS

    Bella Sera Baby

    Walking into Bella Sera Baby, there is no doubt that owner Courtney Lupe is the kind of mother who marches to a different drummer. It shows in every detail of her sweet baby bedding and accessories, which she sews mostly by herself. Lupe, who was originally a wholesaler, recently went retail with a limited-hours store so that shoppers could see… More >>
  • BEST BAR/BAT MITZVAH GIFTS

    JCC Gift Cards Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center

    Give the newly fledged little man or woman in your life the gift of the Jewish Community Center. Cards are available in any denomination and can be used toward any of the services offered at the JCC, from a free back float to tennis camp. Today you are a mensch!… More >>
  • BEST GIFT FOR PARENTS

    Family Flex

    Kids are a pain in the ass. They demand to be fed, and they take all your shoe money. Thank goodness for Family Flex, where parents can drop the youngsters off and spend a worry-free night on the town. Family Flex's daycare program has been wait-listed for much of the year since Marie Hueston opened the facility, but her drop-in… More >>
  • BEST GIFT FOR DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES

    Highland Water 303-922-5555

    What self-respecting desperate housewife would be able to resist a delivery boy dressed in a kilt? Those cute kneesocks are to die for! Keith Warner of Highland Water knew you'd feel that way, which is why he sends his boys on their water-delivery rounds wearing kilts. It worked for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: Warner says they… More >>
  • BEST PURVEYOR OF BOOZE AND THE WISDOM OF HOMER SIMPSON

    The Wine Seller and Spirits Too

    The Wine Seller and Spirits Too is staffed with quirky, friendly, knowledgeable liberal-arts-major clerks who are intimately familiar with the store's impressive selection of wines (from swill to swank), respectable stock of beers (both micro and industrial), and expansive liquor cabinet. What draws people in, however, is the Wine Seller's outdoor sign, which it shares with the neighboring dry cleaner.… More >>
  • BEST DENVER-MADE WINE

    Colorado Syrah, 2004

    At $24 a bottle, the intense, complex syrah made (in small quantities) by the family-owned Balistreri Vineyards is no everyday pour. But it might be Colorado's biggest, richest red wine. The grapes are grown in the Horse Mountain Vineyard on the Western Slope, and the final product is vinted right here in John Balistreri's boutique winery on 66th Avenue --… More >>
  • BEST AFFORDABLE WINES

    Corks

    Not versed in the language of Sideways? Rest easy when shopping at Corks: Any decision by the knowledgeable staff will be a good one. The intimate shop doesn't overwhelm customers with selection, and the global offerings are labeled in categories that could describe what you'd like the evening to be: "sensuous," "sassy," "crisp" or "voluptuous." All bottles are priced at… More >>
  • BEST WINE ACCESSORIES

    Wine Complements

    We're a wine-crazy society, all sniffing and swirling and sipping our way through dinner. That's why Sheryl Czipott took a chance on Wine Complements, a wine-accoutrements store conveniently located next to Corks. Czipott carries everything from stylish wine racks to hors d'oeuvre accompaniments such as dipping oils and tapenades. There's also the de rigueur Riedel glassware and selection of imported… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET SMASHED

    Stomp Them Grapes

    Brian Carter and Richard Berkey stock just about every kind of press and grape-crusher in the vineyard. When people come into Stomp Them Grapes, they don't actually make them take off their shoes and socks and squish, but short of that, they do everything in their power to grow winemaking enthusiasts. To help reel shoppers in, they've got books, bottles,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HIT THE SHEETS

    University of Colorado at Boulder Music Library ucblibraries.colorado.edu/music/ smp/index.html

    In 1913, a composer named J.R. Shannon published a song titled "Good Old Denver Town," just one in a rash of Colorado-centric ditties that popped up on pianos in the early 1900s. Thanks to the CU-Boulder Music Library, 21st-century players can tune into the 150,000-plus treasure trove of titles written about D-town and beyond, plus a vast, timeless array of… More >>
  • BEST STRINGED THINGS

    Denver Folklore Center

    A veritable museum of acoustic instruments, the Denver Folklore Center is stocked with used and vintage banjos, mandolins, dulcimers, autoharps and guitars from floor to ceiling; it's a sight to make the city's string players sing. A new generation of players can also find inspiration among the itty-bitty things for every skill level and hand size: whistles, tambourines, flutes, recorders… More >>
  • BEST CD STORE

    Twist & Shout

    Twist & Shout is planning to relocate from its current home as part of the ambitious Lowenstein Redevelopment Project -- but this news shouldn't concern longtime supporters of the store. Indeed, the expansive new space should help the Twist & Shout team provide even more of what's always made the store an oasis in a retail desert: great selection, the… More >>
  • BEST USED-CD STORE

    SecondSpin.com

    With the music industry's transition from platters to downloading proceeding at a frantic pace, shops specializing in used CDs are an endangered species. But SecondSpin.com is still here, and how. The firm's Denver branch is 12,000 square feet and offers a killer selection of more than 70,000 discs and 30,000 used movies. Moreover, the store is outfitted with the listening… More >>
  • BEST USED-VINYL STORE

    Wax Trax Vinyl

    Once upon a time, the competition for Denver's best vinyl haven was fierce -- yet Wax Trax usually came out on top. Today, most of the also-rans are history, while Wax Trax's vinyl branch remains. The reasons are simple: Wax Trax Vinyl inspires intense loyalty among knowledgeable collectors of LPs and 45s because of its great prices, cool selection, and… More >>
  • BEST URBAN OUTPOST

    Independent Records and Video - CLOSED

    Let's face it: Denver's still pretty damn white -- a city with umpteen wine bars and rock venues but just a handful of halfway-decent jazz or hip-hop joints. Independent Records and Video -- the store with the big, beautiful display windows filled with big, beautiful photographs of African-American recording artists -- is one sign of urban life in D-town. The… More >>
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