Since Christmas and the start of Hanukkah are just a week away, you’re now officially a last-minute shopper. Congratulations! Granted, it’s a title foisted upon you based on near-complete inaction and possible apathy, but still, it’s a title. And speaking of titles, you might still be looking for something satisfactory for a specific person on your list: Sir or Lady Tough-to-Please-Because-You-Don’t-Understand-What-They’re-Into. You know the ones. Nerds. We are legion.
We're here for you, if you’ve never seen a Marvel movie, if you’ve never owned a Star Wars action figure, if you know nothing about Doctors Who and Strange and McCoy and Doom. There are a few stores in the Denver area where you can shop and be unashamed of your lack of knowledge: These are the best places for all of your nerd-shopping needs.
4280 Tennyson Street
Anchoring the Tennyson corridor up in Highland is BookBar, which spends most of its year championing small presses and local authors in concrete ways. That deserves respect; it also means its shelves are chock-full of great books by Colorado authors just waiting to be discovered. BookBar is a nerd-lit paradise. Witness as evidence that some of the shop's architecture is literally made of books. So sure, you can buy books here — but there’s knickknack-y stuff as well: literary magnets, bookmarks, all the items your literary friends never knew they wanted until they greedily unwrap the treasures and wonder at your gifting acumen.
8757 Sheridan Boulevard
Sure, you can score some action figures at Target and Walmart and the like, but if you want the good stuff, you go to the experts. And action figure experts are exactly what you'll find at Hero Headquarters. If you want to talk about the beauty of five-point articulation, about face sculpting from the 1980s, about capes and cloaks and tiny plastic pistols and just what color snake Yoda is supposed to have around his little muppety neck, Hero Headquarters is exactly the place to do it.
Twist & Shout
2508 East Colfax Avenue
The good folks at Twist & Shout have the nerd scene pretty well covered. Granted, most of the store is best for music nerds, but there's also plenty for the geek crowd in general: a huge wall of Funko Pops, toys aplenty, stocking stuffers from movies and TV shows. Even those little balsa-wood airplanes and other ridiculously fun crap that you thought existed only in the dim recesses of your memory. Twist & Shout has it all.
2526 East Colfax Avenue (and other locations around the city)
No Denver nerd list would be complete without at least a mention of the venerable local literary powerhouse that is Tattered Cover. With its many outlets all over town, there’s probably one within easy drive from where you are right now, and the trip is always worth it. The main draw is the books — and some of them will be autographed, thanks to the copious readings the store hosts throughout the year. There are cards and gifts and knickknacks too, but make no mistake: Tattered Cover is there to sell you books. And in the Denver market, they do that very well, Amazon be damned.
3105 28th Street, Boulder
There had to be a comic-book store on the list, and Time Warp Comics & Games in Boulder is a great option. The folks that work at Time Warp aren’t just employees; they’re also fans. Looking for a specific issue of a comic book from the 1970s? They’ll know where to look. Maybe a pint glass with Deadpool on it? A pack of Pokémon, or a hardcover Batman collection, or an Ant-Man action figure? It’s all there. Browse through the stuff; it’s all geektastic, and you don’t have to understand it in order to buy it. Your friends at Time Warp are there to understand it for you.
Colpar's Hobby Town
1915 South Havana Street, Aurora
3355 South Wadsworth Boulevard, Lakewood
For a truly old-school experience, you've got to visit Colpar's Hobby Town, where games like Dungeons & Dragons and Settlers of Cataan sit across the aisle from R/C cars and planes, scale model trains, puzzles, slot cars, and plastic model kits galore. It's a hobby shop the way you remember them — or should, if you were cool enough to visit one back in the day. It's almost too much hobby wonderfulness to fit under one roof, and the good shopkeepers at Colpars are eager to share it all with you.
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Mutiny Information Cafe
2 South Broadway
If your nerd-tastes (or that of your recipient in question) are less about spandex and super-heroics and tend more toward indie comics, small-press zines, and awesome stuff from used vinyl to obscurely referenced shirts and hoary tomes, then Mutiny Information Cafe might have what you need. If nothing else, it’s a good place to hang out for a while, have coffee, listen to whatever music's playing, and soak in the absolute cool.
The Wizard's Chest
Whether you’re in the market for a good old-fashioned chess set, a stuffed dragon, some polyhedral dice, a Groucho-nose-and-glasses, a kaleidoscope, or the best in board games, the Wizard's Chest has been your wonderfully weird go-to store for years now. The Wizard’s Chest is one of the best one-stop shops for that amazing stocking-stuffer that you never knew existed, but once you get it don’t know how you lived without. And it boasts its titular wizard right there on Broadway, summoning you to enter. Give in, and put a little weirdness under the tree.
What are your favorite geeky shops? Let us know at email@example.com.