The Ten Most Nerdtastic Stores in Denver

Nerdvana. A.J. Kazlouski
Back in January, we listed some of the best geek events that Denver had to offer in 2018, and that got us to thinking: Where can we nerds go in between those events? Aside from our gaming tables and our Xboxes and PlayStations and our cosplay fan sites and our Marvel movies and our libraries full of original art and superhero statuary and comics and books, books, books? Where do we get all that stuff? And where do we get all those wonderful toys, anyway?

The answer, of course, is everywhere. The geeks have clearly inherited the earth at this point, or at least the zeitgeist. But specifically, here in the Denver metro area: Where do nerds go to spend their silver pieces? These ten spots might not be a complete list, but if you own a Comic Price Guide or a Crown Royal bag of dice? You’ve either been to these locations…or owe it to yourself to deposit your quarter and hit the "start" button.

click to enlarge It's astounding. Time is fleeting. Madness takes its toll. - A.J. KAZLOUSKI
It's astounding. Time is fleeting. Madness takes its toll.
A.J. Kazlouski
Time Warp Comics
3105 28th Street

Let’s start with something that isn’t even in Denver but utterly worth the drive up Highway 36. Wayne Winsett’s Time Warp Comics has been around since 1984, filling the hearts, minds and collections of folks hungry for heroism, comic-book style. Best of all, Time Warp has been a stalwart steward for the nerd community for decades, providing people with a local comic-shop culture that pays its customers back with loyalty, customer service and one of the best Free Comic Book Day celebrations around.

click to enlarge The Mighty Kilgore doorway. - JJ MERELO AT FLICKR
The Mighty Kilgore doorway.
JJ Merelo at Flickr
Kilgore Books
614 East 13th Avenue
Kilgore Books is only part of what is charmingly dubbed “the Mighty Kilgore Empire.” There’s a publishing arm based in Maryland, but this is all about Denver’s own retail shop, offering the best in used books and indie comics. It’s a wonderland of welcome weirdness, and that’s why we here at Westword named it the “Best Store on 13th Avenue” back in 2014 — and, mind you, 13th Avenue offers up some stiff competition, including right next door, where Wax Trax offers up vintage vinyl. It’s as true today as it was back in 2014: If you want to find something cool, Kilgore is the place to go.

click to enlarge Tilt is not an option. - MARLON E AT FLICKR
Tilt is not an option.
Marlon E at Flickr
The 1up
1925 Blake Street
717 East Colfax Avenue
If you were alive in the coin-op heyday of the 1980s and ’90s, then this is what you wanted your basement to look like when you grew up. All the classic quarter-eaters are resident at either location of The 1up, with pinball aplenty and even Skee-Ball, for those of you who didn’t get enough of that at Chuck E. Cheese back in the day. It’s a celebration of all things you loved in the arcades you grew up in, only without the day-glo carpet and the dude who makes change — you know, the one who needs a better shampoo and looks like he keeps snakes in his basement.

click to enlarge I know this one: The answer is either a newspaper, or or a nun falling down the stairs. - BLACK AND READ
I know this one: The answer is either a newspaper, or or a nun falling down the stairs.
Black and Read
Black and Read
7821 Wadsworth Boulevard
Black and Read is sort of a throwback to the old used-book-record-and-game stores of the past — the kinds of stores that fell out of favor once eBay started draining the closets, attics and storage units of our nation. Thankfully, Black and Read is still alive and kicking, offering fantasy novels, old gaming manuals, classic albums and that inescapable and intoxicating scent of old stacked books. And speaking of stacked: The store sometimes has so much inventory that it’s arranged in little literary towers on the floor. This cup overfloweth with goodness.

click to enlarge Okay, this penny represents my copper dragon phalanx. - TEAGUE BOHLEN
Okay, this penny represents my copper dragon phalanx.
Teague Bohlen
Total Escape Games
6831 West 120th Avenue

Sometimes you just need a place to buy some games. Or some dice. Or some miniatures. Or the paint to detail that belt buckle that’s supposed to be bronze, damn it, not brass. Bronze. Oh, and a table where you can do it with your friends. And then play a game at that same table, and use that miniature with the bronze belt buckle and roll some dice and kill some bad guys and take their stuff. Because that’s what you do at a quintessential gaming store — a place like Total Escape, run by gamers for gamers.

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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen