Sheep, take heart. Sure, you've had a bit of a nasty run lately with all this hoof-and-mouth hubbub. But you've been giving us the wool off your backs at such a rate that you've stocked the 11,000-square-foot Showers of Flowers, the largest yarn store in Colorado. Yarns from all over the world aren't the only reason this is one baaaaaaad store; it also sponsors fashion shows and instruction in the venerable handiwork crafts. What really makes Showers of Flowers a true community resource, though, is a setup designed to make customers feel comfortable for hours. They can sit on the cozy loveseats and knit or crochet to their hearts' content, sharing projects and stories as the hooks and needles fly. There are many craft stores in the Denver area, but this one's a real purl.
Think all cleaners are the same? You might think again if you manage to maneuver your car through the Leetsdale traffic and onto the tiny wedge of parking in front of Continental Cleaners. At Continental, you'll be rewarded with quality service and a quick turnaround on even the largest dry-cleaning orders. Best of all, the place is cheap. You'll have to prepay when you drop off your items, but we guarantee you won't be hung out to dry.
A wild and untamed space overrun with stuff everywhere, Truong An supports a healthy video trade for its Asian-language constituency. But you don't have to speak Vietnamese to appreciate the place, where you can browse racks filled with satiny silk or rayon Chinese pajamas, poofy chiffon party dresses for children and dragon-lady frocks for women. The store also stocks haphazardly

arranged embroidered slippers, sparkly stickers and plastic see-through purses and trendy notebooks favored by pre-teens of any cultural background, as well as Hello Kitty and Pokémon-splashed items. Buddhas in all sizes and shapes abound, along with other Buddhist deities, live potted good-luck bamboo shoots and small red envelopes for monetary gifts at the lunar new year. A walk through the crowded aisles reveals a gold mine of teapot sets, scrolls, planters, kids' clocks and fierce dragons, carved in anything from jade to opalescent green plastic. After you're sated by all this trash and treasure, head over to the nearby Saigon Bowl for a bowl of steaming pho

Looking for a gift for that friend of yours who celebrates a mishmash of Kwanzaa, Ramadan and winter solstice? You're sure to stumble upon the perfect present, whether it's a papier-mâché fairy or a pyramid-shaped candle, by combing through the potpourri of handmade treasures at the Artisan Center -- and the ever-helpful sales staff will wrap your find in trappings selected with equal care. The shop's signature gift packaging is an understated brown box stamped with its logo and tied up with a bright bloom of silky ribbons that come in color combos to suit any occasion, from a hybrid Christmas/birthday bash to a Chinese New Year/bat mitzvah celebration. Presentation is everything, and this special service, though free, is priceless. So, l'chaim...and Feliz Navidad!

Here's a gift for bakers that takes all the guesswork out of making a pie: Littleton-based Mudworks makes colorful, hand-painted, dishwasher- and oven-safe earthenware pie dishes with recipes indelibly glazed into the edges. A wide range of available recipes includes a 1998 best-of-show-winning berry-and-rhubarb tart from the annual National Pie Baking Championships in Boulder and the Perfect Flaky & Tender Cream Cheese Pie Crust, from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pie and Pastry Bible. Potter Julie Vincelette will also do custom work for folks looking for a novel way to hand down the ingredient list for their dear old Granny's best apple pie.
One of the leading reasons cats and dogs become guests of animal shelters is "bad behavior," or at least behavior their companion people can't deal with. To help owners solve pet problems before they require the final solution, the Dumb Friends League, with funding from several national organizations, operates this 24-hour automated help line. Perplexed humans can leave a message explaining their animal's antics and receive a prompt response from specially trained staff and volunteers.

This is not your father's hardware store. One of only two such stores in the country, the new Ace Hardware in Highlands Ranch is targeted squarely at women and young adults. The emphasis here is on hands-on, in-store instruction on home repair and improvement and the little, everyday things you need to take care of a house. A coffee kiosk, bistro tables and kid-friendly amenities help keep the store focused on its desired demographic.
Now your mutt can look as classy as any of those kennel-club types. All it takes is the talented brushwork of Jack Atkinson, pet portrait artist extraordinare. From your photos, Jack can create a masterpiece in color ($125) or a black-and-white drawing ($75) that captures the special spirit of your best friend.

Born in Boulder in 1995, the family-owned Little Mountain is what's known in the retail world as a super-specialty store, in this case specializing in miniature camping, outdoor and sports gear, from child carriers and joggers to hiking boots and skiwear. And without even thinking about it, you know it has immediate appeal for outdoorsy Boulderites with disposable incomes and blossoming families. However, it's really just good customer service that keeps the endeavor afloat (so buoyantly, in fact, that a third store is being penciled in for the Denver area in 2002): While parents shop, for instance, kids are entertained by such amenities as a Lego table in the Boulder store or a TV at FlatIron Crossing. But the stores are also known for their particularly large, well-equipped bathrooms -- an important consideration for parents toting kids around a shopping mall.

It's no secret: This is where the rich kids -- or at least their discriminating parents -- shop, from the day the kids are born and ready to be swaddled in heirloom-quality crocheted blankets, linen and lace. And as they grow older, they can continue to wrap themselves in luxury courtesy of Hollyhocks: The little girls will be adorned in simple classics, from creamy French cotton underwear underneath, to Lilly Pulitzer shifts and pink gingham-lined iridescent Florence Eiseman raincoats on top; and the little boys will wear perfect-little-man suits with tiny ties decorated with race cars, or playworthy overalls appliquéd with chenille trucks. What the heck. You're only young once.

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