Most of the customers who frequent the Diamond Cabaret have one thing on their mind -- and it isn't shopping. The palatial skin palace boasts some of the most beautiful topless dancers in town, a quality that attracts a largely male clientele. But the club also offers a diversion for female patrons who don't fancy a lap dance: Its clothing boutique is filled with high-end women's lingerie, clothing and accessories, with a stylistic emphasis on fashions most suited to the boudoir...or the stage. Let the Diamond Cabaret help you get in touch with your inner showgirl.


The room decor inside Mon Chalet comes from the Hollywood Porno Playground school of interior design. Neon accents, water-column lights, mirrored ceilings and walls, and giant whirlpool baths are standard features in Mon Chalet's ten deluxe and semi-deluxe suites, as are king-sized beds, whether standard or octagon-shaped, firm mattress or waterbed. Optional room features include climate-control chambers (programmable sun, steam, warm breeze and rain), and specialty furnishings, including the "Love Machine," which the motel's Web site (www.mon-chalet.com) describes as "a sturdy furniture masterpiece designed for the more athletic expression of the sensual arts." Suspended over the beds in several rooms are models of "The Swing," also known as "Mon Chalet's version of the Taiwan Basket." Room rates for deluxe suites are $110 on weeknights, $145 on weekends. Semi-deluxe rooms go for $100/$125. Mon Chalet also offers four-hour quickie "matinee rates," from noon to four p.m., for $40 to $60, depending on the room. Get on up.
Fancy a shag (rug)? How about a '50s dinette set, an authentic lava lamp or a vintage flapper dress? Mod Living crams all of the above, and much more, into its understated space on East Colfax; it's a veritable museum of affordable art and furnishings for the nostalgia-minded decorator. Ranging from classic to kitschy, the tastefully cluttered store's wares are both practical and just plain fun.


Did you know that Queen Victoria had quite an impressive collection of Chinese snuff boxes? The friendly and resourceful owners of Decorables do, and they'll be happy to tell you all about it as you browse the elegant and eclectic aisles of this airy antiques gallery, which makes its home in a former East Colfax bank. And while Decorables' own display of snuff stuff doesn't quite rival that of the British Empire, the shop's cross-cultural collections -- from marble Buddha statues to Hummel figurines -- are regal in their own right. Unpretentious and accessible, Decorables is a find.


Antique Row is charming, as are many of the eclectic boutiques and specialty stores that line commercial stretches along South Broadway. But the thrill of pawing through miscellaneous merchandise is often tempered by the reality of sticker shock -- something that convinces many of us to browse rather than buy. Not so at ARC, where the price is always right and the goods are always pleasantly unpredictable. With weekly specials and perennial bargains on used clothing, housewares, books and furniture, the large store is a haven for those who appreciate a good deal, as well as a fun alternative for frugal treasure hounds. Thrift is a virtue -- and so are community-spirited stores like ARC.


Best Store on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall

Peppercorn

It's fun trying to stump the sales staff in Peppercorn's kitchen department, but no matter what you ask for -- a kitchen scale, grilling equipment for summer, pastry bags, woks, an ice-cream maker, pots and pans, toasters, KitchenAids or shells for your coquilles St. Jacques, chances are they'll have it. They also have shelves and shelves of prepared foods that make for great gift baskets, including English teas and marmalades, German marzipan, Italian olive oils, Belgian chocolates and gourmet coffees. There's lots of bright everyday crockery, as well as a long wall filled with every current cookbook you've heard of -- and loads that you haven't. And that's just on the ground floor. Upstairs you'll find exquisite modern china, linens and gorgeous crystal glasses.


Diamond Lil's is a porn shop and proud of it -- as evidenced by the enthusiastic lighted sign that invites the curious and carnal-minded alike inside. Located in a historic building that began as Kopper's Hotel and Saloon in 1899, Diamond Lil's happens to be the only remaining porn shop downtown -- but it's gone above and beyond the call of duty with its excellent restoration work. And while the merchandise is of the traditional sex-toys-and-videos variety, the store's live-performance gallery sets Diamond Lil's apart as a true rarity, as well as a throwback to the era of voyeuristic antiquity. Through the looking glass, you can openly gawk as Lil's adult "dancers" writhe and wriggle for your viewing pleasure. Some might say Lil's itself is a historic treasure.


The 16th Street Mall is a shopper's paradise -- that is, if you're in the market for some overpriced, faux-Native American souvenirs or maybe a nice wig. For those who actually live and work downtown, there's no beating Walgreens for sheer practicality, economy and reliability, not to mention great people-watching. Housed in a vintage building in the heart of downtown, the store -- which has been there for fifty years -- draws a cross-strata of humanity united by a shared drugstore dependence. Where else can you fill a prescription, develop film, catch up on some magazine reading and buy actual groceries, as well as the latest near-the-register novelties, all during your lunch break? Walgreens hawks the stuff of life in a lively part of town.


Chinese medicine has become increasingly popular the last few years, and the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine is your one-stop shop for alternatives to Western health care. When the acupuncturist upstairs prescribes Chinese herbs, you'll be able to find them at the school's pharmacy, an alternate universe of remedies and potions that have been used in China for centuries. The names alone will transport you to the back streets of Hong Kong: Heavenly Emperor's Formula, Two Immortals Blend and Bluegreen Dragon Formula are just a handful of the hundreds of different kinds of herbs in stock. With every variety of ginseng imaginable and things you never imagined you'd need (Tiger Balm for sore muscles and "bone tonic" for aching joints), this is the best place in town to get your qi gong goin' on.
Change is good. While Apothecary Tinctura has already earned a reputation for having an ocean of potions (just kidding about those lizard lips), the shop's move from its Congress Park location to a new 6th Avenue spot added some zing to its yang. But you'll still find the necessary ingredients to make yourown holistic remedies or face masks, and the folks there, as always, are eager to share their knowledge of mixology. Come bask in this sunny space as you save a little face.


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