All thrift stores are not created equal. The merchandise at the Salvation Army's Northglenn location, just off 1-25, ranges from practical to playful, with prices that always remain within a safe zone. And though the store stocks a respectable selection of staples like furniture, clothing and housewares, its signature item is the church-style organ. The Army's south wall is lined with reasonably priced congregational castoffs, shellacked contraptions with delightful names like the Wurlitzer Wonder and Swinger 2000. Most of the store's organs have working pedals and programmed features, like the ubiquitous "rock beat" tempo control, which you are free to test. On a good day, one of the store's employees may even offer to deliver your new instrument to your home (for a fee). Better still, there's no waiting list.


What could be better on a sunny Saturday morning than this stroll through a wonderland of hand-picked junk and one-of-a-kind treasures? Spearheaded by the folks who run Details, a downtown Littleton bath and body shop, the market debuted last summer to delighted crowds, and this year expands from four to five shopping opportunities, offered on the first Saturday of the month, from May through September. And it's a small but classic market, with a little bit of everything -- from the perfect sturdy covered cake platter to a hand-sewn cotton girl's pinafore in aqua, festooned with purple flowers, for only four bucks. What else? The usual what-have-you, including garden ornaments, cheerful salt-and-peppers in the shape of a family of robins, rustic handcrafts, old and new jewelry and vintage linens are only a few of the things that await patient shoppers. Wear a sun hat, as it can get warm on a summer day, but if you start to fade, you can always duck into Details or truck down Main to Olde Town Antiques for indoor browsing.


Market founder Leslie Lee of the Cherry Creek North shop Willow Antiques says last year's early-September cold snap put a damper on this event's debut, but face it: It's an opportunity just begging to happen, a classy array of local and out-of-town dealers offering high-end jewelry, pieces of eight and gold doubloons, cabin furniture, shabby chic furnishings, lacy christening gowns, quilts and camp blankets, prints, and a little of everything under the sun in outdoor booths at a convenient and central location. So, Lee notes, the market will go on, bigger and better, expanding to two sessions this year -- one at the end of May and the other in early September.


There's no better rite of summer than spending a blistering-hot Saturday or Sunday casing garage sales looking for toys, trinkets and good buys. But, darn it if garage-sale-hopping wouldn't be even better with something to cool you off -- something like ice cream. At least that's what Dalene Walker and Myron Peterson were thinking when they decided to let people hold garage sales in the parking lot of their northwest Denver Dairy Queen franchise. They got the idea after holding their own garage sale in the lot, which faces the high-traffic 38th Avenue, Peterson says, adding, "I don't know of any other Dairy Queen that does this." Holding a sale in the lot is free, and although not a lot of people took them up on the offer last year, the couple hopes to have a blizzard of activity this summer.


In this hectic day and age, we can't all spend our days cruising the mall for deals; even the most dedicated shopper could pop an artery (or at least twist an ankle) trying to keep up with every store. But in the last year, retail foraging got a little quicker and a little easier for Cherry Creek shoppers: Log on to the center's Web site, and you can register to receive these handy e-bulletins every Thursday, filled with personalized information on featured and sale items at your favorite stores. You'll never have to shop without an agenda again. Buy-buy, now.

Best Mall to Visit When You're Eight Months Pregnant

FlatIron Crossing

Women heavy with child or parents wrestling with strollers aren't handicapped in the traditional sense, but neither is it very easy for them to shlep a mile or two before reaching a store. Recognizing that, FlatIron Crossing has designated two spaces near handicapped spots at every major entrance to the shopping center for "new and expectant parent parking." Talk about a special delivery.


You may recall Snuglis, those front-slung baby carriers created in the 1970s by Mike and Ann Moore of Evergreen, who modeled them after an idea they picked up in the Peace Corps in Africa. After their grandkids came along, the Moores saw a need for new, improved Snuglis. The new carriers can hold children in many positions and -- bonus! -- can be adjusted to fit children as they grow. Also, Weego now manufactures Weego for Preemies, currently the only baby carrier around for premature babies. Here Weego!
Many people shy away from using cloth diapers for fear of leaks, accidents and irritated, wet babies. But Rhonda and Gary Wiebe, owners and founders of Wee Bees, assert that having a dry baby in cloth diapers is entirely possible. Although their Web site offers a wide variety of baby products, they specialize in anything having to do with diapering. Their pitch: Cloth diapers are better for the environment and your pocketbook.


In the best of all worlds, babyhood should be like a little slice of heaven. This downtown Littleton shop -- heavenly itself with its faux-cloud murals as a backdrop -- is the place to furnish the right nursery for the job. Among its treasures: Heirloom-quality, hand-painted, child-sized furniture, cuddly pastel chenille toys and pillows, hand-knit veggie sweater-hat combos, fancy rattles and bath soaps, teddy bears, rocking horses and sets of matching crib bedding. Next stop, paradise: On-site custom nursery design services are now available, making it possible to create an Elysian environment for baby from the floorboards up. Rock on.


Though the Sakura Square supermarket has long wowed LoDo dwellers with its array of exotic miso pastes, fresh fish and Asian spices, Pacific Mercantile also has plenty to please the little doll in your life. Japanese toys and candy, as well as beautiful pint-sized silk kimonos and slippers, are available in the housewares portion of the store (where you can also find good deals on grown-up stuff like sake sets or sushi plates). Pacific Mercantile is an international sensation.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of