For the busy traveler, there is nothing more irritating than cheap luggage, the junk with wheels that fall off. Now you can buy durable, expensive luggage at cheap-luggage prices. The Samsonite Company Store unloads high-quality luggage for up to 50 percent off retail prices. They stock luggage that is barely blemished, merchandise that has been discontinued, and stuff that didn't sell from last year. With all the money you save, you can splurge on additional discounted wares such as CD cases, shaving kits, daytimers and wallets.
There are a lot of places around town that offer scratch 'n' dent appliances at a discount, but the Sears Outlet Store has a consistent selection that never seems to dwindle. And even if the front of that stainless-steel fridge has a wee scratch on it, the warranty still applies. Some of the appliances aren't even marred; they just happen to be last year's floor sample or demo. Let's move that fridge.
Spending two grand on a PC that needs an upgrade before you even get it out of the box just doesn't compute. Visiting the Surplus Computer Store in Littleton, home to an army of discounted new, used, and off-lease computers and accessories, is a better use of gigabytes. It would take a giant Palm Pilot to keep

track of all the CD-writer drives, DVD players, digital cameras, flat-screen and extra-large monitors here. And don't worry about repair: The company has a standard surplus warranty of ninety days, and many of the new products still have their factory warranties. Maybe it's time to cache in.

Obsolescence is a genetic computer disease. It often costs more to fix or upgrade an old computer than to just buy a new one, which is the reason computer monitors have been piling up in landfills across the nation. These days, you must dispose of your monitor properly; you can't just kick it to the curb anymore. PC Brokers in Littleton accepts most monitors and other computer components at no charge, allowing you to upgrade without degrading the environment.

Last summer, it seemed like the biggest threat to personal privacy was the surreptitious use of cookies and Web bugs by data aggregators to track our unsuspecting travels through the Internet. To give consumers a fighting chance by revealing exactly when we were being "bugged," the technical team at the Privacy Foundation, based at the University of Denver, released the free Bugnosis program. Installed on your PC, Bugnosis warns you whenever it detects a Web bug that could be sending personal information about you, your computer and/or your surfing habits to a third party, who could be doing who-knows-what with it. Although the software is available online, it isn't Mac compatible yet -- but don't bug them about it.

Just when you thought nobody had a couple of million bucks to risk on your hot new techno-idea, here comes Mobius Venture Capital Hotbank, just a microchip's throw from Boulder. Formerly Soft Bank Venture Capital, this fund's Web site claims $2.5 billion under management, with hundreds of the leading technology companies in its portfolio. The Hotbank incubator has been nurturing infant companies with facilities and advice from experienced entrepreneurs and other business experts since November 2000, for a fraction of the cost of now-defunct for-profit operations. If you want to pitch for funding, don't spend a dime on printing your business plan: Mobius accepts applications online only.

It's not easy finding a job if you have little work history and no skills, which is why Work Options for Women is such a great program. It teaches women coming off welfare how to work in restaurants, training them in everything from proper kitchen hygiene to baking and cooking. And what cooking! Jane Berryman, a renowned chef, is the teacher -- and people working at the Denver Department of Human Services office on Federal get to enjoy the benefits, since preparing food for the cafeteria there is part of WOW's homework.

Best Place to Save the Earth With Arts and Crafts

Creative Exchange

Much to the delight of teachers, scout leaders, artists and community groups throughout the metro area, Creative Exchange has found a new home at Buckingham Square. This nonprofit agency is dedicated to redirecting items discarded by area businesses into the hands of crafters, especially youngsters, and out of the landfill. Creative Exchange has provided materials and willing helpers to create items for the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, Capitol Hill People's Fair and other civic events, and regularly hosts school field trips, birthday parties and creative classes and workshops. Earth Week is almost like Christmas here. Educators and community groups can join the Exchange, and the rest of us can always throw a party, volunteer or shop on special days. Don't miss the enormous bins of, well, odd stuff that can put the perfect finishing touch on a project or start you thinking about a whole new one. Call or visit the Web site (www.creative-exchange.org) for details on how to donate.

More garden sculpture than birdhouse, each creation by Dianna Giese is a found-object tour de force, weathered-wood creations with architectural details fashioned out of rusted metal hinges, old bits of trellis, bent kitchen utensils, cast-off bolts and screws, cast-iron finials and the like. Like any dedicated garbage collector worth her salt, Giese just happened upon her birdhouse-building vocation by chance: She found a few neat things in the hills and put them together in an interesting way; before long, everyone who saw the results wanted one of their own. What a tweet.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas: Judy, Judy, Judy makes it easy with the re-gifting barrel it sets out every holiday season. Go ahead and help yourself to someone's white elephant -- but be sure to leave that awful reindeer sweater your Aunt Sue made for you for the next lucky customer who comes along. This is the gift that keeps on giving.

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