We're not talking ten-gallons here. This is the place to find a fine fedora, a happenin' homburg or a bitchin' beret, in felt, straw and the occasional canvas golf number -- anything that tops off your masculine attire. More than half of Duncan's business in the historic Five Points location (there's another at DIA) comes from men's hats, a particular passion of owner Curtis Washington and his legions of customers. Duncan's will help you get ahead.

Simple and elegant. Who wouldn't want to slip their tootsies into Denver-based Lula Maxine's handmade slippers? Square-toed, with a seam down their silk dupioni or woven plaid-and-houndstooth middles, they absolutely scream comfort. And they look great, too. The retail price tag can be a bit steep -- they range from around $50 to $100 a pair -- but this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of footwear, the kind you never want to take off. They're available online at www.lulamaxine.com, where you can also get a list of stores in the area that carry them. Lula Maxine, where have you been all our lives?

If you don't mind being a walking advertisement for a ski resort, the Ouray Sportswear Factory Outlet is the place to find a fleece jacket or vest that won't set you back the price of a lift ticket. The South Broadway store gets all of the surplus merchandise that its parent company, SCI (Ski Country Imports) produces for resorts all over the country, as well as carrying its own Ouray brand sportswear for those willing to spend a little more to avoid feeling like a billboard. The fleeces are thinner than the big-name brands, but since dressing in layers is the key to outdoor comfort, who cares? You'll also find good deals on shirts, pants and baseball caps, which are embroidered with corporate or recreation-area logos. But whatever you go there for, don't miss the dollar bin, which often contains must-have gear like neck gaiters, face masks and gloves. After outfitting here, you might actually be able to afford to go skiing.
Frostline Kits in Grand Junction manufactures high-quality, unassembled, winter gear kits. These kits include an instruction manual, cut-to-size fabric, down or other fill materials, and all the thread and finishing items needed to create a top-notch jacket. The only thing you have to do is provide the sewing machine and some time and labor. Because they do not sew your outdoor gear themselves, the savings trickle down to you. You can purchase a ladies' polar fleece jacket kit for $38 or a tundra jacket kit (a down-filled coat that is unbelievably warm) for $115. So sew.

The sight of a brawny outdoorsman in fishnets may not turn you on, but it makes sense. Wiggy's Inc., a Grand Junction outdoor-outfitting company, has been making traditional supplies since 1986, and it sells some of the best long underwear in the world. The black or white nylon fishnet material is the best for wicking away moisture and keeping wearers warm. And if you buy these undies at their Grand Junction store, you can get 40 percent off. That's underwear, nearly half off.

These days, gratuitous sex scenes, foul language and violent extravaganzas are a given in the world of movies. Understandably, most parents are concerned with the effect such raw stuff has on their children. That's where www.cleanflicks.com, a video-editing company, and its rental outlets, CleanFlicks, come in. CleanFlicks stores rent hundreds of videos that have been edited to make films more "family-friendly." Jason Smith, manager of the Englewood store, likens the finished product to edited network-TV flicks: not much nudity or cussing, maybe a little violence. The stores, which are adding edited DVDs to their rental stock, receive about 25 new titles every month. Move over, Disney.

The best-stocked video store in the Western states, Boulder's Video Station carries some 60,000 titles in VHS and DVD format, including the rarest and most exotic items extant. Want to see Larry Clark's seething Bully (rated NC-17 and thus unavailable at the chains) or revisit the collected works of Ingmar Bergman, Orson Welles, Satyajit Ray or Werner Herzog? This is your source. Need to watch Johnny Got His Gun and The Fencing Master for your film-history class? The Station has the tapes. There are discount weekend rental rates for out-of-towners to ease the pain of that Boulder drive, and the store's film-crazy staff will enthusiastically guide you through any cinematic thicket.

Chain stores generally have enormous stacks of DVDs, but they're often short on personalized service or employees who know the difference between The Sorrow and the Pity and The Sound and the Fury. Theatre Video, for its part, has a much better selection than most independent outlets, with tons of animation and music-oriented packages, and staffers will gladly special-order even the most obscure flick. As an added bonus, they know and love movies every bit as much as their customers do. Give yourself plenty of time here, because you won't want to leave.

Wax Trax Records
The economy has taken a bite out of Wax Trax: At the end of February, the vinyl store was closed, with its stock being moved into the used store across the street. But the three Wax Trax branches that remain -- a new store, a video store and the aforementioned used store -- are still Denver treasures that need and deserve your support. Even if you don't want an album, rush down there and buy one anyhow. It's the right thing to do, and that's no spin.

This store's name says it all. Here you'll find everything from geeky school-band instruments (and a host of instructors expert in their use) to pro gear that would do Van Halen proud. What you won't find is superstore attitude. According to Gary Patterson, who owns the business with four of his family members, "90 percent of our customers walk in and say, 'Man, I went over to such-and-such and couldn't get one person to help me. And when they did, they just wanted to sell me something more expensive than I needed because they work on commission.'" By contrast, Universal focuses on selling what its customers need and sticking to their budgets.

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