The Boulder Book Store is a browser's paradise, thoughtfully laid out and designed, full of warm woods and sporting an eclectic and extensive assortment of books (many accompanied by staff, public or media reviews). From the travel, history and cookbooks of the lowest floor, through the long shelves of literary works, to the health and spiritual offerings at the top of the building, you'll find almost anything you could want here -- as well as the occasional surprise, including bottles of olive oil and premium chocolate bars. The store is at the heart of the Boulder community, and owner David Bolduc has been a pillar of support for local schools, art groups and independent businesses over the last two decades.
As its name suggests, Earth Spirit peddles products of a slightly groovy nature: Incense, Zen artifacts, stones, herbal soaps, that kind of thing. But for all its hippie tendencies, the modestly sized Colfax retailer remains tethered to the ground, offering unique gifts and original works by artists both local and far-flung. Stocked with small stone Buddhas, paper lanterns shaped like stars and lots of lovely metalwork to hang in your window, it's the kind of friendly, folksy place you're always looking for. And the purchased wares are bound to come with a good-karma seal.


Thanks to Salma Hayek and Hollywood, iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo entered the North American consciousness in a major way in 2002. But at Manos Folk Art, Frida and her husband, painter Diego Rivera, have always been heroes: Images of the practically sainted pair turn up in many of the collage-style creations offered in the store's spacious new location on Broadway. Handcrafted retablos, Dia de los Muertos merchandise, pottery, furniture, jewelry, clothing, masks, milagros and makeshift shrines imported directly from Mexican villages dominate the inventory. And with a little digging, the geographically astute shopper can find imports from every continent.


Shopping is a religion in posh Cherry Creek, and Creator Mundi offers a spiritual reprieve amid all of the modern commerce. You can find God -- or, at least, a bronze, wood, or gilded representation of Him -- for a price that won't require the sale of your soul. The shop specializes in handcrafted religious icons, jewelry, statues, plaques and devotionals from German goldsmith Egino Weinert, the firm of Butzon & Bercker and the artisans of the Monastery of Maria Laach; the gallery-style store also gives glory to all kinds of ancient Christian art, from nativities to Byzantine-style paintings of the Madonna and child. And how's this for a unique gift: Creator Mundi crafts special-order monuments to celebrate the life, death or maybe just the birthday of faithful friends and family. How divine.


There aren't many reasons to brave T-Rex, but Crate&Barrel in Park Meadows is one. The huge homeware store has everything a grown-up needs to play house, from inexpensive flower pots to professional-quality pans. Long known for its extensive selection of glass and barware, Crate&Barrel is sure to have that funky element you need for your next tiki or martini party. Yeah, it's a chain store, but in the land of chain stores, this one deserves a little love.

Readers¹ choice: Nordstrom


There's a truth that's known to all dedicated bargain shoppers: Once you've snagged your first pair of, say, alligator slingbacks, for the cost of a self-service car wash, it's damn near impossible to go back to paying full price for anything. But when it comes to couture, there's a difference between inexpensive and cheap, and the wares at Nordstrom Rack definitely fall into the former category. Offerings from major makers and design houses are crammed into the large FlatIrons store along with toiletries, housewares and shoes, shoes, shoes. A repository for the huge retailer's overstock, Nordstrom Rack is a gift to astute shophounds who know how to filter through the castoffs to redeem that special, marked-down prize.
It was a familiar story last year: When Colorado Mills opened just in time for the holiday shopping season, it was a like a pilgrimage site. Denizens of the metro area faced west, and some actually even made it there to shop -- often with hungry children and bored dads draped around their necks, weighing them down like a string of freshly killed albatrosses. Who you gonna call? The store with the giant LEGO Hagrid in the window, of course, with package upon package of Harry Potter, Star Wars and Mickey Mouse kits just waiting to tempt old and young alike with their infinite possibilities. Which is what LEGOs are all about, after all. Build it, and they will come.


While it may not tout the best bargains or the frilliest frocks for kids in all of Colorado Mills, Hanna Andersson has a surplus of rugged, smart, sweet and comfy quality going for it -- something aficionados of the company's mail-order catalogue have known for years. Made from natural fabrics designed to last, in enduring European styles that also withstand the test of time, "Hannas," as they're called, are worth every penny, as good-looking as they are long-lasting. Don't miss the standard striped long johns for all ages in the back of the store: The family that shops for Hannas together, lounges together, it seems. And that's just what you'll all feel like doing after a hard trek to the mall.


Hells Angels have become heaven's angels at this church formed by born-again biker Gary Davis. After Davis had a religious awakening thirty years ago, he dropped out of a hardcore motorcycle club and devoted his life to Jesus. Davis went on to operate motorcycle missions for several years, before forming Church in the Wind in 1996. Every Friday night since then, former black sheep have been flocking to the biker ministry at Riverside Baptist Church. Rev up with the Rev.


Just about every Monday and Thursday night, skater kids come to this huge indoor skatepark in Warehouse 180 at Meadows that's leased by Foothills Community Church, and they have a divine time. While their grunge-wear and dyed hair would make them a perfect fit on the 16th Street Mall, they find a welcome from the Foothills congregation at SK8church. So between grinds and handplants, these kids manage to squeeze in some God time. All on board for saving grace.


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