Best T-Shirts for Little Rockers 2003 | Rupp's Drums | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
The joke goes something like this: Little Johnny proclaims that when he grows up, he wants to be a drummer. "But darling," his mummy says, "You can't do both!" Though he might not garner the approval of his mother, that aspiring tyke would find plenty to bang about at Rupp's Drums, where owner and legendary skinsman Bob Rupp sells tiny Ts for future masters of the snare, bass and kick. Bearing slogans such as "Will Drum for Food," the itty-bitty outfits are an early-childhood introduction to drummer pride; Rupp's also carries drum kits for kids who are ready to trade training wheels for tom-toms. It's a beat-iful thing.
Yes, both Buds ventures are faith-based, but you don't have to subscribe to qualify for the excellent bargains available at both. (Belay Enterprises, the organization behind Baby Buds, also runs Buds Warehouse, a building-materials thrift emporium on Brighton Blvd.) And what bargains they are, displayed on orderly clothing racks, sporting tags that range from Cherokee to Ralph Lauren and neatly arranged by size on a spit-polished 6,000-square-foot floor. In addition, Baby Buds has lightly used toys, books and baby equipment in good condition, a play area for kids in tow. To top it off, it's all kept in shape by a staff of low-income single moms, who are receiving on-the-job career training toward turning their lives around. Buds is the old win-win situation.

If you're a typical consumer/parent, you probably know the Children's Place, a fast-growing chain brightening up malls around town and across the nation with inexpensive, stylish kidswear that manages to look cute, colorful and completely with-it for the short time it actually fits. And when the stuff goes on sale, it really feels like a sale: You can grab up three pairs of leggings or jeans and tops to match without emptying your pocketbook for the rest of the year. Now, imagine one of those sales -- only bigger. And better: Meet the outlet store, where there's a ton of merchandise and breathtaking markdowns on the markdowns. Dive in; there's plenty of room in the pool.

There's a growing retail niche hawking urbane fashions for wee clothes horses, and Posh is riding the wave: In addition to its accessories for adult city folk -- from flowing, flimsy dressing gowns to beaded flip-flops -- this Highland Square shop devotes its entire back level to out-of-the-ordinary baby attire, toys and furniture. And whether you're shopping for your own sprout or someone else's, it's an irresistible invitation to pick out something completely and inspirationally different: From the adorable kimono-styled Kidcosmic ensembles in poodle or cowboy prints to elaborate dotted-Swiss canopy beds, this is merchandise guaranteed to eschew the old cookie-cutter mold. Just the thing for the discerning junior individual.

Best Gifts That Make a Lasting Impression

Mama's Belly

Local sculptor Maggie Stewart was already an expert on the creation of art, but somewhere along the way she also figured out how to translate her talents into an art of creation. She came up with the idea of casting a bowl over the distended form of a pregnant woman's tummy, and her totally unique business, Mama's Belly, was, well, born. Order one, and Stewart will either cast it herself or set you up with a non-toxic plaster casting kit; after the mold is made, she'll finish the bowl in a bronze or Stone-Cast form. Every bowl is, of course, different, and -- since your newborn fits inside like it was made for her -- it makes the perfect backdrop for the cutest baby-announcement pics around.

Hey, just because the economy's in the dumper is no reason to quit playing dress-up. In fact, this might be the best time to try on a new identity without going broke. Disguises, a costume megastore, is a great place to start, with 15,000 costumes housed in what was once six strip-mall storefronts. It's now decked out with a hand-painted fairy-tale façade, a dressing room in a faux hollow tree and assorted fun and fantastic touches. Retired high school drama teacher Cindy Catanese has been selling homemade costumes for ten years, the last four from a much smaller Disguises at W. 6th Ave. and Garrison St. The new megastore opened in time for Halloween last year, and it provides costumes for local and high school theater productions, as well as individual masters of disguise.

This place is so big -- 23,000 square feet -- that you have to strategize before shopping. Just walking around and looking at the shoes won't do, because the thousands of pairs will soon make you dizzy. Instead, you need to know exactly what you're looking for -- say brown Italian-leather loafers -- and then head to that section. You'll discover about twelve different brands -- all Italian, all leather, all loafers. Off Broadway doesn't have the charm or offer the personal attention of smaller stores, but if you know what you're looking for, it's here.

Instead of the good old days of rushing to the gate just as the plane is about to pull away, security restrictions now require all of us to check in at the airport ages before our flights actually leave. Rather than hunkering down at Red Rocks Bar, board the train to your designated concourse for five minutes of relaxation at one of DIA's many shoe-shine stations. Settle into one of the plush leather chairs and put your feet in the metal stirrups -- these friendly chaps will chat you up about everything from last night's Avalanche game to what to bring the kids from your exciting insurance conference in Bismarck, North Dakota -- all while buffing your kicks to shine brighter than the Qwest sign.

Are you long on tension but short on cash? Heritage College of Massage performs full-body massages for just $19 -- quite a deal, compared to $60 or more for a rubdown at a high-end studio. Worried your spine will be karate-chopped mercilessly by some ham-fisted Massage 101 dropout? Relax -- the students who conduct the economy massage are advanced learners a step or two from graduation. Let these nimble-fingered newbies work you over with deep tissue, Swedish or other muscle-melting techniques. Massages are performed from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on weekdays, conducted in a private cubicle and featuring a slathering of massage oil and accompanied by the strains of new-age music to soothe the savage beast.

Twenty-seven years ago, Don Hayes was practicing acupuncture in the Colorado foothills when his wife, Hannah, a teacher with an interest in Chinese herbal remedies, began mixing formulas for specific clients. Her own tendency to come down with colds increased her zeal. "And finally," she says, "because we're a little slow, we said, hey, we're making the same formula for everyone." That formula was Cold Snap, a potent cure that can now be found in more than 500 stores nationwide, from the counterculture Alfalfa's to the mainstream Walgreen's. Snifflers, what are you waiting for?

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