Textile addicts, gather up your spare change and prepare to enter paradise. While Denver Fabric is known for its vast selection of high-end decorator and dressmaker fabrics, the Annex next door is loved for selling the same thing -- cheap. Bolts of discontinued treasures stretch to the ceiling, many at pennies per yard. Naturally, a Filene's Basement-like atmosphere pervades, but it's worth the fight.
Quilters are made, not born, and it usually happens when they encounter a place like Quilting Up a Storm, where the air is thick with color and inspiration. Crammed with books, classes and bolts of bright, contemporary fabrics, including a brilliant selection of batiks, the store focuses less on country kitsch and more on absolutely stunning modern quilts.
Emily Griffith Technical College
While most local sewing classes and shops now cater to country-cute crafts, the Emily Griffith Opportunity School still takes an haute couture approach. And last summer's revival of their millinery program -- one of the first courses taught when Miss Emily Griffith opened the school in 1916 -- was a splendid addition. Rita Smith of Classic Canyon Creations taught students to block and hand-stitch hats, helping them fashion everything from the pillbox to the cloche. Why sport a Kangol when you can go one-of-a-kind?
For those who refuse to say it with saccharin, the shelves at Decade await. Here's the place to find a wide selection of Roger la Borde stationery (the pastel kind with elongated people holding potted plants and juggling Santa hats) alongside modish and sparkly Rock Scissor Paper notes (previously found only on the Internet at recession-unfriendly prices). Our favorites are the spunky Squibnocket Cards, which are free of silly sentiments or precious images -- they're just blocks of whimsical, witty print that are sure to spread joy. Whatever your predilection, it's a reprieve from bland Hallmark hell.
Sitting in a line of fume-belching SUVs just to do some drive-through banking is almost enough to make you leave the bicycle at home. But not if you live in Boulder, where an estimated 10 percent of in-city trips are made by bike. Pueblo Bank & Trust has recognized the demand and opened a special Bike-Thru Banking lane just for customers on two wheels. Any would-be bank robber, however, should note that it's only fair that he make his escape on a tandem manned by a getaway cyclist.
Banker Stephen Baltz wasn't made for these times. When he opened a First United Bank branch in the grand old Equitable Building, he renovated the space to resemble the First National Bank of Denver, which was located in the Equitable at the turn of the last century. Now, in what was most recently the dapper men's clothing store Andrisen Morton Co., you can make deposits through barred teller cages set in sleek, polished mahogany. But the pièce de résistance is the $150,000, 7.5-ton round vault door, a fin-de-siècle relic that still does the job proudly.
Last summer, the Young Americans Bank, brainchild of local magnate Bill Daniels, moved into bigger digs after serving young financiers for fifteen years. All the old child-friendly amenities, such as height-conscious teller windows, are still in place, but the bank is now part of an entire town square. There's a town hall, television station, market, newspaper, hospital and snack bar all built for use by the bank's Young AmeriTowne program, which offers school kids a hands-on opportunity to run the town as accountants, editors, mayors and other community stalwarts. So maybe it's not totally realistic, but at least in this small world, the customer is still king.
The family minivan can have all the comforts of a rock-star limo, with snacks, drinks and toys all easy to reach. The Starr Car Seat Travel Tray is made of soft, durable, completely washable nylon, with a safe, flat surface and pockets and compartments on either side. It attaches to most convertible car seats and booster seats with Velcro. Alyson Simon started Starr Products last year to make the Car Seat Travel Tray for her young son. If the Mom-mobile is equipped with an optional on-board entertainment system, there's no reason to ever leave the back seat.
Local puppeteer Annie Zook is a one-woman powerhouse of a children's entertainer. She's a soft-sculpture artist who crafts her own puppets -- a director, actor and playwright, a shopkeeper, a museum curator and collector, and an art instructor who's been running her own theater for ten years. On top of all that, she throws one hell of a birthday party. A pre-show puppet playtime, a performance, use of a party room for cake and ice cream and a well-managed puppet workshop can all be booked at the Denver Puppet Theater. And if you want to go a little over the top, she can create a personalized script with details from the birthday kid's life. If that don't make 'em smile, nothing will.
At one time or another, every child has complained that there's nothing to do -- but this portion of the City of Denver's official Web site proves otherwise. Click on Denver City Youth Program Database, and you're off. Compiled with the help of local youngsters dubbed "YouthMappers," the site sports contact information and details about a slew of programs, services and activities designed with kids in mind.

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