Best Place to Buy Gifts for an Aspiring Geisha 2003 | Pacific Mercantile Co. | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Sakura Square gets that Gion feeling in the gift-laden aisles at the back of Pacific Mercantile Co., where flirty fans, kimonos, Chinese shoes, hair ornaments and bamboo screens entice Japanophiles away from more conventional grocery shopping. The merchandise ranges from practical to playful: Sake and sushi sets, rice makers and workmanlike woks are shelved alongside framed art, lacquer Tokyo-style lunchboxes and elegant imports for dress-up time. For the essential element of the exotic that it injects into LoDo, we give Pacific Mercantile Co. a deep bow.
If Madonna wore it three years ago, it's the bomb today among the hoi polloi. That's the story with exotic ethnic-wear. So dot your forehead and head to Tibet Imports, the place in town to buy lengha cholis: three-piece East Indian ensembles made up of a midriff top, flowing skirt and shawl in breezy, diaphanous chiffons with beaded or embroidered embellishments. While you're there, you might pick up a few accessories, as well, including beaded headdresses, engraved singing bowls, shimmery fabric mini-lanterns and batik panels for your walls. Once you get home, be assured: You'll be the main attraction. Raga on!
What are little girls made of? These days, nobody knows for sure, but before your little one grows up, dyes her hair purple, gets tattooed and endures 98 piercings, dress her in tulle and chiffon. Just this once. You may never again see anything sweeter. At Talulah Jones, you can buy the goods: pearly, translucent puffs of marshmallowy fabric for miniature ballerinas (including sizes for those who can't even walk yet, let alone spin a pirouette) that are studded with pastel roses, slathered among the layers like pats of butter in a puff pastry. Finish the look with the matching angel wings, and at least for a while, she'll be sticking her little foot in the door of heaven.
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.
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.

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