Summers in Colorado may be dry, the fountains off and the lakes low, but the Maxfund Animal Adoption Center offers a little relief for your pooch's paws. With just a five-spot donation, Fido or Fifi can take a swim in the therapy pool. The Turkish baths it's not, but the water is cool and available year round, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. -- without an appointment. (They're closed Wednesdays.) And if you're short on funds but still need to get your unsuspecting mutt spayed or neutered, the no-kill shelter's new clinic offers low-cost surgeries right next door.
Lowry Town Center
The ballyhooed "new urbanist" development at Lowry is a mixed bag, with much of it looking more suburban than citified. But the Town Center, by Denver architect David Owen Tryba, is true to new urbanism's best intentions: It's pedestrian-oriented and designed to a human scale, with parking lots hidden from view. The idea is to get people out of their cars and on their feet, and to make walking fun. The center has about two dozen retailers; stores face a narrow street that's lined with cheerful banners, wrought-iron benches and bicycle racks. Better for feet than the Foothills!
A branch of The Store That Must Not be Named may squat just outside Golden, but Meyer Hardware has been a downtown fixture for 58 years and has no intention of leaving. Owner Steve Schaefer took it over from his father, who took it over from his father-in-law. And now Steve's son patrols the aisles when on break from college. The friendly staff -- thankfully sans orange aprons -- is ready to assist with any project, whether you be a homeowner or contractor. They have nuts and bolts, flies and rods, doors and windows, hammers and nails, tents and tackle boxes, toolboxes and stoves. And that's just the beginning. Upstairs you'll find everything from red KitchenAid blenders to Calphalon pans -- and sometimes even Steve's mother, Marilyn, who also wraps beautiful confections during the holidays. And Tracy downstairs in hardware is an institution unto herself.
Prospectors and silver swells stopped by this spanking-new emporium in search of fresh-baked bread, groceries and other items for everyday living, circa 1883: lamp oil, lye soap, maybe some stout twine and sturdy canvas. One 120 years later, the miners have faded, but local residents and tourists still stop by Kneisel & Anderson's historic building to pick up groceries and other necessities for today's living: light bulbs, antibacterial skin cleanser, duct tape and plastic sheeting. The oldest continuously operated business in Georgetown, now run by the fifth generation of the Kneisel-Anderson family, still sells food and hardware while retaining its Victorian charm.

Best Way to Get Movies, Smokes and Ice Cream Delivered

Zuvo

Using messengers on Vespas, Zuvo drivers bring not documents, but the real necessities of life to your door: DVDs, Two-Fisted Mario's pizza, Ben and Jerry's ice cream, chips and even toilet paper. And they do it in less than an hour. Zuvo, an online convenience store, was created by Boulderite Danny Newman a year ago and has been serving central Denver neighborhoods since last August. For just $5, you can rent a movie for three days; the downside is that there are only three drop-off locations. But if you place another order, they'll pick up all those previously viewed videos for free. That's one way to avoid late fees, which you can then invest in even more pints of Ben and Jerry's. Note: Zuvo service does not include hauling you to a gym.
This handy little ten-page booklet, by former Rocky Mountain News columnist Sally Kurtzman, continues the service she started in the tabloid with "The Stuff Exchange." People with old-but-serviceable stuff are told how to get in touch with organizations that can put that stuff to good use. Second Life lists contact numbers for organizations in need of commonly found household items, and helpful tips on how to decide what goes where: trash, regifting to friends and family, donation, or storage to wait for a future trip through the decision-making process. Because the average Denverite throws out three and a half pounds of garbage a day, Kurtzman's old wartime advice to "make it do, wear it out, use it up, do without" makes sense even in the new wartime. E-mail Kurtzman at sallyk@ecentral.com for a copy.
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.

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