Capitol Hill Books has always been a great place to while away an afternoon. And with the 10 percent-off card for frequent buyers, the 3,000-square-foot bookstore is habit-forming. The new travel section is just making matters worse. Because it's stocked with 4,000 travel guides, armchair travel books, memoirs, dictionaries, language books and books in other languages, there's no better place to see the world. Check the shelves regularly, because books on Thailand, Cuba, Vietnam and South America disappear quickly. But at just $5 to $6 a pop, it's suddenly affordable to go places.


A throwback to Denver's cowtown past, Lancaster's Western Wear caters to the last of the city's real cowboys and ranchers -- especially those who earn money on the rodeo circuit. Lancaster's "Rock-N-Roll Rodeo Gear" department carries all the protective duds -- from helmets and flak jackets to gloves, ropes and more -- that a bucked-up bullrider could want. Looking to ride the ring in safety and style? This is your outpost.


Craig Peña and Jay Salas have gone platinum with their line of zoot suits, dressing everyone from Snoop Dogg to David Bowie. Now they're inking deals with retailers and high-profile sports-apparel companies to market their Chingaso Gear line of Latin-inspired fight clothes. Hoodies, tees, boxing robes, prison-orange jumpsuits -- it's all on the cutting edge of the highly coveted Latin market. But just because Peña and Salas are bustin' out doesn't mean they've lost their edge. After all, you've got to know the street to make clothes for it. Stay trucha!


Brighten the bar mitzvah, or the table, with a stop at Aharon's Books, where the massive selection includes everything from Kabbalah texts to a Yiddish version of The Cat in the Hat. A stop for

cooks as well as readers, Aharon's carries all the accoutrements of a kosher kitchen, including challah covers, matzoh boxes and baking pans marked "parve," "dairy" or "meat." There are also mezuzahs for the home, jewelry for women, black hats for men, and kippot for everyone. For serving Denver's Jewish community for six years, we say mazel tov to Aharon's!


Mile High Comics' flagship store is home to the usual players in the comic-book universe: Marvel, DC, Dark Horse. But there's so much more to Mile High, a twelve-year-old-boy's wet dream of a store. Rows of glass cases in the 11,000-square-foot space hold Aliens, Iron Maiden and Futurama figurines while the shelves and walls are lined with graphic novels, manga and movie posters. Three days a week, guys come ready to role-play during epic tournaments of the popular game of Magic. Males dominate the clientele, but female sci-fi goddesses are also in the house, albeit in fictional form: Posters and paraphernalia honoring Agent Scully, Xena and Queen Amidala are abundant. C'mon, get geeky.


Science may never fully explain why certain women go gaga for the simplest things -- a slender notebook from China, say, or a small, distressed-looking birdhouse. A cornucopia of feminine kitsch, Miss Talulah's is such a woman's treasure trove -- a fun, arty adventure of a store in the burgeoning Ballpark neighborhood. Handmade soaps, folk-art chandeliers, vintage poster art from the Orient and handmade pillows are scattered among the nooks and crannies of the small shop; many of the display pieces are for sale, too. It's a dense, dainty place for the girl who has everything...but still really needs a set of antique beaded candlestick holders.


We love supporting local designers, but even better is supporting local designers whose wares are cute enough to make the pages of top fashion magazines. Nicole Beckett started the Agogo Threads line out of her parents' house in Golden, and last spring, she opened her first boutique, Agogo Star, in Boulder. Now Maya, Beyoncé and other celebs are wearing her vintage-styled dresses, skirts and halters in the pages of Cosmopolitan, Teen People and Bust. The Fairy Dust Frock and Petal Skirt With Crepe Tie-Front Top are sure to be killers for spring.


Sweet Utopia is an anomaly in the 21st century -- a store dedicated solely to relaxation and romance. Barbara Lynn Trattler's north Denver hole-in-the-wall is a sensual curio, draped and dotted with little luxuries to help heighten the senses. Here you'll find hand-dyed and beaded slip dresses, jingly Egyptian hip scarves, cut-flower stems, treasure boxes and lip-shaped truffles. Trattler also assembles hand-packaged Erotiberry gift baskets, which can include everything from massage oil and chocolates to champagne and flowers. You can't buy love, but at Sweet Utopia, it's fun to try.
East meets West at the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where students practice the art of sticking it to the public. Every Saturday, the school opens as an acupuncture clinic. Supervised by physicians and others who've completed the school's intensive Chinese-medicine program, the clinics help pupils fine-tune the arts of relieving pain and stress and treating disease by stimulating specific pressure points in the body. Even the needlephobe will have a hard time overlooking the deal: Sessions are $25, roughly half of what 'puncture fans pay at salons and clinics around town. Just...hold...still.


Okay, so nobody actually gets knocked up at Comfort & Joy, but Joy Hewitt-Kind has made helping women conceive the specialty of her acupuncture practice. She'd been treating basic pains, illnesses and stress until a few years ago, when a client came to her after having repeated miscarriages. Kind intervened, and the woman came down with twins. No guarantees (thankfully!) that she can work the same magic for everyone -- but she's also been known to clear a migraine. And her touch is so gentle that most patients fall asleep before she's even done placing the needles.


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