For a slightly more luxurious showering experience, splurge on the Flying J. It can be a little intimidating walking through the truckers -- who are laid over in front of the big-screen TV, IM-ing and eBay-ing on the WiFi stations, or simply chain-smoking in the common areas -- but the lot-lizard feeling will pass, especially once you enter your private shower chamber. Just $6.50 buys as much time as you need in the bathroom, along with clean towels. Shower shoes are optional, but your own shampoo and conditioner are a must. Luckily, grooming supplies and a host of other things you didn't know you needed -- including a quick shave or haircut -- can be had just beyond the shower doors. All hail the modern truck stop.


It takes guts to enter the Lake Steam Baths. The 77-year-old Denver institution seems a little, uh, sketchy, squatting on a corner of West Colfax. But the experience is well worth the leap of faith. Ladies come Mondays and Thursdays to steam -- both in a dry hot-rock and eucalyptus sauna -- and whirlpool their tensions away; boys get the rest of the week. After a dip, try a full-body massage, a steal at just $28 an hour, or a mani/pedi. Just be sure to book in advance. And, yes, you've got to get naked.


When it comes to plumbing mishaps, don't bust a pipe: Fix it yourself and save a bundle. Whether you're redoing the loo or merely replacing a rusted shower head, the stuff you need is sure to be cheaper at Do-It-Ur-Self, which offers used and surplus plumbing and heating supplies at ridiculously low prices. Oh, they have new stuff, too, but where's the fun in that? Wander the aisles and you'll find the kinds of antique fittings they just don't make anymore -- or sell at Home Depot. At Do-It-Ur-Self, you'll never have to wash your money down the drain again.


Not too many clip joints have their own art gallery, but Cue Perez's Hairspray is outfitted with large-scale work by local artists in various media, including photography, prints, oil and acrylic. The exhibits change every couple of months and complement the hip, industrial feel of the salon. A cut above, Hairspray elevates the art of beauty.
Clean, well-organized and spacious, Mile High is a bargain hunter's dream. How about a cashmere turtleneck for $1.99? Or maybe that immaculate leather jacket for six bucks? If you're feeling flush, splurge on a Dooney & Bourke handbag for $14.95. There's even a decent selection of books and crockery. Bring cash and your size chart: There are no fitting rooms, and Mile High doesn't take checks or credit cards. But there is an ATM on the premises, and with prices this low, your bank's service charge may be the most expensive transaction of the day.

Best Thrift Store for the Really, Really Thrifty

Goodwill Industries

The conversion of Goodwill Industries' north Denver store to a 99-cent emporium has been a hit with cash-strapped families, seniors and anyone else trying to stretch a buck. Clothes and housewares that may have been passed over at other stores get renewed attention here. With every item beckoning at the bargain price of $.99, it just makes cents.
The deals are hot at Twice as Haute, where ladies can pick up stylin' black Banana Republic leather pants for $60, a red DKNY cocktail dress for $68 and a full-length white mink coat for $998 -- plus the Kenneth Cole heels, Gucci purse, velvet fedora and gemstone jewelry to go with them. Located in an old house on 6th Avenue, the store carries labels like Burberry, BCBG Max Azria, Miss Sixty and Kate Spade for a smidgen of the original retail price. Be sure to check the tags closely: Items hanging for more than thirty days are automatically reduced another 20 percent. And if your closet deserves an "enter at your own risk" sign, Twice as Haute will take designer goods off your hands on consignment, as long as they are less than two years old and still in fabulous shape. Get ready to turn into a haute mama.


It's a misnomer to call the Buffalo Exchange a vintage-clothing or thrift store. Nearly a fourth of its eclectic inventory is brand-new, cherry-picked from debut lines of contemporary streetwear that escape the notice of larger, more corporate, mall-based fashion chains (Denver's Capitol Hill location is one of 24 nationwide). If a new indie line's catching a buzz at the MAGIC fashion trade show in Las Vegas one week, it's headed for the racks at the Exchange the next. The store's bread and butter, though, is "recycled fashions," and its heavily pierced in-store buyers excel at mining the garbage bags and laundry baskets trade customers bring in. Prices are generally lower than those at consignment shops offering similarly high-caliber brands and rare finds. We've walked out of Buffalo Exchange with a classic KISS tour shirt ($100 on eBay), a mint-condition Armani pullover ($180 new) and a pair of barely used leather Skechers ($80 new), all for less than sixty bucks. The store's soundtrack is also suitably fashionable: No canned Top 40 here; just the best in edgy indie rock and electronic ambient. Herdy up.


Tucked in the back corner of Boss Unlimited, a Kennedy-era vintage store, is an innocuous box stuffed with bolts of fabric. And what a fun box it is -- full of mid-century mod fabrics that look oh-so-fresh in the current season of Jackie O-inspired fashion. The stock is small, but it changes frequently based on what owner Cynthia Wright scouts. And for the real DIY-er, there's a valise packed with '40s and '50s patterns. Express yourself!
We don't know when, or why, it happened, but knitting is suddenly hot, with knitting groups popping up like crop circles. La Ti Da, at home in a converted Old South Pearl Street cottage, came along at just the right moment. Knitting mavens Kim Allegretti and Rita Marshall knew exactly what they were doing when they opened the combination coffeehouse, yarn store and gift shop. La Ti Da not only caters to south Denver's needle-wielding denizens by offering them a comfy place to gather, buy top-drawer yarns, learn new stitches or simply while away an afternoon; it also provides an outlet for local artisans, whose wares -- teensy sweaters and poodle dresses for babies, stunning scarves, jewelry, pillows and more -- line one homey alcove. Just the thing for a tight-knit community.


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