Wax Trax Records
Though the 45 isn't the hippest musical format on the market, those seven-inch slabs of plastic are still coveted by collectors across the country. As such, stores catering to this clientele continue to exist in most major cities, with prices for used singles generally starting at several dollars and skyrocketing from there. Wax Trax, however, contains box after box after box of 45s priced as low as a quarter; most of the others are fifty cents. The charges for long-players are usually on the low end of the scale, too, which helps explain why vinyl lovers who travel to Denver make a beeline for Wax Trax. Those of us who live here have a lot less distance to cover to take advantage of a local treasure.
If a craving for a shot of Fellini and a mocha frappé strikes at the same time, head to Juma's DVD, which squats in the back of the Bohemian Bean Internet cafe and coffeehouse. Browsable in person or on the web, Juma's rental catalogue includes a bit of everything, from Luis Buuel to Jack Black, Disney to DeMille. Once you've rented something, you won't have to hock your jewelry to pay late fees if you can't return the goods on time. And because the place keeps coffeehouse hours -- 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day -- it's likely to be open whenever you desire a dash of La Dolce Vita.


In Books Unlimited's old home on University Boulevard and Evans Avenue, the cozy quarters and musty smell of yellowed pages made you want to curl up with one of the store's good books. Unfortunately, there was no space to curl up in. In its new home on Colorado Boulevard, Books Unlimited has retained its charm and gained ample browsing room -- and a parking lot. It also sports some once-forgotten treasures: While relocating 80,000 books last fall was a monumental task, the store's owners discovered many buried treasures when they finally unpacked. Limited-edition reference books, signed tomes by Isabel Allende, Oscar Hijuelos and Jay McInerney, as well as a nine-volume set of Abraham Lincoln's papers, have all been restored to their rightful spots on the shelves of the new and improved book nook.
Besides its broad selection of books, pamphlets and periodicals spanning the whole spectrum of radical and progressive issues, Breakdown really focuses on the "community" part of its name. The volunteer-run, non-profit space offers free classes and workshops, a computer lab and even a lending library, and also plays host to a variety of events such as art openings, discussions with touring leftist luminaries and showcases for acoustic and experimental music. In a political climate that's increasingly constrictive and bleak, Breakdown is a much-needed voice of dissent and celebration.
Bookish bargain hunters come to browse the new and used titles at Ichabod's Books, but they stick around to drink the coffee. The store's modest cafe counter serves straight java, baked goods and espresso drinks, including a vanilla latte that's pure perfection. On weekend afternoons, readers and loafers alike sip joe and sink into well-worn chairs that line the comfortably cramped floor. Yes, Starbucks has invaded Barnes & Noble, and Borders has its own cafe, but those superplex-style stores can't touch the loose, Left Bank vibe of Ichabod's, the literary heart of south Broadway.
Book Buffs, Ltd.
Janis Frame is a pusher. For Denver book collectors, her spacious Book Buffs Ltd. is as addictive as a line of coke. You can almost hear shoppers slapping their veins and muttering, "Just one more, man," as they browse the shelves of fine first editions, limited editions and small-press releases. The store, which recently moved from the Golden Triangle to a new spot on South Pearl, boasts everything from obscure chapbooks to modern signed firsts, such as Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections -- and it's all impeccably organized and alphabetized. Each volume has its own siren song, luring readers to caress its cover, scan its pages, stroke its spine. Just one more, man.
Capitol Hill Books
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 Pea 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 Pea 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!
Aharon's Jewish Books and Judaica
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!


Best Of Denver®

Best Of