The House of Mesha opened last June in the former Hue-Man Experience Book Store, ready to serve the Five Points neighborhood with fresh looks. Owner Holly Kai Hurd says the boutique's signature items are "deconstructed" denim skirts that are revitalized with inserts of neckties or Kente cloth, but there are also crocheted tops, waist beads, dashiki dresses and feminista T-shirts emblazoned with every known English synonym for "vagina." Less risqué shoppers can try Hurd's Afro-centric tees that announce "I love black people," "I'm big in Europe" or "I am a man," inspired by civil-rights-movement picket signs.


Fashion Institute of Technology graduate Mona Lucero opened her shop about two years ago and recently expanded into a sparse, wood-floored space that puts the clothing front and center. Lucero stocks some vintage-inspired styles by other designers, but they take a back seat to her work. Stop in for a simple A-line skirt in pink bouclé or a luxurious Japanese print; a sleek, multiple-seamed denim tulip skirt that opens at the bottom into pleats; form-fitting T-shirts screen-printed with uncomplicated emblems; or a tiny handbag in a variety of fabrics.


As the owner of Sparrow, Kirsten Coplans knows how hard it is for an independent, small -- no, minuscule -- business owner to build up clientele when there's little money for advertising. She and pal Melissa Santiago figured the myriad of boutiques around town were experiencing the same struggle. So they created Side Street Shopping List, a modest guide to fifteen local shops that help to keep Denver vibrant. Right now, the guide is distributed in stores -- with a coupon good at any of the participating locations included -- but Coplans hopes to someday expand to a website and instigate organized group events. Until then, she's a word-of-mouth expert.


Gospel Hour Cardio. Stripper Workout. Ballet Boot Camp. FlashDance Studios has it all for aspiring divas -- even a Paris Hilton Day to work on your heiress-model-stripper strut. But despite the facade of glitz and over-the-top class names, at its core, FlashDance is a great dance studio for adults. There's no pretension or awkwardness, just a safe place to come and enjoy movement, whether it's classical ballet or the art of the striptease. Now, that's hot.
Tattoo shops are as plentiful as 7-Elevens, but a place to get tattooed by nurses? That's something. Wolf Wolfstar and Tara Gray-Wolfstar (aka Spider) got tired of the hospital grind and its politics, so they quit and opened Enchanted Ink Body Art Studio. They're happy living their dream, but they also keep their nursing licenses current -- just in case one of those oh-so-precise genital piercings goes awry. And they're always happy to offer cookies and juice to clients who get a little woozy -- without a prescription.

A self-professed professional "ladder monkey" who specializes in gutter cleaning, Lee Eldridge keeps his mind out of the gutter -- way out of the gutter. His business's name, Guttersnipe, is as charmingly highfalutin as his accent -- both reflecting Eldridge's English origins.

Best Business Name to Pronounce Carefully

Darque Tan

Lighten up, people! The first word in the name of tanning emporium Darque Tan is pronounced "dark."


Sorry to disappoint, but Denver Concrete Vibrator is not an industrial-strength adult toy store. No, as its website explains, since 1980 the company has been an "industry leader in sales and service" of "dependable flexible shaft, pneumatic, high cycle and external concrete vibrator tools." Hose us down now.
Does anyone really know what time it is? Not at the King Soopers in the Golden Triangle, which honors its very diverse, very motley crew of customers with a wall of clocks by the entrance showing the current time in cities around the world. The display would be more impressive, though, if the minute hands all matched.

Best Place for Sid and Nancy to Get a Haircut

Moxie Hair Co.

The only thing worse than a bad haircut is a boring haircut. If you long for the days when A Flock of Seagulls ran so far away and Billy Idol danced with himself, Moxie is your style. The salon decor is industrial hip, the music punk and the stylists multi-talented and multi-hued. Keep a kohl-lined eye out for the shop's benefit bashes, when the Moxie Squad features free snacks, live DJs, and gratis haircuts in exchange for donations to local charities. Just tell them Siouxsie Sioux sent you.

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