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.
Practice makes perfect, in hairstyling as in life. At the Aveda Academy Salon and Spa, advanced students in the Pure Talent program hone the art of snipping and clipping before striking out as full-blown stylists. Legions of loyal, budget-minded clients know the Academy as the place to score a high-quality coif on the cheap: All Pure Talent students are licensed cosmetologists whose services run about a third of regular salon prices. Clients spend a bit more time in the chair, but every cut and color is supervised by an instructor. Plus, the Academy furnishes the creature comforts of any bona fide Aveda salon, from herbal tea to wine. That's a beauty of a deal.


At any hour of the day, you can get rubbed by somebody, somewhere, as long as you're willing to pay. The Massage Therapy Institute of Colorado takes the financial sting out of massage by offering low-cost therapeutic services at its student clinic, an appealing, quiet complex on York Street. Students enrolled in the school's advanced-certification program offer deep tissue, Swedish and shiatsu full-body massages for just $25 an hour; more intensive services are also available. The clinic is not open every day, and the student therapists are often booked weeks in advance -- but it's well worth the wait.


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