The Olde Town Pickin' Parlor might be the closest thing to nirvana for a serious acoustic-guitar fingerpicker. Just walking in the store, which opened in 1991 (long before the "new" Olde Town), is enough to get your salivary glands working overtime. There's the vast selection of Martin and Taylor guitars near the front door, plus plenty of exceptionally crafted guitars made by Breedlove, Goodall and Collings to fondle. We're talking the BMWs and Audis of the guitar world. And you could probably buy a used car for about the same price as some of the guitars in the shop, as most run anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. But the Pickin' Parlor is whole lot more than guitars; it's also a haven for banjos, resophonics, mandolins and fiddles. If you're into bluegrass, fingerstyle, folk, Delta blues or jazz, this place will definitely make you want to do some pickin' and grinnin' -- at least until you get your credit-card bill.
Powell's Sweet Shoppe
Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory wasn't bad, as remakes go, but it can't hold a lollipop to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the first cinematic adaptation of Roald Dahl's sweet-and-sour novel -- and Powell's Sweet Shoppe's decision to construct a shrine to the latter, complete with autographed photos of cast members and the flick itself screening on a continuous loop, says a lot about its sensibilities. In addition to tasty ice cream and lots of current treats, the jam-packed store showcases a jaw-dropping selection of old favorites, ranging from Big Hunks to candy cigarettes. There's nothing like the originals.

Best Store Almost on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall

Bliss

Bliss
If shopping is your Bliss, you'll find it here. Just a short stroll down Pearl Street from the mall proper leads you to this rambling store filled with scented Illume candles, a huge selection of stationery and cards, adorable embroidered tea towels and aprons, elegant Cavallini stamping kits, sweet stickers, a collection of shabby-chic cast-iron hooks and rectangular vases printed with birds and flora. Jewelry, hair ornaments and whimsical knickknacks round out the overloaded displays. Shop slowly and carry a big bag.

Best Store at Denver International Airport

Radio Road

No time to pack? No problem. Radio Road has you covered -- literally. You can outfit yourself from head to toe at the store, which opened last year on Concourse A at DIA, and whose only other outlets are at a handful of airports scattered across the country. That's because Radio Road is designed specifically for women on the go -- those who have to shop "on the fly." All of the stock is organized by color and category, so that you can grab a great single piece or an entire ensemble and still catch your plane. Before Radio Road, if you needed to outfit yourself at the airport, you'd have to resort to novelty sweaters, pashmina knockoffs, cowgirl regalia or maybe a "Let's Talk Colorado" sweatshirt and matching socks. But thanks to Radio Road, you can now hit the road running -- and looking darn good.

Best New Store on Colfax (Since March 2006)

Constance Love

Chandra Moseley's reimagined vintage store rose last fall in the same Colfax spot where her grandmother kept an antique shop for years. Among the pink-and-white-striped walls, she sells handpicked used clothing, glassware, costume jewelry and whatever else strikes her fancy. But vintage bags are Moseley's true passion. Her extensive collection seems to have dropped through the years from her grandmother's era to land on Moseley's freshly painted counters. Made of summer straw or dressy patent leather, hand-beaded or simply stylishly retro, they're both forward-looking and reminiscent of a time when things were a little more lovely.
Twist & Shout
Ken Hamblin III
Sooner rather than later, most record stores are likely to vanish from the commercial landscape -- but rather than passively waiting for this sad day, Paul and Jill Epstein are raging against the dying of the light. The sprawling new Twist & Shout, relocated last year from its former home on Alameda to the Lowenstein Center on East Colfax, brings together CDs, DVDs, vinyl, books and rock-era paraphernalia of every description in an enormous yet wonderfully warm space that consumers won't want to leave. It's as fine a place to shop for music as any in America, not to mention a terrific venue to hear special shows by touring performers. If this is the end of the record store as we know it, we feel fine.
Tattered Cover Colfax Avenue
Some longtime Tattered Cover fanatics still miss the old Cherry Creek location, which was a bit roomier than the store's new digs in the Lowenstein Center on East Colfax. Still, today's TC is plenty praiseworthy: The design, which incorporates elements from the theater that once operated on the site, is fresh and fun, and if there aren't quite as many tomes as there once were, the supply remains impressive -- and the service provided by the legendarily helpful and knowledgeable staff couldn't be better. The store may not have earned classic status quite yet, but it's well on its way.
Nan Wigington named Miss Prothero's for the character in Dylan Thomas's "A Child's Christmas in Wales" who descends the stairs to ask, "Would you like anything to read?" There's more than enough here: Wigington keeps her orderly, pleasant shop stocked with hardback editions of literary titles, as well as a number of other interesting choices. She's also experimenting with a weekly yoga class and unusual book clubs, including a "whodunit" gathering where participants meet to try to guess the outcome of a partly read mystery. With its great ambience and comfy sitting area, Miss Prothero's is well worth spending time exploring.
Tired of paying high prices and library late fees for your favorite novels? Goodwill Industries is the place to go. In between the secondhand clothes and the well-worn furniture, you'll find the used-book section, where paperbacks are 99 cents and hard covers run $1.99. A patient and diligent search is sure to yield some hard-to-find gems, but the classics are plentiful, as are last season's bestsellers, chick lit and Stephen King. Happy hunting.
Alas, it's spring. And where in Mugglesville will you pick up your new Quidditch gear? Unexpectedly, you can buy it all -- Quidditch goggles, a fine broom, a flighty golden snitch, a Hogwarts banner and officially licensed house robes, scarves and ties -- in the back of this Littleton metaphysical shop. Then slap on a Mad-Eye Moody eyeball patch and gulp down a handful of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans or a Chocolate Frog while perusing the beautiful Alivan wands, character buttons and key chains, sorting hats, posters and collectible figures. And you won't need a bank full of Gringotts Galleons to do it.

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