The pet project of Japanophiles Janene Hurst and Andrew Novick, Gimme Gimme Pillow Toast is no doubt the region's premier purveyor of kawaii, which is short for "weird Japanese pop-culture cute stuff," and caters to anyone entranced by that punked-out mix-and-mismatch Harajuku/gothic Lolita fashion sense. A hard-to-find cubbyhole on the artsy backside of Lakewood's Belmar Center, GGPT is your go-to source for OH! Mikey mannequin dramas, half-and-half stuffed panda/rabbit dolls, totally tweenish Brace Face T-shirts, Gloomy Bear keychains, manga comics, chocolate-tipped Pocky treats and Hello Panda cream-filled cookies, devil monkey buttons and kung fu-fightin' Bruce Lee candles (among other things). If you want it, come and get it.
The Container Store
When the Container Store announced that it would open a branch in Cherry Creek, we swear we heard a gigantic thud as thousands of urban neat freaks hit the floor and kowtowed to the gods in unison. For anyone who loves plastic storage boxes in dozens of sizes, kitchen gadgets galore, gift wrap and all its accoutrements, tiny compartments filled with even tinier compartments, sortable laundry bags and rainbow-colored plastic clothes hangers, there's no better place to while away a Sunday afternoon, walking softly and pushing a big cart. Spring cleaning, anyone?
Cafe Paprika
Courtesy Cafe Paprika Facebook
Cowtown-ish downtown Golden became a lot more exotic with the unveiling of Paprika. A belly-dance studio and a boutique, the place is one continuous magic carpet ride of slinky, jingly stuff, including reversible sari silk wrap skirts, voluminous harem pants, Gypsy gear and sparkly Rajasthani mirror belts, as well as a thousand and one nights' worth of djembes, doumbeks and sexy shakers, bells and gongs for keeping the beat.
Rheinlander Bakery
Tradition runs deep at Ed and Maro Dimmer's Olde Town bakery, which has been an Arvada mainstay since their folks, Jakob and Katharina, opened it more than forty years ago. Along with the everyday, though hardly mundane, fare of butter-laden Bienenstich layered cookie pastries, iced linzer tarts, sticky buns, coffeecakes and rough-hewn homemade strudels stuffed with fruit and cheese, Rheinlander offers hot cross buns in spring and really shines during the holidays, when the siblings trot out a full arsenal of marzipan-laced stollens, nut-filled Polish potica rolls, springerle and pfeffernusse cookies and spiced lebkuchen gingerbread. Guten appetit!
Park Meadows Shopping Center
When Robert Redford expanded the face of his Sundance catalogue phenomenon, where do you suppose he decided to open the flagship store? That's right: Sundance fits our so-called Colorado lifestyle like a well-worn blue suede glove. Now we can shop for the rustic hand-crafted items, inspirational Jes MaHarry jewelry, earthy artisan shoes and laid-back clothing, vintage-look and recycled furniture, iron bedsteads and more at Park Meadows Shopping Center. Pack up yer saddlebags and mosey on in.
Chocoholics will eat anything that masquerades as the stuff: Hershey bars, M&M's, the dust at the bottom of the Cocoa Puffs box. But connoisseurs pick and choose on a whole different level, a sublime level where only chocolateries like Wen Chocolates make the A-list. Here's why it does: Artisan chocolatier William Poole starts his small-batch truffles with a base of fine, additive-free Guittard chocolate and cream. Then he fearlessly tosses in a pinch of paprika or chili powder, an infusion of black tea or a wicked dollop of bourbon, a hint of rosemary or chamomile, floral scents, whatever, rolls his old black magic into a mouthful and dusts the final product in an iridescent cloak of violet pearl dust or diaphanous edible gold. You won't say "when" at Wen.

Best Store on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall

Common Era

Common Era
Boulder's Common Era store is a veritable gold mine of low-priced hipster threads, from technicolor jeans to frilly sequined tops to wide pleather belts and dangerously tall boots. Owner Debra Mazur's vision is of a cheap, ever-changing inventory that you can't find anywhere else in Colorado, so she buys exclusively from small East and West Coast manufacturers that specialize in limited clothing runs, which means that the unbelievable turquoise pants you came across this week probably won't be there next week. Best of all, Mazur and her sales staff make all their jewelry by hand, giving Common Era the feel of a "fashion think tank." And last summer, Mazur opened a second store at 1543 Platte Street in Denver, which means that shoppers here have an outpost nearby.
Willow - An Artisans' Market
Willow's recent move from a side street to bigger, more accessible digs on Littleton's main drag couldn't have made us happier. It means that there's more of everything we already loved about the fine crafts palace: Nina Sampsel's richly colored boiled-wool creations, tie-dyed kids' T-shirts with decorative stitching, Sean Brown's cartoony-cute ceramic animal pins, reclaimed and hand-painted handbags, belts and shoes, and lace- and bead-embellished evening bags made from molded bra cups. Not to mention an omnibus of jewelry by a handpicked stable of artisans, including Englewood bead genius Jane Albright's delicate woven bracelets and hair sticks, Kim Bonsall's pick-and-choose fused glass beads, expandable cha-cha bracelets hung with beads and charms, and the indescribable works of Leslie Gaines, who weaves together bits of fringe and trim, chunky glass beads, orbs of wool and odd ornaments. Fun and funky!
Tennyson Hardware
Tennyson Hardware is the kind of folksy business every great community needs: Be-muraled on the north wall and stacked high inside with nails and such in floor-to-ceiling bins, it's owned by the Kort family in a location that's been dealing hardware for decades. Neighborhoods rule, and businesses like Tennyson Hardware are what keep them vital.

Best Store on Old South Gaylord Street

Pome

Pome
No wonder it's a winner for the second year in a row: Kate Feinsod of Pome has one of the most discerning eyes for vintage/shabby chic in town, and she's constantly fine-tuning her little shop's changing stock of old-fashioned ribbon, tin toys, art wrap and stationery, soaps, knitted cupcakes and gourmet olive oil with one-of-a-kind, well-crafted fashions and whimsies created, more often than not, by local designers and artisans. We're simply in love with her Jil Cappuccio and Pearl clothing, Queen Bee appliquéd bags and the whole kit and kaboodle from Golden Pear, including hand-stitched vintage aprons for adults, little girls' pinafores and kids' apron kits for boys or girls, all packed up with a tiny hot pad and mitt in pink cake boxes. And look for Feinsod to revive the Side Street Shopping List (a promotional collaboration with other independent retailers) sometime this year. Way to go, Kate!

Best Of Denver®

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