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!
5 Green Boxes
A perennial favorite among neighborhood shoppers seeking the unusual, 5 Green Boxes forged its reputation on a true sense of fancy. Handmade, imaginative, drenched in color, the wares at both the big and the little store (just a block apart) will speak to your different drummer, with merchandise ranging from a gossamer scarf to a boiled-wool patchwork chair. Give in to your daydreams.
Tattered Cover LoDo
How convenient that, as it approached its 25th anniversary, the 16th Street Mall was extended! Ostensibly, it was to open up the area around Union Station, which will soon be a major development and transportation center. But as far as we're concerned, the move was made so that the mall would lead directly to the Tattered Cover. With the giant Cherry Creek store now just a memory, the Tattered Cover LoDo is the oldest in the three-store Tattered chain, and we think it's always been the best. First, there's the setting, smack in the city's hopping warehouse district, and the renovation of the Morey Mercantile into this bookstore kept the bones of the old building intact. Inside, the space is filled with a comfortable coffee shop and reading room, as well as two floors filled with books — and eager employees who'll help you find what isn't out on the shelves. And finally, there's the second-floor lecture hall, where Tattered regularly hosts authors reading from their work and other noteworthy speakers. With such dedication to the private delights of reading and the value of public discourse, the Tattered Cover remains the heart and soul of not just downtown, but Denver.
Mondo Vino
Courtesy Mondo Vino Facebook page
Like the keystone of a bustling bridge, the corner spot of any neighborhood shopping district is the most important piece, and Mondo Vino has held up well at the intersection of 32nd Avenue and Lowell Boulevard since 1999, when sommelier Duey Kratzer opened for business. The elegant liquor store was one of the first of a new wave of shops and restaurants to revitalize Highland Square, and it has attracted throngs of customers with an upscale but accessible selection of beer, wine and spirits, and a staff that recognizes faces and is quick with a suggestion. Stop in for a bottle of something; you'll leave with two.
Safari Seconds Thrift Store
Safari Seconds Thrift Store is filled with the usual array of second-hand bric-a-brac, from clothing and household items to dog-eared paperbacks and kitschy records just waiting to be swooped up by eagle-eyed collectors. Yet the proceeds from all sales benefit a population of people who find themselves displaced, much like the wares that line the shelves. The store backs the African Community Center, a lively, multicultural agency that supports refugees who have recently arrived in Denver from war-torn countries across the world, from Sudan and Somalia to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Shopping at Safari Seconds won't stop the genocide in Darfur, but it will help provide basic services such as job training and housing assistance to a global host of individuals and families who now call Denver home.
Stylelicious
Hip, urban kids need hip, urban clothes if they're going to walk the chi-chi streets of Cherry Creek with their heads held high. To that end, Stylelicious, which opened late last spring, is on top of its style, carrying a variety of modern looks for wee tykes. For girls, there are bright geometrics and prints from Flowers by Zoe; fancy dresses by Sister Sam; gossamer girly dresses bedecked with ribbons and lace and sportswear in fantastic fabrics by Little Mass; and tie-dye ensembles by Out of Control. For boys, there are graphic tees, board shorts and hoodies by Charlie Rocket or Wes & Willy and tees with vintage-look graphics by JB Original. And everyone with a sense of humor will go head over heels for Paul Frank's Small Paul line, featuring the iconic monkey Julius and other Frank fabrications. Hey, kid, look sharp!
BaggyShirts entrepreneurs Jan Ramos and Dana Miller will take the shirt right off your back to do their part for the environment, but in this case, that's a good thing. Inspired by An Inconvenient Truth and producer Laurie David's public challenge to pick just one thing to help the environment, they began recycling old men's shirts into reusable shoulder totes that work equally well for groceries, gym togs, picnics or whatever. In this age of the rapidly disappearing plastic grocery bag, the dutiful duo picked a great place to start.
Ahimsa Footwear
If you're a vegan facing a footwear dilemma, there's no longer any need to sacrifice your sense of style in deference to your pro-animal scruples: At Ahimsa Footwear, every shoe is vegan from heel to toe and surprisingly easy on the eyes (as well as the budget). Opened last year by wayward epidemiologist Lisa Young and her husband, Phil, Ahimsa (named for the Buddhist tenet of non-violence) stocks footwear and other leather-like goods for every occasion, all fashioned from natural and/or recycled materials. Our favorites on the floor include Blackspot "unswoosher" high-tops by Adbusters (Bohemian sport shoes made of hemp with a recycled tire sole), woven flax macramé boots by Earth, demure vegan ballerinas with decorative stitching by Rina Shah and delicious faux-suede Medusa artisan pumps by Ragazzi, as well as funky bags from Matt and Nat and messengers by Splaff Flopps, all of which leave the store in recycled-paper shopping bags.

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