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.
Leave it to Queen of Collectibles Dana Cain. When her boyfriend, artist Peter Illig, was scouring estate sales for vintage stereos, she was inspired to create the Vintage Voltage Expo. "It's sort of like a cross between a vintage guitar show, a record show, an electronics flea market, an old audio store and a radio swap meet," Cain explained last year. The first Expo was a complete success, featuring approximately 75 vendors and a contest area where collectors could show off pieces to win "voltage bucks." Turntable demos and talks on subjects such as Nikola Tesla were also part of the mix. This year's Vintage Voltage Expo is scheduled for Sunday, March 30, at the Ramada Plaza Convention Center in Northglenn.
Vintage Modern
James Thurber once said, "One martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough." The same could be said of barware: A martini, after all, is a modernist drink, and its classic streamlined accoutrements — a product spawned in the industrial 1930s — are most befitting (and ever so cool). What aficionado wouldn't prefer to shake, not stir, a perfect cocktail in something sexy and succinct? For the mixologist who needs everything, this SoBo antique shop showcases some beautiful bar sets along with several pieces of smooth-looking Danish Modern furniture upon which it would be swell to serve a martini. And the olive, the finishing touch? Lee Alex also offers a fine collection of vintage cuff links. That other James — Bond, James Bond — would surely approve.
Divine Feline is a true labor of love: Begun in 2003 with a donated van by veterinarians Susanna Russo and Erica Rambus, the mobile cat clinic delivers spay/neuter services and vaccinations to those living in the disenfranchised feral colonies of urban catdom, the lowly alley cats who are often so untouchable that it would be impossible to trap them and get them into a regular clinic. In cahoots with the Rocky Mountain Alley Cat Alliance, the gallant pro bono professionals also seek out and work to socialize and find homes for feral kittens, sometimes with assistance from at-risk youth from the Bridge Project. And as for the incorrigible, they can now live long and prosper with help from Divine Feline — without reproducing. A spay a day keeps the kittens away.

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