When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. In a perilous economy, lots of people look to precious metals and collectable coins, but there are plenty of weirdos in the field as well as professionals. We like Dave Eichenberger's shop because the folks there are friendly, well-versed in the eccentricities of coin collecting, never intimidating and eminently fair, both in what they sell and what they pay for old coins and jewelry. Dave dispenses good advice for collectors, can spot a three-legged buffalo nickel in a pile of mere spenders, and can perform a quick assay to let you know if Grandpa's ring is real gold or 99 percent pure ersatz. And that's what you want from professionals these days: a quick winnowing of the chaff from the golden wheat.
Camera Obscura Gallery
So the photography nut on your gift list has asked for a stack of hardcover photo books by people with names like Lee Friedlander, Alfred Stieglitz and Annie Leibovitz. Don't know where to turn? Camera Obscura Gallery has plenty of fine art; in fact, the gallery and store claims to have the biggest selection of photography books in Colorado. Plus, they'll let you peruse the books before you buy them. Spend an afternoon there flipping through some of the best photos ever — then solve your gift-buying problems in a flash.
Le Bakery Sensual
You know Le Bakery Sensual for its naked-lady cakes, giant penis icing designs and inappropriately hilarious desserts. But the erotic party shop and bakery also lets customers put their money where their mouths are: On Fridays, shoppers get 10 percent off their order if they flash the sales staff. Welcome to the naked city.
Colorado hair stylist Lauren Rennells is a lady with a past, boasting an extensive career of styling for film and photography shoots, and it's in the past that she found the inspiration for Vintage Hairstyling, a picture-perfect manual on how to create retro looks, from pageboys and pompadours to victory rolls and finger waves. In spite of the vintage spin of her book, Rennells takes full advantage of modern tools to create a hair primer that's not just glamorous, but also easy to use. The days of Veronica Lake, Betty Grable and Ava Gardner (to name a few) are finally back at your fingertips.
Rock the Cradle
Forget pastels and frills: Brian and Melissa Ball of Rock the Cradle think that babies are cute all on their own and don't need any help from their clothes. Yet they also agree that even babies deserve to make a fashion statement — one that leans toward the same organic natural fabrics, edgy contemporary graphics and local and independent vendors that their parents favor. Stop and shop, but when you visit, be sure take advantage of the DIY T-shirt bar, where you can pick a blank onesie and customize it with an iron-on transfer, right there in the store. Call it fashion in the moment, mini-sized.
Babysitter's Nightmare, a junior division of the longstanding goth and punk-wear shop FashioNation, does all it can to live up to its name, in screamin' black, red and leopard skin. But you do have to admit it's kinda cute, and the clothing tends to be well-made and clever. For girls, you can choose from zippered jumpers that go great with a black "Spoiled Rotten" black tee, striped leggings or skinny pants, vinyl soft high-heeled booties by Heelarious, leopard-print apron onesies for petite pinups, and black-cat Mary Janes; boys will look tough in garage jumpsuits, mini Vans-style slip-ons and "Future Pirate" or "Kid Vicious" T-shirts, riding on a retro trike. They're never too young to be street.
Sooner or later, everyone has to deal with that pile of neglected memories in an outdated format gathering dust in the attic or garage. Whether it's a stack of fading VHS tapes from the 1980s, home movies from the 1950s or a mélange of slides and snapshots that span generations, Steve Dalbec's home studio, the local franchise of a national digitalizing service, is the place to go. Dalbec can convert a range of old formats, including 16-millimeter movies, to DVD or computer files; he can clean up and edit scratchy images of ancient baptisms and graduations; and he'll produce handsome DVD "albums" of your cherished (if seldom-seen) family odyssey, complete with searchable menus and titles. The rates are competitive with other transfer services around town, with an added bonus: free pick-up and delivery by courier.
LoDo's redevelopment continues at a staggering pace, but every new building means one less parking lot, and without them, finding a place to leave the car gets harder and more expensive. There's still one asphalt oasis among this wasteland of meters, however: Wewatta Street right behind Union Station. This stretch of two-hour free parking is hardly ever full, and it's a short walk from here to just about anywhere in the Central Platte Valley or LoDo. Be warned, though: Once Union Station's long-awaited redevelopment begins this year, these spots will surely go the way of nickel-fed parking meters. 
If youre trying to start a business and need to know how much women spend on shoes within a ten-block radius of your house, or if youre just nosy, this is the database for you. BusinessDecision crunches vast arrays of census data and presents a range of demographic and economic profiles tailored to the research needs of small businesses everything from standard reports on household income and ethnicity to more complex portraits of communities spending and lifestyle habits. Want to know how many industrious urban fringe types populate a certain zip code as opposed to Main Street USA middle-of-the-roaders or laptop and lattes trendsetters? Just grab your library card and head for the research resources section of the DPLs website. Theres a charge for using some of the services elite features, but reference personnel should be able to guide you through the impressive free offerings.
Sweet Life Nail Bar & Lounge
We all have our favorite manicurists, but Sweet Life Nail Bar and Lounge has an edge, a gentle one, that just might change your mind. It starts with the toxin-free, long-lasting, many-colored Zoya products that owner Diane Bilello insists on using, which leaves the Stapleton salon virtually odorless, a novelty in and of itself. But then sink back on this: Sweet Life's lounge-like atmosphere, replete with overstuffed armchairs and warm lamplight instead of fluorescent bulbs, takes the hurry and stress out of having your nails done, especially when you throw in a glass of wine, mimosa or Grey Goose martini from the bar. A bar? In a nail salon? Say no more. Mind changed.

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