Best Place to Shop Local 2009 | Caboodle | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Caboodle isn't much to look at from the outside: The plain-looking storefront in an unlikely strip mall doesn't attract a lot of attention. But in a way, that matches owner Marlene Nuechterlein's intention to provide stay-at-home mompreneurs, local crafters and out-of-basement businesses an outlet where their locally made and often-recycled wares can be appreciated. Some standouts include Teatulia teas, all-natural soy candles by Evergreen Candleworks, spirit totems by Kit's Wild Women, Best of Denver-winning Baggy-Shirts shopping bags and the Peekaru vest, which fits over mom and baby when using a soft baby carrier in winter; you'll also find knitted items, hand-dyed silk scarves, quilts, CDs, glasswork, natural soaps, cards and many other gift items to choose from. And lately, Nuechterlein has added a series of DIY workshops where folks can also share their talents with their neighbors.
For many urbanites living in the wi-fi world, letter-writing may seem as quaint and useless as butter churning or mustache waxing. At Scribbles, you'll want to leave the soulless world of texting and emoticons at the door. The shop is filled with wedding invitations, stationery and artist-made greeting cards. The baby books are so awesome that many customers decide to make babies just to be able to justify their purchases. A comfy sofa next to a sunny window is provided at the wrapping area at the back of the shop, to allow clients a tranquil space to make the enlightened choices needed for today's gift-wrapping protocols. The staff is graciously helpful and never pushy. It's hard to leave Scribbles without wishing to live in the glamorous days of penmanship instead of this impersonal life in Helvetica.
Several years ago, tea-mistress extraordinaire Roxanne May ran the Oak & Berries at the Holiday Chalet Inn on East Colfax. She eventually turned in her tea bags for other ventures, though not for long: A loyal customer asked her to host a private tea in the Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys, which she did, and continues to do so on a reservation-only basis to this day. But May, who learned her craft at the Brown Palace, really turns it on for the kids, plying them with a sunny and wise personality, pinkie shakes and curtsies, and a dainty spread of excellent finger sandwiches, mini-scones with Devonshire cream and jam and pastries and cakes from Andre's or Devil's Food, all served on flowered china in the museum's Fairy Room. Little or big, girls uniformly love it, and when they're done sipping and flexing their pinkies, there's still a whole fascinating museum out there to explore.
Couture Kids does sell stuff for boys from Wes & Willie and Quiksilver, but the overall effect of the place is overwhelmingly girl, favoring upscale duds, including hot styles from Juicy Couture and Guess, preppy outfits from Mini Boden, trendy layered looks from Little Mass, cute little dresses from Baby Lulu and so on. Owner Cailin Clements also stocks new merchandise, mostly made by local moms, such as custom pillowcases in bright contemporary prints, Scrabble-tile jewelry, embroidered baby blankets, bottle-cap charms, sparkly onesies and other gift items. And, if you drop in on a Friday or Saturday, Clements offers a changing selection of scrumptiously rich Nomelie cupcakes from the Parker-based bakery.
If you're going to be a big lady, why not just be one? With places like this to shop at, it's still easy to look like a million, and we're not talking pounds. At UpScale Plus, the focus is on quality consignments, which means you won't leave the store looking like you've thrown on a sack. Instead, expect used career wear from Talbot's, Ralph Lauren, Jones Signature, Ellen Tracy, Nordstrom and other tony labels, as well as better boutique wear from Coldwater Creek and J. Jill. Also on the racks are formal wear and stylish casual attire, as well as a selection of resale items for the little ladies. Don't be shy: The price here is right, and so are the sizes.
Erin Bolz of West Side Sinners definitely knows her niche: If you've got a pack of cigarettes rolled in your sleeve, have a Vargas-girl obsession and think Sam Phillips and Carl Perkins created the world, you're probably part of it. And to best serve you, her rockabilly lifestyle store's got everything the cruising crowd could possibly ask for, including hot-blooded retro-chic styles by Stop Staring and Bettie Page Clothing for both the ladies and the guys; Lucky 13 tees and work shirts; Rockmount cowboy shirts; and big sunglasses, shiny tuck-and-roll bowling bags and other accessories. It's a natural stop the next time you're cruising West Colfax.
Sure, curly-haired girls can get a haircut at the same salons that their straight-haired friends patronize, but they risk the dreaded triangle hair (flat on top, poofy on the bottom) or the rounded, teased cut à la '80s hair-metal enthusiasts. Luckily for us curly girls, Denver has Shapes Salon and Studio, where the specialty is the Deva Curl method of dry-cutting curly locks. The hair-care system espoused at Shapes emphasizes washing with silicone- and sodium laurel sulphate-free shampoo, then drying hair with a pillowcase, but even if you don't follow those steps, you'll just need one haircut in their experienced hands for your curls to go from frizzy mayhem to Botticellian brilliance.
Walk into the Greetings From Colorado shop on Concourse A, and you might walk out with a T-shirt manufactured in Haiti — boasting the wrong date for the founding of Denver. Wander over to Denver's Picture Show Popcorn, and you'll find neither a Denver-based movie (a rare commodity, admittedly) nor Colorado corn. For a true taste of this state before you leave it, your best bet is the New Belgium Hub on Concourse B, at the bridge to the regional jet facility. Here you can not only enjoy many of the delicious beers brewed by the Fort Collins-based brewery, including Fat Tire, but you can order up a full meal with a distinct Colorado flavor — and even pick up food to go. Now, if we could just convince DIA to set up concourse carts that sell growlers of the beer that made this state famous; what better souvenirs could travelers take back to their brewpub-poor states? And remember, since you've already cleared security by the time you reach the concourses, there's no liquid ban to dry up this surefire marketing scheme.
From I-70, Bass Pro Shop looks like a mirage — a giant funplex surrounded by a sea of boats in landlocked Denver. And given the lack of a Northfield exit off the interstate, it can feel like you're chasing a mirage when you try to actually reach this store. But once you locate the proper exit (Quebec Street) and wind your way to the giant sporting goods outlet, you'll find your efforts rewarded with aisle after aisle devoted to every sport imaginable, as well as to home furnishings, gift items, clothing, even jerky. And if contemplating all the possible purchases is exhausting, you can always take a breather in the handy bar and restaurant. Special bonus: Bass welcomes dogs, hunting or not.
There's quite a bit of high-caliber retail at Belmar, but Jennifer Roberts's modern design boutique, Composition, rose above the rest thanks to its plethora of delightfully creative doodads — the sort of stuff that may not be essential to your existence but will surely make life a tiny bit more wonderful. Hankering for a four-lens camera? They've got it. A messenger bag made from repurposed inner tubes? It's right next to the purse fashioned from recycled candy wrappers. A 200-page coffee-table book on typography? Should be one left by the ode to structural packaging. No wonder the place received a shout-out in the New York Times; it's a modern aesthetics' paradise.

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