Goodwill

Goodwill Industries of Denver stores have long been known for their bargains, but this past year, they made a good deal even better when they opened up two Goodwill Outlet World locations. At these casual, sometimes chaotic spots, most merchandise that hasn't moved at the local Goodwill stores is sold by the pound rather than the item. For nineteen pounds or less, the fee is $1.49 per pound; above nineteen pounds, your haul drops to 99 cents a pound. (TVs, books and furniture still have a per-item price tag). Such a deal!

It started in 2008 with durable tote bags stitched together using repurposed DNC banners that had once flown from light poles around town. Since then, Mission Wear, a Denver nonprofit, has been making Banner Bags out of all kinds of local event banners, commemorating everything from sporting events to museum shows to theater openings; no two bags are the same. Founded by Beth McWhirter, Mission Wear provides jobs for women who are having trouble finding employment because of a history of prostitution, felonies or substance abuse. For prices and a list of where the bags are sold, visit Mission Wear's website and carry Denver with you all the time.

Park Meadows Shopping Center

Park Meadows is unapologetically suburban, with its indoor rivulets and stone fireplace, but sometimes that's just what a shopper wants. The place is a leader in bringing new retailers to the area, and its lodge-like outdoor Vistas addition offers an elegant nod to the latest trend in shopping malls. We all need our shot of Nordstrom and the Gap once in a while. Why not do your mall crawl down south?

Confused about where you can find the best gasoline deals? Before you drive off to fill your tank, stop by www.DenverGasPrices.com, one of 200 live gasoline price-tracking websites run by GasBuddy.com, which will not only steer you to the very best deals in town, but help you understand why prices are more volatile than a Toyota Prius zooming down I-70.

Need something altered? It's no clothes call: Fana, who's run the eponymous Fittings by Fana for more than a decade, can take on anything from a wedding gown that needs to be fitted — fast — to a vintage find that requires alterations, to a leather coat that had an unfortunate encounter with a pet. Prices are low and she works quickly — if you remind her that you're on a deadline.

MaxFund Clinic

Like the hard-luck injured and abandoned animals who end up here, MaxFund is a survivor that knows how to weather bad times. In a metro area blessed with many hardworking shelter advocates, this quixotic nonprofit has found its place taking in and patiently adopting out dogs and cats that might otherwise be euthanized. As a true no-kill shelter, its operating costs per animal are higher than others, but the arrangement also means less pressure for visitors looking to adopt — and a better chance that the right match between human and pet will be made. A strong donor base and enthusiastic volunteers help make it all work. Next time you're in the market for a truly classy mutt or kitty, don't pass them by.

Growing your own garden is great — once you get going. Starting with seedlings is another story: Those little buggers seem to shoot up nicely and then suddenly shrivel up miserably, as if they've randomly lost the will to live. Luckily, a very enterprising green thumb named Ingrid will start your seedlings for you for $3 to $5 per pot in her home greenhouse in northwest Denver. Then, come early May, she'll hand over the strapping young plants, ready to transplant. Choose from a catalogue that includes everything from ultra-rare heirloom tomatoes to bhut jolokia, the hottest pepper in the world.

Eco-Politan

Like so many other new moms, Robin Morris tried to go back to work, but the merry-go-round of childcare, breast pumps and 4 a.m. feedings on top of a nine-hour workday quickly convinced her that there had to be a better way to be a mom and still make a buck. Pumped up by several weeks of intensive parenting research done during a period of forced bed rest before her son's birth, Morris decided to create an online baby store for hip, ecology-minded mommies, powered by her own learned expertise. It was only a matter of time before she decided to turn that growing enterprise into a physical retail store. First and foremost, eco•POLITAN is cloth-diaper central. Aside from being a reusable, sustainable choice, cloth diapers are clearly not what they used to be, and Morris has it all: hemp, bamboo or organic cotton diapers in bright colors, with Velcro or snap fasteners, as well as natural-fiber diaper covers that do twice the job or more of those old rubber pants, all while looking fresh as a daisy. And that's just the tip-top of eco•POLITAN's green merchandising scheme, which includes everything from womb-shaped bathing tubs to BPA-free baby bottles.

Bound By Design

It's hard to find something not to like about Bound by Design. The shop might not be located in the swankiest area of town, but when you walk inside, the clean atmosphere — featuring hardwood floors and understated décor — immediately puts you on notice that this place takes tattoos and piercings very seriously. There's an astounding array of body jewelry laid out in glass cases, and all of the artists do excellent work — plus they're friendly, knowledgeable and non-judgmental, to boot, explaining the process from start to finish and taking extra time to make sure you understand the after-care instructions. Each artist works out of his or her own room, so any level of privacy you desire is possible. Best of all, the artists guarantee their work: If you discover you don't like the positioning of your piercing, they'll re-pierce you for free, and you can get free touch-ups for life on any Bound by Design tattoos. (If the artist is no longer there, they'll even tell you where he or she went — but the turnover rate is low at Bound by Design; most artists have been there for years.) They make it easy to think ink.

Mulberries Cake Shop

The nation's longest street is becoming a regular cake walk — at least along Cupcake Row, where Mulberries, an emigré from Platt Park, has joined the Shoppe and Lovely Cupcakes. Ah, such sweet suffering. Mulberries' claim to fame is pure whimsy: topsy-turvy cakes of all sizes, decorated with colorful buttercream bows, blossoms, dots, ladybugs and blobs, or cupcake towers like bouquets of stunning rosettes. We say welcome to the 'Fax: Old South Pearl Street's loss is East Colfax's gain.

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