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.


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.


Seeking Cherry Creek ambience on a budget? Koru, named for the Maori word for an unfurling fern frond (and signifying new beginnings), endeavors to reflect its tony East Sixth Avenue neighborhood by stocking its cheerful storefront with a rapidly morphing stash of high-end consignment furniture, as well as some new items. And if you're looking to sell rather than buy, New Zealanders Linsey and Ché Kelly offer an inviting 50/50 split to consignees. Go on: Put on the Ritz, right in your own home.

Customers of Sol Lingerie got a chance to take the Sol girl — or at least a small piece of her likeness — home with them last year when the upscale Cherry Creek North shop decided to recycle its older billboards and window displays into reusable tote bags. The Sol girl, who traipses around Colorado wearing nothing but her skivvies, was featured in most of those ads and has been seen on TV and in magazines. Some of the one-of-a-kind bags were given away to big spenders, while others are sold in the shop, at 248 Detroit Street. Buy one and your cups will runneth over.

The Denver Public Library has always had its geeky side, from boasting DVD selections that rival Blockbuster to offering hordes of B-movies available for streaming online. But it may have outdone itself with a web portal it developed for smart phones. Not only can patrons search the online card catalogue in a format that's easy to read on their tiny screens, but thanks to a program called OverDrive Media Console, iPhone, Android and Blackberry users with a library card number can browse, download and listen to audiobooks directly from their phones. It's just like borrowing an old-fashioned book: When the title is due "back," you can no longer listen to it. Check it out.

"Saving relationships, one month at a time!" That's the motto of, which got its start during a LoDo happy-hour bar discussion. Unlike so many booze-inspired ideas, Jordan Eisenberg turned this one into reality, creating a free service currently tracking the schedules of 37,000 women, and it's even available as an iPhone app. As the site notes, "PMS — premenstrual syndrome — can be a difficult time of the month for many women and those close to them. Since discussing PMS is not exactly welcomed dinner table conversation, and may lead to dinner plates being hurled across the room, we want to take the unexpectedness out of this recurring occurrence so that those affected by PMS can be prepared and aware."

Rhine's Cobbler School

Tom Rhine learned the craft of repairing shoes in high school, started his own shoe-repair business back in 1966, and after nearly fifty years in the field, decided it was time to pass along his knowledge to the next generation with a formal, ten-month curriculum. Today, Rhine's Cobbler School is the only certified cobbler school in Colorado. If you want to cobble together a prosperous career, one that will leave you well-heeled, Rhine's could be the place for you. Or if you'd just like a fast repair job, Rhine does that, too.

Rocky Mountain Alley Cat Alliance

The Feline Fix, Rocky Mountain Alley Cat Alliance's low-cost, high-volume spay-and-neuter program, aims to make a significant dent in Denver's feral cat population by sterilizing thousands of unadoptable strays each year. But the program is also open to domestic tabbies who might otherwise be breeding all sorts of havoc; prices are much lower than what most vets charge for the service, and the Fix even offers occasional specials to help promote awareness of the overpopulation problem.

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