Tomte Modern Craft

Brett and Crystal Hanks Child already had a growing concern with their own Vital Industries screen-printed T-shirts and glasses, which they decorate by hand with bicycles and other imagery from DIY culture in a home studio. But they decided to do-it-themselves to a whole other level last fall by opening Tomte, a small retail adjunct to Platte Street's The Other Side gallery and studio enclave. Tomte's shelves are given over to a well-picked selection of local and national DIY artists, offering wares such as old-fashioned silhouette beads from Lucky Me, sweet ceramics by Mudpuppy, simple chain-link jewelry by Lauren Haupt, and big chains made from old car parts by Sword + Fern, to name a few. If you're looking for a place to plug into what's hip, look no further.

Talulah Jones

Part of what makes Robin Lohre's long-lived Talulah Jones boutique so successful is her personal touch, which extends right down to the unique wares she stocks. Lohre always has plenty of space dedicated to local artisans, whom she showcases with special events, in-store promotions and generous space in her Talulah Chronicles newsletter.

Aspen Grove

With the demise of the Ballpark Market, the local flea market crown goes rightfully to A Paris Street Market, which borrowed some of Ballpark's urban ambience, took it to the suburbs nine years ago and still manages to persevere at Aspen Grove in Littleton. On the first Saturday of the month, from May to October, this local shabby-chic center of the universe is your go-to place for red-lacquered antique high chairs, old pillbox hats, sets of Franciscan ware, crystal doorknobs, straw hats, rhinestone brooches, vintage aprons, distressed vanities and more, along with fresh lemonade and home-baked cupcakes for fortification.

Rockler Woodworking

Yes, it's a chain. Yes, the place is crawling with woodworking geeks, oohing over burled veneers and comparing router jigs. But unlike at the big-box stores, staffers here are friendly, accessible and knowledgeable — an unbeatable trifecta. Whether you're looking for a most peculiar kitchen cabinet hinge or an after-market miter gauge or just want to take a class on scroll saw fundamentals, this is toolboy heaven.

The Bookery Nook

Once upon a time, there really were neighborhood bookstores. They weren't very big, and they didn't stock everything under the sun, but they always had a sunny alcove where you could quietly pass an hour turning pages. Thanks to Tennyson Street entrepreneurs Shannon and Gary Piserchio, the neighborhood bookstore is back — as the Bookery Nook, a shop that's not too big, doesn't stock everything under the sun and is well appointed with sunny alcoves. The Nook serves Cobalt Coffee, offers free wi-fi, is dog-friendly to well-behaved pooches and will special-order just about any book in the world. Now, that's a happily-ever-after ending.

MoonDance Botanicals

Looking for a different kind of birthday party for your little flower fairy? MoonDance maven Tonja Reichley, who spends her days concocting lovely potions and lotions from herbs and other natural ingredients, has come up with a perfect junior companion to her grown-up spa parties: the fairy party, which involves a whole separate little-girl style of pampering, one filled with fairy lore and stories and soapmaking. On second thought, you and the girls might just want to book one for yourselves.

Mile High Metal Polishing & Finishing

When you're trying to polish up a metal artifact — whether it's a valuable antique or a flea-market find — elbow grease goes only so far. Let Mile High Metal take you the rest of the way. This friendly polishing shop handles everything from kitchen items to museum pieces and works on metals ranging from aluminum and brass to copper to stainless steel. With any luck, when you stop in you'll catch a glimpse of one of the custom-designed motorcycles they work on here. We've taken a shine to Mile High Metal.

While politicians and pundits trade theories on how to stimulate the economy, the folks at Mile High Business Alliance are digging in and doing it. The Alliance maintains that every dollar spent locally circulates at least three times more than one spent with a non-locally owned corporation or chain. Through programs such as the Colorado Local First Campaign and Local Flavor Guides, which celebrate the character of neighborhoods such as LoHi and SoBo, MHBA encourages everyone to direct at least 10 percent of their spending to businesses that sprout from Colorado soil. The organization also maintains a user-friendly online guide to Colorado businesses. True, MHBA doesn't yet represent all 500,000 of the locally owned businesses in Colorado. But their clever campaigns ("My local coffee shop can kick your corporate coffee shop's ass," reads one MHBA-produced poster) spread awareness about the power of how and where we spend our dollars.

Here's a wonderful resource for lucky Boulder County and west suburb gardeners: The Garden-in-a-Box, available complete with a planting diagram, maintenance instructions and a pre-selected range of good-sized, well-matched waterwise garden perennials for a reasonable fee, is plot-planning at its simplest. This year's selections include an herb-and-tomato garden, a tried-and-true drought-tolerant perennial garden, and a landscape solution for those difficult "hell" patches sandwiched between the sidewalk and the street. All-inclusive prices range from $65 to $110, and all you have to do is put them in the ground and take care of them once in a while.

Christy Lea Payne may well be the best-loved jewelry maker on the Front Range, thanks in part to her national exposure in Robert Redford's Sundance catalogue, where her rustic sterling-silver necklaces, charms and cuffs epitomize the simple elegance that informs the Sundance look. Find her CLP trinkets – hand-wrought sterling-silver hearts, peace signs and hammered ID charms dangling from beautifully imperfect, roughly crafted chains — at such local stores as Talulah Jones and Kismet.

Best Of Denver®

Best Of