Best Museum Shop 2011 | Denver Art Museum | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Courtesy Denver Art Museum

You're not supposed to think about shopping when you visit an art museum — and at most of the museums in the metro area, that's easy. But the Denver Art Museum put as much care into its new shop as it did its exhibit galleries, installing a veritable department store of books, cards, jewelry, glass and pottery on the first floor of the Hamilton Building. Not only are the selections in every category superb, but the shop emphatically cured the doldrums of the formerly dead space that had been a badly conceived lobby.

All of the best shopping districts reflect the neighborhoods they serve, and on that merit alone, Tennyson Street really shines: It's neighborly, funky, friendly, semi-gentrified and built on a solid foundation of community values; each shop, gallery and restaurant seems to smile and wave "hey" when you walk in the door. A leisurely stroll down the stretch of Tennyson between 38th and 44th avenues will lead you from handmade glass demonstrations at Shackman Glass to a scratch-made pay-what-you-can meal at the Comfort Cafe, books to the ceiling at the Bookery Nook, a cuppa joe at Tenn Street Coffee, bacon-doughnuts and beer at the Hole and mid-century kitsch at Mid, Mod and More. Welcome to the neighborhood.

Here's a little secret the tech geeks don't want you to know: Qwest and Comcast aren't the only Internet service providers in town. And one very able competitor is, a Denver company that's been providing stellar local phone and high-speed Internet service for years — at a price that's cheaper than that of its corporate competitors, all their flashy limited-time offers be damned. Even better, if you have any difficulties, you can call Forethought's downtown location and speak to a tech expert who will more often than not recognize you by name. In this day and age, that's a technological marvel.

Finally, parking makes sense again. No need to rummage around for errant nickels, dimes and quarters to feed that annoying meter; no need to wander off to some centralized parking kiosk that, after eons, spits out a ticket to put on your dash. Now most meters downtown, in Cherry Creek North and elsewhere take credit cards (as well as old-fashioned coins, if you're the sentimental type). We know, it's not as great as free downtown parking, but beggars can't be choosers.

What's four feet tall, bears a strong resemblance to Chris "Birdman" Andersen and is always smiling — even when his innards are being ripped out and his body cavity filled with Fun Size Snickers? Birdman the piñata! And Piñateria Yasmin makes one hell of a Birdman — not to mention striking renditions of other Denver Nuggets, as well as Dora the Explorer, Buzz Lightyear, and even, if you ask nicely enough and bring a photo, your mother-in-law...whose innards you'd probably love to rip out and replace with Snickers.

Say you want to dig some post holes but you don't have your own post-hole digger. And to make matters worse, your toilet plunger is broken, your shop vacuum is in the shop and your brother never gave back that screwdriver set you lent him. Fear not, tool-less handyman or -woman. The ReSource Tool Library, a project of Boulder's Center for ReSource Conservation, has an inventory of more than 2,500 tools that can be borrowed for the cost of an annual membership ($25 for an individual, $40 for a couple, $100 for a nonprofit) plus minor tool-handling fees that range from 25 cents to $4.75 per day. And starting in April, the library will offer Tool School, a buffet of more than fifty classes in subjects like kitchen tiling, bicycle maintenance and how to build a backyard chicken coop.

Pictures of Minister Louis Farrakhan adorn the walls, and a chorus of warm chatter greets each person who enters Supreme Styles Barber Shop. There are chess tables in the foyer area, where children are usually crowded around, and couches for those who are waiting. And in addition to books, oils and incense, the shop also sells bean pies — a specialty long associated with the Nation of Islam. The shop was founded by Herman Muhammad in 1996 as a means of developing a different barbering experience, one infused with culture and community. The barbers that maintain the space offer as much rhythm and flavor as the music that's often playing throughout the shop. Whether you're looking for a haircut, a book or a strong dose of community, Supreme Styles is a cut above the rest.

Best Place to Get Hair Products and African Masks

Akente Express

Step over the threshold from Park Avenue into Akente Express, and it's likely you'll be greeted by the warm and calming presence of Ron Springer, the longtime owner of what he calls the most "complete African experience" in Denver. Springer runs Akente with the fervor and understanding of someone who has clearly found the treasure in the magic of ancient traditions. There are African masks whose refined, hand-sculpted faces speak of long-ago times amid throngs of other materials. Hair and skin-care products, especially those for African-Americans, adorn the shelves in such variety that you'd be hard-pressed not to leave with an armload of things, while incense, rare jewelry, bangles and other artwork are tucked into the store's many corners. It's a business from another time and place.

Sentiment only goes so this case, as far as William Crow, a jeweler that's been in business downtown since 1924. Other jewelers in town told us they couldn't repair an old coral necklace with a broken clasp without restringing the whole thing for several hundred dollars. William Crow's repair department, though, told us they could simply repair the clasp and add a chain guard — for less than fifty bucks. The shop has tackled other repair jobs just as helpfully...and reasonably.

The Wilson family has run a service station in Bonnie Brae since 1946 — and they've learned a thing or two during that time. Customer service, for example. After struggling to replace a flat with the spare, our operative dropped the errant tire off at Bonnie Brae Conoco, returning a few hours later to pick up a tire that had not only been repaired, but had the mag chloride sanded off the rim. And when the crew replaced the tire, they checked all the other ties for proper inflation, adding air where needed — and then fixed the balky trunk lock as they replaced the spare. Final price? Twelve bucks. That's the kind of service that makes the world go 'round.

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