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.

Granted, Japanese pop fashion is an acquired taste and hard to pull off if you're not too young and bug-eyed cute beyond belief. But it's okay, too, to love it from afar, just as a phenomenon, which it is, if the phenomena in question happen to eat nothing but cupcakes and come bedecked in plastic hair ornaments, Hello Kitty paraphernalia, Victorian ruffles, hamster pajamas and samurai swords. It was all there when the Tokyo Extreme Fashion Show unfolded on a runway down the middle of Mod Livin' this winter, and if you were curious enough to have been there that night, you'll never be the same. Now, pass the cupcakes, please.

We can all thank Samuel Schimek, Brian Corrigan, the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs and, during the last year, Wendy Manning and the Denver Pavilions, for creating a shop that spoke "Denverish" in whole palettes of objects and media. The latest version of YesPleaseMore, which recently closed after an extended run at the Pavilions, changed the way we looked at downtown tourist gift shops by selling design-minded, hand-screened "Coloradical" T-shirts, laser-etched wooden dog tags by local manufacturer Omerica, repurposed clothing by Denver designers, wry Horndribbles plush toys, DVLP jeans and all manner of affordable art by Colorado artists. Falling on a rung somewhere between the Colorado Collection and the Denver Art Museum gift shop, YesPleaseMore invited shoppers to look into the city's soul, not something one usually does in a gift shop. Until it pops up again, YesPleaseMore is one beautiful memory.

OMG! During its short run earlier this year at Mod Livin', the Gimme Gimme Pillow Toast pop-up was so full to the rafters with things that were, well, so cute and ruffly and adorned with little SAD kittens and bunny ears, it was enough to make anyone who walked up the stairs into the shop-within-a-shop feel like they'd suddenly swallowed a hundred very sugary cupcakes in rapid succession. But the Japan pop emporium run by Andrew Novick and Janene Hurst had plenty of other stuff, too: non-sequitur tees and platform Mary Janes and other accoutrements of Japanese street fashion in all its many strict personae. Finally, they topped off the shop's run with an awe-inspiring fashion show that doubled as a primer of those myriad styles, and then it was over. Where will they pop up next?

The Polish Pottery Outlet offers an incredible array of colorful ceramics, all imported from Poland. The store has everything you could possibly want to outfit a kitchen counter, dress up a dinner table or even feed your dog; the pieces are all oven-, microwave- and dishwasher-safe. This is functional art at very fun prices: legalized pot we can all get behind!

Credit cards are useful for lots of things: paying for groceries; proving your identity; breaking and entering. But what do you do with the expired ones (besides using them for breaking and entering)? For the past few years, designer Kelly Campbell has been cutting up old credit cards and turning them into colorful jewelry: chunky bracelets, funky necklaces and dangly earrings made from circles punched out of an old MasterCard or long plastic strips sheared from a spent Starbucks gift card. The result is whimsical and stylish, not to mention earth-friendly. Go ahead, charge one.

Best Replacement for Saks Fifth Avenue

H & M

The cat is more or less out of the bag that popular Swedish retailer H&M is sniffing around Denver for a good fit. Specializing in fresh and extremely affordable casual separates with a youngish skew, it's the secret dream store to which many fashion-forward Denverites crave local access. So, hey, H&M — we know of a big empty space in the state's hippest mall. Do you? We'd put our money on this match; they can't get in here quickly enough.

It's a common complaint among women shopping the thrift, vintage and resale stores around town: There's never much selection — if any at all — for full-figured women or those blessed with a little meat on their bones. Athena's Closet is the antidote, as it's the other way around there: Anorexic girls can just forget about saving a buck on secondhand styles here, but for big mamas, it's a dream come true.

There's probably not a huge market for gold reptile-print stilettos with faux fur that come in a men's size 14 — but if that's the sort of thing you're into, then you're not going to do any better than Studio Lites. Aside from having the market pretty much cornered on men who need really large heels for whatever reason, the store is like a modern cross-dresser's glamorous fantasy, full of sexy duds, faux jewelry, wigs (for both stagecraft and medical purposes) and makeovers — most notably, the male-to-female kind. Factor in the friendly, accommodating staff, the charmingly low-slung retro location and the surprisingly reasonable prices, and you've got a place where your average Joe can become a truly fabulous Jane.

What's a skateboard good for? Well, you can do tricks on one, and it's a known source of self-transport. You can even break your neck using one, if you so desire. Derek Keenan, a design major and Peace Corps veteran, was inspired by the resourcefulness of the Gambian people he worked with when it came to recycling. When he returned to the States, he came up with an unusual vision for what he could do with an old board: He made it into jewelry. The resulting distressed surfaces and geometric shapes of his earrings, pendants and belt buckles, carved from used skate decks, playfully and stylishly channel the street-savvy DIY-boarder milieu. Keenan even incorporates the Colorado flag into a number of his pieces. Any dude would be proud to wear MuKee.

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