Th'ink Tank Tattoo

Getting a tattoo can be a spur-of-the-moment, I-just-dumped-my-boyfriend-and-I-need-to-cover-up-my-giant-neck-tattoo-of-his-name-inside-a-heart kind of decision. And when making such a choice, you don't have much to go on other than a shop's name. Would you trust a place called Uncle Crusty's Custom Tats to correct your monumental mistake? We didn't think so. You'd look for a shop whose name exudes creativity and class — a place like Denver's Th'Ink Tank Tattoo.

When you were fifteen, you let your buddy's cousin attempt to tattoo a yin-yang symbol on your ankle because it, like, represented the duality of life. He swore he was an apprentice, or that he was going to be one that summer, but then he became an auto mechanic, and you were stuck with a blurry circle on your leg that makes it embarrassing to wear shorts. "What was I thinking?!" you shout every time you look at it — which is why What Were You Inking? is a brilliant name for a tattoo-removal shop. Come shorts season, there's no shortage of free advertising.

We all have our favorites, but phenomenal growth and blooming small businesses have turned the stretch of Broadway between Alameda and Sixth avenues into a countercultural paradise in the past ten years, and the charm of this district can't be ignored: From street stalwarts True Love and Decade and game-changers Fancy Tiger and Buffalo Exchange to such relative newcomers as Ironwood, Sewn and Lowbrow, Broadway is laden with innovative boutiques, shops and galleries that blend in perfectly with the street's funky nightlife and dining options. It's the place to go, whether you're looking for air plants and terrariums, framed butterflies, yarn and craft supplies, creatively repurposed or used clothing, cookware, penny candy, hand-screened posters, curated hipster wear, used books, coffee, an indie flick or an upscale bowling alley, all within walking or biking distance.

Videotique

Small but surprisingly packed with new and classic titles, Videotique has held on to its base of walk-in customers despite recent advances in streaming and other technology. Located in the same West Cheesman Park location since 1985, it carries new art-house releases and an eclectic selection of queer films along with a substantial collection of pornography. On any given day, the slim retail space is filled with locals browsing and chatting with owner John Donahoe — an experience that the competition can’t replace.

"If your heirs won't fight over it, we won't make it." That's the motto of Jonathan Adler, who gained fame nearly twenty years ago with the modernist pottery vases that today remain the cornerstone of his expanded home collections, which include everything from sofas to dog bowls. Trendy in a timeless way, Adler's often-whimsical tchotchkes and home accessories are something one either loves or disdains, but mostly they seem to lead baby boomers back to the fifties and younger folks into the future.

Ollie's Barbershop is tiny, with two cutting chairs and just a thin strip of real estate in the ever-more-popular Lower Highland neighborhood. But walking through the door is like taking a step back in time while still keeping uber-current. And hip is in abundance here, as four-year-old Ollie's specializes in giving hot lather shaves and haircuts to gentlemen whose wavy hair and finely waxed mustaches look straight out of an 1890s black-and-white photo. Old-school decor, including a swell barber's pole and sign, cover the walls; there's no TV; and if you bring your own grog, you can drink it right there in your seat. That's worth more than two bits.

You'll find Dave, Paul, Howard and Ryan lined up behind their barber's chairs the same way every day at Leetsdale Barbers, and if you've been in before, one, if not all, of them will remember your name. Sit back and relax: These guys are trained craftsmen, and they'll take the time to do the job right, whether it's a traditional cut, a beard trim or a tonic-covered scalp massage. And the time will fly by, since hanging here is as comforting as chilling in a friend's living room. You can watch the game on a little TV or join in the frequent conversations between the crew — dressed in ties and button-down shirts — and the customers. Those conversations can cover everything from sports to wives and girlfriends to current events. If you're getting your hair cut at Leetsdale Barbers, you're doing it right.

Denver Pavilions

The Denver Pavilions might be an outdoor mall, but it has a sophisticated indoor vibe and an urban appeal that most of the others can't match. A lower-16th Street Mall cornerstone, its creative blend of high-profile anchor stores like H&M and Barnes & Noble, crowd-pleasing restaurants like Maggiano's and the Hard Rock Cafe, nightlife spots, downtown's only real movie theater and a shot of indie blood from unique small businesses — I Heart Denver and Rosie's, to name a couple — satisfies the needs of out-of-town visitors and work-week regulars alike. The Pavilions also makes an effort to bring a sense of community downtown by hosting craft and art fairs, live music and other promotions: Watch for the latest, a four-day art market called Artstir, to debut this Memorial Day weekend.

Azucar Bakery
Claire Duncombe

In Peru, when you're hunting for sweets for your sweet, chances are you'll bring home a floaty meringue-topped custard called Suspiro de Limeña — it translates to "the sigh of a woman" — or maybe a box of rich pioninos, rolled caramel cakes filled with dulce de leche. Not headed for Lima anytime soon? Drop by Marjorie Silva's Azucar Bakery, where rich flan and other traditional desserts of her native country sit side by side with the chocolate and red-velvet cakes you expect to find in an American bakery.

The Shoppe

Frosted, sprinkle-dusted cupcakes aren't the only delights lurking in the case at this retro, pink-and-black bakery on East Colfax Avenue. Individual pies, roughly the size of a muffin cup, are sold daily, and not just in a few flavors like apple and cherry. Strawberry-rhubarb, peach-rhubarb and jumble berry are three of the biggest sellers, but we like the banana cream, too, with a buttery graham-cracker crust, a thin layer of bananas, and swirls of caramel-drizzled whipped cream. Too many pie shops around town require advance orders and only sell whole pies; we applaud the variety and appreciate the way the Shoppe allows us to indulge an urge for pie without, well, overindulging.

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