I Heart Denver Store

Samuel Schimek's I Heart Denver perennially makes our Best of Denver list because Schimek rocks a retail model like no other, merchandising all-Colorado-made goods like art on the wall — which, at IHD, it often is. The artists and designers represented on the shop's shelves receive a generous 70 percent profit from sales of their work, and locals and out-of-towners alike can go home with Denver curios that are neither junky nor trite. It's a bold way to do business in a downtown mall, and kudos go equally to Schimek's sharp eye for fun Colorado-made merchandise and the Denver Pavilions for supporting the retail of the future.

Starlet the boutique has been a part of the Highlands Square landscape for years, and the more recent South Broadway edition has become a Baker staple. But the Highland store's Shoe Closet, a space within the space that has its own entrance, is still a novelty that hasn't worn off, stocking its hidden shelves seasonally with the cutest secret kicks ever. It's spring, ladies: Time to go open-toe, and you'll find just what you need at Starlet.

Located next door to the craft boutique Rakun, Niche has become exactly what its name implies, bringing a fun mix of vintage clothing and furniture, knickknacks and more to the teeming gallery district on Santa Fe Drive. And along with the old, Niche weaves in a thread of the new and near-new, such as patterned winter beanies repurposed from sweaters and beautifully patchworked wool-and-flannel Mama's Mittens. Rakun and Niche Market are the one-two punch on the north end of the Santa Fe drag.

SecondLove is everything Goodwill is not: NOT picked over, NOT dowdy, NOT worn out and NOT out of style. But like your neighborhood thrift store, this Highland resale shop, which is run by sisters, caters to everyone — men, women and kids — and carries not only clothing, but home goods and vintage furniture. The difference is that it's lovingly, pickily curated and includes a selection of new jewelry and gift items from local vendors, all chosen with an eye for quality and longevity.

Best Boutique for the Colorado Lifestyle

32nd West

As a Coloradan, sometimes you need to define both the mountain yin and urban yang of our lifestyle, which is exactly what 32nd West strives to do. A cousin of Evergreen's Boone Mountain Sports, this shop interweaves the active and the urban as suits its citified location, offering chic city wear alongside sturdy backpacks, sunglasses and classy, comfy boots for high-country excursions. Sporty and unpretentious, 32nd West goes both ways.

Common Threads

We took note when Boulder's Common Threads resale boutique opened a Denver annex a few years ago. But early this year, the upscale recycler took advantage of a vacancy next door to expand. That means that Common Threads can now also expand its already stellar easy-urban clothing racks to include the athletic wear and outdoor apparel that Coloradans are always looking for. In a world of rising prices and a new appreciation for repurposing and reuse, the move cements the boutique's place as a stalwart to count among South Pearl Street's row of classic shops.

Customer service is a distinguishing factor in the success of any boutique, and at Zoe's, it's clearly understood, because along with the West Wash Park shop's racks of high-end reruns, there's a personal touch you won't get just anyplace. The perks at Zoe's, the brainchild of mother-daughter Zoe and Harper Mance, include estate-liquidation services, closet consultations and a personal-shopping option, all for the asking. The Mances will also come to your home or office, by appointment, to buy your elegant castoffs and — this is our favorite — will host private shopping parties during which you and your friends can have the whole place to yourselves. Refreshments are part of the deal: Think Escada and piña colada!

If you're going to rock a look, men, you might as well do it right. Steadbrook, located in the hipster heart of the South Broadway shopping district, is your go-to when it comes to polishing yourself up, 21st-century style. What's good about it? Skinny pants, button-down shirts in subtle prints, earthy shoes, down-with-it headwear, masculine cosmetics and excellent man bags, to name a few things, but there's also a certain something in the careful curation of Steadbrook's merchandise — something skateboardy and street-elegant (yes, you can buy a skateboard there) — that lifts the cool right out of the air and slaps it down on your body. That much awesome comes at a price, but the way you'll feel walking out of the store with your new purchase is worth every penny.

Downtown Louisville is a sweet drag to explore anytime, but the recent debut of Found Above Ground, the menswear companion to the street's longstanding women's basement resale shop, Found Underground, makes it just that much sweeter, because, hell, yeah, men like to shop, too. Well, some of them. And even the naysayers who order their chinos twice a year from Land's End or sheepishly allow their women to dress them might find the store's curated clothing stash a reason to change their ways, because the prices are just that good, considering the quality of what's on the racks. "It's a really cool mixture of retro to vintage to cowboy cool to really chic Ralph Lauren cashmere coats," says Above Ground owner Lia Cooley, whose mother, Nancy, is the tasteful force behind Found Underground. But you'll also find trendy new items, from mustache wax to bow ties, and the store hosts monthly art shows featuring local artists. At Found Above Ground, shopping 'til you drop is a manly occupation.

Goldyn

Highland's Goldyn boutique has carved out an unusual niche since it opened a few years back, bringing up-and-coming and established designers to Colorado through its high-profile trunk shows. But what really sets the couture hub apart from the commercial pack is its thought-out collaborations with local artists. Photographer Kristen Hatgi-Sink has designed store windows for the shop, which has also exhibited her work. Goldyn also hosts regular shindigs where guests can peruse the latest in global fashion from Helmut Lang, Cartel Noir and Lizzie Fortunato while enjoying live music, expertly mixed cocktails and the occasional palm reading and manicure. Light-years ahead of the retail game in Colorado, Goldyn is more than just a store; it's a platform for art of all mediums.

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