Best Of :: Shopping & Services
Every year, Matt Aboussie goes to Alaska's Bristol Bay — the world's largest sockeye-salmon run — to fish for salmon, and then sells the delicious, omega-3 laden fish at the Boulder Farmers' Market: flash-frozen, hand-cut, boneless, skin-on fillets; smoked salmon flavored with peppercorns or dill; a fine silky lox. Aboussie is almost always manning the stall, and if you stop to buy and chat you'll find out he's passionate about a couple of things besides fishing. He's evangelical about the movement to protect Bristol Bay from mining for copper and gold — "These fish are the ecological heartbeat of one of the most pristine and valuable regions on the planet," says his vivid, beautifully designed website — and he also loves to cook. Not only will he share any culinary discoveries he's made, fishy or otherwise, but he's also interested in how you'll cook your salmon (very briefly, we'd suggest, and without smothering the clean taste under a lot of other ingredients).
A one-stop shop for all-organic personal care, Vert Beauty knows that a happy customer is a conscious one. Opened just a few months ago, the Highland shop has already cornered the market on a long-awaited necessity: all-organic, cruelty-free, responsibly sourced bath and beauty products for men, women and children. From fragrances for the home and body to moisturizers, sunscreens, skin tonics and the latest in makeup trends, Vert carries the same products as a department store, but all from ecologically responsible sources. The staff has decades of combined experience in the cosmetic industry, plus a wealth of knowledge on the latest in sustainable beauty trends, and they're happy to walk customers through new beauty routines. Vert also offers on- and off-site makeovers, makeup tutorials and wedding and special-event consultations.
How best to keep tabs on the inevitable road closures and accidents in winter? You could wade through ads on commercial radio in hopes of catching a traffic update. Or you could whip out your phone and check the Colorado Department of Transportation's Twitter account, where the agency posts regular updates on interstate and surface road closures throughout the business day. @ColoradoDOT is short and to the point, with the latest information on closures and delays caused by various acts of nature (and out-of-state ski-trippers) crammed into 140 characters or less. The best part: Unlike radio, Twitter works in both directions, so the department's social-media managers can (and do) answer questions directed at them. Just make sure to pull over before whipping out your phone: You don't want to be the subject of the next tweet.
In the age of so-called affordable care, we like the idea of checking with a nurse about what the doctor is or isn't telling us. Centura offers one of several nurse hotlines in the area. Unlike Denver Health's round-the-clock operation, the Speak to a Nurse Hotline is available just twelve hours a day, but if you're calling during business hours, you can generally count on the friendly, accessible manner of the knowledgeable staff, who boast an average of 22 years of experience.
Early this year, Denver County Court opened a Civil Self Help Center in the City and County Building, staffed by a bilingual attorney, to assist the beleaguered in navigating the forms and processes for self-representation in small-claims matters, protection orders, evictions and more (but no legal advice allowed). Add to that the self-help centers for probate, domestic relations and juvenile cases, and the do-it-yourself litigant has a good chance of asserting the right to a fair hearing.
You say "po-tay-to," I say "po-tah-to": Do you ever get into this type of spat with your search engine? Now, thanks to the Denver Public Library, there are live librarians at your fingertips, via the library's ASK US! 24-hour chat service. All you need is your computer and questions that need answering, and they'll expertly guide you through the process of finding the answers. More than just a standard homework-helper line, ASK US! is a also gateway to databases not available on the web, shared with one-on-one instruction, any time of day or — you know who are — the middle of the night. Sometimes the human touch really does make Internet research easier.
Over the years, the Denver Public Library has added an impressive array of adaptive technologies to assist the visually or hearing impaired and others, from equipment that magnifies reading materials and computer screens to a printer that produces text documents in Braille and scanners that convert print to spoken words. Best of all, much of the new equipment can be found not only at the Central Library, but at several branches, too. Add personal listening systems, sign language interpreters, homebound programs and more, and the idea of equal access to information for all moves that much closer to reality.
The Harm Reduction Action Center served injection drug users long before syringe exchanges were legal by providing them not only with clean rigs to help them protect themselves and others against disease, but also with education and classes about how to break free of their addiction. Because of this, the organization has built trust with a population that is skeptical of the medical establishment. In addition, HRAC organizes voting drives and protests; collaborates with artists on multimedia projects; and conducts cutting-edge training — something that has also given it a respected voice at the State Capitol.
The Internet is great for lots of things, obvi. But did you know it can also help you avoid STDs and baby-making? Condomfinder.org, a website backed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, uses Google Maps to plot all the places in Denver (and several other cities around the country) that give out free condoms. Just enter your zip code, and the site will direct you to the nearest rubber repository. So the next time you're in the mood but out of jimmy hats, whip out your smartphone — and avoid the clap.
The idea of a stranger digging ink-soaked needles into your skin for hours at a time can be scary, so you have to find comfort where you can when getting a tattoo. Kitchens' Ink provides this comfort through its name, which nods to the coziest room in the house. "It's where everybody hangs out. I liked how personable it is and the easy access the name gave," says owner Joe Manley, who got the idea for it while tattooing a friend in his kitchen. Not everyone gets the pun, and during its first couple of years in business, the shop received countless calls from people looking to buy kitchen supplies. Eight years later, Kitchens' Ink is well known, and clients feel right at home here.
From steel studs to shell plugs, Sol Tribe is the place to fill your body-modification needs. The shop carries a seemingly endless selection of body jewelry in all shapes, sizes and materials, including gold, silver, bone, glass, wood, stone, shell and stainless steel. But staffers don't just sell the hardware; they install it, too. Owned by Alicia Cardenas and Kevin Strawbridge, Sol Tribe specializes in all types of body modification, from tattoos and piercings to scarification and branding. No matter what type of body jewelry you're looking for, this is the place to find the widest variety and one-of-a-kind pieces.
We've been collecting salon names around the globe, but aren't about to split hairs. For pure existential panache, it's hard to beat Hair and Now — which is very much in the now in Aurora's Fairways Shopping Center.