Charlotte Elich's well-honed retail formula for her 5 Green Boxes store on South Pearl Street — a lovely blend of repurposed furniture, whimsical housewares, fun and stylish clothing and accessories, and other serendipitous finds — is a perfect fit with the vibe at the renovated Union Station, though Elich has had to rein in her stock for the tiny LoDo space. Still, the shop is tourist-ready with its sophisticated brand of kitsch, and filled with things that are meant to be used and to last. Denver can always use more of the humor and eclecticism that Elich has in store for us.

REI

Whatever part of their paychecks outdoor-loving Denverites still have left after paying for their lift tickets and filling up their Outbacks with gas usually ends up getting spent on Platte Street, where three of Denver's biggest outdoors stores are clustered next to each other. Located in the old Denver Tramway Company building, retail giant REI's flagship store (1416 Platte St., 303-756-3100) is a multi-story emporium of everything from sleeping bags to bikes to GPS units, with meeting rooms for classes on the upper level, a climbing wall, and an in-store Starbucks whose deck looks out over the Platte. Across the street, Wilderness Exchange United (2401 15th St., 303-964-0708) is one of Denver's best spots for new and used climbing gear, skis and apparel. And from its base in the bottom level of the Natural Grocers building, Confluence Kayaks (2373 15th St., 303-433-3676) sells boats and teaches paddling skills in an in-store pool and nearby Confluence Park.

The neighborhood businesses of Old South Pearl Street seem to have a way of handling growing pains while still making the shopping and dining hordes welcome. And that just might be the secret to the business corridor's ongoing success: By catering to the neighborhood's needs and wearing a world-class face, these merchants and restaurant owners not only host a summer farmers' market and other seasonal festivals and sidewalk sales, but they handle changes like pros. Case in point? This year, the district became the first shopping area in Denver to install bike corrals — one in front of Stella's Coffee Haus (1476 S. Pearl St.), and the other at Black Pearl Restaurant (1529 S. Pearl St.) — along the busy street, where parking is at a premium. Each one parks twelve bicycles within a space that's one car wide, allowing at least 24 bodies at a time to leave their cars at home.

Readers' choice: South Broadway

Cherry Creek Shopping Center

Thriving in the heart of Denver for over a quarter of a century, the Cherry Creek Shopping Center defies categorization — and attracts hordes of tourists as well as local shoppers ever year. Far more than just your average mall, Cherry Creek offers a high-end shopping experience through retail experts like Nordstrom, Hyde Park and Neiman Marcus, as well as more down-to-earth service at spots like Apple, Gap and Sephora — a combination no other commercial area in the state provides. The center also offers luxury seating for weary shoppers, fancy restrooms, two Starbucks locations and a bevy of food options at all price ranges, not to mention a playground for kids. And later this year, the best will get even better when Cherry Creek adds a four-story Restoration Hardware (complete with its own cafe), along with 38,000 more square feet of shopping space.

Readers' choice: Cherry Creek Shopping Center

Cherry Creek Shopping Center

Thriving in the heart of Denver for over a quarter of a century, the Cherry Creek Shopping Center defies categorization — and attracts hordes of tourists as well as local shoppers ever year. Far more than just your average mall, Cherry Creek offers a high-end shopping experience through retail experts like Nordstrom, Hyde Park and Neiman Marcus, as well as more down-to-earth service at spots like Apple, Gap and Sephora — a combination no other commercial area in the state provides. The center also offers luxury seating for weary shoppers, fancy restrooms, two Starbucks locations and a bevy of food options at all price ranges, not to mention a playground for kids. And later this year, the best will get even better when Cherry Creek adds a four-story Restoration Hardware (complete with its own cafe), along with 38,000 more square feet of shopping space.

Readers' choice: Cherry Creek Shopping Center

Aspen Grove

When it first opened, Aspen Grove featured the usual suspects, links in national chains lined up in an outdoorsy Colorado setting. But increasingly, Aspen Grove has become a cultural draw, too, with the addition of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which pulls in people from across the metro area with its savvy programming. For the past few months, the center has also featured a pop-up art gallery featuring Plein Air 365 x5, artist Ted Garcia's series of paintings created after he vowed to paint a new piece every day for five years; that show's run has been extended several times. And soon Aspen Grove will be home to a suburban Tattered Cover, which is moving there from Highlands Ranch. Yes, there are still national outlets here...but now, while you're picking up a Pier One pillow, you can score a lovely, original landscape to go with it.

Readers' choice: Belmar

At his man-enclave in Jefferson Park, entrepreneur and corporate dropout Mark Snipe shows a keen and creative eye for menswear that's preppy without defending the status quo. Snipe (in case you're wondering, Sully is his dog) told us before his grand opening last year that his style inspirations are "Ralph Lauren, along with Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart," and that says it all: He laces the classics with surprising bursts of color and texture. And — cherry on top — he sources his tailored looks from all-American vendors, in a range of price points for every wallet.

This colorful addition to Platte Street is packed with premium goods, staples that every man needs to build a perfect wardrobe, including dark raw denim and crisp button-up shirts. Owners Daniel Armitage and Darin Combs oversee the fashion here, making sure every product they carry and every brand they represent is sleek, resilient and masculine. The shop offers more than fashion, though, with everything from candles and magazines to unique accessories rounding out the inventory. Armitage and Combs joined forces to open Armitage & McMillan last March, and business is booming. Men ready to ditch the lumbersexual look should start with a visit to this one-stop shop.

This flower of a boutique blossomed from a seed that Megan Timlin planted under the moniker Stritch last fall. Although the shop has since been rebranded as Whorl, the team behind it remains dedicated to making sure that stylish women in Denver have a place to pick up fashionable threads from local and national designers alike. Whorl is a mecca for all the things a conscious and chic girl needs: luxurious fashions hand-picked by people who live and breathe style. Whorl also stocks original works of art, candles and live hanging plants for those seeking quality home furnishings. Looking good, Denver.

The Cotery

Designer, community builder and Westword MasterMind Tricia Hoke teamed up with her tech-savvy entrepreneurial partner, Charlotte Genevier, to hatch a plan for putting Denver designers on the map without sucking up their limited cash flow. The result is the Cotery, both a service platform and a built-in marketplace that makes the business end of launching a line much simpler for an artist who is happiest creating designs. And it's incredibly easy: Designers are invited to submit limited-run lines of apparel that are crowdsourced for pre-sale to buyers. If there's enough interest in the line online, the prepaid garment orders will be manufactured and shipped. Too easy to be true? Not at all. Seeing is believing — and we're seeing the fashionable results all over town.

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