Best Thrift Store 2015 | Buffalo Exchange | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Maybe it's a stretch to call Buffalo Exchange a thrift store, but it does recycle gently worn garb at more affordable prices. And what garb! Because Buffalo Exchange specializes in still-stylish clothing in tip-top condition, this spot is a destination for the hipsters of South Broadway, not to mention the rest of the city's budget-conscious trendsetters. If you're looking for bottom-of-the barrel deals, there's still a big ol' Goodwill waiting for you right down the road, but if you're looking to do fashion a favor on a dime, stay right where you are. In a throwaway world, Buffalo Exchange keeps the best and brightest sartorial pieces.

Readers' choice: Buffalo Exchange

Assemblage artist Paul Moschell creates boundary-breaking hats — whimsical, fantastical, found-object creations — that made their debut in a pop-up shop last spring. A new venture for Moschell, the hats can be worn as an out-of-this-world fashion statement, but they also work as sculptural artworks. Who doesn't need a pillbox chapeau covered with tiny plastic babies with a bird on top, or a red riding helmet bestudded with feathers, glass eyeballs and horse teeth? A tip of the hat to them.

Aaron Thackeray

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is an inquisitive child's (and adult's) dream hangout, and its gift shop just continues the exciting learning experience. Complementing the museum's regular exhibits on space exploration, dinosaurs, ancient Egypt and wild animals from all over the world, the shop offers books, interactive games, educational toys, apparel and accessories for all ages that are equally worldly. This is one spot where kids won't mind going shopping. But there's just one problem: With all the puzzles, sticky things, glowing devices and even costumes to try on, the store can be as as much fun as the exhibits, and it can be tough to peel the kids away.

Readers' choice: Denver Art Museum

Molly Brown House Museum

Looking for a little something special for Mom, or maybe a birthday present for Dad? The Molly Brown House Museum stocks an assortment of great gift items, everything from Victorian-styled jewelry to history books to coffee cups celebrating women's suffrage — all guaranteed to float above the other flotsam and jetsam your parents will receive. You might even consider augmenting the gift with a couple of tickets to tour the house once occupied by Margaret Brown, a stone mansion saved more than forty years ago by the group that would become Historic Denver.

Laura Lambrecht named her Louisville boutique for Frida Kahlo, the iconic Mexican painter and cult heroine, who loved traditional garb like handcrafted embroidered huipils and woven rebozos made by village artisans schooled by their mothers and grandmothers. Lambrecht treasures the same colorful textiles and crafts, and so has filled her Bella Frida shop with handmade Mexican imports, including apparel, Talavera pottery, oilcloth and folk-art works of all kinds. Stopping in here is the next best thing to shopping at a Mexican street bazaar.

Bag designer Kerrin Pogozelski found her calling in a leatherwork class, but it took time and a few deep breaths before she felt ready to make her first handbag. Her novice creation sold even before she'd finished the last stitch, and Buxiejo Bags — a one-woman business based on old-world techniques — was born. Pogozelski works with a patchwork of beautiful and decorative leathers and fabrics to create bags with funky personality and style. Each one is unique, just like you. Shop for Buxiejo bags online or look for Pogozelski at local craft markets.

Inspired by the elaborate lamps she saw during her travels in Europe, and after completing an apprenticeship, Linda Grove revived the fine art of creating custom lampshades. That was almost three decades ago, and since then, Grove's Lili Marlene workshop has popped up in different locations around Denver. But now she's settled into a South Inca Street spot with a perfect neighbor: Table M Lamp Restoration, making this the place to go when you want to revive one of those beautiful old lamps from Grandma's attic. Go ahead: Light up your life!

An impressive small business with an international presence, Rosy Rings sprang from humble roots when Shannon Cumberland began manufacturing hand-poured botanical candles with an old Crock-Pot, dented molds, essential oils and beeswax in her Denver kitchen. Today, Rosy Rings operates out of a 30,000-square-foot facility here, and Cumberland buys her wax by the ton; she's also expanded to potpourri, sachets, diffusers and home fragrance sprays. While a lot about candles has changed since the '90s, the laborious process hasn't. A single botanical candle takes two days to make, contains natural products like beeswax and soy wax, and requires glassware with 40 percent recycled content. That's one of the reasons you won't find Rosy Rings in Target anytime soon — but you can buy the handmade candles online or at 150 local retailers, including the Artisan Center, the Perfect Petal, and Artemisia and Rue.

Really, Peppermint never quite went away, in spite of its integration a few years ago into its sibling store, the male-oriented SoulHaus, in the splendid EZE Mop complex. But owner Stephanie Shearer, who also runs Pandora on the Hill over on 13th Avenue, brought the little-girly store back in 2014, after a little primping. Peppermint is once again a sweet spot for browsing through all the hip jewelry and trinkets, novelty gifts, clever accessories, toiletries and housewares that made people love the shop in the first place.

For many years, Ninfa Laughlin's Alchemist, a toiletry shop and perfumery with an old-world feel, held forth alongside the Artisan Center on Third Avenue in Cherry Creek North. It was a place where you could spend bundles on elegant European soaps and Kneipp herbal remedies and luscious botanical creams and pure scents — or just splurge on a lovely French tortoiseshell comb. Laughlin left the business several years ago when the rent got too high, and the subsequent owner failed to keep the store going. But now Laughlin, a customer-service-savvy shopkeep, is back in a new space not far from the old one — at just the perfect time to reintroduce Denver to Europe's best natural skin products and perfumes.

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