Ironwood Gallery

Curiosities abound within the walls of Ironwood, a shop specializing in decorative pieces for the home and human. Peek through the store's looking glass of a front window to see its uncommon treasures sparkle. Among other things, you'll find succulents and precious gems sharing shelf space with books and jewelry made from animal teeth. Inside, Ironwood wears its minimal square footage well, hosting art shows in which paintings and collages harmonize with the merchandise. Live music and small parties have been a part of the retail store's life, too, adding to the cozy house-show vibe. This old soul of a store has settled so nicely into the South Broadway 'hood over the past few years that you would swear it's been a part of the city's identity for decades.

Readers' choice: Buffalo Exchange
Spiritways

The magic begins before you even set foot inside Spirit Ways, with fairies peering out from underneath beautiful crystals and glass art hanging from ribbons in the store window. As you enter, you're greeted by the smell of incense and a staff of experts, ready with answers and information about all things metaphysical. For seasoned witches, wizards and spellcasters, Spirit Ways carries a great selection of healing herbs and crystals, essential oils, ceremonial apparel and more. Beginners just entering the magical realm can find tarot-reading instruction manuals, spell kits and lots of guidance from a rotating staff of in-store intuitives and spirit guides, available by appointment. For nearly twenty years, Spirit Ways has been enhancing Colfax with its enchanting inventory and spellbinding presence. Magic, indeed.

Readers' choice: Twist & Shout
I Heart Denver Store

I Heart Denver expanded late last year with a second store at Southwest Plaza in Littleton, giving us even more of this retailer to love. But don't miss the place where it all started, on the second level of the increasingly vibrant Denver Pavilions: More than 150 artists and designers from Denver and Colorado sell their products at I Heart Denver, and the array of items — from original artworks to hand-screened Colorado-centric tees — is amazing at both the downtown location and the new space. No matter what you walk away with — and it's likely to be a big bag of goodies — you can feel good knowing that you've shown some local love.

Readers' choice: Tattered Cover
Tattered Cover DIA
Denver International Airport

Did you forget to pick up gifts for the folks you left behind? No problem. Head to the center of the C Concourse, where Out West stocks an amazing array of Western and Southwestern-themed products — some actually made in the region rather than in China. (The owner, Avila, is based in Albuquerque.) You'll find Native American handcrafted pottery, hats, belts, toys, jewelry and T-shirts. And in case you're headed off on a business trip and neglected to pack proper apparel, you can even pick up an outfit that won't make you look too much like an extra in a Wild West show. There's a second store in the main terminal, but browsing here is a great way to pass the time when you discover that your flight's been delayed.

C Concourse
303-342-6446
avilaretail.com
Readers' choice: Tattered Cover

Tennyson Street has seen its share of turnover, much of it caused by a morass of a construction project five years ago, which decimated many shops along the beleaguered drag. But like America after the recession, Tennyson is back in business, with a fresh mix of shops, galleries and eateries that seem to click — and appear to have staying power. Sip some wine and browse for books at BookBar, shop for pre-loved secondhand garb at Clotheshorse, spoil your pet at Mouthfuls, find a handmade treasure at Jolly Goods or spruce up your man at Spruce — and when you're ready to take a load off, find a table at such popular restaurants as Parisi, El Chingon and Hops & Pie. Tennyson Street is back in the game.

tennysonst.com
tbbadenver.org
Readers' choice: South Broadway
Buffalo Bill Memorial Museum

High up on Lookout Mountain, the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave — part of the Denver Mountain Parks systems — honors William F. Cody, aka Buffalo Bill, a legendary character of the Old West and sometime Denver resident (we had to fight Wyoming to keep Cody here permanently) who was the first great marketer, according to museum director Steve Friesen. The museum is filled with exhibits celebrating Cody's life and the way in which he affected our view of the West: At one point the showman was the most famous man in the world. But it's the gift shop next door — in a log structure that was the first building on this stunning site — that really shows how the West was fun. It's full of much more than rubber tomahawks, though; you'll find great jewelry, a big book collection, art and clothing along with the kitsch.

Readers' choice: Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Wax Trax Records

Although you can occasionally find rare local records at record stores around town, they're usually sitting unappreciated on a shelf or in a bin. A better choice is to head straight to Wax Trax, which has the best selection of local music — past and present — at a reasonable price. The 45s section of the vinyl store includes choice artifacts from Denver's past, including '90s indie pop, '80s and '90s hardcore and weirdo releases unique to this city. Also, in the Just In bin at the entrance, you can sometimes find old Ministry twelve-inches, way-out-of-print Fluid vinyl and early Pinhead Circus records.

Twist & Shout
Ken Hamblin III

When a store houses its Blu-ray and DVD section a hundred feet from one of the city's best movie theaters, the items on offer had better be on point. As it happens, the folks at Twist & Shout are always up to the challenge. While big-box corporate stores continue to deplete their selection of physical media, indie charmer T&S goes all in, bulking up not just on quantity, but on quality and variety, too. From foreign greats to lowbrow comedy, from Antonioni to Zhang Yimou, it's all there — and if it's not, staffers can order it for you.

Bowman’s Vinyl & Lounge
bowmansvinylandlounge.com

Music and liquor have a long history together, so it's not that big of a stretch to think that a record store in a bar might be a good idea. Of course it is! Longtime bartender Darin Bowman saw the beauty in that and took a chance on it by opening Bowman's Vinyl and Lounge on South Broadway late last year, creating an instant hangout for experienced album-flippers and lounge lizards alike. With a bar in front and a selection of used and new vinyl — with listening stations — in the back, Bowman's is also branching out as a live-music venue, aiming to bring the connection full circle. It's the best of both worlds: Drop in and give it a spin.

Peter Isakovic — aka the Lodo Drum Guy — runs a small but mighty instrument operation out of his loft in downtown Denver. Don't let the name fool you, though: While Isakovic does have plenty of drum kits in stock, he also carries a constantly rotating selection of guitars, amps and more. This not-so-secret, appointments-only home shop is the ideal place for both first-time players and longtime musicians to find exactly what they're looking for. Lodo Drum Guy's "test drive and swap" policy allows musicians to bring back an instrument post-purchase and trade it in for another, so no need to worry about buyer's remorse: Isakovic's got the Denver music scene's back.

lododrumguy.com

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