Best Shop on Colfax Avenue 2017 | Herbs & Arts | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Kyle Harris

As more and more chain stores stomp over Colfax, Herbs & Arts helps keep the street cool by providing a wide array of witchy goods, herbs, jewelry, pagan art and more. The shop's deceptively small library is loaded with everything from books about crystals and herbs to old grimoires (classic magic textbooks). The staff is friendly, stylish and always willing to guide you to a fanciful sarong, a mystical sculpture or a tiny talisman, providing advice for how to conduct a ritual, how to use herbs to heal minor ailments and how to bring spirituality into your life. Whether you're a neo-pagan, a devout witch, a connoisseur of mystical decorations or just looking for a shopping adventure, this store is pure magic.

Readers' Choice: Twist & Shout

For years, the 16th Street Mall was a vast wasteland for shoppers, but recent moves at the Denver Pavilions has been turning that around. And when Uniqlo — a legend in Japan for its casual yet chic, minimalist, affordable clothing — opened in October 2016, the revolution was complete, at least in this two-block merchandising mecca. The Pavilions now offers one-stop shopping for cool Colorado-produced gifts (I Heart Denver), sassy grown-up fashion (Rosey's) and sassy less grown-up fashion (H&M), with other specialty stops scattered in between. And with Uniqlo, it has a true star — not just a spot where you can browse away a lunch hour, but a real destination for savvy shoppers from all over Denver.

Readers' Choice: I Heart Denver

Gone For Good Facebook

The commitment here is commendable: Gone for Good has a stated mission of "reduce, resell, recycle," and it follows through by hauling away your junk and garbage for a fee. Workers will even carry the stuff out of the house. The company then either sells it all at the store or disposes of what can't be reused in the most non-toxic and environmentally friendly ways possible, including breaking things like wood, electronics and metal items down to their basic components for commercial use. But most of the items are sold whole: On any given day at the store, you can pick through amazing things that Gone for Good has gleaned from around the state. There's very little organization, and the place is a bit dusty, but that's part of its charm: In the midst of the clothes, furniture and knickknacks, you might pick up a velvet Elvis and find underneath it a set of Depression-era dishes, at prices way below those at other local thrift stores.

Readers' Choice: ARC Thrift Store

The small but definitely sweet Sweet William Market in Stapleton is a triumph of quality over quantity, with a weird and wonderful mix of vintage, antique, retro and hip new merchandise, and just three dates planned for 2017: June 3, September 2 and a holiday market December 2-3, when it will be held at Northfield's new indoor events center. Laid-back and welcoming, the market has a true community feel, something that founders Kim Kouba and Lizzie Kienast — Kouba still runs it — were shooting for when they started the humble flea eleven years ago. Wander among the handpicked vendors to find one-of-a-kind items, from funky jewelry and interesting clothes to found-object art and upcycled furniture. Food stalls and live music make it even easier to stick around; fortunately, there's plenty of parking in surrounding lots and on the street.

Readers' Choice: Denver Flea

Since it materialized less than a year ago, Witch Collective has popped up everywhere from the Mercury Cafe to the Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms, bringing with it handmade goods, hand-stitched art, organic snacks, spells, tinctures and herbal potions. The Witch Collective sees its mini-economy as a community connector, a way for artisans to get low-fee booth rentals, for patrons to find high-quality merchandise at affordable prices, and for both groups to work together. It's also a socially conscious operation: Each edition of the pop-up market gives 10 percent of the proceeds to such causes as the OneOrlando Fund, Standing Rock and Black Lives Matter.

If you're a Colorado hipster, then it's high time you ponied up for some Wild West wear for your offspring. Founded in 1989, Cry Baby Ranch is still the best place in town to score Western-style boot(ie)s, rancher onesies and bibs with Texas stars. The colorful cow-kid clothes are mostly handmade, and you'll even find leather-on-suede jackets, along with themed gifts for your buckaroo: sippy cups and cutlery, blankets, books, stick-on mustaches, and some seriously cuddly rancher-themed stuffed animals. Make sure to spend a few minutes moseying through the store's adult section; we wouldn't blame you if you ended up lassoing a pair of boots for yourself, too.

Best Kids' Clothes Not Made by Kids in Sweatshops

Park Hill Design

Parents looking to clothe their offspring in something more durable, conscientiously sourced and distinctive than what the big-box stores have to offer might want to check out Park Hill Design's online store. The company's sweaters, outerwear, dresses, leggings and hats are handmade right here in Denver, using quality textiles to produce one-of-a-kind pieces. It's all factory-free, guilt-free and stylish.

artSPARK Creative Studio Facebook

You won't find any copycat projects here! Drawing on elements of Montessori education and TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behavior), the founders of artSPARK concocted a community-based lab where burgeoning artists of all skill levels can receive top-notch training that's taught in context. Each of the program's weekly classes begins with a lesson on technique; from there, students are challenged to create a unique project with their own ideas. From 45-minute parent/tot classes to longer drop-off sessions, an after-school club and tween and teen evenings, there's something for everyone in your family. Classes work like a yoga studio's: Purchase a package, and come in when it's convenient for you.

Mother/daughter duo Sydney and Cornelia Peterson brought the wild spirit of the garden with them when they opened Sacred Thistle, a florist shop and cabinet of curiosities in the Golden Triangle. Their artistic, asymmetrical arrangements of overripe blossoms and elegantly curved stems and strands of greenery look like Dutch Master paintings in the round, while the rest of the shop unlocks precious secrets right and left, in the form of housemade sage bundles, syrups and bitters hand-bottled by Colorado-based Dram Apothecary, along with magnificent geodes, beeswax candles and fine silver jewelry. Because the next step after purchasing flowers is often selecting a gift. Go in beauty.

Women friends have a way of sharing stories intuitively and with love — trading lore, so to speak, while enriching one another's lives. And Lore, which began as a craft-market vendor before moving into a Five Points brick-and-mortar in the fall of 2016, follows suit. The boutique emphasizes the same give-and-take philosophy of sharing, whether it's over a curated cup of tea; in a class, while you're making anything from sourdough loaves to linoleum prints; or by way of the handmade, thoughtful and restorative wares on its shelves. Lore invites you to come visit for a while and share your story, too.

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