Best Teacher-Supply Store 2017 | RAFT Colorado | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

RAFT Colorado touts itself as a resource for teaching, and that's undeniably true. But it also stocks an amazing collection of weird stuff at ultra-reasonable prices that imaginative instructors can turn into teaching tools — like old coin receptacles from Colorado casinos that make great stacking cups, or VHS tape boxes that can be given new life as pencil containers. The list goes on and on and on, and because donations come in every day, the stock is constantly changing. As a bonus, the staff is filled with creative thinkers who can help educators overwhelmed by the many odds and ends arrayed before them come up with new, out-of-the-box ideas for how to take their classrooms to the next level.

Unlike so many cities around the country, Denver is blessed with a plethora of great places to purchase music on new and vintage vinyl. Too bad the prices at the trendier joints can take some of the fun out of the process. Angelo's isn't on the radar of most hipsters, but it should be. The mini-chain has four stores in the metro area, including outlets in Capitol Hill, at 937 East Colfax; in Aurora, at 16711 East Iliff; and in Wheat Ridge, at 3350 Youngfield. Our favorite, though, is the South Broadway location, in part because of the deals offered on used 45s. The outlet has stacks and stacks of seven-inch wax, with the vast majority of the offerings priced at 99 cents — and if you buy three, you get the fourth one free. It's a great way to feed your vinyl habit without breaking your budget.

Recollect Records Facebook

Clean and uncluttered seems like a new and unexpected concept in Denver's gritty vinyl-record-shopping scene, but Austin Matthews's Recollect Records, which opened last year in a former Golden Triangle gallery space, is all that and more. Specializing in vintage funk, soul, jazz and R&B platters, the pristinely white-walled shop is a veritable treasure chest for discerning collectors seeking the really good stuff. Sure, that means some of it is pricey, but here's the spin: There's a $3 used/as-is room in back, where you can pick and choose to your heart's delight without breaking your budget. Happy hunting.

If you're the sort who counts the days until the next Denver Public Library used book sale, you were thrilled when the DPL opened a year-round store at the Denver Central Library. Red Chair Bookshop takes its name from the Donald Lipski public-art sculpture "The Yearling," which looms outside on the library lawn; it gets its stock from donated books, CDs and DVDs, and even markets a few library-related gift items, including little red chairs. Check it out: Red Chair is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Curating the Cool Facebook

Vintage shop Curating the Cool could be the coolest store in Colorado — but you don't need to drive to Lafayette to understand why. With its Box of Cool program, you can go online, choose a price and a theme (choices include Colorado-made, art and decor, oddities, music and LPs, as well as other scintillating niches) and Curating the Cool does the rest: It will pack up a box tailor-made to your request, containing handpicked, one-of-a-kind items curated according to your taste, as discerned from a quick survey you fill out when you order. Take a chance: Serendipity is so very cool.

For quirky gifts that give back in a big way, head to Hope Tank, where owner Erika Righter hawks a wide range of items: one-of-a-kind T-shirts, jewelry, men's gifts, and books for kids delving into timely issues surrounding the environment, women in history and more. A healthy portion of Righter's inventory is locally sourced — she works with about thirty Denver-area businesses and makers — and art by locals is for sale, too. In addition, cuts of all purchases made at this social enterprise are donated to one of the nonprofit partners in Hope Tank's network — and everything has a sticker on it to let gift givers and receivers know which organization they've impacted. Whatever you buy, you'll walk out of this boutique feeling doubly blessed.

Little Bird Facebook

Ready to fly the coop for a drive out of Denver? You couldn't do better than journey to the charming Boulder County town of Niwot, where you'll find Little Bird, jewelry-making townie Liz Gould's pretty boutique on the Old Town drag. This is the ladies' shop of your dreams, strewn with beautiful and handmade things in just the right arrangements. Bring a friend or two and browse together through displays dripping with jewelry, scarves and wearable art. You can make a day and a night of it, too: Niwot's got enough fine dining, galleries and boutiques to do so, and the little town also hosts monthly First Friday artwalks. Go forth and discover.

Aaron Thackeray

This town's museums and cultural facilities are as careful when stocking their gift shops as they are when booking their shows, choosing items that will expand on the institution's core mission...and maybe make some cash, too. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science gift shop does both, with a comprehensive library, a captivating collection of objects that encourage further exploration, and a wide selection of toys for all ages. Prices are reasonable — you won't break the bank buying a kitschy but educational item to quiet your kid, and maybe a little something to stimulate your mind, too. And you don't have to worry about breaking things, either: The staff lets you play with the toys, crack open the books and shop in a hands-on, brains-on sort of way.

Readers' Choice: Denver Art Museum

Best Place to Find High Fashion and Rising Artists


Whether it's clothing or canvas, Vanessa Barcus, the owner of Goldyn, knows how to curate. For nearly a decade, she's filled her boutique with art-minded pieces, including cutting-edge jewelry from the Woods, minimalist apparel from Shaina Mote, the classic modes of designer Helmut Lang and American-made denim by Simon Miller. But the real secret to Goldyn's upscale but approachable vibe comes from its connection with the local creative community: Painter Katy Zimmerman has designed a window display for the store, and her prints are always in stock and available for purchase, as are Kristen Hatgi-Sink's black-and-white photos and the meditational drawings of Gemma Danielle. Special shows and parties round out Goldyn's offerings. This place is dressed for success.

Stepping into the 5 Star Salt Caves can feel like an out-of-this-world experience: Here you are on South Pearl Street, but the soft pink glow of the place looks like the surface of another planet, complete with a fine, sandy salt floor. The state's first-ever salt cave is packed with the purported healing benefits of — you guessed it — salt, which is said to neutralize the electromagnetic radiation emanating off of our phones and computers and help to clean pollutants out of our respiratory system. The most immediate and gratifying perk of this healing zone is its calm: Each fifty-minute session at the 5 Star Salt Caves feels like it flies by, leaving frazzled patrons refreshed and recharged after a mid-day meditation in the briniest of seclusions.

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