"I promise to love your baby even if it's ugly," proclaims one card from Craft Boner. "Ovaries before brovaries," cries another. One more declares: "Society dictates that I give you a card." These are just a few examples of the expansive and colorfully lettered collection of greeting cards by Denver maker Kiwi Schloffel. Most include profanity, some reference politics or Harry Potter, and each says a whole lot more than whatever clichés you'll find on even the cleverest mass-produced cards at a chain stationery store. Schloffel makes a hodgepodge of other items, too, spreading her witticisms across wall hangings and coffee mugs, candles and pins. Find her wares at a number of local shops, or order directly from the source on her website.

craftboner.com

What started life as an Instagram account documenting Denver quickly become its own business. Juan Fuentes, the main mover behind a collective of photographers known as @OldDenver, saw that the group not only had a desire to document the Mile High City through a visual medium, but wanted to share their pride through merchandise. Over the past year, Fuentes and @OldDenver — working with fellow camera buffs @TheyShootn — have produced enamel pins and stickers that offer a unique look at the city. From "Old Denver" stickers in an Olde English "800" Malt Liquor font to homages to the Denver Nuggets of the '90s, when shot-blocker Dikembe Mutombo was our man, these limited-run ornamental nods to the 303 have become a hot, meaningful commodity.

Avid travelers Kelly Belknap and Matilda Sandstrom gave up more traditional careers when they decided to package their assorted interests into Adventurist Backpack, a Colorado-based company that designs and sells sturdy, stylish backpacks that come with a promise: Adventurist has partnered with Feeding America to provide 25 meals for the hungry for every backpack it sells. At an affordable $65, an Adventurist backpack will have you looking good while doing good. The packs are available at the I Heart Denver store and Buffalo Exchange, among others, as well as online.

adventuristbackpacks.com

Evergreen artist Tom Edwards has been making Wallyware, wheel-thrown porcelain dinnerware, for more than a decade. But his business really took off when he took after Elon Musk, who lifted the farting-unicorn design Edwards had put on a $28 mug to use for Tesla's sketchpad. In response to complaints from the artist, Musk tweeted that his interest in Edwards's unicorn had increased mug sales. Ultimately, though, Musk made a settlement, and Edwards got a cool commission to turn his design into a giant mural in L.A. But you can still get his pottery on wallypots.com.

wallypots.com

Hijos del Sol
Hijos del Sol

Hidden in plain sight along an industrial strip on the edge of the Sun Valley neighborhood is the start of something really big for Denver. Hijos del Sol is the precursor to the gift shop that will eventually reside inside the Latino Cultural Arts Center, which is set break ground in 2020. But in the meantime, this small but mighty spot is filled with expertly curated textiles, one-of-a-kind jewelry, hand-painted housewares and more. The shop's goal is to provide a revenue-generating space for artisans from Mexico, Central and South America, as well as Colorado-based artists with a connection to the Latin American diaspora. So at the same time that shoppers are picking up fabulous arty items, they're also helping to celebrate and support Latino art.

Twist & Shout
Ken Hamblin III

If you live in Denver, chances are good that you've spent time at Twist & Shout, an institution in this city. If you have a turntable, you've definitely found your way there to peruse the shop's treasures. And if you're a collector who's after rare vinyl, you absolutely depend on Twist & Shout for original recordings, rare imprints and limited releases. Inventory changes constantly, so a spin through the bins on any given day might yield an unexpected delight. If you're ready to part ways with some collector-edition records, Twist & Shout is a good place to sell, too.

Wax Trax Records

Just over four decades ago, Duane Davis and Jim Stidman took over Wax Trax from Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher, who moved on to Chicago to open another record store and eventually launch the Wax Trax! Records indie label. Thanks to Stidman and Davis's adventurous and eclectic tastes, Wax Trax remains as relevant as ever, a required stop for obsessive collectors as well as casual fans looking to broaden their musical repertoire. While you're bound to find rarities on CD or cassette tapes, Wax Trax also prides itself on a broad and vast vinyl collection. What goes around comes around....

Readers' Choice: Twist & Shout

Whether you're hunting for something that came out last year that you've been meaning to pick up, or just looking for whatever catches your eye — like that fantasy novel you read partway through back in junior high school and have never forgotten — you'll find it, and more, at these old-school stores. Fahrenheit's Bookstore specializes in vintage paperbacks but boasts an eclectic selection of fiction, philosophy, sci-fi, metaphysics and more. Broadway Book Mall redefines "eclectic," which means you'll never know what you're going to find to pick up and page through as you sit on the couch and breathe in the intoxicating scent of old books. Either store is worth a trip, but together they make this corner the best damn place in Denver to paint the town read.

Readers' Choice: Mutiny Information Cafe

Second Star to the Right traded its home of five years in Berkeley for new digs on South Pearl Street earlier this year, but it didn't lose the whimsy, fun gifts or great reading selection that made it such a star at its original location. Owned by former teachers Dea and Marc Lavoie, this colorful bookstore aimed at kids and young adults has helpful staffers who can guide young readers on their first literary journey, and also offers free themed book readings weekly: storytime with drag queens and kings; celebrations for beloved characters such as Pete the Cat; and events geared toward authors such as Dr. Seuss, often with special craft activities to match. Second Star shines bright.

When your kids come home with tiny houses covered in candy and glitter and then recite the tale of Hansel and Gretel, you know they've had fun. Add "free" to the list of benefits at Woodbury Library's ever-changing arts-and-crafts program, and you know why you're going to want to drop your progeny off there at 4:30 p.m. every Wednesday. Past projects have included making magnetic slime, paper LEGO figures and 3-D spiders, all ideas created by the Woodbury staff. While other Denver Public Library branches offer their own kids' programming, this one wrote the book on child's play.

Best Of Denver®

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