Best Place to Shop in a New City Without Leaving Denver

Zeppelin Station

Danielle Lirette

The Eyes Open Project's Made in a City, a cultural and retail pop-up series, provides a morphing showcase for cities around the globe by bringing a selection of merchandise, cuisine and programming reflecting the character of a different metropolis every few months to Zeppelin Station. Montreal, Portland and Reykjavik have all been touted so far, but 2019 is still young and ready for new armchair-travel experiences. Enjoy the best of each city, without the baggage.

eyesopenproject.com

La Lovely Vintage has been wandering from place to place, brick-and-mortar and otherwise, since its beginnings as a boutique in a canned-ham trailer named Lucy. The latest storefront, located on Broadway in the Baker neighborhood, is not only traffic-friendly, but large enough to house a branch of Homefill, a bring-your-own-container bulk-product emporium for ecologically mindful households. Both businesses encourage reuse and recycling practices, making for a happy partnership. For your convenience, both also share space with other small businesses at Modern Nomad, 2936 Larimer Street in RiNo.

It seems like every home-improvement project requires its own special single-use tool, be it a tile saw, a soldering gun or a drywall sander. If you're taking on a DIY renovation project, you could buy all these things, slowly amassing a garage full of tools you're likely to use only once (a costly proposition, especially if you have to eventually call in professional reinforcements). Or you could pay your $100 annual fee to the Denver Tool Library and borrow from its comprehensive collection of 4,000 items, which range from the relatively simple — screwdrivers and safety goggles — to more specialized saws, circuit testers and aerators. Novices will find helpful advice and classes here to get them started, and gardeners will want to inspect the wide array of landscaping tools available.

Ace-Kauffman has made its mark on the Mile High City. Founded in 1872 as the Denver Novelty Works Company, it's had various addresses and names through the decades (a new owner in the '40s added the "Ace" to the name of a previous owner in order to appear first in the phone book), but its basic mission is unchanged. Ace-Kauffman sells notary supplies as well as engraved nameplates, rubber and pre-inked stamps, and just about any kind of corporate award you might need. Although these days you can do your ordering online, it's worth a trip to the company headquarters on Welton Street to see what this strip was like before behemoth apartment buildings started replacing the mom-and-pop businesses.

It's one thing to need merchandise for your brand, but it's another thing entirely to create branded merchandise that people actually want. At Stephen Till's A Small Print Shop, it's easy to make your mark. Since relocating from the RiNo Art District a few years ago, ASPS has continued to grow, pumping out merch for local acts and businesses such as Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Tennis, Marquis Pizza and even Red Rocks. Since the shop's clientele includes local brewers, too, including TRVE Brewing and Our Mutual Friend, you can usually sip on a craft beer while Till explains why that design that you thought looked so good might need a little work. Fortunately, ASPS can help with that, too.

The concept of throwing a holiday market or craft fair in a brewery or bar is catching on, no doubt because it's so easy for the organizers...and more fun for the customers than buying at home, alone and online. Crafted Art Emporium, a local makers' collective peddling an array of offbeat and cheeky merch, has taken to manning vendor tables at local breweries, offering imbibers a chance to spend their money on more than another round. And as it turns out, quaffing and acquiring can combine for a darn good time.

craftedartemporium.com

Even if you don't have a creative bone in your body, Meininger will inspire you. A century before people started gathering in bars to knit scarves or convening in living rooms to string beads, H.R. Meininger was catering to Colorado's crafty side, selling supplies to artists both professional and amateur. Today the vast Meininger store on Broadway is filled with paint, paper, tools and all the tricks of the trade, as well as fun little gifts that will make any party more arty. While events and demos are worth putting on the calendar, just a quick stop in will get your creative juices flowing. Bonus points go to the Meininger family for supporting local street artists, who've made their mark on the Meininger Art Wall in the parking lot.

Readers' Choice: H.R. Meininger

"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

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