Best Record Store 2021 | Twist & Shout | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Ken Hamblin III

The lines winding out of Twist & Shout are proof that this Colfax Avenue record shop has earned its reputation as a must-stop spot for vinyl, CDs, DVDs and music ephemera. The store has an amazing selection of new and used albums, along with a staff that knows how to help you find what you're looking for and discover up-and-coming and obscure artists. As pandemic restrictions loosen, we're looking forward to seeing Twist & Shout bring back some of its intimate live-music performances from international and local acts alike — and in the meantime, we're happy to see the shop continue its long tradition of supporting local musicians by keeping their albums on the racks.

The bones of the beloved Market, which stood at this Larimer Square address for decades, are still present in a ghostly way, right down to the familiar tiled entryway. And just as the Market was a gathering place for the entire city, Josh Sampson's Larimer Records Cafe serves a similar function, with an updated millennial shtick: It's a bustling, relaxed meeting place for coffee and food, but it's also a vinyl store, complete with listening stations, rotating themed music brunches and nights with live DJs, and drinks with names like Sympathy for the Devil, Ring of Fire and Walk on the Wild Side. Can't find what you're looking for? Try Garage Sale, just across Larimer.

Hanging out with a cocktail while you shop is becoming a trend, as is vinyl collecting, and Garage Sale is proof that the combo works. The mashup of vintage clothing, vinyl albums and a classic Wild Turkey Old-Fashioned or Manhattan sipped indoors or on the open-street patio make this a sweet place to chill, day or night. Planning a Denver staycation? This should be your first stop.

Last fall, the Latino Cultural Arts Center reached out to people feeling the loss of traditional Day of the Dead celebrations along the Front Range by assembling ofrendas kits that people could buy, then use to build their own altars to the dead at home. Giving this concept new life was an ingenious twist: LCAC hired Latino artists to create a variety of traditional handmade elements to stock the DIY kits, including felt hearts, paper butterflies, calaveras (skulls), Mexican prayer candles and other decorative and symbolic items. And the concept lives on: LCAC has already sent out a call to artists for a second round in 2021.

Inez Sanchez's Missfits dolls aren't like any Día de los Muertos calacas you've ever seen. Each one-of-a-kind skeleton doll comes with a name, a story and a personality invented by the Denver artist: Head-turner Lupita, dressed to kill; Calabaza the squash woman; colorful Socorro, who lives in a house with no music; Chileta the chile contest judge; and Rosa and Valentino, a rose-killer and her gardening lover, are just a few of her characters. Look for Sanchez's wares at Día de los Muertos and holiday craft markets, monthly First Friday art fairs at the Arturo Garcia studio in Westwood, or on Etsy.

Best Religious Products and Skateboard Gear

The Retro

Somehow, the weird combination of religious swag and skateboard gear at the Retro works. In fact, it might be the best place for traditional grandparents and skateboard kids to meet in the middle — just as Latino religious images, from sacred hearts to la Virgen de Guadalupe, cross over into youth culture as board-deck decorations, jewelry, apparel, art and stickers. Try it — you might like it, too.

Kyle Harris

If you're looking to take a journey through the witchier side of life, head to Herbs & Arts. Breathe in the incense, shop for candles, beef up your tarot deck collection, have a consultation with a store herbalist, and explore your existence through a psychic or astrological reading on the spot. If you're planning to dive into the esoteric arts, there are also classes for the curious and plenty of books to read. This shop is filled with a playful, positive energy and all the tools you need to make magic.

Lindsey Bartlett

Let your inner geek run wild at the Wizard's Chest, a glorious shop filled with board, card and role-playing games, costumes and more. Open since 1983 but a relative newcomer to Broadway, the store boasts a playful interior and exterior designed by immersive-arts wizard Lonnie Hanzon. Whether you're looking for the latest in Dungeons & Dragons fun, robotics kits, a new wig, or a rattler for the toddler in your life, the Wizard's Chest will put you under its spell. The shop is currently offering a mix of online, curbside and limited in-person business; the real magic happens in the coming months, when it will get back to hosting gaming events and allowing 100 percent hands-on fun.

In a world of fast fashion, where garbage dumps are towering with wear-and-tear clothes, Julianna's Wardrobe is committed to keeping the history of yesterday's dresses alive by restoring them with modern flair. "I really believe our energy is in the fibers of the clothing that we wear," says owner Julianna Aberle-McClellan. So when a bride wants to go down the aisle in something her great-grandmother wore that has turned to rags, Aberle-McClellan taps into her background in theatrical fashion to create something spectacular, connected to the past and looking toward the future.

Be a Good Person, founded by Darian Simon and Julian Donaldson in 2015 to spread a message of positivity, has become an iconic Denver brand that uses hoodies, T-shirts, sweats and accessories to encourage people to be, well, good. In an age of social strife, online smackdowns, violence and general pessimism, the slogan, brand name and philosophy behind Be a Good Person is as relevant as can be. Each season, the company puts out a signature line sporting cheerful, all-caps lettering; along the way, it does its share of philanthropic work with nonprofits like the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

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