Take a break from the workaday world and head to West Side Books, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in Highland this year. It's easy to lose track of time in the store's twists and towers of tomes — but despite its whimsical layout, each section is carefully labeled, making it easy to find what you're looking for, whether it's an unusual read or a highly sought-after title. And if West Side doesn't have it, staffers will do their best to locate a copy, no matter how rare. The store also hosts events for book lovers of all ages, including a few monthly book clubs.

When Sue Lubeck, the owner, heart and soul of the Bookies, passed away last summer on the eve of its fiftieth anniversary, it threw the beloved book store geared toward children and educators into limbo. The store was put up for sale, with faithful employees working on in hopes of continuing Lubeck's legacy. And in November, Nicole Sullivan of BookBar came to the rescue, taking the Bookies under her wing and pledging to work with the staff to continue the traditions that have worked so well for fifty years.


Families rule at Stanley Marketplace, so it's no surprise that when the new Tattered Cover ownership added that complex to its expansion plans, it focused on a store for children. The result is a new chapter in children's bookstores, complete with kid-sized shelving, a wraparound decorative mural, an event space, and storytimes under a tree that kids can climb. Plus — attention, parents — an after-story snack is just a few steps away. Another win for Stanley, another win for kids.

Ken Hamblin III

After more than thirty years of running Twist & Shout, the best record store in Denver and one of the best in the country, Paul and Jill Epstein sold the place to longtime manager Patrick Brown, who promises to keep it largely unchanged. And that's good news for anyone who loves vinyl, old or new, whatever the genre. Sure, there's other cool stuff at Twist & Shout — almost too much to take in on a single shopping trip — and if you can't find an awesomely weird birthday present here, then you're not trying hard enough. Still, Twist & Shout has always been about the music, and with Brown in charge, the song should remain the same. As an old friend of ours used to say, dropping the needle is the best drug there is.

When pioneering boutique retailer Stephanie Shearer decided to downsize her growing empire — which began with Soul Haus and Pandora on the Hill and eventually expanded to Trunk Nouveau at Stanley Marketplace — she had just the person to fill her EZE Mop space in Uptown. Former employee Ina Gasich (who goes by the handle Ina Minx) took over the spot and transformed it into Revolte, a wild and silly shop in the spirit of its predecessors, with a bent toward queer and retro kitsch and a "Keep it weird" motto.


Looking for some lingerie or pleasure toys? Have a thing for cannabis and houseplants? Please, Plants has you covered — or uncovered, if that's what you prefer. Perhaps the most unique adult store in the city (there's usually a sign out front reading "Bongs & Thongs"), Please, Plants offers sexy lingerie and trendy loungewear, as well as fun stuff like lubricants, massage candles, discreet vibrators and "spiritual" ones made from crystals. And, of course, there's a selection of plants, along with lighters and bongs that are best described as mid-century modern. The cherry on top: The store has same-day local delivery.


Matter is a book store. Matter is a gift shop. Matter is a poster shop, an art gallery, a design-forward graphic-art studio and a stationer. Matter is all about letterpress printing and hand-arranged type. Matter is really, really into typography. Matter is revolutionary. Matter is a local, BIPOC- and woman-owned business that believes in social justice, cooperative commerce and a post-racial, Afrofuturistic world. In a district of boutiques and breweries, what else could even compare? Designer/founder Rick Griffith not only knows how to make things look good, but also how to do good.

During the pandemic, neighborhood liquor stores gained new relevance. These were places where you could stock up on very necessary supplies, but also make some needed human contact. From its spot on South Broadway by Evans Avenue, Sobo Liquors serves a huge segment of the Denver community, offering both drive-through service for those in a hurry (or not ready to see humans) and very personal attention, with an on-staff sommelier and other staffers ready to make recommendations. The stock includes a huge craft beer selection you won't find at the nearby supermarket, including plenty of gluten-free options; there's also a welcome emphasis on quality spirits and wine, as well as a punch-card for frequent visitors. Drink up, Denver!


It's no secret that northeast Denver is close to a food desert, with no major grocery stores; in recent years, the City Park West, Whittier, Cole, San Rafael and Five Points neighborhoods have lost most of their corner bodegas, too. Entrepreneur Andrea Leo saw an opportunity and last fall opened Sun Market in City Park West. She offers a combination of affordable kitchen essentials, including produce (a section that's tough to keep stocked because of the demand), as well as some gift and gourmet items to spice things up.


The problem with plant stores is that they sell plants — whether the buyer has any idea what to do with those plants at home or just loves how they look in the store. Jessica Schutz of Green Lady Gardens doesn't believe in letting customers walk out without knowing exactly what they're getting into. At the very least, every plant comes with an instruction card, and if you ask for more advice, you'll definitely get it. The small but well-rooted shop also has an exemplary collection of pretty, artist-designed pottery to brighten up your new greenery.


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