Best Store on East Colfax 2022 | Marczyk Fine Foods | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Courtesy Marczyk Fine Foods

In April 2002, Marczyk Fine Foods opened the doors of its first market on East 17th Avenue, a place that celebrated quality ingredients and products — and local community. In 2011, the crew behind the store — husband and wife Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane, as well as brother Paul Marczyk — opened a second outpost in an old Safeway on East Colfax, a bigger store that featured all of the same amenities, along with a kitchen to up the ante on prepared foods and a next-door liquor store. Over the years, Marczyk's has added a bakery and an even bigger food-prep facility (with a lineup overseen by chef Jamey Fader), as well as events that draw traffic off of Colfax, but the goal of emphasizing both quality and community remains. Now, as the enterprise celebrates its twentieth anniversary, it continues to grow; there's always something cooking at Marczyk's.

Courtesy FashioNation/Babysitter's Nightmare Facebook page

FashioNation has the energy of a teenager...but it turns 35 this year. The store founded in 1987 by Paul and Pam Italiano as a safe place for punks, goths and other alternative kids to safely explore their identity through clothes got a new lease on life during the pandemic. Daughter Sydney made a TikTok documentary on the shop that went viral, bringing FashioNation a new generation of online shoppers. But we like stopping in the store on Broadway, to check out the Doc Martens releases, see the latest lines (including Forest Ink, run by a goth family), maybe catch a rock star or two, and celebrate that what's old is new again. Bonus points for the Babysitter's Nightmare alter-ego. These kids are all right.

Before Pearl Street got so tony, full of fancy eateries, Free People and shops stocking ladies' yogawear and running gear, there was El Loro, a store that would have been called funky back in 1977 when it first opened, popping up on the then-brand-new Pearl Street Mall. It's still funky decades later, part rock shop and part jewelry store — a place where college kids can buy affordable gifts from around the world, tarot cards and crystals to hang around their necks, and smooth polished stones or pewter charms to keep in their pockets. El Loro lacks all pretension, is tourist-friendly, and a great place to take kids shopping. We hope it stays that way for at least another 45 years.

Along with every April Fools' Day comes the biggest joke in Denver: the start of street sweeping, which seems to run like clockwork no matter what other services in the city are breaking down, or when your trash is now slated for pick-up. But at least Denver offers a free reminder that you're about to get a fifty-dollar ticket if you don't move that car: Sign up on for My pocketgov, which will send monthly alerts right before your street-sweeping day. After that, it's up to you.

If you don't know Brother Jeff, you don't know the heartbeat of Five Points, where Jeff Fard serves as switchboard, business booster and opinion-maker for the Black community at large. The new Black Dollar Saturday is perhaps his most grassroots initiative: He opens his Welton Street cultural center to Black entrepreneurs, artists, cooks and makers every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the spirit of Ujamaa, Kwanzaa's principle of Cooperative Economics. Come down and spend a dollar on soy candles, pencil portraits, plates of soul food, pickles, vinyl albums, jewelry or whatever happens to be on the tables each week.

Stuart Alden

Ink Lounge founder Stuart Alden has long been known for some of the coolest design work and screen printing for artists, bands, small businesses and nonprofits that are clients at Ink Lounge. But his "Good Ink Missions" really caught our attention this past year. These social-impact projects range from workshops with kids that create a dialogue about art with a purpose to running community fundraisers for local nonprofits — and Alden has really picked up the pace. Don't miss one of Ink Lounge's L!BERTee-Shirt Printing events: If you bring a T-shirt, Alden will donate his screen-printing services to raise awareness around a social issue.

Though Denver didn't get snow until late in the season, there was plenty of action in the new year — and the Twitter account uniting the community through it all has been @denversnow. Every time it snows, this Twitter account gleefully posts the details for its friends/followers, rejoicing in the precipitation. Rather than bemoaning commutes, cold or inconvenience, @denversnow helps Denverites celebrate the weather and every drop of moisture that lands. There's no business like snow business!

If you have done any kind of community advocacy work in Denver over the past ten years, you've crossed paths with Jonathon Stalls, and you've most likely crossed paths through his preferred mode of transportation: walking. On TikTok, Stalls takes us (and his 100,000 followers) along as he navigates our public transit systems. Whether by foot, bus, bike or wheelchair, when you follow his path on Pedestrian Dignity, you'll begin to see all of the barriers involved in getting from point A to point B, and these challenges range from woefully inadequate to fully outrageous and unjust.

Have you ever wondered why RTD's L Line has such a tiny service area? Why there's no connection between Denver and Boulder, much less stops at all of the subdivisions that fill the space in between? You're not alone. In the four-part podcast series Ghost Train, Colorado Public Radio's Nathaniel Minor explores the past, present and future of transit in metro Denver, starting from the 2004 vote to back FasTracks that was meant to make Denver a world-class city. But it's been a frustrating ride so far, and Ghost Train covers all the bumps along the way.

If you're a fan of This American Life or The Moth Radio Hour, you might already be a fan of Denver's The Narrators, a podcast along the same lines but with a Mile High spin. And if you're not yet a fan, you should be. Local entertainers, writers and raconteurs share true stories from their lives. The show — which will soon reach its 250th episode — began back in 2010 at Paris on the Platte with Those Who Can't star Andrew Orvedahl as host. These days, it's taped live weekly at Buntport Theater, where it's hosted by Ron Doyle and Erin Rollman; recent themes have covered such wide-ranging topics as blowjobs, grandmas, marital infidelity, culinary school, old friends, shoplifting, and using the outhouse at summer camp.

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