Best Store on the Pearl Street Mall 2023 | Trident Booksellers & Cafe | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
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It may be a few blocks from the busiest section of the Pearl Street Mall, but the employee-owned Trident is definitely a go-to destination, combining the best elements of a bookstore and a cafe. Browse through an impressive and eclectic selection of new and used literature, then order from a menu of coffee, tea and pastries that's just as diverse. Whether you want to sip tea while you read about Zen Buddhism, hang out on a beautiful garden patio with a historic novel or simply spend an evening enjoying free live music, Trident is the pearl of the Pearl Street Mall.

Best Store at Denver International Airport

Aksels

Denver International Airport is one of the busiest in the country, with over 69 million travelers passing through in 2022. That's a big opportunity to show outsiders what Colorado is all about, and with any luck, those travelers end up at Aksels, which reps our state with unparalleled passion. The Denver-based clothing company has built a following by highlighting Colorado landmarks and history on hats and T-shirts that pay homage to old-school Denver Broncos jerseys, the city's rainbow skyline and even beloved former hangouts like Celebrity Sports Center. In case you need a last-minute gift, forgot your socks or just like Colorado-centric gear, make a stop at Aksels before your flight takes off.

B Gates, Center Core
303-342-6626
aksels.com
Courtesy Modern Nomad Facebook page

A dazzling array of home, lifestyle and gardening wares greets you at Modern Nomad, where you can find everything from rugs, furniture and home decor to vintage and new clothing, jewelry, plants and more. More than just a store, Modern Nomad is a collective with an emphasis on supporting small businesses, hosting a variety of local vendors that fill the 5,500-square foot warehouse with stylish and unique finds. Be prepared: You'll want to buy everything.

Amid the nail salons, edgy boutiques and baffling commercial development in Cherry Creek North is an endearing spot that sells art and crafts from local artists, as well as staffers and students at Denver schools. For decades, the Artisan Center has been a go-to spot for gifts that celebrate the talents of the Coloradans who make this state so special, and just browsing the window display does your heart good. In fact, a recent installation of puffy hearts for sale around Valentine's Day benefited Mental Health Colorado. Looking good, doing good.

By Lonnie Hanzon, courtesy of the Wizard's Chest

The Wizard's Chest is celebrating its fortieth birthday this year, but the family-owned store has more youthful exuberance than ever. Witches, wizards, squibs, Muggles and everything in between are welcome at this 16,000-square-foot wonderland of toys, costumes, games and collectibles, as long as the adults check their prudence at the door. If you've seen it on the big screen or want to come up with your own creation, chances are the Wizard's Chest's costumes, masks, makeup and props will get you there. Need something to spice up game night? The bottom floor has a vast collection of puzzles and board games that go far beyond Monopoly, with themes centered around Harry Potter, Star Wars, creature features and other sci-fi and fantasy favorites. Magic is in full force year-round here, but it gets extra special and spooky around Halloween, when the Wizard's Chest serves as a popular spot to watch the annual Broadway Halloween Parade.

Sure, you can now grab basic beer and wine at the grocery store, but can you pick up a set of vintage glassware while chatting with knowledgeable staff members about their favorite bitters for an Old Fashioned? You can at Bottle Shop 33, a swanky store named for the year Prohibition ended that specializes in mixology and entertaining. Here the employees know regulars by name and are always quick to offer up suggestions for a funky wine to take to the park, the perfect beer to take to a dinner party, or the best gin for your ideal martini.

1080 South Gaylord Street
303-722-2129
bottleshop33.com

Indie bookstore lovers are still mourning the loss of BookBar — which is all the more reason to rally around its cozy sibling, a local institution that's been serving up children's books and other family-friendly fare for more than half a century. The Bookies shows a lot of love for the community with storytimes, a gift registry for teachers, events featuring local authors and more, and the community loves it back.

4315 East Mississippi Avenue
303 759-1117
thebookies.com

A Denver institution of affordable reads for over forty years, Capitol Hill Books might as well be rooted into the ground at East Colfax Avenue and Grant Street, right across the street from the State Capitol. A truck has taken out the front of the building, COVID-19's financial chaos threatened its future, and protests in 2020 were a tumultuous storm for the building's windows. Despite all of the recent challenges, however, Capitol Hill Books owner Holly Brooks has kept the store open and shelves full with a smile. Sci-fi readers, comic book fans, history buffs and new families will all find something worth taking home, whether it's a crisp copy of Dune, a how-to book for gardening, or a stack of old National Geographics from the 1980s. You can find Capitol Hill Books' inventory on Amazon, but nothing beats the smell and serenity of a quiet, well-stocked book store — especially when you can walk out with multiple reads for less than $15.

Calling Mile High Comics a comic book store is technically correct. It is a store, and it mostly sells comics. But that would be like calling a great white shark a fish, or the Amazon simply a stream of water. There's more to this place than the label, which is evident the second you step inside the 45,000-square-foot warehouse dedicated to comics, superheroes and much, much more. Classic and limited-edition comic books, old copies of magazines like Heavy Metal and Fangoria, and ridiculously fun pieces of pop culture can all be found here, as can the latest graphic novels and single-issue releases. We've walked in on card-game tournaments and lucha libre wrestling matches, and walked out with comic books about Charles Barkley vs. Godzilla. This place is an OG for seasoned comic lovers, and a spark of light for those lacking imagination.

Jon Solomon

Wax Trax Records is a musical nirvana. The longtime Capitol Hill landmark offers multiple formats, even offering walls of cassette tapes. But it's the vinyl — still the best way to listen to music — that makes the space so divine. No matter the genre, Wax Trax has it, with bins of world and classical records nestling up against rows of blues, jazz and country. Of course, you'll find also rock and its many subgenres, including heavy metal. The local music section is a gem and is as eclectic as Denver's scene. Turntables allow people to check out any records they want, and Wax Trax staffers are always on hand to provide a deep-cut recommendation or ten.

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