part 2 of 4

Best Place to Buy a Creche
Galeria Mexicana
3615 W. 32nd Ave.

Galeria Mexicana carries imported handmade pottery, needlework and wood carvings all year long, but it's especially fun shopping there at Christmastime, when owners Rod Wagner and Kim Newberry stock up on nativity scenes of all shapes, sizes, materials and price ranges. Look for the hand-painted tin creches that come stowed inside matching metal boxes--a holiday steal at about $10.

Best Ticket-Stub Promotion
101 Broadway

Sure, you can use your ticket stub from the Rockies games to garner free admission to a small army of area strip clubs. But does it truly enrich your life? Manos, just across Broadway from the Mayan Theatre, sells glorious folk-art imports from south of the border and offers a 10 percent discount to anyone holding a Mayan ticket stub. So even if the flick is a complete stinker, you can still recoup a portion of your losses--and refine your cultural sensibilities--with a reduced-price Oaxacan fantasy animal, painted clay candlestick or great garish retablo.

Best Southwestern Crafts
Casa de Santa Fe
3966 S. Broadway, Englewood

Those ubiquitous howling coyotes of a few years back would slink off in shame if they caught a glimpse of what real Southwestern crafts look like. Furniture maker Ned Skinner has collected the work of forty artisans in his Casa de Santa Fe shop. Prices are low, and the quality of the assembled wares--everything from pottery to Native American jewelry to rugs to folksy furniture--is high. And there's not a coyote in sight.

Best Craft Gallery
Show of Hands
2610 E. 3rd Ave.

Whimsy reigns at Show of Hands--from the Greeks and Romans chessboard to the fabulous cloth dolls and sweet knitted wool teddy bears--but if you're looking for elegance, you'll find that as well. Endless displays of handmade jewelry--beautiful strands of turquoise with brass ornaments on woven twine cords, neon porcupine pins, collaged metal work and beaded scroll pins--can be found within the long display cases. Handwoven scarves, fine wood, stylish pottery and sleek glass pieces all have their place here, too.

Best Wall Mart
Barry's Paint and Wallpaper
3305 S. Broadway, Englewood

Tired of staring at the same four walls? Change 'em. Unlike those jumbo, impersonal home-improvement places, venerable Barry's Paint and Wallpaper is downright homey. The huge selection of wallpaper is always discounted (and there's a bargain bin of remnants with even better deals). But Barry's real brush with greatness is in the paint section, where its expert mixologists can match any color you have in mind.

Best Art Supplies
H.R. Meininger Co.
499 Broadway

Since H.R. Meininger left downtown and stretched out in its airy, modern digs on Broadway, this local institution has blossomed into an even better art store than it was before. They still have just about anything you're looking for--sable brushes, pigments and paints, writing instruments, fine papers--only now it's a lot easier to find. The winding Meininger mazes are gone and the selection is, if anything, more diverse.

Best Snap Judgments
Robert Waxman Camera and Video
1545 California St.

If bigger is indeed better, then Robert Waxman's new superstore in the refurbished Denver Dry building is the picture of perfection. The spacious store is a shutterbug Valhalla, with miles of Nikons, Minoltas and the rest of the pack, as well as every accessory under the sun. The merchandise doesn't stop with cameras but also includes video equipment--from camcorders to big screens. Once the able staff has helped you pick out your machine, the professorial staff at Waxman University will help you figure out how to use it--and someday your prints will come.

Best Place to Buy Someone Else's Old Snapshots
The Gizmo Shop
424 E. Colfax Ave.

Some call it junk, some call it antiques--in the Gizmo Shop, there's a bit of both. But the most charming find here is an old box of family photographs (don't ask whose family), dog-eared but strangely poignant. The collection is a field day for collagists and busybodies.

Best Delivery of Oversize Packages
Bulk Male magazine
P.O. Box 300352
Denver 80203

Bulk Male magazine, published by Denver's own Big Bull Inc., is laid out like an all-you-can-eat buffet. The main dish? A mass of glossy black-and-white photographs of rotund men accompanied by fascinating descriptions of their lives. The fatty feast is rounded out with many tasty entrees: articles about the National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance, photo spreads of big bearded guys romping in the woods, erotic stories about sumo wrestlers ("His thighs were as big around as a sixty-year-old oak") and a celebrity column that says of Rush Limbaugh, "Yes, I Know He's a Prick, but He's Cute." For those who like big cakes and want to eat them, too, there are always the personals.

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