• CRITICS: Front Range Mercantile, Longmont
Even when you travel to one of those gigantic furniture warehouses, you still end up spending a pretty penny for goods of questionable quality. So why not spend less and get more? Front Range Merc is an upscale, year-round, indoor flea market. They have all sorts of cool furniture and other items that will style your house for cheap.
• READERS: Big Lots, Various
• CRITICS: Golden Bear Bikes, Broomfield
It’s spring, which means you should leave your car in the garage and pedal yourself to work, the gym or a park. Or the foothills or some crazy mountain biking trail. Needless to say, you’ll need a few types of bikes to cover every urge. Golden Bear has the premier selection of bike brands and bike types. If Lance lived here, he’d shop Golden Bear.
• READERS: Cutting Edge Sports, Lafayette
• CRITICS AND READERS: Boulder Bookstore, Boulder
We’ve all heard the vicious complaints that the Pearl Street Mall isn’t the unique haven of shopping it once was—those bellyachers are probably right. But the Boulder Bookstore is still there, offering a wide selection of bestsellers, hard-to-find titles, and book talks from renowned authors. It’s one of the few unchanging staples on the mall that hasn’t recovered since banning the Halloween Mall Crawl.
• CRITICS: Rockin’ Robin, Niwot
Rockin’ Robin is the coolest chick in Niwot. Half the fun of shopping her thrift store is hanging out with her. The other half is checking out the ever-changing stock that she pulls together. The clothes are hot, but we really love the belts, sunglasses, boots and other accessories.
• READERS: Rag Consignments, Boulder
• CRITICS: Timbalier, Lafayette
Fun is just one of the things we have to say about this neighborhood treasure that can help add to any room in the home. With creative household décor, super cool cards, bath bombs that fizz like no other, clever clocks and gifts that are super unique, the only non-fun part of shopping here is having to pick.
• READERS: Encore Home Styles, Longmont
• CRITICS: Aspen Eyewear, Boulder
Let’s face it, if you want to look cool while surviving summer in Colorado, you need some hip shades. That’s why you go to Aspen. Beyond a wide selection, the staff is extremely knowledgeable and most are certified optometrist, meaning they’ll make you look good whether you see 20/20 or not.
• READERS: Wink Optical, Boulder
Fashion Boutique for Women
•CRITICS: Vie Vie Luxe, Louisville
Small is not necessarily a bad thing when talking about fashion boutiques. When it opened last year, owner Kara Reese brought her girly side to town. Everything inside the teeny shop (there is a ton crammed in) is meant to make women feel luxurious. Think cashmere. Think PJs. Think pink stuff.
• Readers (TIE): Weekends, Boulder, and Vie Vie Luxe
Fashion Boutique for Men
• CRITICS: Weekends, Boulder
Every time a woman walks past the tony Weekends fashion epicenter on Pearl Street, she comments “If money wasn’t an issue, I’d go crazy in there.” Now picture her reaction when you show up for a date/cocktail party/theater engagement styled in the men’s gear from Weekends. Carrying all the top designers, this is North Metro fashion.
• Readers (TIE): Weekends, Boulder, and Grey Bee, Longmont
• CRITICS AND READERS: Lafayette Florist, Lafayette
When Yasutaro and Kumiko Yoshihar started their small flower stand in 1949 they had no idea it would grow It offers the largest fresh cut flower cooler in the area, a full greenhouse and an enormous gift shop. Still family owned, Lafayette Florist is a community fixture.
• CRITICS AND READERS: Concepts Furniture and Accessories, Longmont
It was a little red couch that caused us to fall for Concepts furniture. Located inside one of our photographers’ studios, this chic love seat was so vibrant, we used it in a shoot. It’s pretty darn comfy too. But that couch only touches on the elegant and hip furniture selection. Once you’re done shopping, wait for HGTV to call.
Gourmet Cooking Store
• CRITICS AND READERS: What’s Cooking, Lafayette
Carrying all the finest in kitchen tools from bakeware to barware, What’s Cooking has the essentials, including gourmet food, to transform your kitchen into something Chef Ramsey would be proud of. And, if you don’t have a clue on how to use cool cooking gear, take a class in its cooking stadium.
• CRITICS AND READERS: McGuckin Hardware, Boulder
Sure the big box guys in orange have moved into Boulder, but we know the guys in green at McGuckin can kick those Big Box butts any day. McGuckin is independently owned, notorious for having everything, including knowledgeable staff.
• CRITICS AND READERS: Eric Olson, Lafayette
Don’t let Eric’s soft demeanor fool you. He is one mean designer. You might walk in thinking you were going to pick up a simple diamond but you will walk out with a complete knowledge of the
gem, how it got here, and how the setting was made. If by some rare chance you don’t find what you want, Eric will custom design your own piece of wearable art.
• CRITICS AND READERS: Crawdaddy’s Toys, Lafayette
Imagination is what drives Jerome and Janet. The owners set about to finding the best toys that make kids feel good. It’s like bringing your kids to the North Pole with all the cool toys—trains, spy kits, Legos. Not to mention, Jerome’s jovial nature kind of reminds us a little of Santa Claus.
• CRITICS: The Bronze Elk, Louisville
The offshoot of two mountain stores specializing in décor for your ski home, the Louisville branch seems a bit out of place in the suburbs. But we just love all the little decorations from the frog statutes to the bulldog usually guarding the front door. There are endless options.
• READERS: Timbalier, Lafayette
• CRITICS: The T-Bar, Boulder
We’d get in trouble if we started describing all the naughty things that normally happen after someone comes home with a goodie from T-Bar. Specializing tasteful underwear—T-Bar is slang for thong—this boutique has the perfect sexy for every occasion.
• READERS: Victoria’s Secret, Various
• CRITICS: DaveCo Liquors, Thornton
Cheap beer. Check. Microbrews. Check. Vast selection of Italian wine imports. Check. Ditto for big California cabernets, endless rows of top shelf liquors and just about everything else with alcohol in it. The prices are rock bottom, too.
• READERS: Meridian Wine and Spirits, Lafayette
• CRITICS AND READERS: Miller Music, Longmont
If your child spends hours in constant motion, banging on anything that somewhat resembles a drum, you likely have a headache that never goes away. Not too mention, it’s probably time take a trip to Miller for lessons and the proper instruments. The headache may or may not subside.
• CRITICS AND READERS: Louisville
The growth in Old Town Louisville in the last year has been enormous. A posh eatery moved in, as did an eclectic coffee shop, great burger joint, and fashion boutique. There’s still some of the old charm left, too with The Blue Parrot serving the same wopburger that miners chowed on decades ago. Basically, Louisville’s downtown leaves us wondering: Why bother with Boulder or Denver at all?
• CRITICS AND READERS: Struttin’ Pup, Lafayette
Kind of like the Whole Foods for dogs, Struttin Pup has established itself as a locals’ landmark by offering the good, natural stuff. This is the place to get your puppy scrubbed, seasoned and socialized. And with everyone in town shopping Struttin’ Pup you’ll get some socializing in, too.
• CRITICS: iTunes
We wish this weren’t the case, but the record store is a dying breed, my friends. It’s about time that you realize downloading music (legally) from the Internet is the only way to go. We’ve been under a Steve Jobs trance since he launched the first iPod—iTunes is the best place to find your music these days.
• READERS: Bart’s CD Cellar, Boulder
• CRITICS AND READERS: Brown’s Shoe Fit Co., Longmont
Our publisher absolutely hates this store in a
shop-a-holic type way. She goes in just to say hi. Three pairs of shoes later, she returns. It’s no surprise with brands like Ecco, New Balance, Dansko and more. And with a big remodel finished a year ago, she “hates” Brown’s even more.
• CRITICS AND READERS: Boulder Ski Deals, Boulder
In a region full of winter sports stores, Boulder Ski Deals beats them as quickly as a handful of college kids can down a shotski during après ski. There’s a grand enough fashion selection to fill a runway show, large enough selection of skis to satisfy powder snobs and novices, and getting your ski pass here is as much a rite of passage in Boulder as kissing the Pearl Street Pub’s buffalo on your 21st.
• CRITICS AND READERS: REI, Boulder
REI was always a pretty big deal in Boulder. It had a spacious store offering pretty much every type of outdoor gear imaginable. Then it went and doubled in size last fall, adding a full ski and snowboard shop to compliment its now absurdly vast selection of fleece liners, tents, packs, hiking boots and anything else that just begs to be buried in dirt. If you drop your whole paycheck on gear at least you can take solace in knowing camping is cheap.
• CRITICS: Cheese Importers, Longmont
There’s a reason every foodie from Denver to Fort Collins knows about this Longmont gem: the best selection of cheese—period. You can find virtually everything inside the store except perhaps Kraft (that’s a good thing, by the way). So whether you need a gourmet Chevre to finish a recipe or some fresh mozzarella for a summer salad, you can find it in here, plus all kinds of other gourmet goodies.
• READERS: Whole Foods, Various
• CRITICS AND READERS: Atlas Valley, Lafayette
We’re normally scared of strip malls. But when nearly every business anchored inside the plaza is a unique shop, restaurant or service, you tend to forget that you’re in a strip mall altogether. Chow some good Italian at Z’s, visit the man’s den at Barlows, soak in the sun on Canopy Grill’s patio…this isn’t a mere strip mall, it’s the place locals go.
• CRITICS: Tenacity Wine Shop, Prospect, Longmont
This is Nancy Cook’s passion project: opening a boutique wine store. Beyond her knowledge captured from years of enjoying it, she learned from the folks at Denver’s Corks, one of the most
popular Denver wine shops. The concept is simple: Find the best wine, cheap, and sell it for less than $15. Nancy has tasted nearly every selection, so she can send you packing
knowing it’ll dazzle.
• READERS: Meridian Wine and Spirits, Lafayette