This year, we’re giving our Best of the West winners the red carpet treatment: The readers have spoken, the critics have made their picks and several local celebrities have added their two cents. Here are our picks for the best Boulder County has to offer.
The envelope please…
Louisville Cyclery : East County
Even if you want to hamster-wheel it inside or just can’t get the right fit on your ride, Louisville Cyclery has a guy, guide or the gear. Now, if they could just make cycling more like riding the bus…
University Bicycles : Boulder
With more brands, custom bike fitting and rentals for non-committal riders, University Bicycles knocked it out of the park this year. But we love them because no matter how many times we ring the little bike bells, they never kick us out.
Christy Sports : East County
They’re huge, they’re everywhere and their customer service just rocks. Whether it’s snagging last minute ski gear at Christy Sports’ Broomfield location, or planning for a long-awaited ski vacay buying bit by bit from their online store, Coloradans love Christy.
Boulder Ski Deals : Boulder
Boulder Ski Deals loves us, even when we’re intimidated by the idea of flying down a mountain carrying toothpicks and strapped to sticks. Their gear is great, but their knowledge is priceless—from safety to the cheapest local spots.
Jax Outdoor Gear : East County
For the more run-of-the-mill athletes, Jax in Lafayette is anything but. Instead of focusing on the area’s cyclists (gasp), Jax knows Coloradans hunt, tackle, fly-fish and horseback ride, too, so they’ve got the gear and awesome classes for…everything.
REI : Boulder
Broke the backpack in Morocco, wore out the climbing shoes in Georgia and need a new cooler to camp in Moab. Problem solved at REI in Boulder, an outdoor gear co-op with pretty much unlimited exchanges and a dividend payoff every spring.
Brown’s Shoe Fit Co. : East County
Brown’s Shoe Fit Co. in Longmont has great variety, with cutesy Uggs and Ecco hiking sandals. Plus, they’ve been around longer than we’ve been alive, so we trust them.
Pedestrian Shops : Boulder
Pedestrian Shops in Boulder serves everyone’s inner hippie and a side of comfort with barefoot running gear and this year’s flip-flops (which smell ah-mazing!). It’s the best way to get a little bit of Boulder between your toes.
Eye Center of Northern Colorado : East County
When it comes to eye care, a one-stop shop means you’re not awkwardly winking at the hobo on the bus all day. The Eye Center of Northern Colorado has everything from plastics to pediatrics.
Wink Optical : Boulder
They’re blogging about patient health, rockin’ some state-of-the-art eye equipment, being environmentally friendly and tweeting, just for icing on the optical cake. It’s social optometry with a side of vintage specs. What’s not to love?
Eric Olson Master Jeweler : East County
Eric Olson Master Jeweler has the typical “oohs and ahs” for sparkly and pretty down pat, but it’s their design that’s rocking Lafayette. The girls in us love the long chains, funky cut stones and scroll bracelets.
Walters and Hogsett : Boulder
Maybe it’s because everyone has an eclectic inner retiree who collects mountain jewelry, dog charms or Fabergé. Or maybe it’s the Barbara Westwood goes Audrey Hepburn black and diamond collection. Either way, Walters and Hogsett in Boulder is fabulous.
Ville De Luxe Boutique : East County
The mother/daughter duo running Ville de Luxe in Louisville has local down to a T, so gift-baffled boyfriends and besties give gifts you actually want. Keep the creepy cat sweaters, we’ll take bubble bath and earrings, please.
Chelsea : Boulder
They’ve got the cutest scarves this side of Boulder, and even though some of them are more than $200, Chelsea’s crowd doesn’t turn its nose up at sandal-wearing bracelet charm buyers or strict sales-rack shoppers.
Nordstrom : East County
This Seattle-based franchise, built with Yukon gold-rush money, started as a family owned shoe store and it’s still family run, so Broomfield’s Gor-Tex-vortex shoppers get corporate prices with a cleaner feel.
Weekends : Boulder
Weekends in Boulder is simply classic. Catalog shoppers can head here for an in-store experience with a touch of Boulder décor and leave with all of the makings for a Martha Stewart home decorating party or a fashionista
Second Hand Clothing
Threads : East County
Threads in Erie and Broomfield have the snootiest consignment acceptance policy in the BoCo area, but their snobbery when it comes to low-end, discount-store brands means Threads’ ladies get discounted, high-end duds in pristine condition every time.
Plato’s Closet : Boulder
Although you’ve got something like a 1 percent chance of scoring a vintage Thundercats T-shirt, anyone down with wearing someone else’s clothes can score designer duds on the cheap at Plato’s Closet in Boulder.
Old Town Louisville
Two words: street faire. They spell it funny, but it’s simply splendid. Come June, the fair is the place to be. Until then, Old Town Louisville still dominates Northern Colorado’s cities for coffee (we heart The Huckleberry), shopping and tons of local events.
Flatirons : East County
In an age when traditional malls are being replaced with “lifestyle centers,” Flatirons Mall stays relevant and attractive with great shops, great restaurants and a great vibe. Great, right? Totally. With its indoor-outdoor mix, Flatirons gives us what so many small shopping centers don’t: the stuff we want and need.
Pearl Street : Boulder
What can we say about the Pearl Street Mall that’s never been said? Nothing. Seriously, people near and far have waxed emphatic about the gloriousness of this iconic Boulder landmark, and any blustering on our part could only make its greatness that much closer to becoming cliché. But just for good measure, we’ll simply say: lovely boutique shops, stellar people watching and world-class restaurants.
Borders : East County
Wow, folks, what a comeback! Borders may have suffered a blow early this year, but it still maintains its status as a literary kingpin for East Boulder County. It beats out its not-to-be-named, big-box competitor as well as a few second-hand bookstores throughout the county—likely because of its selection, service and, of course, perseverance.
Boulder Book Store : Boulder
Every so often you come across one of those bookstores: big and beautiful, soulful and independent, comfortable but sparkling, nurtured by people who love books. Boulder Book Store is one of those shops, one of the special few. There is truly nothing better than getting lost in this store and in the books on its shelves.
Home decor & furnishing
The Purple Poppy : East County
Newly opened in the Atlas Valley Shopping Center, The Purple Poppy is full of treasures: sconces and candleholders, leather chairs and tables, bags mingling with vases mingling with glassware. Our readers have obviously been charmed by its style and splendor. (Winner of both best home décor and best home furnishing).
HW Home : Boulder
OK, so a couple of HW Home’s pillows cost more than some of our journalists make in a month, but hey, our readers love to fork out the big bucks to ensure their homes look as styled and stunning as, well, the HW showroom. (winner of both home décor and best home furnishing).
Lafayette Collectibles & Flea Market : East County
You walk in, and the door bell rings. In one space, bookcases are packed with paperback novels and VHS from the ’80s. In another space, heavy metal posters and leather pants. And then you’ll find a beautiful vintage armoire and a retro-style table and chairs. It’s organized chaos for your inner treasure hunter.
Clutter Consignment : Boulder
Clutter Consignment is the chic way to consign and to buy consignments. It’s not all about trend-setting, but it is about finding pieces—sold at a fair price—that make a statement or add style and personality to your home. These are the sort of finds that turn people into hoarders.
Lowe’s : East County
You shop locally, and you take pride in it. When you walk into a chain store you feel a pang of guilt but you appreciate that you have that big-box store when you need it most. Lowe’s is one of those chains. It’s your guilty pleasure—with its hardware and tools and houseware, the reliable customer service and the big-box prices.
McGuckin Hardware : Boulder
I wander through McGuckin’s, aisle after aisle. I get that from my dad, who spent hours in the store, patiently finding gadgets and doodads he never knew he needed. My boyfriend goes straight for the machinery, the heavy-duty tools. My mom goes there only when she needs something. No matter how you use McGuckins, it always provides.
Lafayette Florist : East County
Lafayette Florist is not just a florist—it’s a proverbial playground for lovers of flora and foliage. Expansive and adorned with plants, bouquets, décor and garden tools, you can buy a dozen roses or a dozen rose bushes.
Sturtz & Copeland : Boulder
I want to nurture my green thumb, so I know to go to Boulder’s iconic Sturtz & Copeland. I wander through the potted plants and stunning flowers and finally find a little, pretty thing with white petals. Gently, I take it to the register, where I am told exactly how to keep the flower alive. Mission accomplished.
Shop Kids Resale & Consignment : East County
Kids know what they want. At Shop Kids, your fast-growing child can be as picky as he wants. There are racks and racks of clothes (affordable, of course) to pick from. And if you get an item home, and little Joe no longer thinks it’s cool, don’t worry, just consign!
Rocky Mountain Kids : Boulder
Set in the chic-kid mecca of Arapahoe Village, Rocky Mountain Kids has the right styles, the right brands and the right accessories for the playful, smart, trend-setting Boulder boy or girl.
Crawdaddy’s Toys : East County
Sunlit and full of fun, Crawdaddy’s Toys in Lafayette has a little something for all of the kids in your life. From your little cowboy to your little bookworm, there are smart, sturdy and sensible toys that will rock their worlds.
Grandrabbit’s Toy Shoppe : Boulder
Grandrabbit’s is a beautiful, whimsical shop that has toys and games and books and playthings from floor to ceiling. It’s a child’s dream, and a parent’s delight.
Timbalier Dry Goods : East County
Glowing with sunlight and the shining playfulness of its two owners, Timbalier in Lafayette is the kind of gift shop that makes Christmas and birthday shopping a pleasure. Teas for your best friend, a Hobo clutch for your sister, and maybe something light and airy for your own sunroom.
Bliss : Boulder
At Bliss, you will have no problem finding a gift for your bff or your co-worker. The biggest challenge is finding time to shop for others when there are so many things with your name on them. The feminine, lively store is jam-packed with beautiful pieces, jewelry, décor and more. Perfect for friends, family and you.
What’s Cooking : East County
The worth of a cooking store can be measured in its ability to inspire its customers to cook. What’s Cooking does just that—with cooking instruments and tools as well as artisanal sauces, crackers and seasonings. Kinda makes you want to go all Bobby Flay on dinner tonight.
Peppercorn : Boulder
At the Peppercorn, you can—and I do—spend hour upon hour, moving from one space to the next, exploring dishware, reading cookbooks, touching knickknacks and searching for nothing in particular. I’m sure that’s not particularly helpful to the busy staff, but I can’t help it. If they want fewer loiterers, they should make their store less interesting.
The newish and improved Whole Foods can seem a little overwhelming. But it’s a food-lover’s fantasy with everything from speck to spaghetti, vegan cookies to gourmet coffee, barbecue to whey protein bars and beyond. Sometimes being overwhelmed is totally delicious.
Superior Liquor : East County
Doesn’t Superior Liquor just sound like it’s better than other liquor stores? And while we would usually employ some sort of don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover philosophy, our readers have overwhelmingly named Superior Liquor, well, superior.
Liquor Mart : Boulder
Want a rare 2003 Tuscan red that’s less than a $100? You will find it at Liquor Mart. Want a six-pack of micro-brew from Louisiana? It’s here. Liquor Mart is a huge space filled with wine, beer and spirits from all over the world. Scottish gin? Eighteen-year-old Macallan Scotch? Look no farther.
Superior Liquor : East County
There are really two types of wine-drinkers: snobs and everyone else. Superior Liquor satisfies both—with thousands of wines to pick from and affordable prices as well as an expert staff and a solid selection of wines that would please even the most particular of aficionados.
Boulder Wine Merchant : Boulder
Brett Zimmerman is a master sommelier, which means he knows what he’s talking about when he’s talking about wine. Zimmerman is also the owner of the Boulder Wine Merchant, which he uses as a mechanism for bringing a diverse ensemble of great wines to Boulder. Thank you, Brett Zimmerman. Thank you.
Miller Music : East County
Miller Music will rock your world (yes, we have to allow a few puns here or there). The staff is truly something special—knowledgeable and helpful—and they not only sell a variety of instruments, but their lessons are a mainstay for the young rockers of Boulder County.
Robb’s Boulder Music : Boulder
Many a great musician has come out of Boulder (Chris Wood, Jello Biafra, etc.), and many of them have been influenced by Robb’s Boulder Music. With an über skilled staff of salespeople and repair people and a solid selection of instruments, this place is the nerve center for the local musical anatomy.
Struttin’ Pup : East County
Struttin’ Pup is not just a cool place to shop for your pups—and yes, it is cool. The staff is also amazingly helpful. They know what you need when you’re bringing home a new puppy or the food you want when your dog needs a change in diet. They are both smart and cool, which is soooo hot.
Whole Pets : Boulder
In Boulder, pets reign. And you want quality, healthy goods to please your fuzzy little kings and queens. Whole Pets knows this about you, and responds by providing natural pet foods, toys and treats for your pets. Yes, it’s good
to be king.
Stang Auto Tech : East County
Stang Auto Tech is one of those auto repair shops that doesn’t scare the living bejesus out of us car-ignorant folk. At this family-owned shop, customer service doesn’t include a muffled guffaw when you ask what a carburetor is, and they take pride in learning each client’s wants and needs. You won’t like getting your car repaired there—but you’ll tolerate it a little more.
Hoshi Motors : Boulder
Hoshi Motors knows how to speak your language and not that goofy car-talk. They are known for creating a sense of trust with their customers, and they don’t just understand your car, they understand how to explain your car to you. So you leave feeling like that thing you drive is a little less of a mystery.
Jasper Animal Hospital, Dr. Dodge : East County
Dr. Dodge is one cool cat: so cool, he knows how to treat your pets like royalty and put that extra furry (or feathery) spunk back into your favorite family member. Dodge is a champion among a dying breed of devout vets.
Alpine Animal Hospital : Boulder
Cozy entrance and all: This dog and cat clinic could make your grandmother feel right at home, and who knows, they might even be able to treat the old bat. With cozy couches for you and your pets, this classic vet clinic will have you satisfied till the end.
Visit Gray Box Studios.