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Home / Articles / Special Sections / Best of Boulder /  Best of Boulder 2010: Retail
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Thursday, April 29,2010

Best of Boulder 2010: Retail

ADULT MERCHANDISE
Fascinations 2560 28th St., 303-442-7309
Runner-up: Pleasures

Here`s a news tip: Sex has gone mainstream. So if you’re feeling a little freaky, there isn’t a better place to hang out than Fascinations. Don’t be embarrassed either, because the people hanging out in there are just as freaky as you. And if you’re worried about being spotted walking into the store, don’t fret; the store is open until 1 a.m. (2 a.m. on weekends), so you can slink in and slink out while your friends and neighbors are fast asleep. We got to keep our secrets, right? What you’ll find inside the store is almost every type of toy, for males and females, and a helpful staff that won’t giggle or look at you sideways if you have questions about how a certain plaything works. Not only will you find the latest adult toys, there are plenty of books, magazines, movies and other types of relationship (or solo) “enhancements.” So whether you’re planning a bachelorette party or just trying to spice up your relationship, Fascinations is as classy as you can get when it comes to adult stores. If you’re low on cash but still need some spice, Pleasures is the place to go for adult toys that are affordable.

ARTS AND CRAFTS
McGuckin Hardware 2525 Arapahoe Ave, 303-443-1822
Runner-up: Michael’s Arts and Crafts
Honorable Mentions: Guiry’s, Hobby Lobby

We already know where you’re going to go when it’s time to pick up that PVC pipe for the sprinkler, the juicer for your kid at school, a new fly zapper, some flowers for the side yard and something nice for the dog. But McGuckin Hardware’s mind-bending selection extends to art supplies and hobby stuff, too. We get a real kick, for example, out of browsing the 24th scale model kits (cars, ships, etc), reminding ourselves of what fun in the pre-PC Stone Age was like, when gluesniffing was merely incidental. Origami paper, drafting scales, airbrush guns, sketching pencils, printmaking brayers (when was the last time you looked for one of those at Target?), pottery tools, model railroad track cleaner … Be afraid, very afraid, if these guys start selling pizza and skis. McGuckin Hardware is a Boulder institution in the best sense of the word. Michael’s, located in the Thunderbird shopping center at Baseline and Foothills, is also a perennial favorite, packed with home décor and hobby stuff. Guiry’s, with its huge selection of paints, and Hobby Lobby, with all manner of hobby, craft and floral supplies, rounds out a crowded field this year.

AUTO DEALER — NEW
Boulder Toyota 2465 48th Ct., 303-443-3250
Runner-up: Flatirons Acura and Subaru
Honorable Mention: Fisher Chevrolet/Geo/Honda

For one thing, Boulder Toyota has a popcorn machine. Those are always key, especially if you have the kids with you while you are browsing/negotiating for a new vehicle. And they have a cool little accessories shop where you can buy everything from Toyota hats to old user’s manuals. There’s also a machine that doles out free coffee. But this award is about the vehicles and the staff, and the quality of both is sky-high at Boulder Toyota. Boulder County residents know they’ll be treated well at Boulder Toyota and that they’ll come away with a vehicle that will perform well for your family for years. And thanks to runner-up Flatirons Acura and Subaru, Subarus are about as common in Boulder as joggers. And honorable mention Fisher has been serving the area for 42 years, so it’s doing something right!

BEST AUTO DEALER – USED
Blue Spruce Auto Sales
4403 N. Broadway, 303-938-0580
Runner-up: Boulder Toyota Honorable Mention: Fisher Chevrolet/Geo/ Honda

In Boulder, buying a car is the third biggest investment you can make, after your home and your Roubaix SL2 Saxo road bike. And that car will probably end up having to carry around Investment No. 2, so you’d better make sure it’s a good one. So when it’s time to pick out a new bicycle transporter, pedal on over to Blue Spruce Auto Sales and drive away happy. With more than 14 years of experience in helping drivers pick out their second favorite set of wheels, Blue Spruce carries a great selection of Subarus — one of the quintessential Boulder County cars — as well as several other makes. Each and every car at Blue Spruce has been thoroughly reconditioned in-house and comes with a complete invoice and Carfax history. The prices at Blue Spruce are pretty hard to beat too, so you can make up for that financial damage you did dropping a few grand on your two-wheeler. Boulder Toyota specializes in — wait for it — Toyotas of all models, new and used. Fisher Chevrolet/Geo/Honda has been offering great deals at their family-owned and operated dealership since 1968.

AUTO SERVICE/REPAIR
Hoshi Motors
2504 Spruce St., 303-449-6632
Runner-up: Super Rupair

It`s too bad cars aren’t more like computers.

When your PC starts doing strange things and making weird noises or just stops doing anything at all, shutting it down and firing it up again solves the problem a good 90 percent of the time. Restarting your car doesn’t seem to have much effect on a flat tire or a busted fuel pump, however. Stupid car. At least there’s Hoshi Motors to take care of your mechanical mishaps. Just turn off your car, let their mechanics work their magic, and next time you turn the key, the problem will be all gone, just as if it were a computer. Hoshi specializes in Honda, Acura, Subaru and Toyota autos, and because they’re located pretty much in the heart of Boulder, it would be hard to break down too far from their shop. Super Rupair, the most reliable Subaru repair shop this side of the Rockies, will keep your Subie running for those trips into the mountains, rain, snow or 300-plus days of sunshine.

BEST BATH & BODY
Pharmaca
1647 Pearl St., 303-442-5164 2700 Broadway, 303-442-0589 645 S. Broadway, 303-867-3400
Runner-up: Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary

People stink. No, really. It’s all part of being mammals, active, outdoorsy mammals at that. That wouldn’t be a problem if we weren’t also social creatures who enjoy getting together in big groups. What’s a body to do? One solution is to rub a whole bunch of odorbusting chemicals on your body, like sodium lauryl sulfate and aluminum zirconium, the stuff in most deodorants. But that seems just a bit harsh for our poor, porous skin. For a gentler solution that will still have you smelling fit for civilized company, try browsing the shelves of Pharmaca, a one-stop shop for natural, organic and, most importantly, gentle bath and beauty products. Stocking everything from sea salt body scrubs to aluminum-free deodorants, this store is proof that you don’t have to subject your body to chemicals you can barely pronounce just to smell sweet and look great. And don’t worry if you don’t know your sunflower from your sassafras oil. Pharmaca’s experts are there to make sure you get the right product for the right body part, or to just answer any questions you might have about which ingredient does what.

For a wider selection of fragrances than you could find in a whole field of wildflowers, Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary offers natural and organic herbal products in all forms: lip balms, facial toners, body scrubs and powders and so much more.

BIKE SHOP
University Bicycles 839 Pearl St., 303-444-4196
Runner-up: Full Cycle Honorable Mention: Boulder Cycle Sport

Invented in 1817 by Baron von Drais, the first bicycle looked a lot like a modern-day bike: two same-size wheels, the front one able to be steered, mounted in a frame that the rider straddled. The only difference was that it was made of wood. Oh, and it didn’t have pedals. You moved it along by pushing against the ground with your feet, rolling the contraption forward in a sort of gliding motion. Bicycles have definitely come a long way since then, and Boulder bicycles have come further than most others. With miles of trails and seemingly more bike racks than parking spaces, it’s no wonder Boulder is known for its bike culture. University Bicycles has been supporting that culture for more than 20 years, offering everything from road bikes to street bikes and mountain bikes, all with pedals and none made of wood. Their selection is only part of the story. The store’s full-service repair shop and experienced staff have made University Bicycles, which started as a used bike shop in a basement, into one of the busiest and biggest bike stores in town. They carry models for all walks of riders, from racers to cruisers and everyone in between. Runner-up Full Cycle has three locations throughout Boulder, so no matter where you are when you get a flat, you’re probably not too far from their service shop. Or while you’re there, just buy a whole new bike from their huge selection. And Boulder Cycle Sport, our honorable mention this year, puts wheels under riders of all levels, from Sunday cruisers to elite-level racers.

CARPET/FLOORING
Atlas Flooring, Inc. 4920 28th St., 303-442-3221
Runner-up: Ellie’s Eco Home Store Honorable Mention: Go Green

In Greek mythology, a Titan named Atlas was forced to hold up the entire world on his shoulders as punishment for waging war against the Olympian gods. While the floors in your home generally don’t have to bear quite such a heavy burden, they do endure punishing wear and tear day in and day out. Enter Atlas Flooring, Inc., whose carpet, wood, laminates and tiles have been holding up Boulder for more than 50 years. If it goes on the floor, chances are Atlas can install it. And don’t let the “flooring” in their name fool you. Atlas does pretty much everything from the ground up: hardwood floors for your den, a tile backsplash for your kitchen and the cabinets and granite countertops for your bathroom. And while their storefront isn’t as imposing as some of the big box stores, their selection is wider and their prices just as reasonable. Atlas’ level of knowledge and experience, along with their excellent customer service, are a few of the things you won’t find at the Wal-Mart version of flooring stores. In business at the same location for half a century, Atlas has developed a loyal customer base and an understanding that only comes with decades of service. At Ellie’s Eco Home Store, you can find a selection of natural flooring and building materials, like bamboo and cork floors, natural linoleum and Wheatsheets, a particleboard made from plant fibers. And if you’re looking for linseed oil-based Marmoleum flooring, along with a range of other natural flooring options, check out Go Green Flooring.

CIGAR/CIGARETTE/ TOBACCO
Eads News & Smoke Shop
1715 28th St., 303-442-5900
Runner-up: Johnny’s Cigar & Martini Bar
Honorable Mention: Smoker Friendly

No matter how techno the world gets, sometimes it’s just nice to browse through rack upon rack of good old-fashioned, printed-on-paper, hold-in-your-hands magazines and newspapers. Forget Google News, RSS feeds and political blogs. When you want to go back to a simpler (dare we say better?) time, drop by Eads News & Smoke Shop and pick up a copy of Rolling Stone, a pack of smokes and enjoy some serious down time. Or stroll into their walkin humidor for loose tobacco or a stogie or two. While some of the laws and etiquette about smoking have changed since Eads opened shop in 1913, the pleasure of a good drag never will. For those who like a drink while they puff, visit Johnny’s Cigar & Martini Bar. Smoker Friendly has a full line of smokes to suit any mood you’re in.

CLOTHING – KIDS
Rocky Mountain Kids 2525 Arapahoe Ave., # H12a, 303-447-2267
Runner-up: Savers Honorable Mentions: Little Mountain Outfitters, Childish Things

Little kids sometimes have a unique sense of fashion. Plaid shorts with striped sweater? Sure. Purple skirt over zebra-print pants?

Sounds great. Red cape with just about anything? You bet. That’s the great thing about kids: they know what they like and aren’t about to apologize for it. If you want to give them a little style guidance, however, Rocky Mountain Kids can help you find a new favorite to replace that velour tank top your little one just can’t give up. In one quick stop you can make sure your tot is dressed in the cutest styles. Because they grow up so fast, at Savers you can donate the pants that fit two weeks ago and find a replacement pair at the same time without having to break out the plastic. Little Mountain Outfitters has all the clothing and gear children need for their mountain adventures, and Childish Things offers a constantly changing selection of all things child.

CLOTHING – WOMEN’S
Anthropologie
1805 29th St., 303-449-4575
Runner-up: Coldwater Creek
Honorable Mention: Urban Outfitters

Nothing changes a woman’s look and gives her a confidence boost like a new hairstyle. Most women, though, only have so much hair to work with, and once those locks have been cut, colored and coiffed, it’s time for phase two: clothes. Put all those hours of playing dress up with Barbie to good use and be your own fashion plate at Anthropologie. Go for the whimsical bohemian look for a weekend outing to the farmers’ market, or dress it up for the (not too) sexy librarian look for the working week. You can only change your hairstyle so many times each week, but your closet could easily have a revolving door.

Coldwater Creek has fashions for all of Boulder’s unpredictable seasons, and Urban Outfitters takes care of our ber-hip side.

DIVE SHOP
Ocean First Divers
3015 Bluff St., 303-444-PADI (7234)
Runner-Up: Weaver’s Dive & Travel Center

You might be wondering why there’s a dive shop in a land-locked semi-arid state like Colorado. Seems kind of like having a mountaineering store in Kansas, doesn’t it? Don’t forget, though, that the beaches of California are only a short plane ride away, Bermuda makes a great spring vacation, and it’s always a good idea to learn how to swim. Ocean First Divers can take care of all those needs, with swimming classes for all ages and abilities, snorkeling lessons and scuba certification from beginner to pro, as well as classes you’ll want to take before going on that Caribbean vacation, like underwater photography. And it seems there’s enough market in a veritable desert for not one, but two great dive shops. Weaver’s Dive & Travel Center can teach you how to dive and plan your vacation faster than you can say “Which way to the beach?”

DRY CLEANING
Art Cleaners
4800 Baseline Rd., 303-494-2709 1715 15th St., 303-440-8600 1631 Pace St., Longmont, 303-684-8585
Runner-up: Environmental Cleaners Honorable Mention: Boulder Cleaners

We´ve all done it at least once. Looked at a garment, looked at the tag that clearly reads “Dry Clean Only,” looked back at the garment and thought, “What the hell.” What comes out of the washer half an hour later hardly looks like a piece of clothing, let alone our favorite silk dress or cherished designer shirt. If we had just went to Art Cleaners, this wouldn’t happen. When you get your garment back from them, it won’t look like something you picked out of the lint trap. These guys first started keeping Boulder neat and tidy in 1921, and have been doing the same for Mother Nature since 2003, when they switched to the Green Earth Cleaning System. For a list of their six shops, visit www.artcleaners.com. Boulder Cleaners has also been keeping us clean since the 1920s, and Environmental Cleaners offers a range of laundry services. Isn’t it nice to live in such a clean, environmentally conscious place? After all, what’s the point of having clean clothes if you dirty up the environment?

ECO-FRIENDLY RETAILER
Ellie’s Eco Home Store
2525 Arapahoe Ave., 303-952-1004
Runner-Up: Patagonia
Honorable Mention: Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary

It seems almost wrong to call this category Best Eco-Friendly Retailer. After all, when there’s this much passion and devotion, shouldn’t it be called eco-love? Ellie’s Eco Home Store is wrapped up in a torrid affair with all things green. Environmentally conscious county consumers are certainly falling fast for this store. Ellie’s makes smart and sustainable shopping easier because they carry just about everything a shopper could ask for. While some environmentally friendly stores focus on a niche market — and that’s great, we love specialists — Ellie’s stocks everything from natural cork flooring to organic lip balm. The store’s selection of recycled and renewable products, as well as water- and energy-saving devices, makes this store a must for anyone who wants to shop for a cleaner conscience.

Patagonia and Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary are the specialists to Ellie’s generalist, and for good reason. Patagonia carries top-of-the-line clothing and gear and uses some of their hard-earned money to support local environmental efforts. Rebecca’s provides Boulder with some of the best-selling and best-smelling organic herbs, teas, tinctures and oils.

GROCERY STORE
Whole Foods Market 2905 Pearl St., 303-545-6611 2584 Baseline Rd., 303-499-7636
Runner-up: Sunflower Farmers Market Honorable Mention: King Soopers

Fashion supermodel Kate Moss once reportedly said, “It was kind of boring for me to have to eat. I would know that I had to, and I would.” Poor Kate. She’s obviously never been to a Whole Foods Market grocery store. There are lots of ways to describe their food, but boring ain’t one of them. You can pick up all the ingredients for a delicious seafood paella or take the easy way out and grab one of their ready-to-eat rotisserie chickens. They also have one of the largest selections of glutenfree and organic ingredients in the county. If you want apples and oranges grown as nature intended, or beef and chicken raised with more care than science, then this is the store for you. Next time Ms. Moss feels compelled to choke down some life-sustaining nutrients, maybe she’ll decide to give Whole Foods a try and learn to love flavor like the rest of us.

Sunflower Farmers Market’s airy and well-lit store is known for its great selection of fruits and vegetables. And if you need anything from batteries to butter, cat litter to cake mix, King Soopers is open 24 hours a day to keep your larder stocked.

HOT TUB/JACUZZI
Mr. Pool
2347 South St., 303-776-7876
Runner-Up: Mountain Mist Pool & Spa
modern American bathtub is a pretty

A functional and straightforward piece of work. A person-sized container to hold water with a drain to let it all out when we’re done. Nothing like the deep, sunken tubs common in Japan, where they take their soaking seriously, or the claw-footed, capacious pieces of art from the 19th century. Maybe it’s because our modern American bathrooms just can’t accommodate such luxury. If you want a long, relaxing soak, move outdoors and into a customized hot tub from Mr. Pool, Boulder’s premier water wizards. Whatever your landscape, they can create a getaway worthy of a luxury hotel. Picture yourself relaxing in a bubbling Jacuzzi as snow gently falls around you, or an intimate evening for two on a steamy (and about to get steamier) summer evening. And after the experts from Mr. Pool have set up your wet wonderland, they can provide maintenance as well, so your little piece of paradise is all play and no work. If you want to browse a well-stocked showroom and take a dry run in more 20 models of spas, then be sure to visit Mountain Mist Pool & Spa.

HOTEL
St. Julien Hotel & Spa
900 Walnut St., 720-406-9696
Runner-up: Hotel Boulderado Honorable Mention: Boulder Outlook Hotel & Suites

Want to live like Brangelina but don’t have the looks, the acting chops, or the lottery ticket? For a taste of what it’s like to be a zillionaire celebrity, head to the luxurious St. Julien Hotel & Spa. With their beautiful suites, 10,000-square-foot spa and gourmet restaurant Jill’s, St. Julien will provide the pampering you need for a romantic getaway or the perfect place to put up your out-of-town guests. At the St. Julien, you can pass the time sipping martinis in their T-Zero lounge, swimming in their pool, or getting a massage in their awardwinning spa. And if you are one of the 0.01 percent who already lives like a celebrity already, consider booking a room anyway. Variety is the spice of life, after all, and maybe you’ll stumble across a good recipe to take home to your chef. If you want to spend the night in a time machine, check in at the Hotel Boulderado, which welcomed its first guests on New Year’s Day in 1909 and hasn’t changed much since. The Boulder Outlook Hotel & Suites, the county’s first zero-waste hotel, can give you a good night’s sleep or keep you rockin’ all night with their full music calendar.

JEWELRY STORE
Angie Star Jewelry
1807 Pearl St., 720-565-0288
Runner-up: Art Soul Gallery
Honorable Mentions: Bill Cronin, Hurdles

Buying toilet paper is easy. Find what’s on sale, throw it in the cart, move on to the next item on your list. Jewelry is another matter. Sure, there’s a chance you’ll walk into a department store and fall in love with the first ring you see. If you have an iota of personal taste and discernment, however, you’re probably not going to be satisfied with an off-theshelf design, especially if that ring is going to be the one you put on when you say, “I do.” Angie Star Jewelry can help you design a one-of-a-kind work of art, so you’ll never have to worry about showing up at a party wearing the same ring, necklace or earrings as someone else. Winner of the Best Jewelry category every year since 2005, the metal workers at Angie Star make jewelry that’s not only beautiful but environmentally sensitive, too, created from either recycled or responsibly sourced material.

Art Soul Gallery displays collections from a number of designers, so you have your choice of beautiful and unique rings, bracelets and more. Bill Cronin and his staff at Cronin Jewelers have been designing and fabricating in gold and silver and platinum, and Hurdle’s Jewelry is now in its third generation of familyowned craftsmanship.

BEST MOVING COMPANY
Two Men and a Truck 6280 Arapahoe Ave., 303-569-6748
Runner-up: Taylor Moving

Unless you’re serving life in prison without the possibility of parole, chances are you’re going to have to move at some point in your life. Maybe several. For college students, the yearly domicile shuffle is just one more end-of-the-term hassle. For the working adults with kids, pets and a garage full of belongings, moving is less frequent but waaaay more stressful. Whoever said getting there is half the fun obviously wasn’t driving a U-Haul. So quick stressing and call Two Men and Truck. Not just any two men with any old truck, but the nation’s largest franchised local moving company. Whether you’re going down the block or up the coast, they can make sure your stuff gets there. (Getting yourself there is still your responsibility. Hey, they can’t do everything.) Taylor Movers, locally owned and operated by the Taylor family, can box up your stuff and deliver it to your new home, or they can store it in their climate-controlled, secure facilities until you’re ready to have it delivered.

NEW BUSINESS
Clutter Consignment
1909 9th St. Ste. 130, 303-386-3423
Runner-up: People’s Choice Wellness Center
Honorable Mentions: Atlas Purveyors, Mod Market

There’s a touch of irony in the fact that this year’s “Best New Business” winner is actually in the business of reusing old things.

Clutter Consignment specializes in highend, unique consignments for the home. One of the best things about consignment stores is the ever-changing selection. If you don’t like what you see one week, come back next week and see who’s decided to clear the collectible treasures out of their attic. After all, one person’s clutter is another person’s long-sought treasure.

People’s Wellness Center has started out their business on the right foot: giving patients what they need at a price they can actually afford and offering them an alternative to highpriced Big Pharma products. Talk about power to the people. And if you want to try some new food and drink, check out Mod Market’s specialty flatbread pizzas and salads, or stop in for a pot of tea at Atlas Purveyors, Pearl Street’s newest — and coolest — spot for a cuppa.

OPTICAL STORE
Aspen Eyewear 2525 Arapahoe Ave., 303-447-0210
Runner-up: Boulder Vision Center
Honorable Mention: College Optical

We´re not sure when wearing glasses went from the nerdy Velma look to the more sexy Daphne-as-a-librarian one, but we’re certainly not complaining. Heck, being able to see and look good at the same time is a necessity. How else will you be able to tell if the guy hitting on you at the bar is more of a Shaggy (if you like that casual, grunge look), a Fred (if you’re more into that clean-cut, ascot look), or the Villain of the Week (if you have a thing for masks). Aspen Eyewear has some of the hottest styles in frames because they carry hundreds of the best brands in eyewear. A family-owned and operated business now in its third generation, Aspen Eyewear boasts an onsite custom lab, as well as an independent doctor of optometry to update your prescription. Boulder Vision Center handles all things ocular, from exam and glasses to laser corrective surgery. College Optical is located so close to campus, you have no excuse not to stop by and have an exam next time you skip class.

OUTDOOR GEAR
Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) 1789 28th St., 303-583-9970
Runner-Up: Boulder Army Store
Honorable Mention: Neptune Mountaineering

To hear some tell it, Boulderites don’t even have houses. We spend every waking moment we’re not at work running, hiking, cycling, climbing, skiing or snowboarding. And those non-waking moments, we’re camping under the stars. While that’s not entirely true (we do occasionally venture indoors for happy hour), we do require a healthy amount of outdoor gear to get us through the year. Recreational Equipment, Inc. — REI to true outdoor enthusiasts — has enough equipment to fit you out for a Sunday run or an Everest expedition. You can go light and pick up just a map, compass and water bottle, or spring for a pair of carbon fiber walking sticks and handheld GPS device. They even have those new-fangled five-toed running shoes all the kids are talking about. And while most people know about REI’s great gear, not everyone realizes that REI is the nation’s largest consumer co-op. For just 20 bucks, you can join in and own your own piece of the dream. Oh, and get some great savings, too.

For Boulder’s widest selection of tin mess gear and canvas army bags, as well as state-ofthe-art camping and backpacking gear, there’s the Boulder Army Store. For those who’d rather go vertical than horizontal, Neptune Mountaineering has all the gear you could ask for. It’s where the county’s hardcore climbers congregate.

PET STORE
PetSmart 1850 30th St., 303-449-0201
Runner-up: PC’s Pantry
Honorable Mentions: Humane Society of Boulder County, Only Natural Pet Store

Deep and fulfilling human relationships are the cornerstone of a happy life. Getting to know someone through and through, talking for hours on end about everything from politics to reality TV — it’s damned exhausting, really. There are times when you just want someone to love you because you share your potato chips with them or gave them a saucer of milk. We’re talking nearly unconditional love, dependent only on how much you like to throw a tennis ball or dangle a piece of string. That’s why we have pets. When we need a sympathetic ear that won’t second-guess anything we say, we turn to our dogs or cats or whatever little critter we’ve taken into our home. And when we want to spoil them or just pick up some necessities, like a new toy or studded pink collar, then we go to PetSmart. If you don’t have a four-legged or feathered confidant to tell all your secrets to, PetSmart also adopts out pets from shelters like the Boulder Humane Society and sells others from responsible guardians. Walking into PC’s Pantry smells like walking into a life-sized gingerbread house, except that there’s no evil witch and all of their fresh-baked, natural goodies are for your furry little friends, not for you. Speaking of natural, that’s all you’ll find at Only Natural Pet Store, the place for organic, natural and raw dog and cat food. And if the Humane Society of Boulder County doesn’t know pets and pet care, then we don’t know who does.

REAL ESTATE GROUP
RE/MAX of Boulder Inc. 2425 Canyon Blvd. Ste. 110, 303-449- 7000
Runner-up: Keller Williams Realty
International

Real estate is a hot topic these days. You hear about it in the news, read about it in the papers and talk about it at the water cooler. All this talk of real estate raises the question, Is there fake estate? Imposter estate? Unreal and ephemeral estate? We’ll leave those philosophical questions to the deep thinkers out there and stick to what we know. Well, we don’t know that much about real estate, either, but we know who does: RE/ MAX of Boulder, widely recognized as one of the most successful firms in the business. If you’re looking to buy a home in one of the best (according to dozens of different lists by dozens of different groups) areas in the country, then it’s a good idea to talk to someone who’s been in the business locally since 1977. You don’t want to lie awake at night years after you’ve signed wondering if you really got your money’s worth. That’s just as true for selling, too. Your home and property are some of the most valuable assets you have, so you want to be pretty darn sure you’re getting fair value for them. Keller Williams Realty, as the third largest real estate franchise in the United States, is another real player in Boulder County’s real estate game.

SHOE STORE
Boulder Running Company
2775 Pearl St., 303-786-9255
Runner-up: Pedestrian Shops

Horses` hooves are made up of a sturdy wall of hard keratin up to half an inch thick. They’ve evolved over 50 million years, give or take a millennium, to walk, canter and gallop over all sorts of terrain. If even these noble and sure-footed creatures need to wear shoes, then it’s no wonder that we tenderfooted bipeds go shod almost every waking moment of our lives. While comfy kicks are a plus for any activity, they’re an absolute essential for running, especially on Colorado’s rough and rocky terrain. But just like horses need a trained farrier to make sure their shoe fit, human animals need a trained specialist to make sure they buy the right sneaker. Boulder Running Company gives each customer the attention most people would be happy to get from their doctor. If you’re not sure what kind of stride you have or how your foot strikes the ground, then hop on their treadmill and get your feet video-analyzed by one of the shop’s shoe gurus. And while they won’t nail the shoes to your feet, they’ll make sure the fit is so good you’ll never want to take them off. Pedestrian Shops, with two Boulder locations, will put you in a pair of shoes so comfy you might forget you’re wearing them.

TIRES
Discount Tire Company
3215 28th St., 303-440-6811
Runner-up: Barnsley Tire Company
Honorable Mention: Big O

Buying tires can be stressful. You want something safe, something durable, something that won’t launch you into your own personal recession. Wouldn’t it be great if there were somewhere you could go that made tire-shopping easy? A company somewhere that specialized in selling quality tires at discount prices? What do you think a place like that would be called? Maybe we should ask the folks at Discount Tire Company. Oh, that’s right! They are that kind of place. It says so right in their name. What their name doesn’t say is that this local company also has some of the best selection and customer service in the county. When you’re in Longmont, look for the Barnsley Tire Company sign. They sell great tires at great prices, too. Big O Tires sells tires, but also offers oil changes, break service and car repair, too.

TRAVEL AGENCY
AAA Travel Agency
1933 28th St., 303-753-8800
Runner-up: Boulder Travel
Honorable Mention: James TravelPoints

Have you ever been to Paris? If you’ve never strolled down the Champs- Elysees holding hands with your lover and listening to the romantic strains of an accordion, then AAA Travel Agency has a deal for you. You’d prefer London? They can do that, too. Want to visit the land Down Under and see Melbourne? Sure thing, mate. AAA won’t just get you to your destination, they’ll make sure you have fun while you’re there, too. And if you’re not ready for world travel yet, they can reroute you to Paris, Texas, the second biggest Paris in the world. If you have a deathly fear of koala bears, then head to the beaches of Melbourne, Florida. And there’s always London, Ohio, if you’d rather not drive on the left side of the road.

Boulder Travel handles not only the fun vacations, but the less fun corporate travel too, so business trips don’t have to be painful as well as dull. James TravelPoints can set you up with a vacation in the sunny Caribbean one week and a snowy ski resort the next. Just don’t get your suitcases mixed up.

USED TREASURES
Feather Thy Nest
1825 Pearl St., 720-406-8781
Runner-up: Humane Society Thrift Store
Honorable Mention: Buffalo Exchange

What`s the difference between an American and a European? To a European, 200 miles is far. To an American, 200 years is a long time. While Feather Thy Nest probably doesn’t carry too many pieces that are more than 200 years old, at least they’re not 200 miles away. In fact, they’re on Pearl Street, adding their own unique vibe to the eclectic district. And just because our friends across the pond wouldn’t call the used furniture, jewelry and collectibles here “old,” that doesn’t mean the selection isn’t among the best in Boulder. An ever-changing mix of old and new, the shop has an exciting, energetic atmosphere for both buyers and sellers.

If you want to shop and save — save lives, that is — then the Boulder Humane Society Thrift Store, where proceeds support the shelter’s work, is the place for you. Fashionforward, cost-conscious shoppers in the know can be found at Buffalo Exchange, either buying or selling the latest styles.

CAMERA/VIDEO STORE
Mike’s Camera
2500 Pearl St., 303-443-1715
Runner-up: Photo Craft Laboratories
Honorable Mention: Jones Drug & Camera

The past 20 years have brought massive changes to the world of film and video.

High-quality gear was once so expensive that it priced everyone but professionals out of the game. Now you can get yourself an HD video camera for less than a half-ounce of a certain popular herbal medicine. Whether you’re going for a fully manual D-SLR or just trying to track down some Ektachrome, Mike’s Camera can help. This Boulder mainstay has nearly everything you could want gear-wise plus a slew of classes to help turn the listless point-and-shooter into a well-armed amateur photographer. Runnerup Photo Craft Laboratories offers everything you’ll need to print and process your photos and also helps with those old photo slides. And don’t forget honorable mention Jones Drug & Camera, which offers a surprisingly diverse selection of filters, film and accessories. Snap out of your photo funk and check out Boulder’s selection of camera stores as soon as you’re able.

DVD/VIDEO RENTAL STORE
Video Station
1661 28th St., 303-440-4448
Runner-up: Blockbuster

You don’t go to a chain video store to rent a generic blockbuster, just like you wouldn’t go to a Domino’s store to eat in. Some things are just better delivered. That’s why the former kings of movie rentals are losing so much ground to Netflix while continuing to use such antiquated business ideas like “overdue fees” and “physical storefronts.” But the Video Station continues its long success story in a rapidly changing industry climate that has claimed the lives of many of its multi-store competitors. Video Station offers two stories of hard-to-find gems, like Wim Wender’s 1987 masterpiece Wings of Desire or Fritz Lang’s classic M. Nothing beats the experience of driving down to your local video shop to talk Krzysztof Kieslowski’s early years with a knowledgeable clerk, either. Much better than Blockbuster, which somehow is still in business.

FARM
Munson Farms
7355 Valmont Rd., 303-442-5330
Runner-up: Abbondanza Organic Seeds & Produce

It`s a fact: Most produce consumed in the United States travels 1,500 miles before being eaten. And with most produce in grocery stores coming from out of the country, it’s rare that you are able to find fresh, locally grown produce at affordable prices. But there are signs that things are changing: For example, the fact that it’s not unusual to hear someone question the carbon footprint of a tomato shows that people are increasingly interested in where their food comes from and where to find the most sustainable, locally friendly produce. Speaking of delicious tomatoes, Munson Farms offers all types of produce for the eco-conscious Boulderite looking to stick it to the corporate farming man. For two generations now, Munson Farms has grown tasty fruits and vegetables in the shadow of the Valmont Butte. The farm also delights the county’s children with a cornucopia of bright pumpkins come Halloween. Their produce stand is open every day during the summer and offers the best of that week’s harvest. For those looking to start a garden of their own, Abbondanza Organic Seeds & Produce has a great variety of seeds, as well as an excellent produce selection.

HOME FURNISHINGS STORE
The Peppercorn
1235 Pearl St., 303-449-5847
Runner-up: Feather Thy Nest

Looking for a sensory overload to go along with that cordless teakettle you’ve been meaning to buy? There’s no better place than The Peppercorn to overwhelm your shopping senses. With over 12,000 square feet packed with just about every cool gadget and item you could ever dream of putting in your home, The Peppercorn is a Boulder landmark and a hell of a way to spend an hour on a hot summer afternoon. Offering everything from Frasca Red Pepper Jelly to a book describing how to raise a Jewish dog, a visit to The Peppercorn is sure to leave you wishing you had the money to buy things you previously didn’t know existed. The store looks like your grandma’s kitchen spread over two stories; there are more fantastic trinkets in there than there are trustafarians by the courthouse. You truly have to see it to believe it. For those searching out unique home furniture that goes beyond those at the IKEA store, Feather Thy Nest stocks all sorts of chic, fashionable furnishings, all available on consignment. Whichever store you choose, you’re sure to emerge with something to make home living easier — or at least a little more stylish.

HYDROPONIC STORE
Way To Grow
6395 Gunpark Dr., 303-473-4769
Runner-up: Boulder Hydroponics

Hydroponics stores seem to have exponentially multiplied these last few years as people have become more involved with growing their own food and herbs. Hydroponics is simply the name given to growing plants without using soil. The technique, whatever the fashionable modern application, has been around for centuries. Sir Francis Bacon and John Woodward were writing about growing plants without soil in the 17th century, and University of California Professor William Frederick Gericke first coined the term while promoting the technique — as a means for achieving high agricultural yields — in 1937. Many greenhouses use hydroponics technology to this day, as do serious orchid-growing hobbyists. Our readers have spoken and have crowned cleverly named Way to Grow, near 63rd Street and Lookout Road, as Boulder’s best source for everything hydroponic. It has everything you’d want from a hydroponics store, from equipment to a wide variety of fertilizers and boosters to all types of soil-less growing mediums for your favorite plants. Plus, the store’s knowledgeable staff is happy to answer any growing questions you may have. Another great choice is runner-up Boulder Hydroponics, offering a great selection of hydroponics gear while showing off the many types of plants (including some tropical ones) that can be grown hydroponically. In this town, you’re never short on ways to grow your own food. Now get out there and grow.

SKI/SNOWBOARD SHOP
Boulder Ski Deals
2525 Arapahoe Ave., 303-938-8799
Runner-up: Christy Sports
Honorable Mention: Neptune Mountaineering

Ground zero for winter sports fanatics, Boulder Ski Deals has everything you need for snow sports. Grown up from a scattered corner lot once slacking its way through the season at Pearl and Folsom, Ski Deals has now long claimed the southwest reach of the Village Shopping Center in the space once occupied by the late lamented Gart Sports. Skis, boards, headgear, handgear, clothing, shades, rentals … the place is a dizzying Valhalla of subzero smackdown that helps anchor Boulder’s reputation as base camp for some of the best skiing and riding on the planet. Awesome salespeople and scary-big selection make this place the pre-eminent ski shop in Boulder. Christy Sports takes second place this year — a class act top to bottom for winter sports that sheds its cold weather skin and becomes Boulder’s patio/summer chill retailer of choice. And Neptune Mountaineering has long been one of Boulder’s most respected retailers for all things alpine.

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS STORE
Robb’s Music
2691 30th St., 303-443-8448
Runner-up: HB Woodsongs

A good, independent guitar store is a diamond amongst quartz. It offers more than just musical instruments; it offers an experience. Ask a musical great where they spent their childhoods, and many will answer their local guitar shop. The wide array of brand spanking new guitars and effects pedals at any guitar store is just as tempting a sight to musicians as a pile of cocaine is to Amy Winehouse. Robb’s Music is that candy store to many aspiring musicians around town, and despite a change of ownership and a move across town, the store remains as popular with Boulder Weekly readers as ever, snagging the award for the umpteenth time. It’s a great place to get your strings changed or your amp humming, and it offers everything from shakers to mics to harmonicas. We can only thank our lucky stars for being so fortunate as to have not one, but two fantastic, locally owned music stores in town. Runner-up HB Woodsongs has all things acoustic guitar you could dream of, and their impeccable customer service will have you coming back for more. So whether you’re buying your kid’s first guitar or getting that vintage hollow-body electric you’ve been fantasizing about, Boulder’s guitar stores are your one-stop shop for your musical needs.

PIPE SHOP
Mile High Pipe & Tobacco
1144 Pearl St., 303-443-7473
Runner-up: Eads News and Smoke Shop
Honorable Mention: The Fitter

There are few categories whose winner is so up in the air from year to year before the voting finishes. But after the smoke cleared this year, Mile High Pipe & Tobacco emerged to take the winner’s crown, just beating out Eads News and Smoke Shop. These two have been jockeying for first place for so many years now that almost everything to say has already been said. We imagine a conversation between these two rivals would go something like this: Mile High Pipe & Tobacco: “Ha! I win this year! And rightfully so, since I’ve got more pipes than the New York City plumbing system.” Eads News and Smoke Shop: “Oh yeah? Well I’ve got more cigars than a Cuban coffee shop.”

And so on and so on. Mile High is the best stop in town for all of your glass smoking needs, with hundreds of colorful pipes, bats, water pipes, pollen collectors and vaporizers. With all that selection, you’re sure to find the right piece to fit the mood of your tobacco craving. And we have to give a shout to The Fitter on the Hill, which offers enough hippie gear to frighten Bill O’Reilly. Keep on truckin’, fellas.

BOOKSTORE
Boulder Bookstore 1107 Pearl St., 303-447-2074
Runner-up: Barnes & Noble
Honorable Mention: Bookworm

The Boulder Bookstore is a city staple. They’ve been in business for close to 40 years, they have a 20,000-square foot building with more than 100,000 books and is the go-to spot for indie and mainstream authors to sign or read excerpts from their books. In the past year the store hosted appearances by T.C. Boyle, Jon Krakauer, Dick Kreck, Darren Littlejohn and a host of others. The store also hosts readings and activities for children and an open mic night for aspiring poets. And if you’re the book club type, there is a fiction and poetry book club that meets monthly. There isn’t much more you can ask for from your local independent community bookstore. Our runner-up this year is Barnes & Noble. Sure, it’s your average corporate bookstore, but they have a host of events for kids, teens and families as a whole. It’s no question that Bookworm is the county’s best used bookstore — that’s UBS in hip reader lingo — and the best place to take your old and used books.

CD/RECORD STORE
Albums on the Hill
1128 13th St., 303-447-0159
Runner-up: Absolute Vinyl

Yeah, you can download all the tunes you want from the Internet, but while you’re staring at your computer screen, can you chat in person with a knowledgeable clerk about a local band’s performance last night? Can you slip the liner notes off the vinyl or out of the jewel case and flip the pages to peruse your favorite guitarist’s contributions? Can you hear that satisfying “clack” and “fwap” as you flip through the bargain bin? Can you score some free stickers and posters while inhaling a subtle scent of patchouli? Didn’t think so. Music is not just about hitting the download button for the track you just heard on Pandora. It’s about anticipating the new release of your favorite artist, waiting until “New Music Tuesday,” peeling off the plastic, carefully placing the disc into your CD player, and hitting play to hear the album from start to finish, as the artist intended it. Albums on the Hill is now the venerable grandfather of the local music scene, and it deserves some props. With the recent death of Bart’s CD Cellar, runner-up Absolute Vinyl has filled the gap as the other go-to destination for some of that old-fashioned aural love.

CLOTHING/MEN’S
REI 1789 28th St., 303-583-9970
Runner-up: Patagonia
Honorable Mention: Weekends

Ok, the trip is on. Board the dog, hibernate the Crackberry, find a battery for the satphone. … But where ya going to go to be sure you’ve got the threads? One of the things we’ve always liked about REI is that while the clothing is top quality, it doesn’t always scream with label pretentiousness. Functional and usually understated with style, the stuff you need for that three-week Nepal trek, ice-coring in Greenland or season seats at Mile High stadium is usually there at REI, a store and a co-op franchise that just seems to have been invented with a place like Boulder in mind. Maybe it is like a catnip patch for the bikeracked Subie crowd, because we wouldn’t shop for boots, fleece, hoodies, winter gear, paddling neoprene or cycling stuff anyplace else. And this year, most of you agreed with us. The Patagonia store is another Boulder fave, located downtown on the mall, a little slice that outdoor enthusiasts have known about for years. Weekends, with its cool selection of casuals-around-town stuff, makes a good honorable mention this year.

COMPUTER STORE (RETAIL/ REPAIR)
Apple Store
1755 29th St., Space 1084 720-479- 9451
Runners-up: Best Buy (Retail), Mac Shack (Repair) Honorable Mention: Mac Shack (Retail), Boulder Mac Repair (Repair)

Apparently the  majority of folks in Boulder are on Team Apple. Thanks to such gadgets like the Mac Book Series, iPod, iPhone and now the iPad, lots of Boulderites are spending their time in the Apple Store. Not only does the store have the latest in all things Apple, but they also carry many thirdparty accessories to make your “Apple experience” a great one. And in case something goes wrong with one of your gadgets, it’s no problem to just bring it in to get it repaired. The staff at the store are admitted Apple nerds and junkies who can give you the ins and outs of almost every product the company produces. Aren’t these the kind of people you want to buy your next Mac Book Air from or have fix your busted iPod Touch? For those who don’t want a Mac of any kind, Best Buy seems like the logical choice to find all of your PC needs. And if the Apple Store is not carrying some older items to fix your Apple-related product, the Mac Shack is bound to have it. If a brand new Apple product is a bit too pricey for you, the Mac Shack has a fresh variety of used and refurbished Apple items available. Boulder Mac Repair is a great alternative to some of the other store repair shops around town, with low rates and speedy service.

COSTUME SHOP
The Ritz 959 Walnut St., 303-309-2894
Runner-up: Candy’s

Why just play dress-up when you can put on a whole new personality? Tired of being a typical 9-to-5 suit-wearing desk monkey during the week? Let The Ritz transform you into a Vegas swinger in white platform boots, complete with goldfish in the heels, for a weekend of hardcore fashion and flair. Their selection of costumes includes, among many, many other things, rock stars, beer girls, super heroes, pregnant nuns and sexy firefighters. They even stock a selection of fake hairy chests and gold chains for when you simply have to get your pimp on. These costumes aren’t just for Halloween, either. Buy or rent complete outfits for theme parties, murder mysteries, theatrical productions, parades or first dates, if that’s how you roll. Bring your own unique vision of glam and they’ll help you create it. And if Vegas swinger is your 9-to-5 persona, they also have political candidate costumes for that thin veneer of respectability. You can also check out Candy’s Vintage Clothing for some sweet kicks and rockin’ threads.

FLOWER SHOP
Sturtz & Copeland Florists and Greenhouse 2851 Valmont Rd., 303-442-6663
Runner-up: Fiori Flowers Honorable Mention: Boulder Blooms

In Victorian times, sending flowers was a complicated affair. Send someone a red carnation, and you told them “My heart aches for you.” Send them a yellow carnation, however, and the message was, “You’ve disappointed me.” Pretty heavy meaning for such delicate flowers. And just try to keep the different nuances straight: acacias for secret love, daffodil for unrequited love and purple lilacs for the “first emotions of love,” if you know what we mean. No, we don’t either. But we do know that they sure are pretty, and Sturtz & Copeland Florists and Greenhouse has all the flowers you need to send whatever message you wish to send, along with a truly amazing selection of tropical and blooming plants for your home or office. And if you don’t know your aster from your buttercup, their greenhouse experts have more 80 years of growing experience to set you on the right garden path. Not satisfied with excellence in the earth, they also specialize in custom stationery, so they can take care of not only the flowers at your wedding, but the invitations for your big day, too. Fiori’s Flowers also knows a thing or two (or three or four…) about flowers and specializes in original, long-lasting arrangements. And Boulder Blooms offers eco-friendly, locally sourced flowers and plants.

FURNITURE
American Furniture Warehouse
10550 Jake Jabs Blvd., Longmont/ Firestone, 303-684-2400
Runner-up: Concepts Furniture Honorable Mention: HW Home

American Furniture Warehouse is the first stop for many furniture shoppers due to the fact that they’ll most likely have everything one could need and specialize in being affordable. Bedroom sets, living room sets, dining sets, outdoor/patio sets, home office and every other set you can think of. It’s no secret that American Furniture Warehouse has the biggest selections in Colorado, so there’s a good chance that you’ll find what you’re looking for. Concepts is a great alternative for finding quality furniture for your bedroom, dining area, or office. If you’re tired of seeing the same brands and styles at the other furniture stores, there’s a chance HW Home will have something different for that eclectic eye of yours.

GIFT SHOP
The Peppercorn
1235 Pearl Street, 303-449-5847
Runner-up: Bliss
Honorable Mention: Boulder Arts & Crafts

Independently owned and operated since 1977, The Peppercorn has grown from a modest cooking and gourmet kitchen supply outlet into one of Boulder’s most unique and beloved retail operations, nicknamed “the Smithsonian of Cookstores.” The shelves are loaded with unique kitchen implements, imported ceramics, exotic and hard-to-find marinades and spices, crystals, flatware and all manner of accessories that make repast a rare and personalized event. It is a browser’s died-and-gone-to-heaven experience, and we dare you to spend 15 minutes in there without exiting with something extraordinary and probably hard to pronounce. For longtime residents, it’s one of those places that has magnificently defied the retail cruelties of the Pearl Street Mall. Further east on Pearl, Bliss is rapidly gaining recognition as a genuine gift shop of rare class and elan, and the Boulder Arts and Crafts Gallery is the perfect place to discover crafted artworks ranging from metal to photography, wood to glass.
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