2560 28th St., 303-442-7309
Gone are the seedy, dimly lit sex stores selling peep shows in the back room (unless you feel like taking a trip down Denver’s Colfax, at least). The winner of this category, Fascinations, scores major points for its décor and fun selection. Bright lights and clearly defined sections ensure a comfortable environment, while late hours guarantee that the perfect toy, costume or naughtily shaped candy is available whenever the mood strikes. The sales staff at Fascinations are walking encyclopedias of sex, rattling off facts about every product in a professional, attentive matter meant to stave off embarrassment and put you at ease. Most of their stuff isn’t cheap, but the quality and the open atmosphere are worth the extra few bucks. The runner-up spot goes to Pleasures — a great name for a store that sells everything you could desire to maximize your sensual fun.
ARTS & CRAFTS SUPPLIES
2525 Arapahoe Ave., 303-443-1822
Any store that carries sketch pads, paintbrushes and beads can be considered an art supply store, so we were impressed when McGuckin Hardware’s selection included a variety of plasters, wire and pottery supplies, to name just a few examples. What really sets this hardware store’s art selection apart, however, is that we can’t think of any other place where you can pick up basic supplies, any kind of light to see what you’re doing, drills and hammers to manipulate raw materials into new and exciting forms, heavy-duty extension cords to take these provisions wherever inspiration strikes, circular saws to cut up your work in an artistic rage, staples and grout to put it back together, picture frames to display it when you’re finished, mailing supplies so you can ship it to your grandma, and shower heads to clean yourself up afterward. For a more traditional arts-and-crafts experience, check out our runner-up, Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, which claimed third place. Meininger took fourth place, while Guiry’s came in fifth.
AUTO DEALER – NEW
2465 48th Ct., 303-443-3250
Runner-up: Runner-up: Fisher
We all know cycling is next to godliness, and EcoPasses are the coolest badges you can flash after a CIA ID card. But this is America — huge, sprawling America. And as hard as it is to admit, our public transit systems aren’t quite up to snuff yet. RTD is awesome, don’t get us wrong, but most of us still need to own a car. So unless you’re Will Toor, get yourself over to Boulder Toyota for a hot ride at a screamin’ price. With all the latest models and an expert sales staff, the folks at Boulder Toyota will make sure you drive away in a car that’s perfect for you and your budget. Founded in 1968, runner-up Fisher Chevrolet/Geo/Honda/Kia offers lots of options for the new-car buyer. Flatirons Acura/Subaru rolled into third (did we use that joke already?), Gebhardt BMW/Isuzu/VW parallel-parked at fourth and Pollard Jeep backed safely into fifth.
AUTO DEALER – USED
6025 Arapahoe Road, 855-219-2886
Runner-up: Boulder Toyota
The great thing about used stores of any kind is their variety. Used clothing stores carry just about any brand, from the shi-shi to the thrifty. Thrift stores carry a range of goods covering the usual (kitchen tables, old magazines, lamps) to the bizarre (exercise equipment from the ’50s, heart-shaped pancake molds, those faceless Amish dolls). At Fisher Chevrolet/Geo/Honda/Kia, you will find a great selection of reliable, affordable used cars backed up by more than 40 years of service in the Boulder community. As you might have guessed from their name, Fisher deals in a number of quality makers, perfect for the undecided, “I’ll know it when I see it” type of car shopper. For all you Toyota lovers, there’s runner-up Boulder Toyota (which also specializes in new cars). Third place goes to Blue Spruce Auto Sales, fourth to Pollard Jeep, and fifth to Super Rupair.
BATH & BODY SHOP
Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy
1647 Pearl St., 303-442-5164
(plus two other locations in Boulder)
The care and keeping of the body ought to align with the needs of the environment and sustainability of society. After all, what you put on your body shouldn’t harm your body — or anyone else’s. Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy offers bath and body products designed to improve the natural beauty of customers and the earth through wholesome, natural ingredients. The business first opened in Boulder 11 years ago and has since expanded to many different locations, sharing the relevance of alternative medicine and holistic health care around the nation. Stores and home offices of Pharmaca are run by certified practitioners and professionals and are carbon-neutral, offsetting any waste in a manner that is environmentally friendly. Boulderites preserve their natural beauty by consuming Pharmaca’s socially conscious and aromatherapeutic products. Brands that include Pharmaca’s own, as well as Jurlique, Dr. Hauschka, Burt’s Bees, Alba and Avalon, are used to scrub, exfoliate and moisturize the body to a state of health and radiance. Sephora, home to beauty products of all kinds, including organic options, is our runner-up. In third place is Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary, a downtown Boulder mainstay. Bath and Body Works wins fourth place, and ever-lovely Lush takes fifth.
Bart’s Music Shack
236 Pearl St., 303-444-1760
Runner-up: Albums on the Hill
When Bart’s CD Cellar and Record Shop closed last year, Bart Stinchcomb, who founded the store in 1991 and sold it in 2006, returned to the music store business by opening Bart’s Music Shack last summer. With the advent of MP3s and iPods, the shop is put together on a smaller scale, selling used CDs and vinyl dedicated to the hardcore music fan who still enjoys feeling something physical in his or her hands and loves reading liner notes. So if you still have a CD player or a turntable, Bart’s is the perfect spot to find some classic tunes from yesteryear. The runner-up is the renowned Albums on the Hill, a Boulder institution that is still going strong, while Absolute Vinyl, which also opened last year, came in third. The corporate stores, Barnes & Noble and Best Buy, came in fourth and fifth, respectively.
2504 Spruce St., 303-449-6632
Runner-up: Super Rupair
That strange sound coming from the engine. Those squeaking brakes. That taillight that won’t come on no matter how many times you change the bulb. Sometimes cars need a little TLC. Our readers say that when it comes to caring for ailing cars, Hoshi Motors is the best. The mechanics there can help fix your ride with their high-touch service, whatever the problem. With a reputation built on 22 years of quality work, they’re a company our readers trust. The runner-up is Subaru specialists Super Rupair (and, yes, the name is spelled right!). If you don’t own a Subaru or want to trade yours up, they also buy and sell used models. Also check out third place 28th Street Garage. Swedish Motors came in fourth, and Chan’s Foreign Car won fifth.
839 Pearl St., 303-444-4196
Runner-up: Full Cycle
There are more than 300 miles of sprawling asphalt lanes, concrete routes and mountainous dirt trails within Boulder’s city limits, so it is no surprise that thousands of parked bicycles can be found lining the streets on any given day. This town runs on bikes, so if you haven’t hopped on yet (pardon the pun), head to University Bicycles to buy, rent or tune up. The oldest bike shop in town, University Bicycles has the inventory and the expertise to send you on your way with the perfect match to hit the trails. There is certainly no shortage of options for finding a ride in Boulder. Stop by runner-up Full Cycle for an expert staff of commuters and racers alike who have spent an average of 10 years in the business. There’s also Boulder Cycle Sport, which was founded by two CU grads in 2005 and came in third. Rounding out the category are fourth place Bicycle Village and fifth place Community Cycles.
Boulder Book Store
1107 Pearl St., 303-447-2074
Runner-up: Barnes & Noble
A Pearl Street Mall staple, the Boulder Book Store receives this year’s honor of best bookstore in the county. Its comfortable atmosphere and vast collection of volumes keep visitors enthralled for hours as they navigate through the shelves looking for a good story — and every accessory that might go with it, from bookmarks to reading lights. Established in 1973, the store has a unique sense of local pride and history, with an historic upstairs ballroom that hosts more than 150 author events each year. The attached Bookend Café is a great spot for avid readers to settle in with a thick book and a cup of coffee, taking in the sun and the sights on a warm Boulder afternoon. Barnes & Noble — with its cozy fireplace — takes second place in this category, followed by a used-book lover’s paradise, Bookworm. West end favorite Trident Booksellers and Café takes home fourth place, with Lefthand Books in fifth.
2500 Pearl St., 303-443-1715
Runner-up: Wolf Camera
Nothing makes a Boulder hipster weep like an SLR slipping from the back of a fixed-gear bicycle. When disaster strikes with a shattered lens, fractured aperture thread or distorted film, Boulder mothers, students, hipsters and even professional photographers turn to Mike’s Camera for solutions. Mike’s Camera first opened in 1967 and has since expanded into three superstores, solving Colorado’s camera needs every day of the week. The knowledge and precision of its employees is what sets Mike’s apart from other camera retailers and repair shops. Questions are answered in a concise manner and repairs are explained in thorough detail, in part because every staffer must maintain their status as a Certified Photographic Consultant throughout their employment. Boulder has long agreed that Mike’s Camera is the best source for moral support in purchasing or remedying visual technology. Wolf Camera takes runner-up, and third place goes to Photo Craft Laboratories. One Hour Photo Express nails fourth and Costco grabs fifth.
4920 28th St., 303-442-3221
Runner-up: Ellie’s Eco Home Store
We were going to make a clever Atlas Shrugged reference here, but in the end decided that Atlas Flooring’s quality, selection, service and many years of customer satisfaction could speak for themselves. (Besides, Rand can be kind of a downer.) So if you’re looking for tile, carpet, wood, tiles, cabinets or pretty much anything a dedicated DIYer needs for a home improvement project, Atlas Flooring is nothing to shrug — we mean sneeze — at. Founded in 1958, Atlas Flooring has been providing great customer service for longer than many of us have been alive, and if you’re the picky type, they have thousands of flooring samples on display. A good floor should last a lifetime, after all, and no one wants to be stuck with crummy carpet or terrible tile. For those of you who want a “green” floor in just about any color, stop by runner-up Ellie’s Eco Home Store before they close May 7, or third-place finisher Go Green Flooring. Carpet Exchange and Boulder Stove and Flooring round out the top five in fourth and fifth places, respectively.
Eads News & Smoke
1715 28th St., 303-442-5900
Runner-up: Johnny’s Cigar Bar
While smoking rates have been steadily declining and many people have turned to running, biking or other stress-relieving outlets, some of us still enjoy the occasional smoke break. The hands-down winner for Boulder’s best Cigar/Cigarette/Tobacco Shop is Eads News & Smoke, the perennial winner in this category. The store’s selection is wide enough for a regular smoker who’s always looking to try something new, but it is also a good place to pick out the occasional celebration cigar or pipe tobacco for your grandfather. In our modern age, we can get almost any information imaginable online, which is what makes Eads News & Smoke’s variety of newspapers and magazines unique. It specializes in the tangible: a paper in your hand and the smell of cigars and pipe tobacco in your nostrils. Johnny’s Cigar Bar is our runner-up this year, while Mile High Pipes & Tobacco took third place. Smoker Friendly came in fourth place, while fifth place was claimed by Barlow’s Premium Cigars & Pipes.
CLOTHING STORE — WOMEN’S
1805 29th St., 303-449-4575
Runner-up: Coldwater Creek
Colorblock silk, painterly jersey, and beaded chiffon — oh, my! While the array of styles, abundance of charming knickknacks and that intoxicating aroma may seem like heaven, this oasis is real at Anthropologie. The best part? Clever uses of elastic and ties hidden among tops and sundresses alike assure that you’ll find options that fit perfectly and are remarkably comfortable no matter what your style. Distinct touches from whimsical (yet completely practical) merchandising to what-to-wear checklists mean you’ll be ready to put all of your finds to everyday use, which is kind of the whole point, right? Look for future closet staples at our runner-up, Coldwater Creek, or channel your inner hipster at third-place winner Urban Outfitters. For true Boulder style be sure to check Patagonia, which took fourth, or fifth-place winner Prana.
CLOTHING STORE — MEN’S
Recreational Equipment Inc., (REI)
1789 28th St., 303-583-9970
Guys, don’t believe the recent spate of Hollywood rom-coms: slacker guys in grubby jeans and wrinkled T-shirts do NOT get to go out with women like Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston. We’re not sure what happened to movies between the days of Cary Grant and Seth Rogen, but here in the real world, women still prefer a guy who knows how to dress himself. No one wants to be seen with a guy who looked like he slept in a hamper. So if you want to set your sights a little higher than the stoner chick with no style, stop by Recreational Equipment Inc., aka REI. It makes complete sense that a store selling outdoor gear and clothing would be tops in this town — the fittest in the country. In Boulder County, fitness is fashion. Visit REI, and you’ll not only look good, you’ll be ready for some outdoors adventures, too (always a plus when it comes to impressing the ladies). The same can be said of runner-up Patagonia, another man-friendly shop that can get you looking sharp. To add some more variety to your wardrobe, check out third-place finisher Weekends, fourth-place Buffalo Exchange and fifth-place Urban Outfitters.
CLOTHING – CHILDREN
Rocky Mountain Kids
2525 Arapahoe Ave., #H12a, 303-447-2267
Runner-up: Childish Things
Kids grow up so fast, and kids clothing is so cute that it’s truly a shame when they grow out of that darling skirt or adorable little vest. It’s enough to make you want to have more children, just so that wardrobe gets used again and again. Most of us aren’t the Duggars, though, and having a huge brood isn’t really an option. Instead, just do your shopping at family-owned and -operated Rocky Mountain Kids, home of cuter-than-cute fashion for all ages. And while it will still be hard to part with that party dress that no longer fits, finding a replacement outfit couldn’t be easier — or more fun. Runner-up Childish Things can make your little one lovely, too, and be sure to check out Ginger & Pickles and Poppy, which tied for third, as well as fourth-place finisher Little Mountain.
959 Walnut St., 303-443-2850
Kids are so lucky. They get to play dress-up any time they want. Adults, on the other hand, have to wait for a special occasion — Halloween, costume party, bank robbery (just kidding!). But with all the cool costumes, props and makeup at The Ritz, you just might find yourself making a few more excuses to don a scary mask or a ridiculous wig. A new Pirates of the Carribbean movie is coming out? Pirate-themed party! Turner Classic Movies is having a James Bond marathon? Sixties-style martini party! Arbor Day? Trees-and-lumberjacks party! OK, some excuses work better than others. But whatever your occasion, The Ritz is the place to go when in need of costumes or other fun attire. Runner-up Candy’s has an impressive collection of costumes as well as clothing. Third place goes to Theatrical Costumes, fourth to Savers (a great place if you feel like getting creative) and fifth to Goldmine Vintage.
COMPUTER — RETAIL
1755 29th St., 720-479-9451
Runner-up: Best Buy
With the increasingly growing number of Apple products seen throughout Boulder, the best place to buy these technology-driven gadgets is at the source directly. The Apple Store offers friendly and fast service from knowledgeable employees. The store is basically a toy store for adults, and it is nearly impossible to walk in without playing with some sort of new and exciting computer feature. Consumer beware: When you decide to make a “quick stop” at the Apple Store, you may become inclined to buy yourself a sleek new iPad or a miniature iPod. Prepare yourself. For a wider range of computer products, the second-place winner Best Buy is also a great place to purchase a computer, whether it is a Macintosh or a PC. The Mac Shack, located on University Hill, is a convenient place for students to buy Apple products and accessories and was ranked in third place by readers. PC Brokers Boulder got fourth place, while fifth place went to Office Depot.
COMPUTER — REPAIR
1755 29th St., 720-479-9451
Runner-up: Mac Shack
Way back in the days of the cavemen, people didn’t need specialized repair shops. Your tools were something like a stick, a bigger stick and (if you were lucky) some rocks. If your stick broke, you found another. If you lost your rock, ditto. Those simpler times can sound very appealing when our present-day, high-tech gadgets start giving us trouble. There are few things more frustrating than a computer that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to — or stops doing anything at all. But instead of going back to living in caves and wearing animal skins, just take your modern problems to the Apple Store, and they’ll have you back up and running in no time. You can make an appointment for your ailing Mac with the geniuses at the Genius Bar. They’ll tell you straight up if your computer needs to be sent in for repairs — or whether you need a new one. Ah, civilization. If you’re on the Hill and have a computer crisis, stop by runner-up Mac Shack. Third place goes to Boulder Mac Repair (are you seeing a theme here?). PC users can check out fourth-place Boulder PC and fifth-place PC Brokers.
Weaver’s Dive & Travel Center
637 S. Broadway, 303-499-8500
Runner-up: Ocean First
Colorado is known for many things, but great beaches and oceanfront views are not among them. It’s got to be hard having a hobby like scuba diving or snorkeling when you live in a land-locked state. On the other hand, it’s the perfect excuse to take vacations to exotic tropical locales. After all, how can a skier justify a $1,000 plane ticket to Europe when we have such great resorts practically in our backyard? Divers planning their next — or first — trip to the Bahamas have a great resource at their disposal: Weaver’s Dive & Travel Center. In addition to diver education, they offer full-service travel planning and equipment. And despite our arid, ocean-less landscape, Boulder County has two more great dive shops: runner-up Ocean First and third-place Flatirons Scuba.
Sturtz and Copeland
2851 Valmont Road, 303-442-6663
Catching the bouquet for this year’s Best Flower Shop award is Sturtz and Copeland, a company that has been a part of the Boulder community since 1929. The flower shop creates arrangements for all occasions, ranging from modest planted perennials to extravagant wedding table centers and bouquets. But the employees at Sturtz and Copeland are more than just florists; they are a group of green-thumb enthusiasts who also work to maintain the company’s garden center, which includes a greenhouse. For those of you who are able only to keep plants alive for as long as the lifespan of your average carnival goldfish, these horticulture experts are full of information on everything from fertilizer to garden maintenance. Runner-up this year is Fiori Flowers with their chic centerpieces, and third place goes to Boulder Blooms. Lafayette Florist picks up fourth place, and Art of the Flower wins fifth.
2610 Baseline Rd., 303-499-7030
Runner-up: Environmental Cleaners
Boulderites have never been afraid to put in a little extra effort to make their everyday lives a little greener. It’s no surprise that Boulder’s top-voted dry cleaners incorporate environmentally friendly practices into their work. This year, readers voted Art Cleaners as their favorite place to drop off their slightly worn or all-out filthy clothes. The company has been finding new ways to get the stains off of your favorite garments since its founding in 1921, most recently by converting to a GreenEarth Cleaning system. It also offers free pick-up and delivery, so you can save yourself an errand and spend more time getting your clothes dirty again. Taking second place this year is Environmental Cleaners, while third place went to John’s Cleaners. Readers put Boulder Cleaners in fourth place, while fifth place was claimed by Dependable Cleaners.
Ellie’s Eco Home Store
2525 Arapahoe Ave., 303-952-1004
Runner-up: Patagonia Boulder
We are mourning the May 7 closure of the winner in this category, Ellie’s Eco Home Store, where customers could be confident they were being green and saving green. And they could even be painting green — in shades of Chile Verde, Sweet Basil and Tavern Green, to be exact. Ellie’s Eco Home Store has had the products necessary to build — and fill — a completely eco-friendly house, right down to the mattress. The store has only been open since 2010 and knew how to cater to a Boulder audience. Ellie’s selection and prices gave them a nudge over runner up Patagonia Boulder, the organic outfitter on Pearl that stocks clothing for the Boulder outdoor enthusiast, as well as travel (and surfing!) gear for our adventures away from home. Coming in third place was Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary, and in fourth place is Only Natural Pet Store. MomentuM came in fifth place.
Valmont Road and 75th Street,
Runner-up: Haystack Mountain
In Boulder County, where environmental consciousness is a badge of pride, farms have steadily amassed a large following of earth-loving devotees drooling at the thought of locally grown tomatoes and cucumbers. If the improved taste isn’t enough to convince you to join the herd, then there are numerous economic, political and environmental reasons to purchase produce and other products from a local farm the next time you go grocery shopping. Munson Farms gets our readers’ nod for the second consecutive year. Though they sell a variety of veggies and herbs, they are most famous for their peaches-and-cream corn, which, when in season, tastes like the kernels of the gods themselves. Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy is this year’s runner-up. Abbondanza came in third, and Cure Organic and Boulder Community Gardens tied for fourth. Anderson Farms got fifth.
American Furniture Warehouse
Mutliple locations, www.afwonline.com
Runner-up: Clutter Consignment
Up until you graduate from college, and maybe — maybe — for a few years after that, you can get away with using Craigslist to decorate your home or apartment. There comes a time, however, when it’s time to upgrade. Cinder-block chic doesn’t really hold up well when you’ve got a steady job and some actual grown-up taste. For more selection than the average human mind can comprehend, truck on over to American Furniture Warehouse, which is even bigger than the name implies. From foyer to family room, AFW has everything you need to give your home a makeover at a reasonable price. Also check out runner-up Clutter Consignment, or pop into third-place HW Home on Pearl Street. Fourth-place Concepts and fifth-place Woodley’s also offer a good selection of furniture so that your living room pieces actually match.
1235 Pearl St., 303-449-5847
Buying the perfect gift can be the biggest headache, and choosing something that won’t have the recipient requesting a copy of the receipt can be tricky. Luckily, the seemingly infinite selection of trinkets, kitchen tools and nosh at The Peppercorn makes this a much more manageable task. Whether choosing coasters, plates and table linens for that hostess with the most(ess); or selecting innovative tools, cookbooks and barbecue sauce for the master griller; or spoiling yourself with a new espresso machine; you’ll find everything under the sun at this Pearl Street haven, truly a Boulder institution. For an array of artistic stationery, jewelry and home accessories, stop by our runner up, Bliss, on the east end of Pearl Street Mall. There is no better place to pick up one-of-a-kind items crafted by local artisans than third-place winner Art Mart. Jacque Michelle won fourth place, while Boulder Arts & Crafts took fifth.
Whole Foods Market
2905 Pearl St., 303-545-6611
As a culinary phrase, “food porn” was first penned in part by Chef Jim Lahey in 1996. The term refers to the astounding and inspiring visual presentation of dishes and products that can provoke — almost compel — one to eat. Whole Foods Market, with its recently renovated and expanded Pearl Street location, embodies the term perfectly. Both foodies and health nuts can find solace in the brightly colored and well-organized aisles of this huge market. Produce and grocery items are only part of the experience here, since a hot bar and salad bar offering food priced by the pound, a deli, a bakery and a sushi station are among the many options. Second-place Sunflower has a similar, health-conscious mission coupled with affordable prices. Third place goes to King Soopers, and Vitamin Cottage comes in fourth. Ideal Market rounds out the group in fifth place.
2525 Arapahoe Ave., 303-443-1822
Runner-up: Home Depot
Was there any doubt who would win this category? In 1955, McGuckin Hardware opened its doors with only four employees and a mission to offer personalized service and experience. Today, with nearly 300 employees and a store covering more than 60,000 square feet, it is no secret that McGuckin Hardware has everything you possibly could need — and then some. Just know that when you walk into the store for a box of nails, you will probably walk out with a wall clock, pet shampoo and the metal walking stick that you just had to have. Second place went to Home Depot, a hardware store that will likely have every item you need for your current project, and a knowledgeable employee who can tell you the exact parts you will need for your future home improvement plans. Lowe’s got third place, while Guiry’s Color Source took fourth place. Readers gave Table Mesa Hardware fifth place.
1235 Pearl St., 303-449-5847
Runner-up: Clutter Consignment
Cooking and home decorating enthusiasts alike will find The Peppercorn to be the mecca of all things domestic. If Martha Stewart lived in Boulder, this is where she would hang out. There is simply no other store offering the same selection and aesthetic appeal of this Pearl Street staple. From top-quality pots, pans and pasta-makers to hard-to-find cookbooks, table linens and kitchen gadgets, this store has everything. Don’t get too caught up downstairs, though. There’s a second floor, showcasing the best of bedroom couture. If you’re looking more for large furniture items, head to second-place winner Clutter Consignment, where inventory changes daily. Third place goes to American Furniture Warehouse, with HW Home in fourth and the Amazing Garage Sale in fifth.
2347 South St., 303-443-0821
Runner-up: Mountain Mist
Hot tubs are the picnic of pools. Sure, you could just take a really hot bath indoors, just like you could eat your meal indoors at a table like a civilized person. But where’s the fun in that? Your friends certainly can’t join you. Ever tried drinking beer and playing poker with six other people in your tub? We didn’t think so. If you’re ready to turn your hot soak into a party for 10, talk to Mr. Pool. They’ll get you set up and leave your neighbors suffering from hot-tub envy. Runner-up in this luxurious category is Mountain Mist, with Heat Wave Stove & Spa taking third, Quality Pools & Spas in fourth and our bon ami International Hot Tubs taking fifth.
St. Julien Hotel & Spa
900 Walnut St., 720-406-9696
Runner-up: Hotel Boulderado
Boulder has a lot of natural beauty. But when you’re from out of town and you’re not used to the winter cold and the lack of oxygen in the mountain air, sometimes it’s best to just relax and admire the view through your hotel window. This year, readers voted St. Julien Hotel & Spa as Boulder’s best hotel, where even locals and die-hard outdoor types love to book a room. St. Julien is known for luxury in all aspects, from the spa to the pool to the food to the suites and guest rooms themselves. The hotel also features a venue with regular musical performances, including some notable jazz acts, and the T-Zero Lounge offers signature martinis, cocktails and more. Taking second place this year is Hotel Boulderado, while third place went to Boulder Outlook Hotel, known for being the city’s first zero-waste hotel. Readers voted Chautauqua’s rental cottages in fourth place, while fifth place was claimed by Boulder Marriott.
Way to Grow
6395 Gunpark Dr., 303-473-4769
Runner-up: Boulder Hydroponic
Reading about all of the homesteading, urban farming and backyard chicken-raising going on, it’s no wonder apartment dwellers are feeling a bit left out. With no yard, let alone a spare half-acre or so, what’s an urbanite to do? Sure, there’s always the farmers’ markets for getting local, organic fruits and veggies, not to mention community supported agriculture. But when you want to get your hands dirty (or at least wet), only growing your own produce will do. That’s where Way to Grow comes in, bringing farming indoors for all of us living in 700 square feet or less with nary a plot of land to our name. With proper lighting, a little care and some patience, you can be your own Johnny Appleseed (on a slightly smaller scale, of course). Runner-up in this growing category (sorry, we couldn’t resist) is Boulder Hydroponic. Third place goes to the Candy Shop, fourth to Lyons Indoor and fifth to One Love.
The Nail Studio Boulder
3280 28th St., 303-444-4841
Runner-up: Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary
Independent businesses are the lifeblood of our country, the American dream embodied in personal ownership. Independent businesses put money into the local economy instead of shipping it out of state and give a town a unique flavor. Boulder County has strong independent businesses from Boulder to Longmont, and the competition in this category is fierce. The Nail Studio Boulder wins this year. It offers manicures, pedicures and private parties for weddings, events and just because. Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary, known for its quirky, natural products and classes, is this year’s runner-up. Note that this category is write-in only, and The Adventurous 500, Ripple Pure Frozen Yogurt, MomentuM and Boulder’s only independent newspaper tied for third place. And if you don’t know which paper that is, here’s a hint: You’re holding one of its publications.
1807 Pearl St., 720-565-0288
In the Twilight Zone episode “The Rip Van Winkle Caper,” four men steal $1 million in gold, and then cryogenically freeze themselves for 100 years, figuring by the time they woke up, no one would even remember the robbery and they’d get away scot-free. Unfortunately and unbeknownst to them, scientists had created a way to manufacture gold in the intervening century, rendering the bandits’ haul worthless. Gold is, of course, still valuable in our time. But mining for it is very destructive to both people and planet. Angie Star Jewelry, a team of professional jewelry designers, craft beautiful jewelry from ethically sourced metals and materials, and they also offer custom-made jewelry, as well as classes for anyone interested in jewelry making. The result is a store filled with truly unique pieces that reflect the buyer’s personality without harming the environment. Hurdle’s Jewelry is the runner-up in this lovely little category, Walter’s & Hogsett Fine Jewelers is third, Art Mart is fourth and Boulder Arts & Crafts is fifth.
1235 Pearl St., 303-449-5847
Runner-up: Bed Bath & Beyond
Adults love playing with stuff as much as your average child, but since it’s not so acceptable to openly admit such, we created the word “hobby.” And what good is a hobby if you don’t have awesome toys? Cooking is the number one hobby for many of us these days, and for all of your culinary needs, check out The Peppercorn, which readers deemed the best place around town to stock your kitchen. From ultra-sharp German knives to anodized aluminum pans, Peppercorn has everything you need to give Emeril Lagasse a run for his money. Check out their enormous bookshelf full of different bottles of hot sauces if you’re looking for something to kick your food up a notch. Runner-up Bed Bath & Beyond is another viable option, and Savory Spice, What’s Cooking and Chef’s Mart rounded out the third-, fourth- and fifth-place spots.
2425 Canyon Blvd., 303-443-2421
Runner-up: Victoria’s Secret
Despite what Victoria might be alluding to, it’s no secret that ladies love lacy things. Shopping for them, however, is an entirely different matter. Christina’s Luxuries remains Boulder’s only independent business that specializes in fitting ladies in lingerie, and helping their partners distinguish between the elusively named g-string and v-string. Boasting high-end brands like La Perla and Simone Perele, Christina’s Luxuries has been open for 31 years in Boulder, battling the economic downturn that plagues so many small businesses with the knowledge that sexy is sustainable. The store began exclusively as a lingerie retailer, but has since expanded to carry fashions as well. Dresses by designers like Nicole Miller and Fresh Laundry are there to cover up Boulder before revealing what’s beneath that little black dress. For something for everybody, check out America’s lingerie staple and Boulder’s second favorite, Victoria’s Secret, in the Twenty Ninth Street mall. Fascinations can put on a pretty third-place ribbon, and Naughty But Nice can dress up (or down) to celebrate fourth place. Newcomer BoulderFields, specializing in helping women who have been “blessed by the chest fairy” to find the perfect fit, takes fifth.
1750 15th St., 303-449-3374
Runner-up: Superior Liquor
For every devotee to the devil’s drink, a trip to the liquor store is like a trip to the candy store — a giant, liquid candy store you need to be 21 to enter. Size matters here, and there’s no one in town remotely close to Liquor Mart, Boulder’s first stop for sauce. With a massive selection of every type of alcohol imaginable, from 18-year-old scotch to saffron-infused liqueur, Liquor Mart’s 30,000-plus square feet of retail space is bound to have the most obscure alcoholic beverage you could possibly want. Their massive beer fridge boasts some outstanding regional obscurities, from the yeast-free Lambic beers of Belgium to the latest creation from the mad beer scientists of Boulder’s Avery Brewing Company. Runner-up Superior Liquor earns reader accolades through its great selection and personable service. Boulder Wine Merchant takes third this year, while readers voted Pettyjohn’s fourth and Boulder Wine & Spirits fifth.
Two Men and a Truck
6280 Arapahoe Rd., 303-443-9911
Runner-up: Taylor Moving
Unless you have a lot of burly friends and several cases of beer to go around, moving is hard. It’s bad enough for college students moving a dorm-full of belongings once a year. For those of us with a family and a house, it’s so daunting we just might reconsider moving at all. Or we could just call Two Men and a Truck, which actually employs far more than two men and has a fleet of much more than one truck. Started by two brothers and proudly sporting the logo Mom designed for them (two stick men in a moving truck — it’s adorable!), what started as a tiny business in Lansing, Mich., is now a thriving company boasting a fleet of more than 1,300 trucks. And you wondered how those two guys in that one truck seemed to get around the way they do. Runner-up Taylor Moving, a local institution for more than 15 years, does much more than their name implies: residential and commercial, both local and national, truck rentals, packing services, climate-controlled storage and more. (That’s probably a lot to fit in a name, though.) Third place goes to Berg’s Small Moves, and there was a tie for fourth between Boulder Valley Transfer and A Boulder Moving Co.
Robb’s Boulder Music
2691 30th St., 303-443-8448
Runner-up: HB Woodsongs
Even musicians just stopping in to pick up some strings often find themselves plugged into an amp at Robb’s Boulder Music for a good 20 minutes before leaving the store. The shop boasts a wide selection of stringed instruments, ranging from traditional electric and acoustic guitars and basses to the more nontraditional mandolin-banjo hybrids and ukulele-banjo hybrids. Percussionists, DJs and sound engineers will be sure to find equipment to suit their sonic needs as well. Given the wide range of instrument pricings and styles, Robb’s Boulder Music is a perfect place to find the right gear to play live, or just to play around. Taking runner-up this year is HB Woodsongs, known for its wide selection of acoustic instruments and affordable rent-to-own options, while third place went to The Drum Shop. Readers ranked Wildwood Music at fourth place, while Miller Music claimed fifth.
Boulder County Farmers’ Markets
13th Street between Arapahoe and Canyon in Boulder, and 9595 Nelson Rd. in Longmont, 303-910-2236
Runner-up: Whole Foods
The spring, summer and fall are when the farmers come outside to play, and Boulder County Farmers’ Markets are the best places to catch up with them and their food. This year the Boulder market will have more room for pedestrian walkways and more farmers. Along with new vendors selling lamb, bison and canned goods, the market will be extending its season all the way to the week before Thanksgiving. So you might as well mark your Wednesdays and Saturdays as your grocery shopping days. Boulder’s favorite grocery store, Whole Foods, was the runner-up, and the Vitamin Cottage took third place in our survey. Sunflower Market was voted fourth, while Sprouts placed fifth.
Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)
1789 28th St., 303-583-9970
Runner-up: Boulder Army Store
We breathe the intoxicating fumes that rise up from hot asphalt as we run mile after mile, eat fresh powder as we glide down rugged slopes, hear the sound of our bike chains clinking as we power up yet another hill, and sleep under a mixed canopy of pines and stars before waking at dawn to start again. Time outdoors is a mandatory part of life for bona fide Boulderites, and running shoes and polar fleece rank among our most prized possessions. We don’t mess around with our gear, so we go to Recreational Equipment, Inc. (lovingly referred to as REI by the co-op’s devotees) for the necessities of a life in motion — whether that means a Nalgene to stay hydrated at the office or a backpack designed with as much attention to structure as the Brooklyn Bridge. You’re sure to find tools for the great outdoors at our runner-up, Boulder Army Store, a long-time Boulder institution. Neptune Mountaineering takes third place this year, while Patagonia takes fourth and Boulder Ski Deals claims fifth.
Alpine Auto Detailing
Runner-up: Ripple Pure Frozen Yogurt
Opening a new business is both the fulfillment of a dream and a struggle for many entrepreneurs, who often learn on the fly (painfully, at ungodly hours) the ins and outs of running a small business. It’s a stressful time — not all new businesses survive, and the economy isn’t helping anyone’s chances. This year’s winner, Alpine Auto Detailing, has the perfect business model for today’s fiscal climate. Little more than a truck attached to a trailer, Alpine Detailing will drive a pickup truck and a trailer almost anywhere on the Front Range and bring interior and exterior detailing services directly to the consumer. With low overhead and environmentally friendly cleaning products, Alpine Auto Detailing is poised for success. Runner-up Ripple Pure Frozen Yogurt is making waves in the sweet dessert scene. Mary’s Market and Deli came in third, The Nail Studio came in fourth, and Campus Street Sportswear came in fifth.
2525 Arapahoe Ave., Suite E-23,
We’re not sure when it happened, but sometime between the 1950s and now, glasses got sexy. Long gone are the nerdy, bookish associations of wearing specs. Now it’s all fashion, all the way, especially if you shop at somewhere as chic and trend-setting as Aspen Eyewear. Celebrating its 25th year in Boulder, Aspen offers top-of-the-line frames, highly trained staff and stellar service. Picking out just one great pair here is so hard that you wouldn’t be blamed if you decided to take two (or three or …), and having different styles to go with your different outfits never hurt either. Envision garnered the runner-up spot, Boulder Vision Center got third, College Optical was chosen fourth, and Pearle Vision came in fifth.
Humane Society of
2323 55th St., 303-442-4030
Disney had it wrong. The Humane Society of Boulder Valley is actually the happiest place on earth. And while none of these furry friends sing, dance or talk in cutesy voices, these happy dogs, cats and the occasional hamster or bird are all ready to put a smile on their soon-to-be-owners’ faces. All dogs and cats up for adoption are spayed or neutered, vaccinated and come with microchip identification. If you see a pet you just can’t pass up, make sure to put it on hold or take it home that day, because animals go fast in this critter-loving county. The Humane Society also boasts a veterinary clinic, as well as training and behavior classes. You can check out photos of adoptable animals on their website, www.boulderhumane.org. Chain store PetSmart got second place. PC’s Pantry, which smells so good you might mistake it for a human-targeted bakery, takes third. Whole Pets nabs fourth, and Only Natural Pet Store earns fifth.
Boulder Running Company
2775 Pearl St., 303-786-9255
Runner-up: Pedestrian Shops
Boulder Running Company is like eHarmony for your feet — they’re determined to find each foot its perfect match. And while some of us may be looking for a lighter, younger model, others are just as happy to stick with the more casual walk-on-the-beach type. There are options for those of us who run, walk and work in Boulder. Boulder Running Company will hook you up with just what you’re looking for — and it should work out better than that first date with Ron in accounting. The runner-up this year was Pedestrian Shops, another place for those of us who squeal over Birkenstocks the way others might scream for Louboutins. Coming in third place was Two-Sole Sisters. Shoe Fly came in fourth place, and Famous Footwear took fifth place.
REAL ESTATE GROUP
RE/MAX of Boulder
2425 Canyon Blvd., Ste. 110, 303-449-7000
Runner-up: Wright-Kingdom Real Estate
When they say Boulder is in a bubble, they’re not kidding. Our fair town is in all sorts of bubbles — political ones, economic ones, you name it. While most people use these terms to disparage certain lifestyle choices, one bubble even the most zealous haters can be glad we weren’t in was the real estate bubble. Home prices in Boulder are pretty darn close to what they were five years ago, compared to places like Miami, where prices are still down 20 percent to 40 percent from pre-crash prices. That’s good news for homeowners and means an investment in real estate in Boulder County is still a solid one. For the second year in a row, readers voted RE/MAX of Boulder as the best Realtors to guide you through the complex maze that is buying a home. Runner-up Wright-Kingdom Real Estate was followed by Pedal to Properties in third place, Keller Williams Realty in fourth and Walnut Realty in fifth.
Eads News & Smoke Shop
1715 28th St., 303-442-5900
Runner-up: Mile High Pipe
Eads News & Smoke Shop, our readers’ favorite place for tobacco, is also its favorite place for pipes. A landmark with the lion’s share of local grit, Eads tops last year’s winner, Mile High Pipe, with their selection of tobacco pipes and smoking accessories. The shop also features a walk-in humidor as well as some of the harder-to-find brands of smokes. And as the name implies, Eads is also just as famous for its huge magazine and newspaper selection, both domestic and international. For a truly sophisticated smoking experience, pick up a copy of Le Monde to peruse while you enjoy your Chateau Fuente and a nice brandy. Ah, classy. Mile High Pipe takes second, followed by The Fitter in third, Freaky’s in fourth, and a tie for fifth between High On The Hill and Little Dog.
Boulder Ski Deals
2525 Arapahoe Rd., 303-938-8799
Second Place: Christy Sports
There is something to be said about a local ski shop that has the ability to get you more pumped about your ski day than you already were. Boulder Ski Deals has employees that not only know their products, but also have a contagious excitement for all things snow. You will be fitted with quality products to suit your needs, whether you are renting for a day or purchasing for many seasons to come. The runner-up, Christy Sports, also has a diverse range of excellent ski and snowboard products and an enthusiastic staff. Third-place winner REI is a perfect place to get your gear tuned, structured and waxed for the next powder day. Fourth place went to Neptune Mountaineering, and fifth was claimed by Larry’s Boot Fitting.
2525 Arapahoe Ave., 303-443-0780
Runner-up: Into The Wind
Grandrabbit’s Toy Shoppe is on a winning streak. It’s been voted the best toy store/children’s store by at least one Boulder publication every year for more than 30 years. And not much has changed since. The store has remained in the same location since its founding, is still managed by its founder and remains independently owned. Its huge selection of toys range from traditional stuffed animals and wooden toys with a handmade feel to more modern, educational toys and everything in between — a plus for parents, grandparents or a new uncle or aunt who’s rusty at toy-buying. Taking second place this year is Into The Wind, a store known for outlandish kites, quirky games and an all-ages feel, while PlayFair Toys claimed third place. Readers voted Crawdaddy’s into fourth place, while fifth place was claimed by Ginger & Pickles.
1740 30th St., 303-938-2889
Runner-up: Apple Store
Sure, Best Buy is technically a big box store, but you can fit a lot into big boxes, like a 52-inch plasma television or a top-of-the-line, high-efficiency washer/dryer combo. Best Buy also has the goodies that come in smaller boxes: MP3 players, HD camcorders, laptops and more. And while parking may be a bit tricky at the 30th Street location, that big yellow tag is hard to miss. There’s also a store on Highway 119 in Longmont. For the Apple purists out there, our runner-up, the Apple Store, is sure to please. It’s almost like walking into a real-life iPod commercial. On any given day, half the people in there probably just want to play with the floor models. Listen Up takes third place, Car Toys fourth and Radio Shack fifth.
2735 Iris Ave., # A, 303-444-7380
Runner-up: Tribal Rites
Attitudes about tattoos
have changed a lot over the years and still differ from country to
country. While most of us would probably look askance at a surgeon
covered in tats, we don’t think twice about an NBA player covered in
ink or local musicians sporting piercings in crazy places. And if you
think the U.S. is still too puritanical when