Best of Boulder East County 2013: Retail

The staff of Valley Nissan and Subaru in Longmont
Photo by Susan France

Auto Dealer — New
1005 Ken Pratt Blvd., Longmont, 303-776-0443
Second Place: Frontier Honda
Third Place: Longmont Ford
Fourth Place: Prestige Chrysler Dodge Jeep & Ram
Fifth Place: Stevinson Hyundai

You will buy your new car in Longmont. You must buy your new car in Longmont.

Yes, all five of our winners in East Boulder County have a great view of Longs Peak, stretched across south Longmont in what is evidently the New Car Nexus of the East County area. Our winner, Valley Nissan and Subaru, leads the way with excellent customer service and, of course, some of Boulder County’s favorite vehicles in the Subaru line. It’s also offering a cash rebate for buyers affected by the floods in September.

Auto Dealer — Used
1005 Ken Pratt Blvd., Longmont, 303-776-0443
Second Place: Umberto’s Auto Sales, Inc.
Third Place: Frontier Honda
Fourth Place: Essex Motors
Fifth Place: Sprinkler Used Cars

There’s a joke that asks, “How many car salesmen does it take to change a lightbulb?” The answer is, “Let me work that out on my calculator, and I think you’ll be surprised.”

Our readers think the sales staff at Valley Nissan and Subaru are the best at ensuring that surprise is always a pleasant one. Known for their pleasant disposition and sunny customer service, the Valley Nissan staff will make sure that the “gently loved” car you drive off their lot perfectly matches your expectations.

Auto Repair
1005 Ken Pratt Blvd., Longmont, 877-588-6989
Second Place: Stan’s Automotive
Third Place: Cooper’s Automotive
Fourth Place: Frontier Honda
Fifth Place: Alpine Auto Detailing

Every now and again that faithful car that’s carried you to and from work and play stops purring and starts to sputter and cough a bit. Or maybe you’re on top of things, and just want to make sure that before it starts to wheeze, you’ve topped off the fluid levels and checked your alignment. Our readers say when it’s time for a little TLC to your SUV, take it to Valley Nissan, where the emphasis on customer service, factory-trained staff and stock of parts will get you back on all four wheels fast.

Bicycle Shop
1032 South Boulder Road, Louisville, 303-665-6343
Second Place: Fusion Bicycle Service
Third Place: Bike ’n’ Hike
Fourth Place: Foxtrot Wheel & Edge
Fifth Place: Joe’s Bike Shop

Louisville Cyclery has been serving Louisville since 1980, and for our readers, it has become the go-to destination for all things cycling in East County. Earning this title is no small feat, considering all of the avid cyclists in our area. Plus, we like the name “cyclery.” It sounds so British, like “tobacconist.” Before we devolve into a Monty Python sketch, let’s also extend best wishes to Fusion Bicycle Service in Lafayette, which won second place and sports the compelling motto, “Blending Work and Passion.”

Book Store
724 Main St., Louisville, 303-604-2880
Second Place: Barbed Wire Books
Third Place: Used Book Emporium
Fourth Place: Little Horse Books
Fifth Place: The Book Nook

Sami Boylan of The Book Cellar in Louisville. | Photo by Susan France

Before we say anything about the winner in this category, let’s all just send out a rousing round of applause to every one of these stores. Bookstores are sacred. They represent the very best of who and what we are as a culture, and for that, we say thanks.

Now then, out of all these wonderful businesses, our readers voted that The Book Cellar in Louisville is their favorite. So if you love books, and you should, drop in, say hello, and browse the shelves. Every bookstore is full of treasure. You just have to look to find it.

And if you find yourself in downtown Longmont, Barbed Wire Books is always a great place to spend time.

102 E. Cleveland St., #100, Lafayette, 720-379-7789
Second Place: Picture This… Superior
Third Place: Key Camera/Procam Services

For many of us, digital cameras are more than enough to handle — witness, for instance, a friend’s father who, no matter how easy-to-use the camera is, manages to insert the massive pink blob of his finger into every shot. But real film enthusiasts still recognize the value and power of film, actual film, with the darkroom and the silver and all that. You know, the whole process that Instagram tries so hard to copy. Victory Camera in Lafayette, which opened in 2012, is dedicated to that ideal of upholding traditional film. And in addition to selling film and cameras, it buys and trades as well.

1401 Ken Pratt Blvd., Longmont, 303-651-2011
Second Place: Carpet Wise
Third Place: A Plus Carpet Care
Fourth Place: Aesthetic Flooring & Hard Surfaces

Carpeting your house is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a homeowner. After all, it’s something in your home you’ll interact with every day. For all your carpeting needs, our readers think Family Carpet One Floor & Home is the best choice in East County. They will be your guide in the vast jungle of carpet, translating the ecology of flooring options into your native tongue, so you can make the best decision you can regarding what’s going to be under your feet for the next decade or two.

Clothing — Kids
700 Ken Pratt Blvd., Longmont, 303-772-5437
Second Place: Just Between Friends
Third Place: Gymboree

The consensus among parents seems to be, kids grow up way too fast. And while they’re rocketing their way from toddlers to teenagers, they’re blowing through a lot of different clothes. Things they barely have a chance to wear for a season — and rarely get to wear out. So, Once Upon a Child comes to the rescue. They take clean, gently pre-worn clothes and resell them at up to 70 percent off retail, so you can take in your next-to-new stuff left over from last year to help fund this season’s new-to-you clothes. That’s good for your budget and smart for the environment: gold star for good parenting in practice.

Clothing — Used
901 Main St., Lower Level, Louisville, 303-666-6900
Second Place: Fabulous Finds Upscale Consignment
Third Place: Sister Carmen Community Center
Fourth Place: Once Upon a Child
Fifth Place: Threads Consignments

Who wouldn’t want to shop in a hip, cool, urban chic women’s consignment store located in a funky old purple house in Old Town Louisville with Nepalese prayer flags out front? The answer is no one. Our readers come from all over the county to check out what’s new at owner Nancy Cooley’s fantastic shop Found Underground Consignments. It’s like a treasure hunt every time, and who doesn’t like that? In case you missed it the first time, the answer is no one.

Clothing — Women’s
909 Main St., Louisville, 303-604-6722
Second Place: Dragonfly
Third Place: Fabulous Finds Upscale Consignment
Fourth Place: Jax Outdoor Gear
Fifth Place: Old Town Outfitters

The best women’s clothing store has to tread a line between affordable and fashionable, accessible and high-fashion, welcoming and upscale. Ville de Luxe in downtown Louisville hits all those notes and offers clothing from Colorado (CoVelo), the U.S. (Three Dots) and across the globe (Spain’s Desigual and Indonesia’s Dunia, for example).

Also of note, the final two entries here show that it’s well past time to update that Boulder stereotype of the rugged outdoorswoman to include all of Boulder County — women in East Boulder County love their gear shops as much as their Boulder counterparts.

Computer Repair
1032 E. South Boulder Road, #207, Louisville, 720-339-6013
Second Place: Main TV & Computer Repair
Third Place: PC Doc
Fourth Place: Computer Specialists of Longmont
Fifth Place: Reliance PC & Network Support

Put yourself in the following scenario: You are feverishly working on a major project proposal/term paper/presentation. As you are putting the final touches on your work, work that will define the last few months of effort and help shape your future, your computer crashes. Panicked, you try restarting. It doesn’t work. You’re getting colors on your screen you didn’t know existed. What do you do? Well, unless you’re some sort of technological genius or have a degree from M.I.T., don’t try to fix it yourself. Our readers think you should call The Wired Connection, in Louisville, who will be able to set things right again.

Dry Cleaner
1631 Pace St., Longmont, 303-684-8585
300 E. Baseline Road, Lafayette, 303-665-2223
Second Place: Continental Cleaners
Third Place: John’s Dry Cleaners
Fourth Place: MeadowView Cleaners
Fifth Place: Boulder Cleaners

As the Mitch Hedberg line goes, “This shirt is dry clean only. Which means … It’s dirty.” But it doesn’t have to be that way.

At Art Cleaners, dry cleaning experts are ready to handle everything from wedding gowns to leather and suede. Plus, Art Cleaners uses a silicon-based GreenEarth cleaning solvent that’s easier on the environment.

And, because getting your things there can be the toughest part of getting your dry cleaning done, they offer free pick-up and delivery. Problem solved, Mitch.

600 S. Public Road, Lafayette, 303-665-5552
Second Place: Longmont Florist
Third Place: Louisville Florist
Fourth Place: Nina’s Flowers and Gifts
Fifth Place: Bella Fleur Floral Design

If it grows in the ground you can find it at Lafayette Florist, Gift Shop & Garden Center. If it used to grow in the ground and it’s beautiful and you think you might need to buy it to make someone happy, celebrate a special occasion or get yourself out of the doghouse, you’ll find that in the florist section. In all seriousness, our readers knew what they were doing when they voted this place best florist. The selection is great and the people are nice, and their flowers are guaranteed to get you out of that doghouse — just kidding on that last one, but at least it will give you a shot.

Hardware Store

1727 Main St., Longmont, 303-776-5173
Second Place: Jax Outdoor Gear
Third Place: Budget Home Center

In a world increasingly dominated by big-box hardware stores that begin with letters like H and L, Ace Hardware in Longmont says it all on its website, in large type: “Family Owned and Operated.” We applaud our readers for giving first place to an establishment that has been serving the community for more than 20 years. Second-place winner Jax in Lafayette is no slouch either when it comes to high-quality hardware, and third-place winner Budget Home Center in Longmont is our favorite south-side alternative to the bigbox chains.

Liquor Store
100 Superior Plaza Way, #100, Superior, 303-499-6600
Second Place: Union Jack Liquor
Third Place: Down Under Wine & Spirits
Fourth Place: Atlas Valley Wine & Spirits
Fifth Place: PJ’s Wine & Spirits

Superior Liquor’s April McHan celebrates their win. | Photo by Susan France

There’s something magical about walking into a gigantic liquor store, isn’t there? It’s like fun and joy have been bottled and placed on shelves, stretching as far as the eye can see. Superior Liquor (all 20,000 square feet of it) has something for every adult who walks into the store. There’s a refrigerated beer section that stretches for miles, a wine section you could get lost in, and a selection of spirits and liquors that should come with a map. Gluten-free? There’s a beer for you, too. William Shakespeare once wrote, “A quart of ale is a dish for a king.” We think it’s high time we all got a little regal.

Real Estate Group
606 Mountain View Ave., Longmont, 303-776-3200
Second Place: The New Century Group

There is simply nothing in the material realm of things more important than buying your home. Whether it is finding that perfect place that fits you or your family like a glove, or getting the right deal on a home that will insure that your investment is secure for years to come, choosing the real estate company to help you is absolutely critical. Our readers chose Keller Williams, 1st Realty as the company they liked best for their real estate needs.

Shoe Store
373 Main St., Longmont, 303-776-2920
Second Place: DSW
Third Place: Jax Outdoor Gear
Fourth Place: Runners Roost
Fifth Place: Famous Footwear

The Midwest is not known for fashion. But every rule has its exception, and in this case Iowa-based Brown’s Shoe Fit Company breaks the stereotype with style. Brown’s, headquartered in Shenandoah, Iowa, carries brands from Chaco to Timberland to Dansko to Boulder County brand Crocs. Customers applaud Brown’s for friendly, not-pushy service and good selection, which is also a strong point for runner-up DSW, with locations in Longmont and just outside Boulder County near the Flatiron Crossing mall.

Hot Tub
1240 Ken Pratt Blvd., Longmont, 303-772- 1125
Second Place: Mr. Pool

We don’t know if so many Front Range businesses incorporate “Mountain” into their name as a tip to consumers that they’re locally owned, but if so, it’s working. That’s the case with Mountain Mist Spas, a locally owned store that celebrated its 30-year anniversary in 2013, having started in 1983 in Fort Collins. The Longmont store specializes in spa and hot tub sales, with an inventory of replacement parts and outdoor grills as well. And specialists at the store can run chemical tests on your spa or pool water and advise you on care and upkeep.

1900 Ken Pratt Blvd., Longmont, 800-843-8240
Second Place: Niwot Inn
Third Place: Marriott Residence Inn
Fourth Place: La Quinta
Fifth Place: Courtyard Marriott

Don’t look now, but the Plaza Convention Center in Longmont is becoming something of a happening spot. The Plaza Event Center is one of the largest convention centers in Boulder County, and it also doubles as a picturesque location for weddings and bar mitzvahs. It also hosts various events. Harold’s Restaurant & Lounge, located in the plaza, is one of the hippest spots to open outside of Boulder this past year. This location and its surroundings are one of the many reasons readers voted Best Western Plus Plaza Hotel the best hotel in East County. If you’re looking for a reasonable place to send out-of-town guests, look no further.

Hydroponics Store
1805 Nelson Road, Longmont, 303-772- 3454
Second Place: Victory Hydro Gardening
Third Place: The Aquaponic Source

Someday, when the environmental damage done to our planet by hundreds of years of pouring carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere turns it truly uninhabitable, we’ll all need to move to space. Once resettled on our space station, its likely that hydroponics will prove the most viable method for growing vegetables. But before we’re all banished to beyond the stratosphere, it would be best to start practicing here on Earth. The Flower Bin is ready to set you up with planting media and plant nutrients to serve all your space-gardening needs.

10029 Isabelle Road, Lafayette, 303-817-6824
Second Place: Longmont Dairy Farm
Third Place: Anderson Farms
Fourth Place: Sunflower Farm
Fifth Place: Frog Belly Farm

Jason and Natalie Condon, owners of the organic Isabelle Farm, are an inspiring story. Jason’s family has been farming in Boulder County since — wait for it — 1859. He grew up on the family farm and has dedicated his life to farming. And Natalie Condon spent childhood summers in Switzerland, working on her cousins’ dairy farm. When the couple opened Isabelle Farm in 2004, it was a dream come true for both of them, and now, what we’re sure has been another dream has come true: Their farm has been voted best in East County.

Natural Foods Store
1745 Main St., Longmont, 303-684-8200
100 W. South Boulder Road, Lafayette, 303-926-1600
2355 30th St., Boulder, 303-402-1400
Second Place: Sprouts Farmers Market
Third Place: Lucky’s Market
Fourth Place: Whole Foods
Fifth Place: Simply Bulk Market

It’s more than just Boulder County that cares about natural, organic, healthy, GMO-free and pesticide free food. At this point, it’s all of Colorado. And it’s more than Colorado, it’s a growing number of people across the whole country who are demanding better natural foods. Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage has been answering that demand for 58 years, starting in 1955 in Golden. The store offers vitamins and supplements in addition to all-natural and all-organic food.

Mattress Store
2201 Ken Pratt Blvd., Longmont, 303-651-9208
Second Place: Verlo
Third Place: Sleep Number

Although there’s a lot of buzz about the importance of sleep to your overall health and life expectancy, homo sapiens survived for thousands of years sleeping on nothing more advanced than the ground and some animal skins. But who wants to live like a cave man?

The reigning ruler for where to buy a bed worthy of the advancements of the 21st century is Mattress King.

Moving Company
520 Violet St., Golden, 303-443-9911
Second Place: Taylor Moving and Storage
Third Place: Flatirons Moving and Storage
Fourth Place: The Moving Connection
Fifth Place: Boulder Valley Transfer

With more than 200 locations worldwide, we’re pretty sure this company now has more than two men and one truck. But it did indeed start as a way for two brothers in Michigan to make some extra money in high school in the early 1980s. Their mom developed the stick-man logo for their ad in the local weekly paper, and that logo is still used on all of their trucks today. And yes, there is more than one. Our voters say Two Men and a Truck is the most trustworthy moving company serving East County, followed closely by Taylor Moving and Storage.

401 S. Public Road, Lafayette, 720-432-4292
Second Place: Woodley’s Fine Furniture
Third Place: The Fuzzy Antler
Fourth Place: Noble Treasures
Fifth Place: Serendipity

There’s only one furniture store in the county — well, we hope — where you can grab a product specifically named Tacky Holiday Sweater Sock as you check out vintage and consignment furniture and art with a definite slant toward the unique, unusual and stylish. Yes, Curating the Cool in central Lafayette is our readers’ choice for best furniture store, with an eclectic collection of chairs and tables available. In second, Woodley’s Fine Furniture offers furniture for everything from the bedroom to the office to the outdoors.

Tattoo Shop
908 Main St., Suite B110, Louisville, 720-985-4259
Second Place: Junkyard Ink
Third Place: Tribal Rites Tattoo & Piercing
Fourth Place: Main Street Tattoo
Fifth Place: Ol’ Henry’s Flesh Art

Fresh ink at InkSmith Tattoo, which won best tattoo shop. | Photo by Kevin Powers

When you’re going to get permanent body art, you want to get it in good company, and we’ve gotta say, the guys who run InkSmith Tattoo look like pretty fun fellas to hang out with. That’s good, because if you’re like that’s what you’ll get at InkSmith. going to sit yourself down in a chair and let someone jab a needle into your skin repeatedly to paint an image in your flesh, you’d like it to be someone who’s going to be nice to spend a little time with. Maybe even funny, because you’ll want to laugh — though not necessarily while the needle is in action — to help crush back the pain. So you’ll want them to be people who might not take their work far more seriously than they take themselves. And it looks

Pet Store
2850 Arapahoe Road, Suite 110, Lafayette, 303-665-3038
Second Place: Four Paws & Co.
Third Place: Black Paw
Fourth Place: The Divine Canine Pet Care Center
Fifth Place: Jax Ranch & Home

Some may not know that the founders of Struttin’ Pup in Lafayette, voted the best pet store in East County, got their start in rock ’n’ roll. Julie Ralston worked for radio station KBCO and Kirsten Bailey worked for Virgin Records until the two were inspired to start the store in 2002 after both had dogs with medical problems. While researching the causes, they were dismayed to learn about the low-quality ingredients used in many common pet foods, so they dedicated themselves to only carrying products at Struttin’ Pup that meet high standards for health and safety.

Gift Store
401 S. Public Road, Lafayette, 720-432-4292
Second Place: Cheese Importers
Third Place: Sunshine & Rain
Fourth Place: Adorn Home & Gift Gallery
Fifth Place: Assorted Goods & Candy

Z Robison, owner of Curating the Cool in Lafayette. | Photo by Susan France

It’s fitting that a small, quaint town like Lafayette would have a small, quaint vintage consignment store in its small, quaint downtown. Curating the Cool offers everything you need to express your inner mod/hipster. Want a pair of knee-high socks with a purple and green argyle pattern? How about a zip-up hoodie with a fixie on it? Walking into this store is like walking into a catalogue of hip, with the farm-fresh preserves and the vintage blue-and-yellow Pearl Street sign to prove it. If you’re feeling like a gift you can eat with the lucky recipient, secondplace finisher Cheese Importers in Longmont has everything you need.

Home Furnishings
401 S. Public Road, Lafayette, 720-432-4292
Second Place: Habitat for Humanity ReStore
Third Place: Concepts Furniture
Fourth Place: Elizabeth’s Embellishments
Fifth Place: Noble Treasures

Curating the Cool’s business model does exactly what the name implies. This store, located in Old Town Lafayette, specializes in new, vintage and consignment furniture, art, unique collectibles and home goods. Our readers tell us the place is chock full of amazing items you may never have seen before. When it comes to home furnishings, the word “unique” is a good thing. Check it out.

Grocery Store
300 E. Baseline Road, Lafayette, 303-604-3060
Second Place: Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage
Third Place: Whole Foods Market
Fourth Place: Lucky’s Market
Fifth Place: Sprouts Farmers Market

Of all the suburban consumer games, such as Precision Lawn Mowing, Energy-Saving Snow Removal Tactics and Innovative Holiday Decorating, none relies as heavily on speed and efficiency as Competitive Grocery Store Shopping. When it comes to grocery stores, what you really want is the place where you know where things are and can walk in and quickly find those cookies you really like and your preferred box of tea — and which end of the store tends to have the shorter lines and where to find the actually funny greeting cards. And, of course, where to ditch the cart with the wobbly wheel or the brakes stuck on. Because otherwise you’re a sure loser.

So it’s tough to knock a classic like King Soopers, a one-stop shop for all your grocer needs and a familiar destination for successful speed shopping.

Our runners-up in this category are a nod to the growing market for all things green and environmentally friendly in East County. They’re great, but can present speed traps like samples, new baked goods cabinets and a rotating selection of produce sure to distract and cost you precious seconds on your final time.

Jewelry Store
101 S. Public Road, Lafayette, 303-665-5313
Second Place: Snyder Jewelers
Third Place: Eric Olson Master Jeweler
Fourth Place: Niwot Jewelry & Gifts
Fifth Place: Precious Metals

Jewelry is one of those things you buy with the intention that it is going to last forever. It’s even something that we intend to hand down to future generations.

That being the case, it only makes sense that our readers would choose a jeweler that they can trust to help them with such an important task. Anspach’s Jewelry has been in business serving Boulder County residents for more than half a century, so the folks there know what it means to be built for the long haul. The same family is still running the store after all these years, albeit a new generation is now in place to serve all of your jewelry needs.

Kitchen Supply Store
103 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-9599
Second Place: The Food Emporium
Third Place: Cayenne Kitchen
Fourth Place: The Singing Cook
Fifth Place: Jax Ranch & Home

Forget the name of Cheese Importers. Yes, the Longmont market imports cheese. But it is also committed to locally made products, having promoted local producers for more than 30 years. And it sells a lot more than cheese, expanding its business gradually to include housewares, linens and other kitchen supplies. So yes, it offers many cheese-oriented gift baskets featuring cheese from everywhere under the sun and Boulder-made Chocolove chocolate bars. But Cheese Importers is a lot more than a cheese importer.

Clothing – Men’s
900 S. Highway 287, Lafayette 720-266-6160
Second Place: Old Town Outfitters

Jax is the McGuckin Hardware of outdoor gear, and while some may associate the store primarily with camping/backpacking/fishing/hunting equipment, Jax also has an extensive selection of men’s clothing, including the non-waterproof variety. And according to our voters, the quality and variety is unparalleled in East County. We remember how excited we were when we heard Jax was opening a location in Lafayette and we wouldn’t have to drive to Fort Collins to get our fix anymore. The men’s apparel was a big reason why. Old Town Outfitters in Longmont, which got second place in this category, carries some great brands in men’s wear, like Kühl and prAna.

Independent Business
401 S. Public Road, Lafayette 720-432-4292
Second Place: Sunshine & Rain

This concept is, well, cool. Our voters’ choice for top independent business in East County, Curating the Cool, is like a choosy consignment shop that only agrees to sell the top vintage items, including furniture, art, collectibles and home goods. Being selective about what they consign means they have quick sales and a constantly rotating selection that features impressive variety (see the online store at and start scrolling down through the hundreds of items, as a new batch will load when you hit the bottom of the page). Sunshine & Rain, a distinctive specialty gardening store in Louisville, landed second place.

Music Store
400 W. South Boulder Road, #1500, Lafayette, 303-661-9335
Second Place: Miller Music

Is there anything in the world that can bring so much joy to so many lives as music? We don’t think so. And when it comes to making music, our readers tell us that Lafayette Music is the place that helps them do it right.

But if you happen to be in Longmont, Miller Music is another great place to find everything you need, from pianos to guitars. Or if you need to repair that instrument you already own, they can help you with that, too.

Optical Store
615 Main St., Louisville, 303-666-6320
Second Place: Front Range Eye Health Center
Third Place: The Optical Centre, Inc.
Fourth Place: Eye Care Center of Northern Colorado
Fifth Place: Eagle Vision & Eye Clinic

Is that menu looking a little fuzzy? Not quite as quick on the street signs as you used to be? Browsing the large-print aisles at the local library? Maybe it’s time to put a stylish fashion statement on your face and improve your vision to boot. Eyeworks draws from the skill set of a set of doctors who have been working together for more than 20 years. They’ll get you checked out and set up with some frames to make everything in your life come into focus. Or, at least you’ll be able to see it more clearly.

Tobacco/Pipe Shop
179 W. South Boulder Road, Lafayette, 303-665-7870
301 Martin St., Longmont, 303-772-2323
Second Place: High Society Smoke Shop
Third Place: Barlow’s Premium Cigars & Pipes
Fourth Place: Havana Manor Cigar Lounge
Fifth Place: Tobacco King

Bigger really must be better in this category. Our readers chose Smoker Friendly as their favorite shop. East County’s two Smoker Friendly shops are just a couple of the SF company’s more than 500 locations nationwide. Now that’s buying power.

But if it’s a fine cigar and a leathery couch to kick back and smoke on that you’re looking for, you might want to give Barlow’s or Havana Manor a try. It’s a broad category these days in Boulder County.

New Business
401 S. Public Road, Lafayette, 720-432-4292
Second Place: Lucky’s Market
Third Place: Sunshine & Rain
Fourth Place: Proper Grounds Coffee Roasters
Fifth Place: Eleanor

A new business, and already Curating the Cool is making waves in Lafayette. It’s the winner of the East County Best Gift Shop and Best Independent business awards this year, and for a new business, it’s doing quite well. It fits nicely into downtown Lafayette, and it’s the coolest thing to hit that town since the 2007 blizzard. From reclaimed wood wallets to gauges and dials that look like they came from a factory in 1917, there are few places in the county where you can get your steampunk/hipster fashion on quite as well as Curating the Cool.

Toy Store
180 E. Flatiron Crossing Drive, Broomfield, 303-465-8005
2525 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 303-443-0780
Second Place: Geppetto’s Toy Shoppe

The old cliché “like a kid in a candy store” really ought to be revised. After maybe their third Halloween, children learn that a candy store is not the place to go hog wild unless they’ve got an iron stomach. A kid in a candy store is excited, sure, but they’re cautious, selective.

Now, a kid in a toy store? That’s where they can cut loose. What are they worried about, carpal tunnel? And don’t give us the obesity speech: Bicycles, footballs and kickballs are toys too. Grandrabbit’s is the best place in Boulder County, our readers say, for kids to go crazy like a kid in a toy store.

1795 Plaza Drive, Louisville, 303-258-0563
Second Place: Safe and Sound Auto Accessories
Third Place: Accent Auto Sound

It seems like in an age of low-quality MP3s, sound fidelity is increasingly becoming an afterthought. However, audiophiles can still delight at the selection at Sweet Wave Audio, where serious music lovers can get audio equipment for all occasions. Does your band have a huge gig coming up? Make sure the audience hears everything exactly as you want them to with a professional P.A. rig. From sales to rentals, Sweet Wave Audio can help you out with whatever your audio need may be. Second-place winner Safe and Sound Auto Accessories in Longmont can help make sure your music sounds equally great during your commute.

Tire Shop
379 S. Hover St., Longmont
740 U.S. Highway 287, Lafayette
Second Place: Big O Tires
Third Place: Louisville Tire & Auto Care
Fourth Place: Roadmasters Auto & Tire Center
Fifth Place: Grease Monkey

Tires are one of those things you don’t think about until one goes flat. Or when that grease monkey doing your oil change tells you the tread is wearing thin. Either way, when your car needs new shoes, our voters say the place to go is Discount Tire, which has locations in Longmont and Lafayette. We love this place because we’re old enough to remember its classic TV commercial with the voiceover, “If ever you’re not satisfied with one of our tires, please feel free to bring it back,” and the little old lady tossing a tire through the shop’s glass wall.