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Mile High Pipe & Tobacco
1144 Pearl St., 303-443-7473
Runner-up: Eads News & Smoke Shop
Honorable Mention: The Fitter, Freaky’s Tattoo & Body Piercing
This year, Mile High Pipe & Tobacco rose from the runner-up position and took home the gold medal in this category. (We don’t actually give out medals, but you get the idea.) In this cozy, little basement shop on Pearl Street, they work with more than 500 different artists, and they are constantly rotating and upgrading the glasswork for their pipes. Mile High is also stocked with a wide selection of the best smoking accessories that money can buy. This is the best place in town to get a truly Boulder-style gift for the smoker on your Christmas list. Eads News & Smoke Shop takes home the silver medal in 2008. (Once again, no actual medals.) Eads has pipes, tobacco products, books and the best selection of magazines in town. The bronze medal (see last two parenthetical references) is a tie between The Fitter, a longtime Boulder establishment, and Freaky’s Tattoo & Body Piercing, where you can get a pipe and a piercing.
REAL ESTATE GROUP
2425 Canyon Blvd., Ste. 110,
Runner-up: Wright-Kingdom Real Estate
With amazing views and the constant flow of CU students in need of housing, homes here maintain extremely high property values, especially compared with other areas in Colorado. Whether you’re in the market to buy your first home in Boulder County or hope to sell your prairie palace, you’re going to want experts to help you navigate the market and make sure you get the most from your investment. Re/Max of Boulder was voted this year’s best real estate group for their comprehensive services. They bring their national status to the region with a more personalized set of resources for Boulder County residents. Re/Max provides community information such as schools, government and tips on Front Range living. We give props to runner-up Wright-Kingdom Real Estate for being local pioneers in the business. Wright-Kingdom focuses all of their efforts in Boulder County and goes above and beyond for their customers. They offer tutorials for first-time buyers and sellers and bring a personal touch to their services.
Boulder Running Company
2775 Pearl St., #103, 303-786-9255
Runner-up: Pedestrian Shops
The story of the marathon goes something like this: In ancient Greece, the Persians invaded the city of Marathon and attacked in what was known as the Battle of Marathon. The Greeks were successful, despite the absence of Gerard Butler, but in order to warn other areas of the possibility of future attacks, the city sent a soldier named Pheidippides to Athens. Pheidippides ran the entire distance between the two cities (approximately 26 miles, according to some versions of the story) and finally arrived among the Athenians. After telling them of the news from Marathon, he fell over exhausted and died. It’s just a shame that Pheidippides didn’t have the Boulder Running Company. With their help, chances are he might have made it. Any runner can tell you that shoes make all the difference when it comes to aches, blisters and injuries. Thankfully, the Republic’s many runners have the Boulder Running Company to turn to for their shoe needs. The folks at BRC are absolute pros at assessing which shoe will be the perfect fit. They videotape you running on a treadmill and then analyze the footage, studying your pronation and stress tendencies. Afterward, you can select from a variety of suggested styles that might aid your personal habits. Of course, you can always hop back on the treadmill for another go in your new shoes. This kind of tailored experience is unparalleled, and your feet should give thanks. Simply put, Boulder Running Company rocks our socks… and shoes.
SKI / SNOWBOARD
Boulder Ski Deals
2525 Arapahoe Ave., #E10,
Runner-up: Christy Sports
Honorable Mention: Neptune Mountaineering
The first hints of the existence of skis are found on rock drawings that are 4,500 to 5,000 years old, which means that back before cave dudes had learned to read or do math, they had learned to schuss. Found in Norway, the drawings depict a man on skis holding a stick. The word “ski” goes back to an Old Norse word, which means “a stick of wood,” which is, essentially, what skis used to be. These days, however, skis have moved beyond being a couple of planks of wood strapped on your feet to high-tech gizmos made from a complex assembly of components, including glass fiber, Kevlar, titanium and hardened plastic. In Colorado, skiing is not just a hobby, it’s a way of life, and there are plenty of stores in Boulder County that cater to the needs of the skiers (and snowboarders) who thrive on the snow-covered steeps of this state. Boulder Ski Deals tops the list with our readers. With a great location, awesome equipment (for sale or rental), a friendly and knowledgeable staff and overall outstanding service, Boulder Ski Deals is sure you’ll be pleased with your experience. Imagine how jealous those cave dudes would be if they could see what you strap onto your feet.
Bart’s CD Cellar
1015 Pearl St., 303-447-8150
Runner-up: Albums On the Hill
We’ve lost track of how many years in a row Bart’s has won this award, but it has been a lot. Bart’s opened up shop on Pearl Street in 1991, the same year Nirvana’s seminal Nevermind album came out. Coincidence? We think not. Just as Kurt Cobain’s haunting lyrics changed the face of modern rock in America, Bart’s has opened up a whole new world for Boulder County music purists. They have a great selection of new and used CDs, and they’re a solid resource for those hard-to-find albums. They’re also stocked up on DVDs, electronics, T-shirts, memorabilia and more. And if you haven’t rummaged around in Bart’s attic yet, you really have to check it out.
Every record store should be in a basement. There’s something about that dark dungeon environment at Albums that feels like home to hardcore music connoisseurs. You can browse through their wide selection of CDs, DVDs and vinyls, or just hang out and try to beat the staff at pop culture trivia (you will probably lose). Albums also has a quality bar/restaurant upstairs that features live music and comedy performances on certain nights.
2034 Arapahoe Ave., 303-444-0479
Runner-up: Circuit City
Honorable Mention: Ultimate Electronics
ListenUp is one of those rare franchises that grows up and becomes both a local institution and an industry leader. Founded in Denver in 1972 by Walt Stinson and Steve Weiner, AV nerd-buddies from Knox College in Illinois and more or less standard issue audiophile purists, Listen Up has since established itself as both a quality retailer, sound engineers of the highest level and, before there was such a thing, top-notch consultants in home audio and theater design. They also established a unique reputation as live concert broadcasters, taking over sound (in exchange for advertising) for the weekly Ebbets Field concerts broadcasts and eventually becoming one of the top concert sound designers in the country. They can also claim credit for being the first retailer in Colorado that featured CDs in their stores, to play on CD players that no one had ever seen or even heard of, betting their entire franchise on this suspicious new digital technology back in 1983. Anyone in Boulder even considering a home audio system beyond big-box predictability would be out of their minds not to stop by the ListenUp store and see what three and a half decades of absolute dedication to sound quality can do for them.
2735 Iris Ave., #A, 303-444-7380
Runner-up: Tribal Rites Tattoo & Piercing
Honorable Mention: Scarred For Life Tattoos
Tattooing is one of the oldest art forms. The practice can be traced back to Neolithic times on several continents and is still used by cultures around the world to demonstrate familial heritage, religious tradition and artistic expression. In the past, American tattoos have often been used by large, mustachioed dudes to express their love for their mothers. However, over the years, tattooing has become less underground and more widely accepted, in the process, morphing into a form of fine art. If you’re interested in turning your body into a living canvas, you should definitely visit Bolder Ink and talk to the talented artists at their shop. They are extremely professional and they pride themselves on safety and quality. This year, Tribal Rites Tattoo & Piercing has leapt into the runner-up position, and Scarred For Life Tattoos is pulling down the honorable mention. Tribal Rites does amazing work with creative and nontraditional piercings, and Scarred For Life has built up an impressive gallery of work.
3215 28th St., 303-440-6811
Runner-up: Barnsley Tire Company
Honorable Mention: Big O Tire
There’s no denying that America loves its cars. With approximately 3,995,644 miles of highway, the U.S. has the largest national highway system in the world. This expansive structure has allowed us the opportunity to sight-see and explore, not to mention embark year after year on family road trips. But with gas price estimates pointing to $5 a gallon in the near future, citizens are increasingly concerned about hitting the streets. But there is a lot you can do to help ensure top gas mileage for your vehicle. One of the most important? Maintaining your tires. Discount Tire garners this year’s first place for best tire shop. Discount has been giving Boulder County residents the best deals on tires for years. They have an unbeatable selection of tires for any size of vehicle, including ATV wheels. In addition, Discount has fancy chrome styles for any DIY Pimp My Ride attempts. Their friendly and professional staff is always on hand to make sure that you get the best fit for the price.
Grandrabbit’s Toy Shoppe
2525 Arapahoe Ave., 303-443-0780
Runner-up: Into the Wind
Honorable Mention: Play Fair
Toys and games are as old as time. Toys excavated from the Indus valley civilization (3000 to 1500 BCE) include whistles shaped like birds, small carts and monkeys that could slide down a string. For most of history, toys have been made from materials found in nature — sticks, rocks, wood, clay — but in modern times, toys are often made from plastic and other synthetic materials. Toys can provide both entertainment and education to kids, as well as adults. Grandrabbit’s Toy Shoppe is an independently owned specialty toy store that’s been selling hand-selected, educational and fun toys since 1977. With a great selection of classic toys, eco-friendly toys and toys for specific occasions or age-groups, Grandrabbit’s has a toy for every kid in your life — no matter what age that kid is. And with a fine selection of eco-friendly toys, if you want to stay away from plastic — which sometimes contains toxic components that leach out — there are plenty of options for toys made from materials and under conditions that are both humane and environmentally friendly.
1933 28th St., 303-753-8800
Staff Pick: Dreamweaver Travel
637-V S. Broadway, 303-499-8500
Runner-up: Cain Travel
Honorable Mention: Boulder Travel,
Despite the issues with the economy and the troubles within the airline industry, the travel industry continues to be one of the most lucrative in the U.S., with some $740 billion having been spent in 2007 — a significant increase from the $699 billion that was spent in 2006. In Boulder, there are numerous agencies that offer expert advise to travelers, and, indeed, five such agencies received strong support from our readers in this year’s poll. Although part of a huge corporate entity, it’s hard to beat AAA, aka the Automobile Association of America, for breadth of services. In addition to their travel agency offerings, AAA brings financial, insurance, car buying and, of course, emergency road assistance services to the table. Our staff pick, however, is Dreamweaver Travel, a locally owned agency that specializes in dive adventures to some of the most exotic destinations across the globe. Dreamweaver is an extension of Best Dive Shop winner Weaver’s Dive & Travel Center, where you can also become a certified SCUBA diver. We can’t imagine a better vacation during the cold Colorado winter than communing with nature in the warm tropical waters of the Caribbean or the South Pacific.
3175 28th St., # 2, 303-449-3765
Honorable Mention: Humane Society Thrift Store, Rags to Riches
Aye, matey! There be nothin’ in this world better than treasure huntin’. (This is supposed to be a pirate voice, in case you missed that.) But ye don’t need to sail the seven seas to find a chest filled with priceless plunder, arrr. Ye can simply go down to the Bookworm, arrr, where there be used and rare books aplenty on a variety of topics, such as Plank Walkin’, Parrot Trainin’, Coping with Your Inner Scallywag, Eye-Patch Maintenance and General Skulduggery. And if that ain’t enough for ye, there be a grand little spot called Savers that’ll shiver yer timbers. Savers has all the furniture ye need to decorate yer pirate ship real pretty. And they got a great selection of clothes to dress up yer cabin boy, too. It ain’t good to have a scrubby lookin’ cabin boy. Yo-ho-ho, ye scurvy dog! I can see ye want more. Very well. Ye can also drag your lily-livered carcass down to the Humane Society Thrift Store or Rags to Riches. Did ye hear that? Rags and riches! Those be the two best things in a pirate’s life. Besides rum. Arrr!
1750 15th St., 303-449-3374
Runner-up: Superior Liquor
Honorable Mention: North Boulder Liquor
Just think of all the great things that liquor has done for American culture. Without liquor, Charles Bukowski would have been just another disgruntled postal worker. Without liquor, the movie Cocktail would be kind of pointless. Without liquor, “Margaritaville” would be a song about some dude who lost his salt shaker. Yes, without alcohol, we’re just a bunch of boring people who live south of Canada. Yes, Uncle Sam wants you… to get ferschnickered, and Boulder has an amazing selection of stores to help you become a true Yankee Doodle Dandy. Liquor Mart is the local haven for both novice and professional drinkers. Their selection is simply amazing, and their knowledgeable staff can help you find the best wine, tequila or keg to fit your party and your budget. Superior Liquor and North Boulder Liquor are also doing their part to make sure that Boulder is an all-American city. Their shelves are stocked with a wide variety of fermented beverages from around the world with prices that will fit any wallet.
The Video Station
1661 28th St., 303-440-4448
Honorable Mention: North Boulder Video
Everyone knows that there’s nothing better than hanging out in your underwear with William Shatner on a Friday night. What? You’ve never stripped down to your boxers and kicked it old school with The Shat? That’s crazy. Here’s what you do: Take your car (or bike — whatever, hippie), drive down to the Video Station, which wins this category every year, and rent Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Yeah, that’s the one with the dude from Fantasy Island in it. Bring that bad boy back to your apartment, pop it in the DVD player (or Betamax — whatever, hipster), make some popcorn, and take off your pants. How awesome is that? Now you’re totally hanging out in your underwear with Shatner. Do you think they’d let you do that at a movie theater? No way. They totally freak out if you even take off your shirt. That’s why video stores are the bombdiggity, yo! Video Station has such an amazing selection of movies that you can hang out with a different celebrity every night of the week. Monday, Kevin Bacon. Tuesday, Halle Barry. Wednesday, Patrick Swayze. But remember to save Friday for Mr. William Shatner, or he will totally go Captain Kirk on your ass. KHAAAAAAN!!!
WIRELESS/CELL PHONE STORE
1650 28th St., # 1232, 720-406-5234
2790 Pearl St., 720-406-5234
Has this ever happened to you? You’re on the phone with Aunt Martha, explaining what to do about the angry grizzly bear that is attacking her. Aunt Martha is freaking out, of course, because, well, that’s just Aunt Martha. She’s no good in high-pressure situations. Aunt Martha says, “Should I smack the bear on the nose? That always works with your Uncle Rudy.” And just as you’re about to tell Aunt Martha not to go around slapping wild animals, your cell phone dies. Perhaps this hasn’t happened to you yet, but if you really love your Aunt Martha, you should get on down to Verizon Wireless and make sure you’ve got the best cell phone service available. This is the second year in a row that Verizon has won this category. They pride themselves on quality products, great plans and solid signal strength. T-Mobile is our runner-up, and they have a fabulous reputation for catering to independent businesses and families. Their knowledgeable staff can walk even the most hardcore luddite through the process of purchasing a cell phone. Well, don’t just stand there like a putz. Hurry up! Aunt Martha is waiting for you to call her back!
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