Best Of 2012: Store for Records, CDs and DVDs
To the outsider, it would seem nothing short of a miracle that a record store still exists. And yet, not only does Independent Records exist, but it employs upward of 90 people at its six locations from Denver to Pueblo. According to Mandy Christensen, who handles the marketing and advertising for this category's perennial winner, it's a willingness to expand in different product areas that's kept Independent afloat in an industry that ate up others years ago. "It allows us to continue selling music and being the cultural touchstone for the community," she says. "We're the one-stop shop for a lot of people, whether they want music or movies." Products with higher margins, such as smoking accessories, keep the lights on and the bills paid. "It's been a labor of love," she says. "We think it's important to have a record store in the community." — Chet Hardin
Best of 2012: Local Venue for Live Music
Whether it's the yearly two-night run by Tech N9ne or shows by big-name artists like Foxy Shazam and Cannibal Corpse, the Black Sheep has earned its keep as Colorado Springs' perennial live music mecca. A non-stop winner in this category since 2006, the vaguely dungeon-like Platte Avenue mainstay is owned by Soda Jerk Presents, the Boulder-based company that also books Denver's Marquis Theater and Summit Music Hall. All of which makes this all-ages venue an attractive draw for national touring acts. "We regularly bring in bands that no one would ever expect to play here," says general manager Chris Huffine. "At least once a week, someone at a show will say to me, 'Wow, how did you get this band to come to Colorado Springs?'" — Bill Forman
Sometimes you just need to get your metal on without being around a throng of all-ages munchkins getting all hormonal. Much better, then, to watch a bunch of adults get all hormonal, lubricated in this case by free body shots for the women and hours of wholesome entertainment for those who just like to watch.
Happy hour: Daily, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The goods: Half-off wells, wine and drafts; $1 off all other drinks
Favorite pour: "Our Train Wreck. There's eight different liquors and it tastes like fruit punch."
If you're looking for a place to get your metal on without hordes of underage vermin trying to swig your drink while your back is turned Union Station is just like your own little Cheers. Except that instead of that creepy postman, they have free body shots. But just for the ladies. Frat-boy gets to watch.