Writer's Pick: Best Bargain Boon, the expansion of West Side Bargain Mart
"Almost every week," says Jim Krug, "I get a customer asking, 'How do I open up a store like this?' And I say, 'You can't — there's just not enough inventory out there.'" Luckily for local bargain-hunters, Krug got in while the getting was good. And using the connections he's made in his four years running West Side Bargain Mart, he expanded not once, but twice, in the past year. Krug now fills 12,000 square feet with not only dry goods and groceries — many of which are natural and/or organic — but also electronics, cosmetics, car-care products and much more. Through October, all clothes — which often include Calvin Klein and Columbia items — are on sale, at about 25 percent of market price. — Kirk Woundy
Best Of 2011: Antique Store
'Treasures' abound in this picker's paradise. Manager Shirley Hernandez remembers a man who came in last year and bought "a picture." He later came back to share some news with the store's employees: His "picture" had turned out to be an unsigned Picasso worth a bundle. (Hey, that's his story ...) With 145 vendor booths and prices ranging from $500 on the high end (for an antique trunk) to 25 cents (for a toy), the store aims to have something for everyone. There's a café area with free tea and coffee, and a customer request book for shoppers who are looking for something specific. Among the collectibles, clothing and kitsch, look for "mantiques": Here you'll find a booth for fellas only, stuffed with swords, tools and beer paraphernalia. — Lynn Jacobs
Best Of 2015: Store for Accessories
Best Of 2015: Store for Women's Fashions
Many years ago, I told my husband if he ever wants to buy me a gift, all he needs to do is go to Terra Verde. It doesn't take much to hit a winner here, whether a super-soft scarf or a stylish hat or a piece of fashionable clothing or jewelry. I'd be happy to add pretty much anything from their collection to my closet, and have felt that way for the entire 23 years they've been open downtown. Side note: I shop here a lot because I know my friends feel the same way. — Kirsten Akens
Insider Guide 2010
For 45 years, locals have found their way to Mill Outlet and its yards and yards of fabric. Hidden in the warehouse district off Fillmore Street, Mill Outlet's frills are to be found inside the building, from basic cottons to bridal silks, upholstery tweed to ticking and tassels. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and helpful — whether you're working on a quilt, a suit or a burlesque costume.
The "discount" building materials here, checked for quality upon intake, are really worth a closer look for those into do-it-yourself home repairs and updates.
Best Green Business
It's almost inevitable that Envi would win the Best Green Business title, and not just because of our color-emotion assignments. Envi, in fact, now specializes in recycled, reinvented and repurposed clothes and décor. "It's funny, because I don't think we started out trying to be green," says co-owner Marci Featherstone, "but it just kind of evolved that way." Today, Marci and her husband Garry work with nearly 40 craftspeople who create unique jewelry, affordable artwork and creative clothing, including skirts made from men's shirts. "We have three kids, so we definitely want to save our environment for them," Featherstone says. She adds: "Everybody, not only store owners, but everybody, needs to think how they can reuse something other than just throwing it in the garbage. It's amazing what you can make out of junk, really." — Edie Adelstein
Best Of 2015: Ethnic Market
Besides expanding the range of products available to Springs pantries and kitchens, the Asian Pacific Market brings a little slice of home to military families, exchange students, Broadmoor interns and everyone else who ends up here from abroad. It doesn't just stock typical East Asian brands and products; it sells European and Caribbean exports, too. Every day at Asian Pacific, a visiting student tows in American friends to share something she enjoyed in childhood or a military spouse picks up fresh ingredients to bring a beloved family dish to a new generation. — Griffin Swartzell
Best Of 2015: Local Brewery
Best Of 2015: Local Microbrew to Drink in Autumn
Best Of 2015: Local Microbrew to Drink in Spring
Best Of 2015: Local Microbrew to Drink in Summer
Our readers have once more declared Bristol an ineffable tastemaker — loving Beehive in the spring and summer, Venetucci Pumpkin Ale in the fall, and Winter Warlock in the winter. So I asked Bristol's assistant brewer and head of quality control, Chase Perry, what he feels makes a good beer in each season. For summer, he says, "I love a session IPA, and a nice, easy-drinking blond sour ... [a] big hop presence with lots of tropical, citrusy notes." As for winter, he tends toward high-ABV, darker beers. "Definitely more malty, maybe more spicy, like a Christmas ale," he says. And since spring and autumn are transitional, he says, their brews should be, too. That means lighter but still boozy beers, like a maibock, in the spring, and "harvest beers and wet hop beers" — or Oktoberfests and other dark, German-style lagers — when the leaves turn. — Griffin Swartzell
Best Of 2015: Diner
Best Of 2015: Green Chili
Best Of 2015: Late-Night Dining
Colorado Springs isn't exactly a 24-hour town, at least not if you're talking about 24 consecutive hours. But on late Friday and Saturday nights, long after most of downtown has finished rolling up the sidewalks, the King's Chef Bijou Street operation is still ladling non-GMO green chile onto the eggs, hash browns and other hearty ingredients that constitute daunting dishes like The Grump, The Thing and the altogether sublime Huevos de King Chef. The Costilla location, meanwhile, caters to a daytime crowd that prefers to eat at a single lunch counter tucked into a kitschy little purple castle. We like both. — Bill Forman
Best Of 2010: Bartender
It takes me several days to track Dave Baumgartner. When I finally give up on reaching him by phone, I try another trick: stopping by the Rocket Room unannounced. I am greeted by the lovely and somehow motherly bartender Daniella Conner, who is wearing a red satin bustier and talks about Dave in glowing terms, her wide eyes all a-glisten.
"He's so humble," she tells me. "He listens to everyone, he has an awful lot of patience."
A guy leaned over the bar with a Miller High Life posed in front of him occasionally chips in. "He's a kick," the anonymous guy says, his voice slightly drowsy.
I, however, am not convinced that a warm personality is all it takes to be voted best bartender. There must be more to the story. I prod Conner until she gives in. "The ladies," she says, finally, "love Dave B."
In a few minutes, with Conner's help, I have Dave on the phone. I warm him up with the usual, "Why are you so popular?" "How do you connect with your customers?"
Dave plays the humble card, answering with unassuming retorts like, "That's a good question, I'm kind of mystified by that myself," and "I try to remember [people's] names, and if you can remember what they drink that's pretty impressive."
Dave is good. Real good. He acts as though he has no idea that it's his babehood that's elevated him to the top. Instead, Dave talks about the future of the bar. The Rocket Room is shutting down at the end of October unless someone buys the business.
"I kind of want to stay at the Rocket Room," he says. "This is just kind of where my heart is."
The good news is, Dave, along with all his hunkiness, is planning to stay in town and keep bartending, even if the Rocket disappears. —J. Adrian Stanley
So do you feel thirsty, punk? Well, do ya? Then head to the Rocket Room, where you can slake your thirst for both cheap booze and great music in true punk-rock style. Colorado Springs' best live ThrashabillyAmericanaGarageRock venue books tons of underground touring bands you can tell your grandkids about someday. There's also a Stooges-stocked jukebox well worth your care and feeding.
Happy hour: Wednesday-Saturday, 3-7 p.m.
The goods: $5 pitchers; $3.50 pints of Pinstripe and Arrogant Bastard; $3.50 Jameson; $3 wells
Come here if you are: "Not lame and into supporting your local businesses."
Best Of 2105: Local Venue for Live Music
With the Black Sheep's 10th anniversary fast approaching, the all-ages venue continues to offer the kind of shows that deserve its clientele's hard-earned allowances. "Whether it's Waka Flocka tossing delighted fans into a sold-out crowd after he takes a selfie with their iPhone, or Kongos pumping out eight-foot smoke rings before they hit Red Rocks the night after, we like to think this little place has something for everyone," says general manager Jeremy Grobsmith. Part of the venue's success is that it draws audiences as diverse as its musical offerings, which in the months ahead will include Hieroglyphics co-founder Del the Funky Homosapien, Rough Trade recording artists Houndmouth, glam-rock upstarts The Struts, and punk-rock warhorses Agnostic Front. "It isn't every day that you get to stand inches away from your future favorite rock star," says Grobsmith, "or ogle your former childhood crush." — Bill Forman