Best Of 2018


2018 Best Of Colorado Springs Community, Shopping and Services 

Indy Best Of

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Day Spa

SunWater Spa

• Big draw: heated, cedar-lined soaking tubs, full of Manitou Springs' famous mineral water.

A unique SunWater treatment: Chakra Journey massages, using scented oils at different points of the body to facilitate mind/body healing.

Catch co-founder Kat Tudor's Yoga for Healing classes, held four times a week, and MELT classes, which teach how to revitalize aching joints.

Asked about SunWater's philosophy, publicity director Wendy Wilkinson says: "It is truly a mind-body connection. Our goal is to be restorative... it's a very gentle experience."


Cambio Yoga

Cambio's mission is to make high quality yoga accessible to all through their donation model.

They offer a variety of classes — almost 100 weekly — for all bodies and ages, and focus on community and education.

Cambio doesn't judge. It meets you where you are in your yoga practice, even if that's laying down for the entire class.

"We want every single person who walks in to feel welcome and included," says owner Amber Richman. "We want them to have the resources to learn and grow in whatever way is right for them."

Piercing Shop, Tattoo Shop

Pens & Needles Custom Tattoo Company

Two locations founded and owned by Kristina Wright, a retired Army Sergeant First Class.

Ongoing discounts benefit military members and dependents, and monthly specials serve all sorts of demographics.

Keep an eye out for spur-of-the-moment $25 tattoo days, a damn steal for the quality you'll get.

Want a classic anchor or "mom" in a heart? Or watercolor or geometric designs? These artists do it all, each specializing in a different style.

This is the go-to place for specialty work like scar and breast revision.

Get comfy in private tattooing booths, each boasting a big-screen TV — something to keep your mind off the pain, no doubt.


Lincoln St. Barbers

Cuts, color, shaves, beard trims, products and more means Lincoln St. Barbers is a one-stop shop for every man's grooming needs.

LSB isn't one of those pseudo barbershops run by hairstylists, it's a real barbershop with barbers well-versed in the specialized trade.

In true barbershop fashion, LSB is effortlessly cool — from the barbers to the space itself. Stick around for a drink and some shop-talk before or after your service (or just for the shop's hip-hop playlist).

Growing substantially since opening in 2016, LSB's home to 10 barbers, with appointments and walk-ins available to keep your look on point.

LSB is a staunch community advocate, supporting fundraisers and events like the annual Rock Paper Scissors showdown, and Porch Fest.

  • Robert Mitchell/Sleepless Art Photography
Tattoo Artist

Emily Boughton Medina, To The Grave Tattoo

Tattoos are addictive, as Medina discovered on her 18th birthday. She got a piece on the center of her back, and she enjoyed it so much, she returned to the shop for another tattoo the next day. Thirteen years ago, she did an apprenticeship in Pueblo, and she's been tattooing ever since. Her shop, To The Grave, celebrated its ninth anniversary in August of 2018. "I've worked at a handful of different tattoo shops, and I think they can be kind of intimidating," she says. "They're intimidating to go into to me too sometimes." At To The Grave she works to make getting a tattoo as welcoming as possible; her crew — including artists Mike Strescino and Mike Garcia — is disarmingly welcoming, she says. For bigger pieces, her shop offers $500 open-to-close sessions, which allow for downtime and lunch breaks without pushing other appointments. As an artist, she says she's pretty versatile but tends to get a lot of work doing abstract and watercolor tattoos. Her favorite pieces are the sort that stretch outside the typical "zones" allocated to tattoos — say, a chest piece that extends onto the arm and back. In the next few years, she hopes to learn how to do permanent makeup tattoos, too.

click to enlarge SARAH MOSQUERA
  • Sarah Mosquera
Hair Salon

Veda Salon & Spa

Going 21 years strong, Veda services include hair, nails, massage, spa and more.

Quick Sanskrit lesson: Veda means "knowledge" and that's something this salon certainly displays as it relates to their trade. "Because the industry is ever-changing, we're always looking ahead and educating our employees constantly," says manager Amy Whaley.

"One of our pillars is community service," she notes. "We love giving back and getting involved in the community."

Veda carries Aveda products exclusively, all of which are plant- and flower-based and environmentally friendly.

Jewelry Store

Luisa Graff Jewelers

This jeweler stands out "because we care — we [feel] a need for education and for being people's advocate," says owner Luisa Graff.

Graff's father was a chemist and engineer; coming from a science-driven family, she's knowledgeable about all things rocks (i.e., gemstones).

"I just want to share my knowledge so that people can make the best decisions for themselves," she says."We ultimately want the customer to make the decision on their own, for what's best for them."

Repairs are how the store got its start, and they've since built lasting relationships based on trust.


Liese Chavez

Liese Chavez continues her winning streak in this category, proving her paints haven't lost their luster.

How to know it's a Liese Chavez piece? Look for elegant, whimsical figures with piercing eyes, most at home in a fantasy setting.

With husband Kris Chavez, Liese co-owns Chavez Gallery, which is as much an interactive artistic playground as it is a gallery for fine art.

Fun fact: Liese is also a self-taught magician. Check out her tricks at Chavez Gallery's legendary First Friday parties.

Nail Salon

Beauty Bar

Let's face it: An hour-long pedicure is fun and all, but in today's fast-paced world, it can get... well... boring. Beauty Bar makes it more fun by adding booze to the mix.

Downtown and Dublin Boulevard locations both feature full bars with rotating featured drinks to complement nail services, hair services, skin care, waxing and more.

The employees have fun, too: At a recent appointment on Tejon Street, one nail technician showed off photos of the Halloween costumes she wore to work last year and brainstormed new ideas with co-workers.

The salon offers packages for bachelorette parties, weddings and sweet 16s (or whatever your excuse is).

Flower Shop

Platte Floral

Attention all significant others, children, and otherwise gift-givers: Flowers are ALWAYS a good idea, and no one does them better than Platte Floral, clearly.

Consultations with staff florists make it easy to create the perfect custom arrangement for any special occasion, or simply shop their selection of fresh floral fascinations.

Platte Floral has grown into an all-things-plants provider, including indoor and greenhouse plants, gifts and home decor.

Three years shy of celebrating its 100th anniversary, Platte Floral and its greenhouse remain a staple of the Platte shopping strip.

Local and worldwide shipping options make gifting a breeze, too (so no more excuses).

click to enlarge BRYAN OLLER
  • Bryan Oller
Museum, Theater Company

The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College

Has exhibited the work of masters from Degas to Dali, and oft-rotating exhibits feature local, regional, national and international talent.

Award-winning theater company has annual impressive showings at the Pikes Peak Arts Council Awards and the statewide Henry Awards, among others.

Looking forward to some great productions in 2019, including country-music musical Hands on a Hardbody and the Tony Award-winning Barnum.

Colorado College partnership encourages education. Look out for artist talks, town hall discussions, after-play talkbacks and much more.

The FAC, which grew out of the Broadmoor Art Academy (est. 1919) will soon celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Art Gallery

Cottonwood Center for the Arts

Galleries, studios, event space, drama productions and First Friday parties with live dance performances — Cottonwood has everything.

Coolest exhibit this year: Writing Is Art, wherein local writers responded to pieces of art, and the two works were displayed together.

Check out near-monthly juried calls for entries for your shot at the exhibition space.

With more than 80 studio artists working in different media and styles, peering into studios is like catching glimpses of alternate dimensions.

New Artist Café every second Saturday — an opportunity to talk about the business of art and "what it takes to be a professional artist."


Hammond Law Group

Catherine Hammond, whose mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and who knew the importance of the estate planning process, started the firm.

"We believe in education and educating community. We offer free workshops monthly, regardless if the attendees do business with us or not," says Robert Gonzales, director of marketing.

"We're experts in our field," he says. "This is all we do, while other attorneys might have a broader scope."

He also says Hammond has "open ears and a caring heart" as it relates to serving their clients.

Antique Store

Willowstone Marketplace

The 75,000-square-foot showroom could take hours to browse.

Not just antiques! Local artisans sell their wares at Willowstone, and you'll find vintage/upcycled items too.

More than 400 unique vendors.

Wanna sell your own antiques or artisan goods? Vendor options available. (And storage options, if you're not ready to sell.)


The Broadmoor

Talk about luxury: Choose from gorgeous rooms and suites, cottages and brownstones, and wilderness experiences.

Hosts 26 specialty retail shops, three golf courses, multiple swimming pools, and tennis and pickleball courts among the property's many amenities.

The Broadmoor's dozen-plus dining options attract serious talent. Indy food writers have lauded the Summit, the Penrose Room, Natural Epicurean... pretty much every option.

Walk the halls to view the art: area-appropriate Western art and bronze sculpture, plus contemporary and traditional works of all styles.

Bank/Credit Union

Ent Credit Union

Founded in 1957, the credit union was chartered to meet the financial service needs of Ent Air Force Base, named after Uzal Girard Ent, commanding general of the Second Air Force based in Colorado Springs during World War II.

As the military presence in the Pikes Peak area grew, the credit union's membership expanded to include the Peterson, Falcon (now Schriever) and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force bases.

With more than 310,000 members and more than $5 billion in assets, Ent Credit Union stands strong and ready to serve you.

Check out their free seminars to help you make the most of what you've got.

  • Courtesy Bronco Billy's Casino

Bronco Billy's Casino

It's rare to think of a casino as anything other than an impersonal gambling zone. However, Bronco Billy's has managed to overcome that perception by creating an atmosphere that is far more like a friendly hometown bar or diner. Stretched out comfortably along East Bennett Avenue, the casino offers lots of slots and tables to play and four different places to dine, including a restaurant with 49-cent breakfast. Affable dealers only strengthen the cozy feel of the casino, chatting you up while they deal out cards, scoop up dice and gently remind patrons not to place their drinks on the tables about 100 times an hour. If you head up during the quieter hours, they'll even take some time to teach you how to play, making it a little bit easier to make the leap in and join a table when you're ready. Fun and friendly is just how Bronco Billy's rolls.

  • Casey Bradley Gent
Tourist Attraction

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo had a tough 2018. Among other tragedies, the zoo was pelted with the worst hailstorm in recent memory, suffering damages that even made national news. But this 80-year-old institution doesn't just endure its challenges; it gets bigger and better each year. Open 365 days a year, rain or shine, the zoo remains an interactive, educational destination for people of all ages to see endangered animals, feed giraffes, contribute to global conservation efforts, and get a really good workout walking up those hills. Be sure to check the zoo calendar for special events, including a winter Electric Safari that lights up the grounds for the holidays, occasional adults-only tasting events with food and drink, an annual Boo at the Zoo celebration for kids and families during the Halloween season, and many more.

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
MMJ Dispensary/North/South/West, Recreational Marijuana Dispensary

Maggie's Farm

Opened in 2014, the Maggie's Farm location in Manitou Springs was the first recreational marijuana dispensary in El Paso County. Last year, the location was the single largest generator of sales tax revenue in Manitou, so yeah, the public's been responding positively. All of the company's locations — three award-winners in town, plus three more locations in Pueblo and Cañon City, with a fourth recently opened in north Pueblo — sell cannabis that's grown outdoors and watered with spring water, making it all Clean Green Certified, the cannabis industry's parallel to USDA organic certification. "We care about our patients, and we go out of our way to take care of our patients and offer them a premium, outdoor, Clean Green Certified product," says Wendy Broome, director of marketing and operations. In addition, Maggie's offers a plethora of concentrates and edibles from many brands, addressing a variety of medical and recreational consumer needs.

MMJ Dispensary-Downtown

Altitude Organic Medicine

With four locations in Colorado Springs and one in Dillon, Colorado, AOM highlights prime strains of bud for medical patients who want to Netflix & chill at home or recreational options for mountain adventures in Summit County.

AOM is unique in that they only offer all-organic flower that's grown without the use of any synthetic pesticides.

Their most popular strains are Purple Punch, Bubble Gum and Gorilla Glue x Do-Si-Dos.

AOM is the only game in town that specializes in a totally water solvent, terpene-rich rosin from sister operation Colorado Extract Company.

"We definitely value quality over quantity and value providing healthy meds you can rely on and trust," says Delanie Gawlik, assistant manager at Altitude Organic Medicine. "We really care about our patients and want to see them happy and healthy."

Head Shop

Freakys Smoke Shop & Tattoo

Freakys is one of the longest-running head shops in Colorado Springs, in operation here since 2003, and in Colorado since 1992.

"We carry a lot of local glass and we specialize in anything for that alternative lifestyle," says Kael Woods, location manager at Freakys Smoke Shop & Tattoo on Platte Avenue. "Vaporizers, pipes of all sorts, e-liquids, all that stuff."

The funky and recognizable purple house on Platte, one of their two Springs locations, was built in the early 1900s.

Multiple tattoo and body artists are on staff to give you that forever ink you've been dreaming of or a temporary reason to piss off your parents.

"We're friendly and welcoming," says Woods. "We like people from all walks of life to come in and see us."

MMJ Dispensary-East

Native Roots Dispensary

This decorated dispensary has street cred as the recipient of awards from High Times, THC Classic, CannAwards and Best of Summit, Best of Vail and Best of Boulder, to name some outside of the Indy.

In a rush? Stressed? That's why we need the bud to begin with, right? We get in and get out quick fast and in a hurry with their call-ahead program for prompt pickups.

Native Roots focuses on educating potential clientele in order to provide the best possible strains for their individual needs.

Find cute, super-soft threads and funky accessories available in their retail shop.

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Local Band (Original)

Tejon Street Corner Thieves

Tejon Street Corner Thieves pushed their retired school bus to the limit while touring this past year, playing some 200 shows around the country, including major festivals like Muddy Roots, Westport Roots and Ruckus in the Boonies.

The band recently cut an encore short when a handful of racist homophobes began stirring up trouble. "Our shows will always be a safe space for all walks of life," the band later posted on Facebook. "We have your back and we are not afraid."

The group, which includes Connor O'Neal on banjo, percussion and vocals and Shawn D'Amario on guitar and vocals, also added two new members: Spencer Mode on washboard and Jeremy Knowles on upright bass and vocals. "Our team is now full force, full time," says O'Neal.

Fans and friends now refer to themselves as "Tejomies."

The band has been busy recording: They've just tracked a live album at Western Jubilee, will re-release their Every Last Drop CD on vinyl this winter, and have plans to record a new studio album next spring.

Local TV Station

KKTV 11 News

Your breaking news leader, KKTV has the scoop on all things weather, military, international, national and sports.

Got a story idea? Submit your ideas online, and maybe you'll see them on TV.

Recipient of two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards in 2017, both for a newscast and an investigative reporting effort.

Home to outstanding anchors like Dianne Derby, Alyssa Chin, James Brown and Brian Bledsoe.

Media Personality

Matt Meister, FOX 21

His return to forecasting and reporting after a three-year hiatus was highly celebrated. Today you'll find him serving as chief meteorologist for Fox 21 News and working in the community.

Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @TheWxMeister for weather-tweets, cool photos and the occasional broadcast outtake or funny gif.

In addition to having one of the funnest names ever to say out loud, Matt Meister is also just darn friendly and always willing to say hello to his fans — even especially awkward ones like yours truly.

His humorous approach to forecasting has been a beloved staple of weather reporting throughout the Front Range.

click to enlarge BRYAN OLLER
  • Bryan Oller
Special Event Venue

Stargazers Theatre & Event Center

While Stargazers co-owner John Hooton says the theater's abundant parking sets it apart from other venues in Colorado Springs (and he's not wrong), he also cites Stargazers' energy as a big draw. "There's nothing like live music and the energy that creates between the band and the audience," he says, adding that he and co-owner Cindy Hooton, and their staff, strive to create that energy at every show. For nearly 10 years, Stargazers has put on between 150-170 events annually, keeping busy as they keep up with a growing Colorado music scene. Under the building's unique domed roof, they've hosted big names such as Dave Mason and Steve Cropper, Leon Russell, Janis Ian and more. Hooton says classic rock, blues, funk, soul and Motown are the "bread and butter" of Stargazers, but the venue isn't limited by genre. Nor is it limited to music. Stargazers hosts plentiful film festivals and nonprofit events, and has even lent its stage to traveling animal circuses like Acro-Cats and Olate Dogs — which people "go wild" for, according to Hooton. Basically, if you've got a vision, Stargazers has the venue.

Local Band (Cover)

Woodshed Red

The past year has been, to say the least, an eventful one for the self-described "funky dance-grass" band Woodshed Red. The good news was that they added Grass It Up mandolinist Jason Gilmore to their ranks, and released Live in Manitou, an excellent album of half-covers, half-originals, back in February. The less-than-good news was a June incident in which a trailer that contained nearly all of their instruments and sound equipment was stolen. Still, the band soldiered on. "There's never a good time to get your stuff stolen," says co-founder Skye Lewis, "but some times are better than others." In this case, he and bandmates Rob Fulton, Deirdre McCarthy and Craig Haughton happened to have a two-week break in their show schedule, enough time to launch a GoFundMe campaign that helped them buy equipment for a free Fourth of July show. (While none of the stolen gear has been recovered, Lewis says the police have apparently identified one suspect through a surveillance video and put out a warrant for his arrest.) Meanwhile, the band continues to focus on writing original material — a studio album will soon get underway — while working up live covers of songs ranging from the Grateful Dead's "Tennessee Jed" to Deep Purple's "Hush." As for what's next, they'll be heading up to Denver on Nov. 1 for their first Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom headlining show, where they'll be playing Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety.

Local Radio Station

KRCC 91.5

At a time when the Warped Tour and Riot Fest have both left the building, KRCC's annual Blues Under the Bridge Festival, headlined this year by Los Lobos, drew the largest crowd in its 12 years of existence.

KRCC also benefited from increased listener support, with a 10 percent growth in membership. Sustaining members now constitute more than half of all memberships.

The major programming shift over the past year has been Vicky Gregor moving her popular morning drive-time show to its current 7-10 p.m. slot. "Doing a music show at night has not only connected me with a new group of the listening public, it reminds me of when I first started in radio as an overnight deejay," says Gregor, who is also the station's music coordinator, hosts its monthly Air Check show, and is herself a frequent Best Of winner. "The songs open up in your ears quite differently when it's dark outside."

This year also saw the arrival of two new voices: Abigail Beckman has been brought on to dig up local news stories as a Morning Edition host, while new staffer Ali Buckner will be part of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serve Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

"Over the years, I've witnessed incredible growth in our membership and audience size," says Program Director Jeff Bieri, who will celebrate his 30-year anniversary with the station next year. "The internet, of course, is presenting the biggest challenge to date. Younger generations no longer listen to radio the same way us boomers did. Exactly how podcasts and streaming services will define us in the years to come is still pretty much an unknown."

Home Improvement Service

Ace Hardware

The big-box stores are bully, but Ace is actually the world's biggest hardware store conglomerate. Still, each store feels local.

My preferred location is Bon Shopping Center, where staff's always informed and ready with handy advice. But none locally have ever let me down.

Dig all the vintage sodas, candy, hot sauces and knickknacks at the registers. Good luck not leaving with something you didn't come to buy.

From propane fills to key-making and paint-mixing, Ace does it all, at competitive prices.

Used Furniture

Platte Furniture

Furniture is curated with care, appealing to a wide variety of tastes, needs and budgets — all under one roof.

Shop ahead of time via their Facebook page. It's updated with different pieces every day.

The store has grown more than seven times its original size of 5,000 square feet, approaching an acre of retail space.

You can now order custom-made wood furniture built by local woodworkers.

Place for Adrenaline Junkies

The Manitou Incline

The former funicular railway takes hikers up over 2,000 feet in less than a mile, a hell of a climb for hikers of any fitness level.

This iconic trail only became legal to hike in February 2013, though its illegal status had never slowed local hikers down.

Starting before the trail became legit, a group called Incline Friends has worked tirelessly to help keep the high-traffic trail in good repair. Most recently, they announced plans to add three exits, allowing tired hikers to bail out before the summit.

From the top, it's easy to follow a trail over to ever-busy Barr Trail, which leads all the way to the top of Pikes Peak, for the ambitious.

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Clothing Boutique, Store for Fashion Accessories

Terra Verde

For 25 years, Terra Verde has occupied a well-trodden section of Downtown right across from Acacia Park, where it's kept its clothing, gifts and accessories up-to-date with all the latest styles. According to manager Leah Riehl, there's a multi-generational approach to what they carry. Customers who began shopping at Terra Verde when it was first founded now come shopping with their grandchildren. "We want anyone to walk in here and be able to find something that they love," Riehl says. Some of their customers' best-loved brands include Hobo Bags, Habitat Clothes, Salaam Clothing, Firefly Jewelry and many more — and this reporter is especially delighted to see them carrying designs by Effie's Heart. Their most sought-after item: Whirlies. These hand-made wind chimes from Thailand are made up of little wooden animals decorated with feathers. Walk by Terra Verde during business hours and you'll undoubtedly see them whirling outside.

Bike Shop

Old Town Bike Shop

With 42 years' experience in business, Old Town brings a wealth of knowledge to the game.

Last time I stopped by for a flat tire, rim- and tube-check, I was in and out in five minutes, sans appointment. Fast/friendly service: check.

For serious bikers (not the goofball carrying a latte, one-handing a cruiser bike, though we respect your style, bro), make a fitting appointment to ensure you match your ride perfectly for peak performance.

They have you covered for mountain or road bikes, plus cyclocross, hybrid, BMX bikes and more (i.e., Old Town is plenty new school).

Daylight wanes and winter's coming: Don't ride without proper lights. Find ample options here, like LEDs that transfer easily between bikes.

Place to Buy Skis/Snowboards

The Ski Shop

Family-owned and -operated since 1952, The Ski Shop sells only ski and snowboard gear, so their expertise remains focused.

"There is a passion the employees have that work here and it shows in the environment when people walk in," says owner Rick Uhl.

"I've owned the store for 17 years, and the customers are the best part," he adds. (So whatever you're doing, keep doing it.)

Employees test the equipment together, so if it ain't great, they'll know.

click to enlarge BRIAN TRYON
  • Brian Tryon
Local Sports Store/Outdoor Outfitter

Mountain Chalet

When it comes to specialized outdoor equipment for both regular and obscure sports (I'm looking at you, ice climbers) they easily outpace the big-box retailers by a wide backcountry mile.

Can't afford to outfit yourself but still want to play? Rent their quality gear instead.

The shop often hosts guest speakers who share tales of their experiences summiting enormous peaks, achieving new heights in rock climbing and enjoying other adventures.

The staff is absolutely brilliant and always ready to answer any question. They all have a specialty or five and love to help you find yours.

click to enlarge BRIAN TRYON
  • Brian Tryon
Motorcycle/Scooter Shop

Apex Sports

These folks know everything about motorcycles. The parts guys once identified a part I needed based solely on a terrible sketch I drew on an envelope.

Find an unparalleled selection of motorcycles, ATVs, dirt bikes and other small-but-mighty vehicles.

If you've already got a bike, trike or scooter, Apex can help you acquire a sweet sidecar or aftermarket parts and accessories to turn your piece of road freedom into something that's truly you.

Outfit yourself in style with a fancy helmet or a rad leather jacket in the online gear store.

Place to Buy Tires

Discount Tire

For adventurous mud-terrain types or plain day-to-day traffic drivers, Discount Tire has what you need, offering a wide selection of custom wheels, leading performance tires and off-road options.

They can help you out even if you need something special, tires for lawn mowers, golf carts, race cars, trailers, ATVs and more.

"We are a culture dedicated to taking care of customers and their safety," says Shane King, manager at the Dublin and Academy boulevard location.

Check the Tips & Guides page on their website and troubleshoot your problems right from home.

Used Car Dealer


Whether you love or hate shopping for used cars — because there is no in-between — CarMax makes it stupid easy.

The sprawling Springs location off Powers Boulevard hosts a crazy variety of makes and models, but a countrywide network and inventory allows CarMax to find and transfer just about anything.

Gone are the days of rifling through webpages researching the perfect car. makes for an all-service research center with vehicle reviews, rankings and articles before you buy.

CarMax wants your old car, too. And they'll buy it no matter the make, model or mileage.

Auto Repair Shop

Tire World Auto Repair Tire Pros

Six locations around town means easy access. That might sound too corporate, but each shop feels local, with welcoming staff that care.

People generally distrust mechanics and worry about being ripped off, but Tire World goes to great lengths to explain jobs and guide customers through decisions. They'll earn your trust.

Two words: free shuttle. Within 5 miles, get dropped off and/or picked up while Tire World's mechanics do their thing under your hood. (Really didn't mean that to sound dirty.)

Hit their website for coupons and tire rebates. Savings = awesome.

Local Transportation Service

Mountain Metropolitan Transit

"A growing, vibrant city like Colorado Springs has to have good public transportation," says Vicki McCann, public relations and marketing supervisor.

MMT offers fixed-route bus travel, an ADA paratransit program, van pool service for commuters, and a unique school pool matching service, providing choices for before- and after-school pickup. "It's a great program to allow parents to work together," says Craig Blewitt, director of MMT.

"MMT safely connects people to places around the area and allows them to engage in various activities," he says. "Public transportation is also important for economic development, getting people to their jobs."

MMT accommodates senior citizens and the disabled as well. "We don't want them to feel isolated; that's really important to us."

New Car Dealer, Service at a Dealership

Heuberger Subaru

The sales folks never make you feel like a minnow frantically evading a shark. They're patient and helpful, not pushy.

The dealership website allows you to peruse new and pre-owned vehicles, schedule services and acquire financing before stepping foot in the office.

The service shop takes time to explain every repair option in detail when your beloved Subie falls ill.

They also offer monthly service specials to help you save money on maintenance.

They have an enormous selection, proudly touting the label "America's largest volume Subaru dealer."

click to enlarge BRIAN TRYON
  • Brian Tryon
Eclectic Shop

Zeezo's Costumes & Vintage

When a local clown named Zeezo first opened his store in 1974, it functioned solely as a novelty and magic shop. In the following decades, and after a change in ownership in '93, it expanded massively into a locally beloved costume shop and a seasonal go-to around Halloween. Not to say Zeezo's has outgrown its wacky roots. On any given day, a real-life magician will be on hand to help you master magic tricks, and you're sure to find plenty of kitschy novelty items, but Zeezo's now also provides costumes for all occasions and styles (to rent and to own); a whole array of curated vintage clothing representing recent decades' most distinctive and questionable fashion fads; and a makeup and wig counter that caters to the needs of actors, drag queens, kids' party entertainers, live-action role-players and whomever else happens to drop by. Keep an eye out for makeup classes, too, so you can gain at least half the skill of the Zeezo's experts.

Comic Shop

KaPow Comics & Coffee

A huge selection of new and classic comics and collectibles made KaPow a fast favorite after its opening in 2016.

Café space attracts groups of geeks of all sorts. Board and tabletop gamers roll the dice here weekly.

"We try to make it a destination location where families can come," Co-owner Martin Davidson says.

Events include trivia nights every other Wednesday and monthly artist showcases, plus special events like nerd-themed poetry slams.

Store for Music, Movies & Video Games

Independent Records & Video

Now in its 40th year, the locally owned and operated retail chain has managed to survive Best Buy, Amazon and Spotify.

The 7,000-square-foot Platte Avenue Annex boasts thousands of vinyl LPs, a format that's continued to defy conventional wisdom by accounting for nearly 15 percent of physical album sales nationally last year.

The company reluctantly closed its downtown Colorado Springs location in May but is still bucking the retail industry's downward trend by continuing to operate its Platte Avenue, Platte Annex, Security, North Academy and Pueblo outlets.

Local customers can always be counted on to pack the aisles during Record Store Day, as well as its Black Friday spinoff, which will take place this year on Nov. 23. Exclusives will include a Stone Temple Pilots live album — on bright-red vinyl with accompanying 3D glasses — as well as a 3,000-copy run of Duke Ellington playing the score to Mary Poppins.

Thrift Shop

Arc Thrift Stores

In today's waste-not, want-not culture, the Arc makes it easy to lessen your environmental footprint through donations or purchases.

The Colorado-owned stores help folks with disabilities right here at home.

Just in case their rock-bottom prices weren't good enough, you can get half-off goods on Saturdays and any items sporting the colored tag of the week.

If you're willing to hunt, you will find amazing items. Last time I stopped in, I scored a brand-new running coat and a super-expensive blow dryer for under $12.

Donating is as easy as driving to the loading bay and waiting for their helpers to unload. They'll also pick up your no-longer-needed stuff for free.


Poor Richard's Books and Gifts

Thomas Vest, Poor Richard's buyer for new books, says Poor Richard's has endured because "it's a touchstone of the community. ... It's something special about this place that resonates."

This 43-year-old business offers new and used books, unique gifts and stationery items, and is attached to a café, pizza place and toy store.

Current new titles on the shelves include On Desperate Ground by Hampton Sides, once Colorado College's journalist-in-residence.

Looking for something else? Explore more than 150 categories of new and used books, including an extensive metaphysical section.

Co-owner and founder Richard Skorman may now sit on City Council, but he still finds time to plug parking meters during the holidays — dressed as an elf, of course.

National Sports Store/Outdoor Outfitter


A national chain with its heart in the right place, REI successfully pressured supplier Vista Outdoor to cease manufacturing firearms in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Olympic City USA's favorite outdoor and sporting goods store is built on a co-op business model that gives members reduced rates, patronage dividends and a vote in the election of its board of directors. (Yeah, we don't know who any of them are either.)

One Indy staffer claims REI helped keep him alive while trapped in a North Dakota blizzard. There is, however, no photographic evidence.

REI's return policy is even more generous than Costco's, which is definitely saying something.

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Dance Company

Peaks and Pasties

Glitter, sequins, feathers and fans — Peaks and Pasties brings some extra color to our local dance scene, presenting some of the highest-quality burlesque in the region. This 10-year-old troupe has nearly 100 members, many of whom have performed on national and even international stages, in addition to keeping Colorado Springs entertained. If you haven't yet, you're due to check out Peaks and Pasties' weekly Champagne Cabaret at The Gold Room, where you can whoop and holler as dancers of all genders and body types perform wholly unique routines to fit each week's theme. Or, if you're feeling brave, sign up for one of the troupe's burlesque workshops, where they don't just teach the art of the tease, but also the art of loving your own body — which we all know can be a struggle. Founder Lola Spitfire says: "That's what burlesque does. It says you're worthy."

Natural Food Store

Sprouts Farmers Market

Inspired by the centuries-old tradition of outdoor farmers markets, the Phoenix-based natural food chain offers one-stop shopping for locally grown organic produce, herbal remedies and gluten-free everything.

Sprouts now boasts more than two dozen Colorado stores, including several Colorado-based Sunflower Farmers Market stores that they acquired back in 2012.

With retail stores that average a sprawling 30,000 square feet, the company views itself as competing with supermarket chains as much as it is with Amazon's Whole Foods empire.

They're sure into pumpkins right now.

Garden Supply/Nursery

Rick's Garden Center

Community-focused, they still carry the name brand "Rick's" fertilizer they developed back in the day and offer a cornucopia of coupons to help anyone turn their thumbs green.

Their collection of plants, seeds, tools and trees is extensive. In the words of founding owner Jackie Richner, "If we don't have it, you don't need it!"

Their knowledgeable team can help you learn how to grow plants, even in Colorado's temperamental climate.

Check them out during the holiday season to deck your halls with their fresh wreaths and garlands.

In the spring and summer, fancy up your yard with statues, trellises and fountains.

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Place for CBD Products

Discover CBD

The Colorado Springs-based CBD distributor began as the brainchild of three amigos: a doctor with training in nutrition and family medicine, an experienced marijuana and hemp horticulturist, and a business professional who gravitates toward the natural medicinal supplement industry.

Find best-selling items that range from flavored tinctures to gummy bears to find your optimal chill mode.

Treat yourself with feel-good (and smell-good) lavender, peppermint or lemon and eucalyptus CBD bath bombs.

Cure what ails you with products that provide pain management and find treatment options for everything from insomnia to seizures.

Big Tymers would approve of their easy-to-apply, discreet roll-on topicals for immediate relief.

Grocery Store

King Soopers

Parent company Kroger's commitment to sustainability shines in its sourcing of seafood, its fair-trade store brand products and its recent promise to do away with plastic bags by 2025.

The Zero Hunger Zero Waste plan aims to donate or reuse all waste, and to help reduce chronic hunger in local communities.

Bonus: King Soopers has the best cheese counter you're likely to find in a chain, whether you're looking for a good gouda, a stinky blue, or something a little more off the beaten cracker.

Adult Store


The staff conducts every transaction with the casual chill of a librarian helping you check out a book.

They're also sex-savvy about all the latest toys and tools for enhancing healthy intimacy.

Frequent shoppers (go you!) should enroll in the Romance Rewards program. It offers discounts, cash-back options and coupons.

Their lingerie selection leaves no one behind when it comes to flaunting that sexy bod.

The clean, bright and organized retail space creates a sex-positive, comfortable environment to seek your next adventure.

Vape Shop

Vapor Source

Vape aficionados will love the selection of vape mods to up their e-cig game.

Vapor Source's e-liquids are produced in their own Pueblo, Colorado lab.

They offer 50-plus flavors, ranging from traditional tobacco and menthol to fruits, desserts and cocktails. Or just vape with their unflavored base.

Their team is refreshingly honest, making it easy to feel confident about your purchase.

Show off your personality with battery wraps, brightly colored o-rings, fancy carrying cases and other accessories.

Alternative Medicine Practitioner

Medical Alternatives Clinics

The team at Medical Alternatives helps you through the process of obtaining or renewing your MMJ license, including providing links to download forms on their website.

Clinic doc Bruce Reimers has long been an ally in medical marijuana legalization, working on Amendment 20 and other measures to effect change.

The clinic website boasts their ability to help you obtain your card in three days or less; they also offer low-cost exams.

The doctor can also suggest options for types of medical marijuana to utilize for your condition, as well as dosages.


Dr. Julie Brady

Dr. Brady is a board-certified family practitioner with more than 25 years of experience.

Patients sing her praises on online physician rating sites, where she frequently scores five stars out of five — "I love my doctor"... "She's the best physician I've ever had. She's caring, thorough, understanding and listens to what I say to her" ... "Absolutely the best doctor I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. If she ever leaves the city, I'm going with her."

Hiking, swimming and spending time with her family is what she enjoys in her free time, on those rare occasions when she actually has some.

click to enlarge SARAH MOSQUERA
  • Sarah Mosquera

R.E.S.T. Float Solutions

In a world filled with never-ending bills, I-25 traffic jams, cranky co-workers and nonstop movement, it can be hard to find any time to simply stop and breathe. R.E.S.T. Float Solutions offers weary calm-seekers a much-needed sanctuary for relaxation, rejuvenation and recovery. Indeed, from the hushed lobby and friendly staff to the private spa rooms and post-float cup of tea, tranquility is the name of the game and R.E.S.T. Float Solutions is winning. Each of their relaxation pods is filled with water that's been salinized with a whopping 800 pounds of Epsom salts and warmed to the temperature of your body. The heavy salinization makes floating effortless and makes it nearly impossible to tell where water ends and you begin. Recovering athletes, stressed-out executives and harried parents searching for a few hours of sweet, blessed peace can find solace in the dark silence and buoyant solitude of the float pods.


Broadmoor Dental

Serving Colorado Springs and Fort Carson, treating patients as though they're family and not just a number.

"We get to know patients on a first-name basis and have conversations with them," says office manager Micki Lange.

Broadmoor Dental gives patients up-front info such as treatment and insurance options and referral resources. You're the decider.

"My favorite part about working at Broadmoor Dental is the love and compassion that everyone shows to everyone," says Lange.

Gym/Fitness Center

YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region

You can't stay at local YMCAs (like in the song), but you can certainly play at them. The institution has been around for more than 140 years, withstanding recessions, depressions and societal changes.

"We are ever-changing, meeting the needs of the community," says Boyd Williams, president and CEO of YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region. "We have 1,200 employees who care about the mission and have the desire to help others. We don't consider this a job, and no one is turned away."

The Y's way more than just a place to pop in and lift weights, or spin a stationary bike — diverse offerings include swimming, art, yoga and even cooking classes.


Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region

Often has unique pets up for adoption at both Colorado Springs and Pueblo campuses — horses, parrots, rabbits, even reptiles.

President and CEO Jan McHugh-Smith says: "Like you, we believe every pet deserves a good life."

HSPPR will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2019. It's impossible to count how many animals they've saved over the decades.

But we can count per year. In 2017, almost 12,000 animals found forever homes through HSPPR, and nearly 6,000 were reunited with their families. (I'm not crying. You're crying.)

Bad day? Check out the cat cam on HSPPR's website. Endless hours of soothing kitty playtime.

click to enlarge SARAH MOSQUERA
  • Sarah Mosquera
Hookah Lounge

Hooked on Hookah

Hooked on Hookah shares only the best of the best with top tier hookah tobaccos and premium coals.

Stay awhile and really enjoy the ride with their decadent and slow-burning hookahs.

Feel good about supporting hometown business with their line of locally made shisha.Taste the rainbow with multiple flavor choices, or go custom and design your own signature blends to puff-puff-pass.

We can vouch for the freshness of their products, which are made without artificial dyes or preservatives.

click to enlarge SARAH MOSQUERA
  • Sarah Mosquera
Physical Therapist

Rocky Mountain Rehab

Anyone who's suffered an accident or sports injury and recovered at the hands of a good PT will tell you they'll literally change your life.

The Indy wrote about RMR PT Jeremy Snyder as an educator and practitioner of dry needling, one helpful technique RMR utilizes. (See "Sharply effective," July 31, 2013.)

RMR's team of PTs uniformly show expertise and a warm professionalism, encouraging clients to succeed in their therapies.

Not injured? Keep it that way. RMR also performs functional evaluations to help you guard against future injury.

Child Day Care

Hope Montessori Academy

The school follows the Montessori method of early childhood development, which takes a child-led, child-centered and experiential approach to nurturing the instinctive desire to learn and grow.

From tiny tots to kindergartners, the academy's four locations provide the kids of El Paso County with a unique educational opportunity that goes above and beyond other child-care models.

Kids up to 12 years old can attend their fun, learning-focused summer camps.

Additional activities offered include dance, music and even foreign-language instruction.

Place for Eyewear

ABBA Eye Care

Offering routine eye exams, laser eye surgery consultations and other services, dating back to 1978.

Choose from a plethora of hip frames and sunglasses, as well as fancy lens options like blue-light-blocking glasses for folks doing lots of screen time.

Aviator glasses are back in style (or did they ever leave?), and ABBA's got both clip-on and frame options.

Don't want to be dilated during your eye exam so you can get back to work quickly? Say yes to their option to take a scan instead.

Pet Day Care

Camp Bow Wow

Camp isn't just for kids anymore; dogs can benefit from the exercise and socialization, too.

Bow Wow "Campers" are required to pass social interviews and meet physical requirements, and camp staff is Pet First Aid- and CPR-certified to ensure that each owner's pup is safe to play all day.

Based in Broomfield, Camp Bow Wow is the nation's largest pet care franchise with more than 150 locations, two of them in Colorado Springs and one in Monument.

Day camp is one thing, but Bow Wow also offers overnight boarding, training and grooming services.

24/7 webcams allow owners to monitor their loved ones from afar — one of the best uses of the internet to date.

Higher Ed Institution

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

By the numbers: more than 12,400 students, 46 undergrad degrees, 22 master's degrees, five doctoral programs, and connections to more than 6,000 employers.

Mental and physical health resources at the massive Gallogly Recreation and Wellness Center ensure your diet of ramen and tears won't ruin you before graduation.

Events open to students and the wider community include "Curiosity Unlimited" lectures, sporting events and theater shows.

Recent addition of the impressive Ent Center for the Arts to the campus highlights the school's focus on arts and academics working together.

Trade School

Pikes Peak Community College

Currently offering 198 program options for degrees and certificates — everything from automotive technology and welding to criminal justice and nursing.

Plentiful online courses, plus options for child care and night classes ensure everyone can get their degree.

Average tuition is only $4,651 a year, so no need to bury yourself in debt.

Get involved in language and culture clubs, sororities and fraternities, student unions and organizations for all interests.

PPCC recently hosted a presentation by alum Ron Stallworth, the real-life inspiration for the film BlacKkKlansman.

Veterinary Clinic

Westside Animal Hospital

A full menu of services, a friendly and highly skilled staff, specialized treatment options, and genuine care for clients and patients keep Westside at the top of local pet health-care providers.

Affordable wellness plans for any stage of life marry traditional and holistic medical practices to treat the entire pet and save pet lovers money and worry, with a focus on early detection and disease prevention.

Opened in 1970, Westside has become a stalwart of the community. A neighborhood child once dreamed of working at the clinic, and later fulfilled her dream by becoming a staff veterinarian (before moving on to another clinic).

Staff-curated online news and research allows pet owners to stay on top of suspicious symptoms and new treatment options, and raises awareness of oft-overlooked conditions.

"We treat your pets as if they are our own," says hospital manager Leslie Ornelas. "We want to be there with you through all of it — from the time they're a little puppy all the way through their senior care."

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Pet Groomer

Wag N' Wash Natural Food & Bakery

My dog hates it when I bathe him. And the feeling is mutual given the last few attempts involved me chasing a soap-lathered coonhound around a crowded garage while hurling buckets of rinse water at him. Thankfully, there are professionals who can get the job done with a little less drama. Wag N' Wash fits that bill, offering brushing and blowouts, nail trims, ear cleanings and more to keep your pets in their prime. "We pamper pets just like someone would be pampered at a spa," says Bryan Williams, Wag N' Wash's director of corporate operations. The Springs-based chain was founded in 1999, with the original location still operating on Uintah Street. Now with 19 locations nationwide — three in the Springs and one in Monument — it all started with a simple mission fueled by a love of dogs. That mission, to improve the lives of companion pets, is apparent in the customer experience, from the full range of grooming services to the samples of its all-natural gourmet pet foodstuffs for four-legged visitors. "If a customer leaves without feeling like they've had a great experience, then we're not doing our job," Williams says.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

Latest in Neighborhood/Community, Shopping & Services, Health & Wellness, Cannabis

Browse Best Of

  • Year

  • Category

    • 2018 Best Of Colorado Springs Community, Shopping and Services
  • Section

  • Show only

All content © Copyright 2020, The Colorado Springs Independent

Website powered by Foundation