Best Of 2019

Favorite

2019 Best Of Colorado Springs: Neighborhood/Community, Shopping & Services, Health & Wellness, Cannabis 

click to enlarge COVER ILLUSTRATION BY DUSTIN GLATZ
  • Cover illustration by Dustin Glatz

Artist

click to enlarge BRYAN OLLER
  • Bryan Oller
Gold: Ashley Cornelius | poetry719.com

“I think, very personally, art is a direct response to when things are difficult,” says local poet Ashley Cornelius. “So, in and of itself, art is revolutionary.”

This philosophy has driven Cornelius since she began writing poetry as a youth, and now inspires her to make space for marginalized voices as co-director of local poetry organization Poetry 719. Her work has always been as personal as it has been community-driven. She was employed for a while as a program director for Arts from Ashes, a nonprofit in Denver that fosters creative empowerment in youth. But it was here in Colorado Springs that her own poetry took flight. She began slamming — participating in spoken-word poetry competitions — in 2017 with Hear, Here! Poetry, and competed in the national Women of the World Poetry Slam in Dallas the next year.

Now, she creates events with Poetry 719 while she works toward publishing a book and establishing herself as a young professional artist.

“As a black woman in Colorado Springs, I realized people listen to me when I do poetry, more so than when I’m just talking. So I figured, you know, I love this city. And so I want to make change. So I think poetry is the best avenue to do that.”

Silver: Liese Chavez | chavezartgallery.com

Bronze: Jess Preble | jesspreble.com

Media Personality

Gold: Matt Meister, FOX 21 | fox21news.com/matt-meister

Tracking Colorado’s wild weather is no easy feat. Meister embraces the chaos and tries to sort it out for the masses, all with his characteristic humor and good cheer.

His blog, TheWxMeister Wonders, shares local forecast info, plus interesting information on the science of weather.

Follow him on Twitter @TheWxMeister to get real-time tweaks to his daily forecasts.

Meister may be serious about the weather, but his perky demeanor and friendly banter with the Fox 21 crew could turn even the sourest viewer into a morning person.

Silver: Dianne Derby, KKTV 11 News

Bronze: Heather Skold, KRDO NewsChannel 13 | krdo.com

Local TV Station

Gold: Rocky Mountain PBS | rmpbs.org

The goal of Rocky Mountain PBS is to strengthen the civic fabric of Colorado, and it does that by creating a member-supported television network with a single stream — every person in Colorado watching PBS is seeing the same show at the same time. It’s one way to create unity, says Emory John Collinson, community engagement coordinator. But it’s not all about television. Rocky Mountain PBS also hosts a Kids Fun Fest in June at Acacia Park to kick off summer with music, arts, vendors and the official annual opening of the Uncle Wilber Fountain.

Silver: KKTV 11 | kktv.com

Bronze: Fox 21 | fox21news.com

Running Club

click to enlarge BRYAN OLLER
  • Bryan Oller

Gold: Jack Quinn’s | jackquinnsrunners.com

$1 tacos and cheap brews are rewards worth running for.

Get ready for your close-up — runner photos are snapped frequently along the route and shared on the club’s Facebook page and website.

The club celebrated its 40,000th runner and 13th birthday this year.

Many participants have made more than 500 runs to date. That’s 500 weeks of participation, a decade of dedication if you will — not to mention the 1,600-plus miles of run.

Silver: The Colorado Running Company’s store runs | corunco.com

Bronze: Trails End Taproom Trailblazers | trailsendtaproom.com/trailblazers

Local Radio Station

Gold: 91.5 KRCC | krcc.org

KRCC wants to be a multimedia hub for “discovery, engagement and civil discourse,” says Kyle Cunningham, general manager of southern Colorado’s public radio station. KRCC’s role in the community can be summed up with its mission statement: “Through rigorous reporting, impactful storytelling and thoughtful music curation, 91.5 KRCC serves those seeking knowledge and an authentic connection to Southern Colorado and the world at large.”

We believe that KRCC has such a loyal following in Colorado Springs because we have been serving Colorado Springs since the 1950s…” Cunningham says. “We have built a reputation for fairness, accuracy, respect and deep analysis of local, regional and national news.”

Silver: KILO 94.3 | kilo943.com

Bronze: RXP 103.9 | 1039rxp.com

Tourist Attraction, Outdoor Family Fun

Gold: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo | cmzoo.org

If you had a collection of exotic animals, where would you keep them? In your backyard? That’s essentially what Spencer Penrose did when he founded the Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society in 1926. Penrose deeded the zoo as a nonprofit public trust to the people of Colorado Springs 12 years later. The rest, as they say, is history. “We’re thrilled that CS Indy readers selected Cheyenne Mountain Zoo as a finalist in the Independent’s Best Of, for Best Tourist Attraction,” says Rachel Wright, public relations and social media manager at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. “... We work hard to provide an environment where our community can make memories and spend quality time together, feel inspired and connect with the natural world. It means a lot to receive this recognition from our local community.” Wright adds, “This recognition reminds us of the importance of our mission to help people make connections with animals that inspire them to help protect wildlife and wild places. It also speaks to the value of preserving special places, like Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, that allow our community members and visitors to connect with each other and find commonality through a love for animals and nature.”

Tourist Attraction

Silver: Garden of the Gods | gardenofgods.com

Bronze: Manitou Springs Penny Arcade | facebook.com/manitouspringspennyarcade

Outdoor Family Fun

Silver: Manitou Springs Penny Arcade | facebook.com/manitouspringspennyarcade

Bronze: Garden of the Gods | gardenofgods.com

Art Gallery, Theater Company

click to enlarge COURTESY FINE ARTS CENTER AT COLORADO COLLEGE
  • Courtesy Fine Arts Center at Colorado College

Gold: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center | fac.coloradocollege.edu

The FAC is without a doubt one of the finest cultural institutions in our region, and we are always delighted when they take home a top prize in Best Of — because it is always well-deserved. And this year is a special one for the FAC, as it has been celebrating its 100th anniversary since January. And what a centennial it has been so far! The FAC welcomed the World of Wearable Art exhibit all the way from New Zealand, and has showcased the work of artists Christine Howard Sandoval, Melanie Yazzie and Thomas “Detour” Evans, among countless others. Also currently on display: a variety of exhibits that honor the rich history of the FAC and its predecessor the Broadmoor Art Academy, including a legacy exhibition that represents hundreds of artists. 

But the FAC’s artistic impact reaches far beyond visual art. It also boasts its own award-winning theater company, and 2019 proved a landmark year for the company, which was nominated for 26 Henry Awards, taking home five. Most notably, for the first time in FAC history, the company won the Henry Award for Outstanding Season for a Theatre Company, the statewide awards’ most competitive honor. Take that, Denver!

Cheers to 100 more years, FAC! We’re lucky to have you.

Art Gallery

Silver: Chavez Gallery | chavezartgallery.com

Bronze: Academy Art & Frame Company | academyframesco.com

Theater Company

Silver: Millibo Art Theatre | themat.org

Bronze: Funky Little Theater Company | funkylittletheater.org

Cooking Class

Gold: The FrenchKitchen | tfkcc.com
click to enlarge BRYAN GROSSMAN
  • Bryan Grossman

Founder Blandine Brutel has been teaching cooking classes since 2012, originally out of her home before The French Kitchen opened its doors in 2017.

Locals may remember Brutel’s chops from Wholly Crêpe, her former business inside Chapel Hills Mall, but those who don’t can try before they buy and taste a few baked goods in the café side of The French Kitchen.

The cooking school offers classes for all ages, including two-hour “Little Chefs” sessions for ages 5 to 8 and “4 hands” classes for adults and younger chefs to learn how to cook together.

It’s not just French! The French Kitchen offers classes on the cuisines of India, Southeast Asia, Italy and more, plus classes on various techniques and specific dishes.

Silver: Paravicini’s Italian Bistro | paravicinis.com

Bronze: Garden of the Gods Market and Café | godsmarketandcafe.com

Place for Eyewear

Gold: Abba Eyecare | abbaeyecare.com

Parental advisory: Abba is open until 6 p.m. on weeknights and until 2 p.m. on Saturdays. No more missed school, missed work or scrambling for a midday appointment.

A plentiful selection of frames helps eyeglass-wearers find a look — or several looks — they can love year-round.

Founded by Dr. Marcus Meyer in Colorado Springs in 1978, the company has grown steadily over the years, with multiple locations throughout the state.

Speaking of growth, the company was purchased by the Texas-based Acuity Eyecare Group in January. However, customers can rest assured that the new owners won’t be changing the quality of service.

Silver: Eye Care Center of Colorado Springs | eyecarecs.com

Bronze: Archdale Eyecare | archdaleeyecare.com

Endorphin Dealer

Gold: Manitou Incline | manitousprings.org
click to enlarge FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo

It’s 2,741 steps, and it beckons to masochists from miles around. It’s no wonder then, that Indy readers voted the Incline in Manitou Springs as the Best Endorphin Dealer west of the Mississippi. Probably east of the Mississippi too.

Ten years ago, the former cable car line, built to carry materials to build pipelines on Pikes Peak, was pretty obscure, relatively uncrowded and, despite devotees ignoring this aspect, illegal to hike. Times have changed. The popularity of the Incline has spread like Colorado wildfire, and thousands test themselves on the fitness torture device (I mean, come on!) every year. But it’s all good — the Incline has been legal, yet not easier, to hike since early 2013. And in case you were wondering: Joseph Gray holds the official single-ascent record at 17:45. The official women’s record is held by Allie McLaughlin (20:07). We mortals should be deeply ashamed.

Silver: Pikes Peak | coloradosprings.gov/pikes-peak-americas-mountain

Bronze: Cave of the Winds | caveofthewinds.com

Casino

Gold: Bronco Billy’s | broncobillyscasino.com

Bronco Billy’s opened its doors on Oct. 1, 1991, as one of the first casinos in Cripple Creek. Thanks to voter-approved legalization of “limited gaming” in three historic mountain towns, a new gold rush came to the Creek. Bronco’s had plenty of competition, but that didn’t bother Marc Murphy, the entrepreneur who owned and managed the startup casino for nearly three decades. With close to 1,000 slots and video poker terminals, it’s the biggest casino in town — one reason, perhaps, that Indy readers have named Bronco Billy’s Cripple Creek’s best casino.

What’s the secret formula? Customer service. Dressed like any staffer, Murphy swept floors, cleaned up and occasionally helped out at the steakhouse, making tableside guacamole for customers. He retired earlier this year, having sold the casino to Vegas-based Full House Resorts. As Full House embarks on a planned $70 million expansion, the regulars will expect the usual great service — as well as frequent jackpots!

Silver: The Brass Ass | triplecrowncasinos.com/the-brass-ass

Bronze: Midnight Rose Hotel & Casino | triplecrowncasinos.com/midnight-rose-hotel-casino

Special Event Venue

Gold: Stargazers Theatre & Event Center | stargazerstheatre.com

You can’t miss this unique dome structure in central Colorado Springs, an example of architect Vincent G. Raney’s work, built as a movie theater in 1969.

Renovated by Cindy and John Hooton in 2008, Stargazers has since become the Springs’ favorite event venue, lending its stage to touring and local bands, film festivals, nonprofit events and more.

The theater’s mission statement? “To bring great entertainment to great audiences and to be a warm and welcoming gathering place for the community.” Mission accomplished.

The Pikes Peak Blues Community hosts quarterly jams here, so stop by to enjoy some local talent and good fun.

Silver: Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts | pikespeakcenter.com

Bronze: Hillside Gardens & Event Center | hillsidegardensandevents.com

Food and/or Drink Event

Gold: Food Truck Tuesdays | downtowncs.com/food-truck-tuesdays-cspm

click to enlarge JESSICA KUHN
  • Jessica Kuhn

This local event is just completing its third year (runs May through October), with 12 trucks slinging their goodness for 25 weeks on the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum’s west lawn.

CSPM event coordinator and development technician Haley Davis says the directive to create the event came from Mayor John Suthers, who tasked them to “develop and activate this area.” Now it draws weekly crowds of 1,000 to 1,200 people.

“It’s been surprising to see how quickly it grew and to see its popularity within the food-truck community,” she says. Plus, “It gets people out to enjoy the day and support these local businesses.”

Silver: Territory days | shopoldcoloradocity.com

Bronze: Manitou Springs Wine Festival | manitousprings.org

Local Transportation Service, Shuttle Service

Gold: Bustang | ridebustang.com

The Colorado Department of Transportation launched Bustang in 2015. The shuttle service bounds up and down Interstates 25 and 70, making stops in Fort Collins, Denver, Colorado Springs, Durango, Grand Junction, Pueblo and more.

Coaches hold up to 50 people and are outfitted with bike racks, free Wi-Fi and restrooms, and are accessible to the differently abled.

Purchase tickets and plan routes on Bustang’s free mobile app.

Ticket fares depend on the duration of the ride, but generally are as low as $10 and won’t exceed $37.

Specialized pick-up and drop-off stops include Estes Park, RamsRoute to Fort Collins, and Broncos games.

Local Transportation Service

Silver: Mountain Metropolitan Transit | coloradosprings.gov/mountain-metro

Bronze: PikeRide | pikeride.org

Shuttle Service

Silver: Rocky Mountain Ride | myrockymountainride.com

Bronze: Silver Key | silverkey.org

Museum

click to enlarge MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
Gold: Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum | cspm.org

In 1896, the El Paso County Pioneers Association began collecting and documenting the artifacts and tales of the Pikes Peak region and the once-quaint resort town Gen. William Jackson Palmer championed. Their work found a permanent home in El Paso County’s historic former courthouse, which hosts more than 45,000 items, as well as five nationally significant manuscript collections and the Starsmore Center for Local History. “… We offer a free venue for residents and visitors of the Pikes Peak region to come and engage in exhibits that broaden our understanding of who we are as a community,” says Matt Mayberry, Pioneers Museum director. “Our ambitious series of exhibits and programs are designed to encourage curiosity and discovery. We are especially proud of our latest exhibit, Evidence: Finding the Facts About William Jackson Palmer. This exhibit utilizes new scholarship and recently unearthed archaeological materials to challenge some of the enduring myths about the Springs’ founder. “We are pleased to be a finalist in the Best of Museum category,” Mayberry adds, “and thank the community for voting for us.”

Silver: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College | fac.coloradocollege.edu

Bronze: National Museum of World War II Aviation | worldwariiaviation.org

Hotel

Gold: The Broadmoor | broadmoor.com

Since starting its luxury guest service resort in 1918, The Broadmoor has consistently stayed as relevant as ever to Colorado Springs. 

Cloud Camp, Fly Fishing Camp and The Ranch at Emerald Valley are three properties of The Broadmoor’s that exemplify the true meaning of luxury wilderness hospitality.

Play tennis or golf, or just relax at the resort’s year-round spa and lap pools.

Experience The Broadmoor’s 10 on-site restaurants, which include The Golden Bee, The Summit and The Penrose Room.

Silver: The Mining Exchange A Wyndham Grand Hotel & Spa | wyndhamhotels.com

Bronze: The Buffalo Lodge | bicycleresort.com

Neighborhood

click to enlarge ALISSA SMITH
  • Alissa Smith

Gold: Old Colorado City | facebook.com/Old.Colorado.City

Founded in 1859, Old Colorado City was eventually annexed to Colorado Springs in 1917. The two cities couldn’t have been more different — the Springs was prim, puritanical and proper, while OCC had been a wide-open working-class city of bars, bordellos and gambling dens. Today’s OCC is more respectable, but still a lot of fun. Its beautifully restored downtown commercial district has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982. Adjacent residential streets feature stately three-story homes next to tiny cottages in a cheerfully unplanned 19th century mishmash. The neighborhood is compact and walkable, a few minutes away from the bars, restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries and other locally owned shops in the historic district. Your kids can walk to school at West Elementary and West Middle, and the family can walk to a dozen churches, including the resplendent Thomas MacLaren-designed Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 2030 W. Colorado Ave. As residents will tell you, the Westside is the best side!

Silver: Old North End | oldnorthend.org

Bronze: Ivywild | csura.org/ivywild-neighborhood.html

Place for Indoor Family Fun

Gold: Great Wolf Lodge | greatwolf.com/colorado-springs

The Mountain Edge Raceway toboggan-style attraction sends users head-first through twists and turns via a four-story drop.

Whooping Hollow offers a play pool for those under 48 inches tall.

If you’re hungry, check out the menus at The Watering Hole, The Loose Moose Family Kitchen or The Outpost. An on-site Dunkin’ and Ben & Jerry’s can satisfy your sweet tooth.

Those looking to get in a little shopping can swing by the MagiQuest Marketplace, the Bear Essentials Swim Shop or the Buckhorn Gift Exchange.

Want just one day away? Take advantage of the lodge’s day passes.

Silver: The Summit Interquest | playatthesummit.com/interquest

Bronze: Overdrive Raceway | overdriveraceway.com

Get Your Sweat On (Gym)

click to enlarge BRYAN OLLER
  • Bryan Oller
Gold: VASA Fitness | vasafitness.com

VASA Fitness was started by a single mother and aerobics enthusiast and has grown nationwide. Hop on the VASA Fitness blog to read more about workout routines, events and healthy recipes.

VASA Fitness ranks among the top 20 fitness studios in the country with its top-of-the-line exercise equipment and supervised playtime for children, so members get the most out of their workouts.

VASA offers more than 150 classes to improve overall stamina.

More of a one-on-one learner? Then don’t pass up VASA’s personalized fitness courses.

VASA encourages members to play more, with amenities such as racquetball and basketball courts, fully stocked Olympic-style lifting rooms, and group fitness cycling studios.

Silver: Orangetheory Fitness | orangetheoryfitness.com

Bronze: Cross Fit Bonnie & Clyde | crossfitbonnieandclyde.com

Physical Therapist

Gold: Rocky Mountain Rehabilitation | rockyrehab.com

Check out its Facebook page to learn about free events on injury prevention, proper movement and taking good care of your body.

They also offer monthly yoga classes taught by a physical therapist — form corrections will take on a whole new meaning.

They provide blood flow restriction training, a rehab method that allows patients to work their muscles without putting them under severe strain. If you want the deeper science behind it, you’ll have to give them a call.

They provide free 15-minute consultations for those mysterious aches or pressing PT questions.

Silver: Synergy Manual Physical Therapy | synergympt.com

Bronze: Joint Effort Physical Therapy | jointeffortrehab.com

Body Benders (Yoga)

Gold: Cambio Yoga | cambioyoga.com

When Amber Richman was an elementary school teacher, she wanted to practice yoga in Colorado Springs. She soon learned that the monthly fees at local studios were too expensive on her teacher’s salary, so she took action — and started Cambio Yoga with her brother Austin more than 10 years ago. “Our mission is to make yoga accessible to everyone,” Amber says. One of the ways is to help with the financial barrier. We do 90 classes a week that are donation-based.” But that’s not the only way they work to make Cambio accessible. The studio also has adaptive yoga for people with limited mobility, hot yoga for people who want to work hard. “And we have everything in between — kids yoga, family yoga,” she says. “It’s just another aspect of accessibility.”

Silver: Pranava Yoga Center | pranavayogacenter.com

Bronze: Root Center for Yoga & Sacred Studies | rootdownandgrow.com

Best Pilates Studio

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GRANT
  • Casey Bradley Grant

Gold: Sun Pilates | sunpilates.co

Stretch out and take part in group Pilates sessions at Sun Pilates with owner and operator Dawn King. “Sun Pilates regulars completely run the gamut: We see Olympic athletes, skaters, dancers, soccer players — and I believe our oldest and youngest clients are 90 and 10 years of age,” says studio manager Janine Eldridge. King and Eldridge both share the same goal of having people leave the studio feeling better than when they walked in. Workshops and one-on-one training sessions are designed to cater to different learning styles and help clients master coordination, flexibility and balance. “We spend a lot of time smiling and we do a lot of laughing. Our studio is a space for positivity and growth,” says Eldridge. Sun Pilates has two locations, one downtown and one in Woodland Park.

Silver: Club Pilates | clubpilates.com

Bronze: Barre Forte | barreforte.com

Alternative Medicine Practitioner

click to enlarge BRYAN OLLER
  • Bryan Oller
Gold: Springs Community Acupuncture | springscommunityacupuncture.com

Brings modern Eastern medicine to the Pikes Peak region. Techniques treat headaches and digestive disorders, decrease inflammation, and improve circulation.

Founder Hannah Beachy has a Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder.

Herbal and nutritional consultations are additional treatment options. With their sliding-scale payment range, patients pay what they can afford. The clinic became a nonprofit in 2018.

Silver: Allergy Solutions | allergysolutionscs.com

Bronze: WellLife Studio | thewelllifestudio.com

Top Doc

Gold: Dr. Lisa Jenks, Genesis MedSpa | genesis-medspa.com

Dr. Jenks spent two decades in emergency medicine before switching direction to aesthetic services.

She founded Genesis MedSpa in 2007 and has made it her business ever since to help men and women look and feel their best.

Her facility feels like a Hollywood hideaway, but the services are medical-grade and performed by well-trained professionals.

She also owns Genesis Consulting, which helps docs interested in aesthetics learn the ins and outs of the trade.

Silver: Dr. Julie Brady | cshp.net/providers/bradyj

Bronze: Dr. Anthony Christoff | 471-9891

MedSpa

Gold: Genesis MedSpa | genesis-medspa.com

Using state-of-the-art technology, aestheticians at Genesis can do a computerized analysis of your skin to help determine the treatments that best suit your needs and goals.

Genesis MedSpa has a calendar full of special events, such as the New Client Welcome Reception and Filler Day.

Pampering, friendly and professional staff educate clients on skin treatments and find solutions to problems ranging from hair loss and acne to scarring, wrinkles and sun damage.

Boisterous children, cell phones and other distractions are discouraged to reduce stress and maintain a relaxing environment.

Take a virtual tour of Genesis MedSpa at its website to learn more about services and the facility.

Silver: Robert Andrews Laser & Medical Aesthetics | robertandrewsmedical.com

Bronze: Premier Medispa | premedspa.com

Place for Restorative Medicine, Day Spa

Gold: SunWater Spa | sunwellness.net

The famous cedar tubs of this mountainside gem are filled with the mineral waters of Manitou Springs’ Seven Minute Spring and heated to a toasty 100 to 104 degrees. Whether seeking respite from a long week at work, pain relief after a recent injury or a chance to while away an evening under the stars with your beloved, a soak at SunWater is time well spent. The hot pools are probably the most well-known feature of the spa, but a number of their other highly touted offerings have almost nothing to do with them (although you can always add a soak to any service). Yoga classes, guided meditation, massage, sound healing, weekend retreats and classes focused on health and wellness fill the event calendar, creating a full-service environment devoted to mental, spiritual and physical wellness.

Place for Restorative Medicine

Silver: Springs Community Acupuncture | springscommunityacupuncture.com

Bronze: WellLife Studio | thewelllifestudio.com

Day Spa

Silver: Mateos Salon & Day Spa | mateosdayspa.com

Bronze: Veda Salon & Spa | coloradoveda.com

Dentist

click to enlarge BRYAN OLLER
  • Bryan Oller

Gold: Downtown Dentist | thedowntowndentistcs.com

Since 2007, Downtown Dentist has offered a full range of dental care techniques to make clients more comfortable.

The practice provides preventive, restorative and cosmetic dental care, including veneers and dental implants.

Opencare, an organization that fosters interaction between patients and health care practitioners, named Downtown Dentist a Patients’ Choice winner in 2016, and Expertise named Downtown Dentist’s Dr. Julia Rohleder one of the best dentists in Colorado Springs in 2018.

The office creates a homey atmosphere, to reduce any anxiety you might be feeling while awaiting your turn in the dentist's chair.

Silver: Broadmoor Dental | broadmoordental.com

Bronze: Springs Dentistry | springsdentistry.com

Nail Salon

Gold: Beauty Bar | beautybar-inc.com

Beauty Bar’s talented crew of nail artists will turn your fingertips into fashion statements filled with color, glitter or any aesthetic your heart desires (within reason).

Treat yourself to their seasonal pedicure. It’s a sensory experience that includes the familiar aromas that accompany each season and comes with a signature cocktail.

The comfy benches and open floor plan overall create a friendly space for conversation. Bring your best bud or make a new one.

Don’t forget the guys in your life. Beauty Bar’s Sportsman’s Pedicure has less flowery scents and no polish, but any one of their treatments would be great for your man’s weary feet.

Silver: Nail’d It by Sharon | facebook.com/nailditbySharon

Bronze: JC Nails | jcnailscoloradosprings.com

Hair Salon

Gold: Veda Salon & Spa | coloradoveda.com

Veda Salon & Spa motto: Live life well. The word “Veda” is Sanskrit for knowledge and wisdom.

Veda has four locations in Colorado: Broadmoor Towne Center, Academy Boulevard, University Village and downtown Denver.

They offer hair, makeup, bridal and nail services, plus a wide range of feel-great options including chakra balancing, facials, spa packages, aroma body wraps and CBD therapeutic massage.

Company goal: Community. “We believe that everything is interconnected — from the work we do, to the earth we live on, to the guests we serve,” Veda’s website says. “…We believe in giving back, in caring for the world we live in and fostering a sense of connection and love in the community.”

Silver: Beauty Bar | beautybar-inc.com

Bronze: J Gregory Salon | jgregorysalon.com

Nonprofit

Gold: Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region | hsppr.org

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GRANT
  • Casey Bradley Grant

As my partner and I contemplated adding a new kitten to our growing cat herd, we instinctively turned to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region first. We trust the quality of their care because not only have we adopted animals here in the past, but they also helped us find and reclaim our Miss Kitty when she went missing a few years ago. They make sure their charges are happy, healthy, spayed or neutered, and vaccinated, and ready to find or return to their forever homes.

Truth is, it’s hard to stop yourself falling in love with every animal in the Humane Society, whether you’re watching kittens play on the website’s “Cat Cam” or reading about this beloved nonprofit in the news — like when they recently took in more than 100 neglected cats from a Pueblo shelter and treated them for medical issues before finding them places to settle down. We happened to fall in love with one of those cats, Pearl. She joined our family on Oct. 19.

The Humane Society cares for its animals — be they dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, lizards, snakes and even horses. In 2018, they worked their tails off and homed 21,000 pets — that’s 58 a day.

So if you’re looking for a new baby like we were, our readers (and experience) say this is the best place to start.

Silver: Care and Share Food Bank For Southern Colorado | careandshare.org

Bronze: National Mill Dog Rescue | nmdr.org

Funeral Services

Gold: Swan-Law Funeral Directors | dignitymemorial.com

In a culture that often views discussions on death as taboo, Swan-Law’s knowledgeable staff helps families navigate bereavement and funeral ceremonies with openness and compassion.

They answer calls regarding funeral services every day and at all hours.

In need of transportation services and don’t know where to turn? They’ll help you arrange transportation even if you work with a different funeral home.

Their website is filled with supportive steps and helpful tips for those who have lost a loved one. They even have a page with advice on how to help others who are grieving.

They are a member of We Honor Veterans, and the staff is trained to handle concerns that are unique to veterans and their families.

Silver: The Springs Funeral Services |tsfs.co

Bronze: Cappadona Funeral Home | cappadonafh.com

Veterinary Clinic

Gold: Westside Animal Hospital | westsideanimalhospital.com

Offering a full range of services for dogs, cats and “pocket pets” (awwwww!) including surgeries, ultrasounds, dental services and more. Even acupuncture!

Take charge of your pet’s long-term health with wellness plan packages, which include exams, teeth cleanings and nail trimmings at reasonable prices.

Visit the Westside Animal Hospital blog where, for free, you can learn all sorts of tips and tricks for taking care of your furry friends. They’ve covered everything from how to identify skin allergies in your pooch to the ins and outs of treating a pet’s medical issues with CBD.

With five vets staffing the joint, you can find the perfect match for your pet’s needs and personality.

Bonus: They open at 7:30 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. on weekdays, and they’ve even got Saturday hours to accommodate a pet parent’s busy schedule.

Silver: Bijou Animal Hospital | bijouanimalhospital.com

Bronze: Yorkshire Veterinary Hospital | yorkshirevetclinic.com

Ink Slinger, Body Art (Tattoo Shop), Piercing Shop

Gold: Mandie Doom and Pens & Needles Custom Tattoo Company | pens-needles.com

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GRANT
  • Casey Bradley Grant

Just the briefest of conversations with best tattoo artist Mandie Doom will tell you all you need to know about why her clients love her so damn much. Her positive attitude and kind demeanor just make you feel good — and who doesn’t need more of that in life? “I have a strong passion for people as unique individuals,” says Doom. “I love all aspects of getting to know so many of these cool cats and their own passions, which span a whole spectrum of the human experience, while also getting to share my very exciting but obsessive relationship with tattooing.” See what we mean? She’s booked out until 2020, but it’s worth the wait! Asked what advice she would give to aspiring tattoo artists hoping to achieve her level someday, she offers more of that refreshing, positive energy: “Show up every day in life as you are and strive to be the best expression of yourself you can.”

You can find Mandie Doom at Pens & Needles Custom Tattoo Company, which attracts the best of the best in all manner of body modification. This local cornerstone of the tattoo community offers clean and beautiful tattooing and piercing services, plus the most vibrant and encouraging personalities in the biz. Clearly.

Ink Slinger

Silver: Mason Haney, The Ink Mason | facebook.com/pg/Theinkmasonparlour

Bronze: Chris Vaughan, Legion Tattoo Co. | facebook.com/legiontattooco

Body Art (Tattoo Shop)

Silver: Fallen Heroes Tattoo | fallenheroestattoo.com

Bronze: West Side Tattoo and Piercing Gallery | westsidetattoo.net

Piercing Shop

Silver: The Hive Body Piercing and Fine Jewelry | facebook.com/thehivebodypiercing

Bronze: West Side Tattoo and Piercing Gallery | westsidetattoo.net

Local Band

Gold: Tejon Street Corner Thieves | cornerthieves.com

Coming off a win for Best Local Band in last year’s contest, the Tejon Street Corner Thieves are following up with another Best Of honor. The self-described “outlaw blues and trash-grass pioneers” are made up of Connor O’Neal, banjo; Shawn D’Amario, guitar; Spencer Mode, washboard; Rick Starkey, bass at local shows (Michael Flecha plays bass while touring and solos as King Strang); and Luke Bespiel, fiddle (solo project, Lightnin’ Luke). O’Neal says the band is “always” working on a new album, but there’s no need to wait for new tracks to hear them pick. “We’re sitting at over 200 shows a year,” O’Neal says. “When we’re in town, we play every weekend.” O’Neal says the new album will likely drop next year. And it will differ from albums past. “Every Last Drop focused on getting drunk a whole lot. Sure we’ll still have a few drinking songs on the new album, but so far, they’re a little deeper; they have a little more substance to them.” What does it mean to be the best band in Colorado Springs? “It’s our hometown,” O’Neal says. “We play so much here. We have the most resilient fan base — playing every Friday and Saturday and people still come out.”

Silver: Woodshed Red | woodshedred.com

Bronze: SofaKillers | facebook.com/sofakillers

Barbershop

Gold: Lincoln St. Barbers | lincolnstbarbers.com

“We’re a community of civilized misfits,” the Lincoln St. Barbers website proclaims. And owner Jason Crampton says that’s true — but it doesn’t mean they don’t take their craft seriously. “It’s what sets us apart,” Crampton says. “We’re all licensed barbers. It’s very important to our shop’s culture — finding those barbers who are truly honed in and passionate about the craft.” Having fun is also a big part of the culture. When he opened the shop, Crampton says he wanted to build a place that represented community. “Leave society at the door, come in and be yourself,” he says. “We know how to have fun, have a good time and still provide great quality.”

Silver: Blades & Brews | bladesnbrews.com

Bronze: Locals Barbershop & Salon | localscut.com

Pet Day Care

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GRANT
  • Casey Bradley Grant

Gold: Camp Bow Wow | campbowwow.com

Camp Bow Wow is a nationwide boarding, grooming, training and doggy day care organization based out of Broomfield with more than 160 locations across the country and a brand value worth more than $125 million.

But despite the business’ large reach, part of what makes the canine camp successful is its focus on the individual pups.

Dogs who attend the camp are able to release pent-up energy in spacious play areas, socialize with new friends — both human and canine — and are taken care of by Camp Bow Wow’s “Certified Camp Counselors,” who are trained in dog behavior, pet CPR and pet first aid.

For pup parents who experience separation anxiety just as much as their furry, four-legged family members, there are live webcams catching the action so you can keep an eye on all the fun your pet is having at camp.

Silver: Lucky Dog Resort | bealuckydog.com

Bronze: Playtime Pet Sitters & Dog Walkers | playtimepetsitters.com

Child Care

Gold: Once Upon A ChildCare | onceuponachildcare.com

Business owner and longtime child caretaker Robin Sedillo opened the first location of Once Upon A Childcare in August 2018, and has already expanded her business to a second location.

The center now offers services at 2110 Vickers Drive and 625 Popes Bluff Trail, serving children from 6 months through 6 years old.

The business prides itself on its family-oriented environment and low caretaker-to-child ratios, which ensure each kid gets more one-on-one time.

The classrooms at Once Upon A Childcare are also technology-free.

“Our curriculum is tailored on an individual basis so we have a curriculum for each child,” Sedillo said. “Just looking at all of our students as a whole, we want them to be able to excel, not only academically, but emotionally and socially. … It’s really important to us that every individual in our program gets to benefit as an individual.”

Silver: Hope Montessori Academy | montessorichild.com

Bronze: Sidewalk’s End Montessori School | sidewalksendmontessori.com

Pet Groomer

Gold: Wag N’ Wash Natural Pet Food & Grooming | wagnwash.com

Owners Dan Remus and Jef Strauss started Wag N’ Wash in Colorado Springs 18 years ago with a store on Uintah Street. The franchise now boasts 19 stores in eight states, including nine stores in Colorado (Broomfieldians had their own store bestowed upon them this summer). The shops offer the usual grooming and do-it-yourself dog washing, but the company sets itself apart by producing healthy treats for dogs and cats (including operating a bakery for pets), and educating customers about all products, from nutrition to toys. And the enthusiastic, pet-pampering staff doesn’t hurt either.

Silver: Soggy Doggies Grooming | soggydoggiesgrooming.com

Bronze: House of Hounds Grooming | houseofhoundsgrooming.com

Auto Repair Shop

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GRANT
  • Casey Bradley Grant
Gold: Aspen Auto Clinic | aspenautoclinic.com

Aspen Auto Clinic has been serving the Colorado Springs community for 19 years through its tire services, free towing, oil changes, transmission repair and more. Employees have a hunch as to why people keep coming back. “All relationships are built on integrity and respect, and we truly believe that every customer should leave in a safe and more reliable vehicle than when they come in, and we want to be a leader in our community and be nationally recognized for that,” says Erik Smith, operations manager. Need a reason to pay them a visit? “The best things to be focusing on primarily are getting your car winterized and ready for the upcoming [snowy] season,” says Smith. Ask about Aspen Auto Clinic’s military and public servants discounts, and schedule an appointment with them online or in person.

Silver: Tire World Auto Repair Tire Pros | tireworldinc.com

Bronze: Honest Accurate Auto Service | honestaccurateauto.com

Bank/Credit Union

Gold: Ent Credit Union | ent.com

Ent Credit Union’s continued success is a direct result of focusing on serving its “member-owners.”

The credit union was founded in 1957 and is named after World War II Gen. Uzal Ent. It has more than $5 billion in assets, more than 300,000 members and 29 service center locations along the Front Range.

“Getting a vote of confidence like this from our members is the best compliment we could receive,” says Matt Gendron, Ent’s chief engagement officer, of winning the Indy’s Best Bank/Credit Union honor. “Putting our members first is at the heart of everything we do. This recognition verifies that all of our teams’ hard work in continuing to improve our members’ experience is meaningful.”

Featured products at Ent include: free checking, auto loans, home equity loans, mortgage loans, personal loans and personal lines of credit, credit cards, business checking, business auto loans, business lines of credit, corporate checking and corporate loans.

Silver: USAA | usaa.com

Bronze: Navy Federal Credit Union | navyfederal.org

New Car Dealer, Used Car Dealer, Service at a Dealership

Gold: Heuberger Subaru | bestbuysubaru.com

It certainly doesn’t hurt Heuberger Subaru’s credibility to sell and service one of the most popular car brands in the state of Colorado. However, there’s more to this family-owned dealership than the brand they rep. After all, to make it selling cars for nearly 50 years, you have to do way more than just offer a good product. Heuberger has adopted a no-pressure approach that eliminates the anxiety buyers feel the second they see the bright smile of an approaching salesman. Once you’ve spotted your dream Subie, it’s all about making the purchase process as stress-free as possible so you’ll leave feeling stoked about your new car, not worrying you got swindled. They try to make maintenance and repairs easier, too. If you don’t want to hitch a ride on the service department’s courtesy shuttle, they have an actual barista who will serve you coffee as you hang out in their waiting rooms with free Wi-Fi.

New Car Dealer

Silver: Larry H. Miller Toyota | toyotaofcoloradosprings.com

Bronze: Phil Long Dealerships | phillong.com

Used Car Dealer

Silver: Phil Long Dealerships | phillong.com

Bronze: Springs Automotive Group | springsautomotivegroup.com

Service at a Dealership

Silver: Larry H. Miller Toyota | toyotaofcoloradosprings.com

Bronze: Phil Long Dealerships | phillong.com

Old Stuff (Antique Store)

click to enlarge BRYAN OLLER
  • Bryan Oller

Gold: American Classics Marketplace | americanclassicsmarketplace.com

Back when American Classics Marketplace owner Gary Brookshire used to sell auto parts, he grew accustomed to a rotating door of unhappy customers just trying to fix their broken-down vehicles and get back on the road.

But now that he runs the largest facility in the Centennial State dedicated to selling antiques, the disposition of Brookshire’s clientele is quite different.

“The customers in here just love being here,” Brookshire says. “It’s a fun experience. People come down and just wander around for a couple of hours and don’t necessarily buy things.”

With over 400 vendors selling antiques, collectibles, crafts and repurposed/refinished items that have been transformed from bleak to chic, countless treasures can be found within the marketplace’s walls.

“If there’s not a million items in here, it’s got to be really close,” Brookshire says. “There’s just no way to count.”

Silver: Willowstone Marketplace | willowstoneantiques.com

Bronze: Sweet William Antique Mall | sweetwilliamantiquemall.com

Used Furniture

Gold: Platte Furniture | plattefurniture.com

Owner Dick Kelly has brought his business a long way from Platte Furniture’s humble beginnings.

The former schoolteacher and coach began selling furniture out of his garage in 1978 and has since expanded his family-owned and -operated store into the “largest used furniture store in Colorado,” featuring a 36,000-square-foot showroom.

On the Platte Furniture website, you can shop the store’s selection of new and used goods, view up-to-date used furniture inventory, take a virtual tour, and even sell your own furniture without ever leaving the comfort of that secondhand couch you’re looking to unload.

“We’re kind of known for that — the really good quality pieces as well as the modern ones,” says Kyle Kelly, who joined his dad in the business back in 2000.

“We get a lot of people asking, ‘Where’s the used furniture?’ And I tell them, ‘No, this is all used.’”

Silver: Arc Thrift Stores | arcthrift.com

Bronze: American Classics Marketplace | americanclassicsmarketplace.com

Abode Builder (Homebuilder)

Gold: Classic Homes | classichomes.com

The homebuilding and land development company has been serving homebuyers in Colorado Springs and Monument since 1989.

The Classic Homes website allows customers to search its selection by neighborhood, to browse available homes and to search for specific floorplans.

The company has received dozens of awards and accolades in its 30-year history, including being voted No. 1 Homebuilder in the Colorado Springs Business Journal’s Best in Business 2019 competition.

In reviews posted on the business’ website and Facebook page, customers laud the company’s sales staff and exemplary customer service. “They are good quality and beautiful homes,” wrote one 5-star reviewer.

Silver: Keller Homes | kellerhomes.com

Bronze: Oakwood Homes | oakwoodhomesco.com

Between the Covers (Bookstore)

click to enlarge BRYAN OLLER
  • Bryan Oller
Gold: Poor Richard’s Books & Gifts | poorrichardsdowntown.com

The book selection at Poor Richard’s — which Thomas Vest, the business’ purchaser of new books, estimates to be in the five figures — is as diverse as the business itself.

The popular downtown bookstore is attached to a toy shop, pizza joint and café, and in addition to its new and used books, sells gifts, greeting cards, trail guides, state maps, local artisan-made jewelry and more.

And it’s not just bestselling authors and popular titles across 150 categories shoppers can find at Poor Richard’s. The store has a local authors section and encourages locals to come in and pitch their books.

“We pretty much give every local author that is in the area a shot at having their books on the shelf,” Vest says.

Silver: Hooked on Books | hookedonbooksco.com

Bronze: The Bookman Independent Bookstore | facebook.com/TheBookmanIndependentBookstore

Store for Fashion Accessories, Clothing Boutique

Gold: Terra Verde Boutique | terraverdestyle.com

Located in the heart of downtown, Terre Verde is more than a clothing store; it has a real connection with the community. The store prides itself on helping shoppers find exactly the right outfit for every occasion, and it isn’t just another anonymous internet storefront where customers order online and never step through the doors. The staff is always willing to help residents and visitors alike find something they feel good in, and for 27 years, they’ve been so successful they get return visitors from out of town. It’s a way to create a connection with Colorado Springs that tourists remember and return to — year after year.

Store for Fashion Accessories

Silver: Pink Cadillac Boutique | pinkcaddyboutique.com

Bronze: Eclectic CO. | shopeclecticco.com

Clothing Boutique

Silver: Eve’s Revolution | evesrevolution.com

Bronze: Pink Cadillac Boutique | pinkcaddyboutique.com

Used Stuff (Thrift Store)

Gold: Arc Thrift Stores | arcthrift.com

When you shop at local Arc Thrift Stores, you’re helping the Colorado-based nonprofit employ more than 1,400 people across the state, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Outside of supporting a worthy cause, the Arc offers some of the best deals in town on used, recycled, secondhand and vintage goods.

Outside of those deals, the Arc offers even more deals for bargain hunters, with half off select goods for seniors on Tuesdays and on Saturdays for everyone else.

With Halloween fast approaching, there are few places in town that rival the Arc when it comes to creating your own one-of-a-kind, bargain-bin costume.

Silver: Who Gives a SCRAP | whogivesascrapcolorado.com

Bronze: Discover Goodwill | discovermygoodwill.org

Jewelry Store

Gold: Luisa Graff Jewelers | luisagraffjewelers.com

Luisa Graff Jewelers is “where Colorado gets engaged,” says its website.

The store has more than 15,000 pieces of fine jewelry for customers, from engagement and wedding sets to a vault full of loose diamonds to help you create something that suits your own personal style.

The staff travels around the world every year to bring the best colored gemstones to Colorado Springs: everywhere from Antwerp, Belgium; Bangkok, Thailand; Hong Kong, and beyond.

New associates receive extensive mentoring and studying at Luisa Graff University — and some team members learn the craft through graded Gemological Institute of America coursework. The staff prides itself on its knowledge and passion for jewelry.

Silver: Terra Verde Boutique | terraverdestyle.com

Bronze: Revolution Jewelry Works | revolutionjewelryworks.com

Comic Shop

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
Gold: KaPow Comics & Coffee | kapowcomicsandcoffee.com

It was rather genius of owners/siblings Martin and Laura Davidson to combine two of the best things on Earth into one solid business model. KaPow Comics & Coffee offers not just a huge selection of new and vintage comic books and collectibles, but also all the comforts of a community café. So you can pick up your latest Avengers issue, take a seat inside the spacious café or out on the patio (weather permitting), and sip any of KaPow’s playful specialty drinks made with Denver-based Coda Coffee Co. beans.

Need one more reason to visit? These folks are a nexus of nerdy activity. Tabletop gamers play here weekly; they host trivia nights and artist showcases; and they’re committed to a fun, relaxing, family-friendly environment for all fandoms.

Silver: CK Comics & Collectibles | ckcomicsonline.com

Bronze: Escape Velocity Comics | escapevelocitycomics.com

Best Bike Shop

Gold: Old Town Bike Shop | oldtownbikeshop.com

Even though the bike lanes in Colorado Springs are still a work in progress, the biking community is constantly growing. And Old Town Bike Shop has long played a part in facilitating that growth. “I believe people like coming here because this is not a typical business model,” says owner John Crandall. “By that I mean, whether in the repair area or the retail area, the employees are allowed and encouraged to take as much time as is needed to understand the customers’ needs and wants.” Old Town Bike Shop offers a wide variety of services — from a simple flat tire repair to a major tune-up. Old Town Bike Shop caters to all customers, from those who commute over downtown’s bike lanes... to fixie lovers who want to take life slow and easy... to mountain bikers looking to conquer Barr Trail.

Silver: Criterium Bicycles | criterium.com

Bronze: Ted’s Bicycles | tedsbicycles.com

Place to Buy Skis/Snowboards

click to enlarge BRYAN OLLER
  • Bryan Oller

Gold: The Ski Shop Inc. | theskishopinc.com

Tweak your skis, buy new snowboarding equipment, get a boot fitting or score discount lift tickets. The Ski Shop Inc. has all the services of their mountaintop counterparts, just cheaper and closer to home.

Their low equipment-rental prices easily shred packages offered by resorts — yes, even the budget slopes.

Brothers Rick and Scott Uhl, who run the shop today, learned how to ski at now-closed Ski Broadmoor right here in Colorado Springs.

Catch a ride on their December demo bus. You’ll travel to Loveland in a luxury charter bus, and the deal includes breakfast, lunch and lift tickets. Plus, you get to demo nifty new ski and snowboard gear.

Silver: Mountain Chalet | mtnchalet.com

Bronze: Mountain Equipment Recyclers | merecyclers.com

Adventure Shop

Gold: Mountain Chalet | mtnchalet.com

Jim and Elaine Smith are the third owners of Mountain Chalet, which opened in 1968 and became a downtown icon. The Smiths recently moved their landmark outdoor store to its new site at 15 N. Nevada Ave. They were closed for only one day. The new venue still bears the iconic Mountain Chalet logo, and inside customers will find the same variety of outdoor gear and then some. The new store offers 2,000 square feet of additional floor space that allows for movable displays on a single level, and more room for workshops and events. They’ve set up demonstration stations, including areas for testing water filtration equipment and stoves, and there is room for a technical washing service for equipment and apparel. Outdoor enthusiasts can also join the myriad events the shop and its patrons put on each month.

Silver: Mountain Equipment Recycler | merecyclers.com

Bronze: Angler’s Covey | anglerscovey.com

Store for Music, Movies & Video Games

click to enlarge BRIAN TRYON
  • Brian Tryon

Gold: Independent Records & Video | beindependent.com

So what sets Independent Records apart from its competition — besides the kick-ass name? “It’s our commitment to so-called ‘dead’ formats,” says Matt Gehrung, buyer at Independent Records. “For sure, streaming and downloads dominate the consumer entertainment industry, and why not? The convenience is unparalleled. However, tangible items, like CDs, vinyl, DVDs and Blu-ray (as well as books, games and other diversions) reflect who you are as a person; your collection says a lot about your personality and that collection is a part of your legacy.” What else, Matt? “Independent has been committed to vinyl since we opened in 1978, and we are still carrying CDs and have no intention of jumping that ship like a lot of other stores have,” Gehrung says. “… We buy pre-owned media from the public and put a lot of effort into making those items sellable again. Independent Records is the best because this is what we do — not because we get rich in this business, but because of our love for the arts and all that goes with.”

Silver: Entertainmart | entertainmart.com

Bronze: The Leechpit Records & Vintage | leechpit.com

Best Natural Food Store

Gold: Sprouts | sprouts.com

Sprouts sandwich bar, juice bar, fresh sushi deli, catering and grocery selection are just a few of the options Colorado Springs grocery shoppers have available to them.

Keep your eyes peeled for Sprouts’ deals of the month and seasonal recipe postings on the grocery’s mobile app.

Browse Sprouts’ Articles & Resources tab on its website and find weekly blog postings about trending items that offer inspiration and keep you from eating out as frequently.

Silver: Trader Joe’s | traderjoes.com

Bronze: Mountain Mama Natural Foods | mountainmamanaturalfoods.com

Grocery Store

Gold: King Soopers | kingsoopers.com

King Soopers is owned by Kroger Co., the largest grocery store chain in the United States. Its Colorado brand is headquartered in Aurora.

The “King” in King Soopers comes from Lloyd King, who founded the grocery chain in Arvada in 1947 that was eventually acquired by Kroger. Earlier this year, Colorado Public Radio interviewed Matt Masich, who had researched that piece of trivia for a magazine article. He tracked the “Soopers” bit as far as he could — to the old Archie comic strip.

There are 11 King Soopers stores in El Paso County, and the chain has repeatedly been named a favorite by Indy readers.

According to its website, the Kroger company has a commitment to ending hunger and eliminating food waste by 2025. The plan includes a $10 million innovation fund, an increase in food bank donations (3 billion meals by 2025) and a promise to advocate for public policies to end hunger. 

Silver: Trader Joe’s | traderjoes.com

Bronze: Sprouts | sprouts.com

Weird Stuff

Gold: The Leechpit Records & Vintage | leechpit.com

click to enlarge BRIAN TYRON
  • Brian Tyron

How appropriate that Leechpit should win the Weird Stuff category — to call them merely “eclectic” as we have in years past is an understatement.

This unashamedly punk-rock vintage retailer offers everything from classic game consoles to vinyl records, totally unique clothes and collectible toys.

You can certainly stop by to buy, but you can also make some cash by selling whatever you’ve got cluttering up your closet. The Leechpit is well curated, but it’s stocked with our shit.

The slogan: “Keep Colorado Springs Lame.” Unfortunately for the Leechpit, their presence in our humble town just makes us so much cooler.

Silver: Ladyfingers Letterpress | ladyfingersletterpress.com

Bronze: American Classics Marketplace | americanclassicsmarketplace.com

Naughty Nooks

Gold: Fascinations | fascinations.net

This category may be called “Naughty Nooks,” but Fascinations takes the adult toy and accessory industry seriously, and we’re much more apt to label them “nice.” Folks tend to think sex shops should be a shameful little secret, but kudos to Fascinations for selling the stuff that makes us feel and look our best when we’re getting it on.

And talk about selection. Fascinations specializes in more than just toys — though they’ve got plenty of those. Consider: a wide range of costumes, lingerie and fetish wear from lace to latex to leather — for all genders. Consider: massage oils and special lubricants like the best-selling Earthly Body line of hemp seed oil products. Consider: non-judgmental and knowledgeable staff who can help you track down exactly what you’re looking for, and make some recommendations while they’re at it.

But, uh, consider the toys too. We hear the Rabbit vibrators are particular bestsellers.

Silver: Seductions | seductionsonline.com

Bronze: Wicked Pretties Intimates | mywickedpretties.com

Dance Company

Gold: Peaks and Pasties | peaksandpasties.com

This local burlesque troupe has gone from being a scandalous rag-tag group of courageous dancers to the Indy reader-voted best dance company in the Springs. Now that is growth.

Formed and maintained on a philosophy of body positivity, Peaks and Pasties encourages all genders, all body types, all abilities and all personalities to hit the stage and strut their stuff.

Keep an eye out for occasional (and highly sought-after) burlesque workshops, which offer beginners a crash course in how to craft the perfect tease.

Peaks and Pasties started the first and only full-time cabaret in the Springs. The Champagne Cabaret, as it’s called, offers weekly themed showcases at The Gold Room downtown.

Silver: Colorado Ballet Society | danceinthesprings.com

Bronze: Ormao Dance Company | ormaodance.org

Garden Supply/Nursery

Gold: Phelan Gardens | phelangardens.com

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GRANT
  • Casey Bradley Grant

Whether you’re an experienced green thumb searching for a new addition to your home garden or a first-time owner of flora trying to bring that wilting houseplant back to life, the folks at Phelan Gardens have you covered.

Brother and sister Mark and Monica Phelan have built a reputation for their business’ diverse offerings of more than 10,000 products — from shrubs, trees, perennials, edibles, herbs and annuals to decorative garden gnomes, pesticides, gift items and nearly everything in between.

The full-service garden-supply business, greenhouse and nursery is open year-round, and they not only educate people about the products they sell, but also will plant them.

They host educational events, including monthly gardening classes.

“Our motto, our tagline, is: ‘Where life thrives,’” says co-owner Mark Phelan.

Silver: Rick’s Garden Center | ricksgarden.com/

Bronze: Good Earth Garden Center | facebook.com/GoodEarthColorado

Best Flower Shop

Gold: Platte Floral | platteflowers.biz

Platte Floral offers beautifully designed, fresh floral arrangements for weddings, anniversaries, funerals, holidays, or just to let someone know you’re thinking of them.

The longtime community fixture (it opened way back in 1921) is family-owned and -operated, and prides itself on its friendly and prompt service.

The Platte Floral website lets shoppers order their selection by occasion, price, style, color and even by specific flowers. They also offer gourmet and corporate gifts, houseplants and exotic tropical plants.

For those who can’t make it into the shop or need flowers sent to a loved one, Platte Floral delivers to 56 ZIP codes in Colorado Springs and offers daily delivery service to local hospitals, funeral homes and the U.S. Air Force Academy. They can also handle international orders.

Platte Floral also has an extensive gift selection and carries greeting cards, candles, holiday decor and more.

Silver: Skyway Creations | skywaycreations.com

Bronze: Springs in Bloom | springsinbloom.net

Higher Ed Institution

click to enlarge COURTESY UCCS
  • Courtesy UCCS
Gold: University of Colorado at Colorado Springs | uccs.edu

“We’re proud of our commitment to accessibility and affordability as the only research-level university in southern Colorado,” says Jared Verner, director of communications for UCCS. “We serve a unique role in the region and believe that our combination of academic rigor, affordable tuition and robust financial aid set our students up for success.”

Established in 1965 on 80 acres donated by local businessman George Dwire, the university had an enrollment of about 12,200 students this past year.

From 1965 to 1972, the Colorado Springs campus operated as a division of CU Boulder, though UCCS was recognized as a distinct campus in 1974, along with two Denver campuses.

“Since our founding, we have maintained close relationships with our community, and our success has been the result of many people working together to create an environment for discovery,” Verner says.

As for the university’s future: “We’re excited about the work of the William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center,” Verner says, “and what it will mean for us, our partners in Penrose-St. Francis Health Services and Centura Health, and for the city of Colorado Springs.”

Silver: Pikes Peak Community College | ppcc.edu

Bronze: Colorado College | coloradocollege.edu

Trade School

Gold: Pikes Peak Community College | ppcc.edu

The biggest news coming out of Pikes Peak Community College this year, without a doubt, was the institution’s announcement that it will provide free tuition to Harrison School District 2 graduates who meet certain criteria. It’s one example of why Indy readers have voted PPCC the Best Trade School in Colorado Springs. “We’re honored to be part of the best of the Springs,” says PPCC President Lance Bolton. “Our focus at Pikes Peak has been on student success and tearing down every barrier to higher ed. One of our most ambitious initiatives in those areas is the Dakota Promise Scholarship, which offers every qualified graduate from District 2 a free ride and dedicated success coach starting in the fall of 2020. What sets Pikes Peak apart from other colleges and universities in the area,” Bolton continues, “is access. We’re the most affordable open-enrollment option, and every day we try to chip away at the poisonous myth that anyone in this community is not college material.”

Silver: The MiLL National Training Center | themillco.org

Bronze: Toni&Guy | toniguy.edu

Glassmasters (Head Shop)

Gold: Elev8 Glass | elev8glassgallery.com

click to enlarge BRYAN OLLER
  • Bryan Oller

“So why are we the best?” Elev8 Glass Gallery owner Steve Kelnhofer asks. “Well, we are Colorado Springs native-owned,” he says. “That doesn’t make us best. [But] what makes us different [is] we are owned by a glassblower (me) and I have been blowing for 15 years.” Elev8 sells its own glass, creations by other artists, “as well as affordable foreign glass to meet all customer budgets,” Kelnhofer says. “Our shops are clean, organized and you are always welcomed as a family. We even have a slogan, ‘Come as a friend, leave as family.’” Elev8 is not just a glass shop, but a way of life, Kelnhofer says, adding the glassblowing studio is known for its events and on- and off-site social gatherings. “We’ve started Elev8 at Home, where we go over vaporizers and healthier cannabis consumption. It’s like a Tupperware party,” he says, “but way better.”

Silver: The Bomb Head Shop | thebombheadshop.com

Bronze: Freaky’s Smoke Shop | freakys.com

MMJ Dispensary/East, Place for CBD Product

Gold: The Green Source | nationalgreensource.com

Though The Green Source III on Platte Avenue won this award for the best dispensary on the Eastside, the company’s five-location enterprise deserves major kudos and credit as a whole. Because across all locations they have standardized a high level of patient care, with consistent member benefits and even a free shuttle service to help those in need get to not only Green Source locations, but to doctor’s appointments, hospitals and treatment centers. 

Add to all this a commitment to high-quality products, and The Green Source might just have all your medical marijuana needs covered. Our readers seem particularly fond of their selection of CBD products. Their list of available edibles includes products that contain pure CBD or a mix of CBD and THC, from reputable companies like Cheeba Chews and Mountain High, and that’s not even counting the tinctures and balms available. Members get a special selection of flower to choose from, but should you walk in membershipless, you’re still bound to find something to suit your needs. “At The Green Source,” the company’s website says, “we value the patient above all else.”

MMJ Dispensary/East

Silver: Native Roots Cannabis Co. | nativerootscannabis.com

Bronze: Quality Choice | qualitychoicedispensaries.com

Place for CBD Products

Silver: Adventure CBD & Hemp | adventurecbd.com

Bronze: Discover CBD | discovercbd.com

Vape Shop

Gold: Vapor Source | vaporsource.com

Founded in Albuquerque in 2009, Vapor Source has expanded to eight locations, all in southern Colorado.

In its Pueblo laboratories, Vapor Source manufactures its own e-liquid, which it holds to crazy-high standards of purity.

If you’re curious about any aspect of the company’s operations, check the website. You can get a peek inside the lab, take a virtual tour of any of the stores, and even access a free online chat feature.

Should you prefer the personal touch, rest assured that Vapor Source staff at each store know what they’re doing. And they are so nice. Like, so nice. These folks genuinely want to help you quit smoking or otherwise find the right rig for your vaping needs.

Silver: Freaky’s Smoke Shop & Tattoo | freakys.com

Bronze (Tie): Absolute Vapor Lounge & Delivery | absolutevapor.com; Chief Vapor | chiefvapor.biz

MMJ Dispensary/Downtown

click to enlarge CASEY BRADLEY GRANT
  • Casey Bradley Grant

Gold: Altitude OrganicMedicine | altitudeorganic.com

Altitude Organic Medicine remains true to its name. It uses all-organic methods to grow its product, and offers about 15 strains on the shelf at a time: “Quality over quantity.”

Though the company has three Colorado Springs locations (all medical) and one in Dillon (recreational), readers chose the Downtown dispensary in particular for this honor, maybe because it’s the company’s flagship location.

In a hurry? Download the mobile app so you can pre-order your bud.

Committed to the outdoors and the environment, Altitude plants a tree seed for every gram of hash it sells — and that’s a lot of hash.

Silver: Good Weed | goodweedco.com

Bronze: High Tops Premium Cannabis | hightopscannabis.com

Recreational Marijuana Dispensary, MMJ Dispensary/North, MMJ Dispensary/West, MMJ Dispensary/South

Gold: Maggie’s Farm | maggiesfarmmarijuana.com

It’s not a big shock to devotees of the Farm, but Maggie’s has done it again. A perennial Indy-reader favorite, Maggie’s Farm continues to receive kudos as one of the top recreational and medical marijuana businesses in all the kingdom. And not just here… but there… and everywhere. The Farm, known for its sun-grown, spring-watered, slow-cured and hand-trimmed buds, picked up honors for Best MMJ Dispensary in not one, not two, but four categories, according to Indy readers. “Maggie’s Farm has embraced fully organic processes and been vetted by a third-party certifier (Clean Green) which mirrors the USDA’s organic certification requirements,” says Bill Reilly, Maggie’s Farm’s director of marketing. “All of our success is founded on the concept of delayed gratification, which is present in our uncompromising growth processes, our once-a-year harvest schedule, the slow-curing that brings out the best from the plants, and our refusal to cut corners or sell out our core beliefs.” Reilly says Maggie’s is “a craft brand, not a big corporation,” and “we have never accepted big-money investment that would compromise our fundamentals.” He adds that personal attention is provided not only to customers, but to the product itself. “We commune with our crops every step of the way,” he said, “hand-pruning them and lovingly inspecting each individual plant from seed to harvest.”

Recreational Dispensary

Silver: Emerald Fields | emeraldfields.com

Bronze: NuVue Pharma, Pueblo | nuvuepharma.com

MMJ Dispensary/North

Silver: The Green Source | nationalgreensource.com

Bronze: Altitude Organic | altitudeorganic.com

MMJ Dispensary/South

Silver: The Green Source II | nationalgreensource.com

Bronze: Apothecary Farms | apothecaryfarms.com

MMJ Dispensary/West

Silver: Emerald City Wellness | facebook.com/emeraldcitywellness719

Bronze: Lux Leaf | luxleaf.com

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