OK, let's just start on Tejon Street — it's a veritable shopping mecca.
Upscale women's clothing and accessories await at Colorado Co-op (315 N. Tejon St., coloradoco-oponline.com), Drama (107 N. Tejon St., drama-boutique.com), Ellie K Boutique (230 N. Tejon St., elliekboutique.com) and Kirk and Hill (129 N. Tejon St., 635-7038). And don't miss a stop at Terra Verde (208 N. Tejon St., terraverdestyle.com) — in addition to clothing, it's got a gorgeous, but not-too-expensive, collection of jewelry and assorted items perfect for gifting.
Other good spots for gifts: CJ Kard (214 N. Tejon St., cjkard.com) is stocked with cards and cute items, and in the back you'll find a custom invitation shop. Also, there's Van Briggle Pottery & Tile (1024 S. Tejon St., vanbriggle.com): Artus Van Briggle opened his studios in the Springs in 1899, so owning a piece of the Art Nouveau pottery is like owning a piece of city history.
Men can meet their formal clothing needs at Rutledge's (102 N. Tejon St., 632-7654), which features the finest in suits, shirts, ties and accessories. But there are more options for men's (and women's) activewear. Mountain Chalet (226 N. Tejon St., mtnchalet.com) is celebrating its 25th year of outfitting residents and tourists. Runners feel at home at Runners Roost (121 N. Tejon St., runnersroost.com); bicyclists, at Old Town Bike Shop (426 S. Tejon St., oldtownbikeshop.com); mountainfolk, at The Ski Shop (1422 S. Tejon St., theskishopinc.com).
Music your thing? Pop by the 33-year-old Independent Records & Video (123 E. Bijou St., beindependent.com, multiple locations across town) to buy, sell or trade. If you're into playing it, Tejon Street Music (330 N. Tejon St., tejonstreetmusic.com) has your guitar, banjo, mandolin and ukulele needs met; Meeker Music (113 E. Bijou St., meekermusic.tripod.com) stocks everything but organs and pianos. For keyboards, including a nice selection of synthesizers, visit Pianos New & Used (413 N Tejon St., rpianos.com). And at the Music Exchange (303 E. Pikes Peak Ave., comusicx.com), you can talk shop with sales guy Chuck Snow, whose former band the Autono gave the Springs its closest thing to a breakthrough act in the '90s. (See his Lo-Fi Cowboys play today if you can.)
On to fun and games: At Compleat Games & Hobbies (326 N. Tejon St., compleatgamer.com), gamers and hobbyists will find D&D, puzzles, model planes and much more, as well as on-site tournaments and other events. Two doors south of that is Little Richard's Toy Store (324 N. Tejon St., poorrichards.biz), teeming with puppets, board games and other wholesome kids' stuff.
If your playground is the kitchen, Savory Spice Shop (110 N. Tejon St., savoryspiceshop.com) sells more than 140 original seasoning blends. And consider a visit to Vintages Wine & Spirits (9 S. Tejon St., vintageswines.com); co-owner Erin Collins has been recommending and selling wine through Vintages since 1997 and offers a variety of tastings and classes.
Of course, you can, and should, venture off Tejon. Consider biking — everything's pretty close by.
In the summertime, start at the farmers markets. The Colorado Farm & Art Market (farmandartmarket.com, 640-6154) has moved this summer from America the Beautiful Park to the Fine Arts Center grounds, but that doesn't mean it will be any less organic or well-stocked. Check it out Wednesday evenings mid-June into October. Memorial Park (1605 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 574-1283) hosts two markets during the same time frame, but on Monday and Thursday mornings. Come early to get the freshest picks; go late for the best deals.
Bargains aren't only to be had at farmers markets. Fridays at the 80-year-old Ross Auction (815 S. Sierra Madre St., rossauction.com), you can bid on household items, tools and other small items; Saturdays, it's art and collectibles, furniture and appliances and, occasionally, vehicles.
There's also the aptly named Extreme Bargains (3190 N. Stone Ave., 471-8506). Known as a "scratch-and-dent" store, it stocks discontinued, dated and damaged goods, everything from cereal to paper plates, at reduced prices.
More bargains: The Leechpit (802 N. Nevada Ave., leechpit.com) — owned by musician, entrepreneur and family man Adam Leech — stocks vintage and retro clothing, knick-knacks and a crapload of records. (Like it on Facebook to catch wind of extra-special deals.) Habitat for Humanity's ReStore (411 S. Wahsatch Ave., habitatrestorepp.com) offers sweet home-improvement bargains. And sew-it-yourselfers will think they've died and gone to fabric heaven at Mill Outlet Fabric Shop (2906 N. Prospect St., milloutletfabric.com).
If you need less craft and more art, visit Meininger Art Supply (201 S. Weber St., meininger.com). Started in Denver in 1881, the business has grown into three brick-and-mortar stores plus an online shop, stocking everything the art professional can't do business without.
Sabi (330 N. Institute St., 930-7365) is one of the Springs' best-kept secrets. Its two rooms are filled with funky, hard-to-find vintage clothing, jewelry and accessories. (Steampunk fans in particular will find a home here. Lace-up high-heeled boots? Check. Corset? Check. Goggles? Check.)
You might find similar gems at the Antique Gallery (117 S. Wahsatch Ave., carrsantiquegallery.com), but the space is huge, so digging will be required. Wind your way among antique furniture, jewelry, collectibles and art, and don't hesitate to ask for help if needed.
Similarly eclectic and rewarding (at least if your politics lean left) is the Liberal Store (218 W. Colorado Ave., #104, theliberalstore.com). This nook under the Colorado Avenue bridge may be small, but it packs a punch with bumper stickers, buttons and refrigerator magnets.
Finally, since the Springs has been voted the country's most dog-friendly city, you know there'd have to be some place for pups downtown. Republic of Paws (129 N. Wahsatch Ave., republicofpaws.com) will help you dress, feed and generally pamper them. Of course, if you really want to make Fluffy happy, stop by Ranch Foods Direct (2901 N. El Paso St., ranchfoodsdirect.com): A nice, 100 percent natural, antibiotic-, hormone- and steroid-free rib bone will make her sit and stay. And then you can eat whatever meat or poultry you bring home for yourself.