2017 Best Of Colorado Springs' Community, Shopping & Services

Indy Best Of

CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Day Spa

Mateo's Salon & Day Spa

Sitting near a busy intersection adjacent to the Rockrimmon neighborhood, Mateo's looks like a mountain retreat. Walk through the doors to a quiet space where you can be pampered for an hour or a day. They offer a full array of spa services as you would expect: massages, facials, waxing and makeup. And, of course, they can take care of your hair and nails. Spa packages provide the chance to indulge yourself. Take the Mateo's Retreat for example, which includes massage, facial, mani, pedi, an aroma steam and a spa lunch. And more for your epidermis: Skin Savvy Laser Clinic is also housed inside their doors and provides medical-grade skin care.

CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Medspa

Genesis MedSpa

The office of Genesis MedSpa looks like a typical doctor's office — if your doctor also had a degree in interior design. Tucked away in a small residential area, the medspa offers a mini getaway. Meditation music and natural light gently flood the inviting waiting room. Sit on the plush furniture and you'll feel relaxed before you even begin your appointment. Dr. Lisa Jenks opened the medspa in 2007, offering aesthetic medical treatment for teenagers and older adults alike. "I love helping people to feel better about themselves, the way that they look, the way that they're aging," says Jenks. Botox and fillers are the "bread and butter" of the operation, according to Jenks. However, facials for acne-prone skin, laser hair removal and liposuction are also popular. Genesis also takes care of regrettable tattoos. And this isn't just your every day spa. Physicians oversee every single procedure, so any medical concerns can be addressed on the spot. Come in for a free consultation and the staff will work to find a plan of action that will help you meet your goals.

Doctor

Dr. Lisa Jenks

• She has been described as a "wizard" because of her ability to transform one's appearance

• Graduated from the University of Cincinnati's College of Medicine and spent years in emergency medicine

• Discovered a passion — aesthetic medicine — and opened Genesis MedSpa in 2007

• Jenks also has a heart for the community; she volunteers once a month with SET, the medical clinic at Catholic Charities' Marian House

Yoga

Cambio Yoga

• The first donation-based studio in Colorado Springs

• Sessions for those who can barely touch their toes and those who can bend their bodies into pretzel-like poses

• Most difficult yoga pose, according to Cambio co-founder Amber Richman: shavasana, a pose where you lie on your back and try to "let go"

• The studio's name was chosen by co-founder Austin Richman: "Cam" means "wheel" and "bio" means "life" in Greek

Martial Arts Studio

Tai Chi Association of Colorado Springs

• Sifu Michael Paler opened this six-time Best Of-winning studio 18 years ago, and serves as a consulting trainer for Olympic ice skaters

• A Buffalo transplant who grew up in a family of boxers, he began studying the martial arts 33 years ago at the age of 8

• Paler became a Seventh Generation Lineage Holder in the Imperial Yang Family style after studying in Beijing with Tai Chi master Wei XiLan

• Paler teaches all of the studio's classes, from beginners' Tai Chi and Qigong energetics to advanced push-hands and weapons training

• Earlier this year, the association introduced a new online video training program, which offers a full Tai Chi curriculum for those who are too busy or otherwise unable to regularly attend classes in person

CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Nontraditional Health Practitioner

Kurt Perkins

• Offers a plethora of online resources available for free, including the 30 Ways for 30 Days program, full of tips and recommendations trusted by Perkins

• One of the 5 Pillars of Illness is chronic inflammation, which some folks call the root cause of disease

• Perkins' practice is not for people who want someone to "fix" them, but for those who want to fix themselves — the benefits of these demanding, personalized programs can be profound

• Secret to a long and healthy life: "Create sufficiency where there is deficiency, and purity where there is toxicity"

CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Dentist

The Downtown Dentist, Julia Rohleder

• Location, location, location: Being at 105 N. Tejon St., The Downtown Dentist is centrally located and makes it oh-so-easy for anyone working downtown to get their dental hygiene attended to

• Rohleder graduated from Rampart High School and returned to the Springs after college to open her dental practice

• Fear the dentist? Read the testimonials on the website and you'll see: There's nothing to fear walking into this office

• The Smile Club plan makes sure everyone can maintain a healthy mouth, with or without dental insurance, with very competitive pricing options

Tattoo Shop

Pens & Needles

• A consistent gold winner in our Best Of, dating back to 2012

• Artists specialize in all different styles: tribal, American Old Style, watercolor, geometric, portrait and anything in between

• Special services include: stretch mark and scar revision, areola repigmentation and commemorative and ritual tattoos, which use the ashes of a loved one in the ink of memorial pieces

• Frequent body modifiers may enjoy the VIP membership, which gets you discounts and credits for tattoos, piercings and jewelry

Tattoo Artist

Jeff Oelklaus, Bearded Lady Custom Tattoo

• Jeff owns Bearded Lady, having parted ways with Pens & Needles Custom Tattoo Company on good terms in 2015 — he won this award while there, in 2014

• "There are some ongoing bodysuits I'm working on," he says. "One's based on the Gunslinger series by Stephen King."

• Has been working in the industry for 17 years, all in Colorado Springs

• It's less a street shop and more a private studio, so he's able to focus on larger projects

• "I really don't care what style it is [I'm tattooing], as long as there's variety in my day."

Hair Salon

Veda Salon & Spa

• We like Veda's values: women, children and the environment

• Using all natural products, Veda has built a reputation as a green-minded business — also good for vegans who need a trim

• This year marked the 10th annual Greenie Awards, hosted by Veda and honoring local heroes in conservation and environmentalism

• Locally owned, Veda provides the consistent and reliable service of a chain salon with the intimacy of a neighborhood beauty shop

CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Nail Salon

Beauty Bar

• Bring intricate, custom artwork to your nails for a pricey — but worth it — $1 per minute

• Sociable, knowledgeable nail techs keep the conversation flowing

• The on-site bartender makes your wait far more enjoyable with delightful boozy concoctions

• Those insane, long, super-sharp manicures with fancy jewels? They do those, and they do them well

• Make an appointment; the nail section is always busy, so don't try to just drop in

Flower Shop

Platte Floral

We turn to flowers to celebrate life's happy moments: births, weddings, birthdays. We use flowers to show appreciation and celebrate holidays. But we turn to flowers to mark the somber moments as well. For more than 70 years, people in Colorado Springs have used the locally owned Platte Floral for all of these occasions and more. Platte Floral is no stranger to the Best Of, but this year the award is bittersweet: Platte Floral (and the community) suffered a tragic loss when Mel Tolbert, who owned the florist shop for the last 35 years, died in April as the result of injuries he suffered in an auto-pedestrian accident downtown. Unlike so many obituaries, which read "in lieu of flowers," Tolbert's concluded with "Flowers are welcomed and appreciated."

BRIENNE BOORTZ
  • Brienne Boortz
Thrift Store

ARC Thrift

• Four Colorado Springs-area stores to choose from, the proceeds from which benefit people in El Paso, Park and Teller counties who live with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities

• ARC has an annual "Achieve with Us" film festival highlighting the capabilities of the population they serve

• You never know what you'll find there on any given day — one favorite we scored was a Talbots camel-hair coat

• If you're Kondo-izing your home, they'll take donations of used clothing and household items that still have life left in them

• Don't miss their book section; many treasures to be found there for a pittance

Garden Supply/Nursery

Good Earth Garden Center

• This garden store is more than just a place to buy your garden goods — it's an urban paradise where you can get lost among flowers and plants and forget you're near the center of the city

• They boast more than 100 organically grown varieties of heirloom and hybrid tomatoes in the summertime

• Don't even know what growing zone you're living in? Knowledgeable staff will answer all your questions

• Don't have a green thumb? You can find garden art and pottery, so maybe no one will notice your lack of gardening skills

Bookstore

Poor Richard's Books & Gifts

• Founder and co-owner Richard Skorman, former vice mayor, is now the Springs' City Council president

• What you'll find: new and used books on any subject you can imagine, hard-to-find editions and eclectic, occasionally silly gifts

• Fun fact: The bookstore won an Indy Inclusion award this year for its commitment to maintaining a safe space for LGBTQ people

• Attached to a café, wine bar, pizza place and toy store, the whole Poor Richard's complex is a day out for the family

Clothing Boutique

Eve's Revolution

• Celebrating their 17th year on the Avenue in the same adorable little Victorian, owner Eve Carlson and her staff always make you feel welcome and special

• The mix of merchandise is always fresh and on trend but without a hefty price tag

• Select consignment items sold along with great giftables such as candles and lip balms

• Wonderful summer fun with garden parties and flea markets is not to be missed — in cooler months, check out indoor shopping events complete with sips, nibbles and specials

CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Local TV Station

KKTV 11

• Colorado Springs CBS affiliate KKTV first went on the air in 1952, now it's the oldest station in the Springs and third-oldest in the state

• Bills itself as "your breaking news leader," and devotes its resources to serving both broadcast and online markets. "Gone are the days of repeating stories from newscast to newscast," says VP and General Manager Nick Matesi

• Just moved to a new facility in downtown Colorado Springs that Matesi says is smaller but "packed with technology which allows our news staff to be much more nimble."

• Community service is a priority — "Local TV stations — not just us — do a lot for their local communities," says Matesi. "We donate literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in airtime each year to help our local nonprofits, and when there is a specific need, we step in to help in any way we can."

Media Personality

Justin Chambers

• Justin Chambers has been in Colorado Springs with FOX21 for nearly six years and became the station's chief meteorologist in 2015

• As a kid, he had a role in the Brad Pitt cult movie Cool World, but his film career stalled when his scenes ended up on the cutting room floor

• In the time-honored tradition of true TV weather forecasters, his on-air appearances include occasional eccentric moments, most notably performing an off-key rendition of Soul 4 Real's New Jack Swing anthem "Every Little Thing I Do" and dressing up as Fred Flintstone

• Although the Las Vegas native and former high school deejay's career has taken him to numerous cities, Chambers plans to stay in Colorado Springs for good. "With the people, the atmosphere and the community," he says, "my family and I love calling this great place home."

Local Radio Station

KRCC-91.5FM

• More than news: Catch jazz, reggae, eclectic compilations and more after 7 p.m.

• Annoying commercials won't plague your listening time with this member-supported station

• Discover "Fresh Air," "This American Life" and "The Moth," America's favorite time-killing radio hours

• Check out "Peak Curiosity," the station's community-driven project that seeks stories from you

• Custom sky reports tell southern Coloradans just what to look for when they gaze upward on starry nights

Dance Company

Ormao Dance Company

• For 27 years, Ormao has provided the community with unparalleled dance education and performance

• Cool ideas: staging last year's PRESS and PREPRESS in the old Gazette building for a site-specific experience

• More recently presented the Global Water Dance Project in America the Beautiful Park, inspiring action by addressing water issues "through the universal language of dance"

• Coming up: Open Stages 2017, like an open mic but with dance, vocalists, spoken-word poets and more, Oct. 22, 6-7 p.m.

Attorney

Hammond Law Group

• You better not call Saul... For over a decade, Hammond has been assisting local clients not only with the legal aspects of estate planning, but also helping them navigate the entire process

• The Hammond team supports clients inside and outside the courtroom, offering a range of online resources (webinars coming soon) and workshops to guide you through life-changing experiences

• They know end-of-life planning is more than a legal process, and make sure to get to the heart of their clients' needs — a flat fee structure ensures there are no surprises throughout the process (calls and checkups included)

• Installed "before I die" community art walls in multiple places around the Springs — drop by to share your story

Place for Eyewear

ABBA Eye Care

• It's not hard to spot one of their 15 locations, even if you're squinting

• Covering just about anything your eyes may need (insurance accepted too) with exams, cutting-edge treatments and services, contact fittings and a wide range of frames to choose from

• Closing in on 40 years of service

• ABBA's opticians offer excellent customer service, ensuring you leave satisfied, with the right fit and style

BRIAN TRYON
  • Brian Tryon
Eclectic Shop

Zero Fox Given

It's not often that a brand-new business rockets to the top of our Best Of votes, but Zero Fox Given has become a fast local favorite since it opened online in June 2016, and moved into its retail storefront this summer. Owner Julie Webster has had three businesses but claims that Zero Fox Given has been her most successful. The windows of her Bijou Street storefront are decorated with T-shirts bearing such tongue-in-cheek slogans as "I need a coffee as big as my ass." Shirts, mugs and everything else Webster prints are products inspired by her sense of humor. "I love puns and snarky things, and I'm a huge nerd," she says. Featuring fandom merch from Zelda to Wonder Woman to Harry Potter, she serves a wide variety of nerds, and offers more unique products than you might find at official fan stores. Now, her goal is to help others reach the level of success she has. "I love collaborating with small businesses," she says, "and I believe in them."

BRIAN TRYON
  • Brian Tryon
Store for Fashion Accessories

Pink Cadillac Boutique

• After just over a year in business, Pink Cadillac has a big following of folks who come for the clothes and jewelry

• Other draws: "Pink Cadillac Soap" handmade by owner Lisa Harrington, plus art by local artists

• Store pets include two cats, Huckleberry and Sasha, and two white doves, who hang out in the front window

• Harrington says fondly: "Every time someone walks in the door, it feels like someone coming to visit me in my home."

• Considering this 1898 building functions as both abode and boutique, it is quite literally her home, but the spirit of the statement stands

Antique Store

American Classics Marketplace

• A huge store featuring 300 vendors spread across 65,000 square feet of space

• There's more than antiques — merchandise runs the gamut from classy furnishings to questionable oddities

• There are thousands of unique items to explore, and you probably won't get through it all on your first trip

• The helpful staff seems to have mastered the art of knowing how to find just about anything you could think to ask for

Used Furniture

Platte Furniture

• In true family-owned and -operated fashion, this nearly 40-year-old business started in a local garage and now commands more than 36,000 square feet of retail space

• Forget the IKEA labyrinth and take a virtual tour of Platte Furniture on Google maps before you go

• A new, user-friendly website makes buying and selling used furniture as easy as can be, with (almost) daily "great buys" and email updates so you never miss the perfect piece (bonus: they deliver)

• Looking for something in particular? Start a wish list, and use layaway; three-, six- or 12-month financing plans mean you can dream big

Store for Music, Movies & Video

Independent Records & Video

• During a period when many brick-and-mortar stores are closing their doors, this locally owned and -operated chain has survived the test of time and challenges from the online market [of which it is also a part]

• The chain's Platte Avenue Annex store is a paradise for vinyl collectors, a segment of the market that grew 26 percent last year. "Vinyl continues to be a steady and upward market for us," says buyer Chuck Snow. "We plan on expanding our used vinyl selection, and I think we'll see positive results from that in the future."

• Independent Records has several Springs area outlets — The Annex and the main store, both located on Platte Avenue, a North Academy Boulevard store, a shop in Fountain, and the downtown location — plus a store in Pueblo

• Along with vinyl and CDs, Independent Records stores are a go-to place for videos, magazines and paraphernalia

Auto Repair Shop

Aspen Auto Clinic

• From simple alignments to complex repairs, Aspen's trustworthiness dates back to 2001

• Ask any other mechanic to guarantee repairs for three years or 36,000 miles and they'll probably laugh at you, but that's what Aspen's "Legendary 336" warranty is all about

• No-nonsense customer service, making sure you know exactly what work needs to be done and why, with towing and shuttle services, plus relaxing waiting areas

• Four locations in the Springs means finding the right mechanic doesn't add to the stress of car troubles

Comic Shop

Escape Velocity Comics

• Building community around comic books, Escape Velocity stays active with events

• Some highlights: Free Comic Book Day, ComicFests, movie premiere parties, First Friday receptions (with cosplay, of course), Geek Girls Night Out and more

• Staffed by folks who know their stuff, if you need help sifting through extended universes

• Also on the shelves: local comics and artists like Sheath, a comic by Ben Worrell, Shane Miles and Sarah Menzel

MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
Cultural Attraction/Museum

Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum

The best part about the Pioneers Museum: It makes you feel simultaneously like a tourist in your own community and an integral part of what makes it special. Inside the refurbished 1903 El Paso County Courthouse, the foyer yawns and echoes, completely cutting off the sound of nearby Tejon Street and Nevada Avenue, transporting the museumgoer into history. Each exhibit, from the classic City of Sunshine (which chronicles the Springs' history as a destination for health seekers) to the nearly brand-new Story of Us (a multimedia, alphabetical exploration of the region), shines light on the building blocks of the Pikes Peak region and its fascinating development up to the present day. Moreover, the museum hosts story time and crafts for children, regional history lectures, an impressive collection of art to view, and guided tours to get the most out of your visit. Through all this, the Pioneers Museum reveals the hidden magic and unique history of a city that longtime residents may take for granted and visitors may not fully understand. And, okay, maybe this is the best part: Admission remains free.

Local Band (Cover)

GOYA

• Formed in 2011, the local super-group features former members of Colorado Springs favorites Sanguine Addiction, -itis, and Last Supper

• Unlike cover bands who slavishly mimic the original hits, Goya run their renditions through a decidedly hard-rock filter, even when performing songs by Katy Perry, Soft Cell and Prince

• They also play annual Halloween tribute shows that have included full-set performances as AC/DC, Pantera and Rage Against the Machine

• The band is on hiatus through December, following the "retirement" of Dave Zahara — the guitarist plans to do some studio writing and recording, but he promises to drop by gigs and play a few tunes with the band from time to time

Local Band (Original)

Grass It Up

• For more than a decade, Grass It Up has remained the region's most popular bluegrass act, regularly playing venues that range from the upscale Broadmoor hotel to the down-home Front Range Barbeque

• After playing a recent river rave in Buena Vista, the group went to a "silent disco" after-party full of revelers in wireless headphones silently dancing in the dark to DJ music that only the dancers could hear

• Grass It Up was also selected as last year's "opening act" for Bernie Sanders' post-primary appearance at Colorado College on behalf of Hillary Clinton's candidacy

• The group cites Sam Bush, Bob Dylan and Earl Scruggs as influences to which they owe everything — their album Alabama Tory was in large part an homage to Scruggs

Music Festival

MeadowGrass Music Festival

• Thanks to its scenic outdoor setting, family-friendly atmosphere, and track record for musical excellence, the Memorial Day weekend festival has now reached the point where it sells a substantial number of tickets before the artist lineup is even announced

• "The standard rule of thumb you hear is that a music festival will make or break in three to five years," says festival promoter Steven Harris. "The fact that we've made it 10 years is a testament to our devoted audience and all of the volunteers who make MeadowGrass possible."

• 2017 feature performers Joan Osborne, Todd Snider and Great American Taxi continued a tradition of high-profile bookings that have included Elephant Revival, Chubby Carrier's Bayou Swamp Band, Blue Rodeo, John Doe and Kristin Hersh

• In addition to the main stage artists, the three-day event includes weekend camping, a dozen-plus food vendors, numerous music workshops, and several campfire-lit after-hours performances

CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Barbershop

Lincoln St. Barbers

The art of barbering has a long and storied history. Hairstyling tools can be dated back to the Bronze Age, spanning the rule of the Roman Empire and into the days of the Wild West. Hell, back in the 16th century, barbers were even de facto surgeons (seriously). The legend rests in rightful hands with Jason Crampton and the Lincoln St. Barbers — sans the scalpels, thankfully. Donning a custom apron adorned with his tools of trade, Crampton, owner of LSB, could not be any better suited for this role. Formerly known as the Ivywild Barber, Crampton opened his shop for "civilized misfits" in 2016 in the fledgling Lincoln School development. It didn't take long before demand forced the shop to capacity with select barbers, each a natural fit for the shop's atmosphere — stocked with traditional tattoo-style artwork, some steampunky and nostalgic accoutrements, and a solid selection of liquors and beers. LSB has also begun establishing its legacy as part of the current wave of community-building, sponsoring gatherings like Porch Fest and local nonprofit events and supporting other local small businesses. "So what are we doing today?" Crampton asks each time I take a seat, a smile stretched humbly beneath his formidable beard and sculpted 'stache — and the story continues.

CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Hotel

The Broadmoor

• It's the longest-running recipient of the AAA Five Diamond award and the Forbes Five Star award

• The entire resort and its properties span over 4,500 acres, including 26 shopping galleries, three golf courses, a spa and more

• Emerald Valley and Cloud Camp offer bucolic, Colorado-style retreats

• Go for fine dining: multiple options include the epic Penrose Room, casual and excellent Summit, and sustainability-minded Natural Epicurean

Special Event Venue

The Pinery at the Hill

• A perfect choice for those looking for a venue with a view — the Pinery's balcony looks out over the downtown cityscape

• Offers all event-planning services in-house — one-stop shopping for flowers, food, music and more

• Choose your setting: two ballrooms, a chapel and an intimate terrace, 22,000 square feet total

• Not just weddings! The Pinery at the Hill also hosts nonprofit, corporate and family events

Tourist Attraction

Garden of the Gods

• The park and visitor center are always free, a requirement when the land was gifted to Colorado Springs

• You can tour the Garden on horseback — the stables just reopened after a brief closure

• Several trails offer an "off-road" experience that immerses you in the rock formations and provides amazing views

• For those with climbing permits, the steep walls and towering heights deliver excellent adventure

• Allegedly, its name comes from two surveyors who thought it would make a great beer garden

Cripple Creek Casino

Bronco Billy's

• Total of three casinos: Bronco Billy's, Billy's and Buffalo's, all housed in historic Cripple Creek buildings — some of the original brick remains in the 100-year-old structures

• Had a total payout of around $32 million in 2016 ... cha-ching!

• Prides itself on being a "Colorado-style casino" — Director Wendy Field says the casino is kind of like the "guy next door," not as pretentious as flashy Las Vegas casinos

• Forty-nine-cent breakfast every day is not just a cold muffin and coffee. Items include eggs, hash browns, pancakes, french toast and cheese omelets

Adventure Company

Adventures Out West

• Even longtime Colorado natives can discover new sights on the company's Jeep tours

• They've been around for more than 44 years

• Don't wait for Labor Day Lift Off to cruise Colorado via hot air balloon — float with their gifted crew all year

• Mix and match experiences like Jeep tours and rafting for maximum adventure

• Host your own private rodeo with entertainment, activities and a catered dinner

CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Artist

Liese Chavez

• Painter, occasional magician and all-around Renaissance woman, Liese Chavez has won this award for six years running

• She and husband Kris own Chavez Gallery, which moved to its new, larger, more accessible location in July

• Current area of study: animation — Chavez wants to animate a moving mural for the gallery's back wall

• Focuses on playful art, which comes through in her whimsical paintings and the setup of the gallery, which features interactive displays. New bonus to a gallery visit: a coffee bar in back so you can enjoy a beverage while watching daily art demos

CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Nonprofit

Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region

Consistently a top earner in the Indy Give! Campaign, the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region has proven itself a favorite of the community, and worthy of that support. Many local families can credit the Humane Society with reuniting them with their lost pets, or introducing them to a new member of the family. Moreover, HSPPR doesn't just look out for local animals. Just recently, they teamed up with Pueblo Animal Services to assist in sheltering needs in Georgia, following Hurricane Irma, sending members of its own team down South. But, even though it's serious work, they manage to have their share of fun. Keep an eye out for creative fundraisers, like an annual Pawtowberfest in September, or the opportunity to take pet photos with "Santa Paws" in December.

CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Pet Day Care

Lucky Dog

• If we can't have our dogs with us 24/7 (and it's a crime that we can't, right?), we want them to be someplace where they will have a better day than we will without them

• Lucky Dog isn't just a pet day care, it's a resort, and it also provides boarding, grooming and supplies for our best friends

• Watch your pups as they go about their day thanks to the multiple webcams set up at their locations. You don't need to have a dog to tune in — 12/10 would watch all day

• Despite the name, it's not all about the dogs; the south location offers cat boarding, and they provide in-home pet services throughout El Paso County

Veterinary Clinic

Yorkshire Veterinary Clinic

• Doctors Scott and Corrina Hamann, co-owners of this clinic, combine for more than 30 years of veterinary experience, all in Colorado Springs

• They are honest and straightforward, and they work to be transparent with their fees, a feat that Dr. Scott thinks is more and more challenging as services get more expensive

• Dr. Scott says it's a cliché, but they really do treat your pets as if they are their own

• Speaking of their own pets — they have eight: four cats, two dogs and two rats

Child Day Care

Giving Tree Montessori School

• A perennial Best Of winner for preschool and day care, the Giving Tree Montessori School offers care for preschool through kindergarten, ages 3 to 6

• The Montessori tradition allows children the freedom to make their own choices within a structured environment with the support of their teachers

• Giving Tree teachers have a combined 81 years of experience

• Outdoor exploration is important for the children's education, and part of the playground is a garden and flower beds — there's also a peace house for quiet reflection and a barefoot peace path

Pet Groomer

Soggy Doggies Grooming

• Dogs get more than just the scraps off the table; pooches can get a mani/pedi or touch up graying roots with some doggy dye

• Owner Cari Goslyn says she has given dogs hairstyles from Mohawks to feather extensions

• Dog spa package includes a facial soak, paw scrub and aromatherapy spritz

• Spa scent of October: perfect pumpkin (matching car freshener available)

CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
Jewelry Store

Luisa Graff Jewelers

• Largest selection of engagement rings in Colorado Springs

• More than 5,000 pieces of jewelry

• Not into diamonds? Other gemstones available, too

• Luisa Graff handpicks all gems, all of which are from non-conflict areas

• Hot trends in jewelry: "stackable rings" and ear crawlers, according to Sadelle Schultz, a member of Graff's staff

Naughty Business

Peaks and Pasties

• This is the organization where nearly all local burlesque performers earned their stripes, including those who have gone international with their acts

• Recently partnered with The Gold Room, which hosts a "Champagne Cabaret" Thursdays through Saturdays

• A few locally famous members: Bunny Bee, Lola Spitfire and the Brotherhood of Burlesque

• Hosts workshops for all shapes, sizes, genders and abilities

• Keep an eye out for themed performances and other burlesque shenanigans at their home venue, the Zodiac Venue and Bar

Art Gallery

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College

• With an eye on access, the FAC recently lowered admission prices ($10 for the general public) and added more Museum Free Days

• This year marked the beginning of the FAC's transition as part of Colorado College, but we haven't noticed any growing pains

• Fascinating exhibits have covered diverse styles, media, subject matter and artists, from contemporary Brazilian to impressionist French

• Bonus: Boasts an incredible permanent collection of Native American and Hispanic artwork

Theater Company

Millibo Art Theatre

• Making clowns cool again (and presenting new, original theater) since 2001

• Look out for workshops, classes and an incredible offering of summer camps — artistic and theatrical education for all ages

• Other draws: the RiP improv troupe's monthly performances, Circus of the Night in the summer, and a healthy mix of comedy and drama, created with loving care and commitment to detail

• Our favorite MAT play last season: The Crucible by Arthur Miller, uniquely set in a dystopic future

CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
New Car Dealer, Service at a Dealership

Heuberger Motors

• You can own a Subaru in Colorado, but it's not a Colorado Subaru unless it came from Heuberger

• Still claiming the title of largest-volume Subie dealership in the country

• Sponsors local charity events and supports local nonprofits like UpaDowna, Trails and Open Space Coalition, and more

• Dog-approved (because what else really matters?)

• Spend time in their Colorado-centric waiting area — it's one of the few places where waiting for car repairs doesn't totally suck — and trust in impeccable service for you and your vehicle

Place to Buy Skis/Snowboards

The Ski Shop

• Skip lines at the slopes by buying discounted lift tickets in their shop ahead of time

• Skip even more lines and ensure a perfect fit by renting your equipment there, too

• The Ski Shop opened before The Broadmoor had a ski slope — that's more than 60 years

• There's no such thing as "off-the-shelf" skis and snowboards; let their competent team get you properly outfitted

• The Ski Shop has its own Special Olympics team called Team Caribou

Ethnic Food Market

Asian Pacific Market

• Large in space and scope, Asian Pacific Market carries pan-Asian products plus ingredients and more from around the world

• Deli provides cheap and filling eats, made in-house — we recommend the combo meal with fried rice, duck and flounder for $6.99

• Find, too, unique and fresh selections of seafood and produce — a one-stop shop

• Look forward to free Chinese New Year celebrations every year in January, with live entertainment and, of course, plenty of food

BRIAN TRYON
  • Brian Tryon
Bed & Breakfast

Avenue Hotel Bed & Breakfast

First, let's talk beds. Or accommodations. This Queen Ann-style B&B was built in 1886 and is located right on the main strip in Manitou Springs. But it's set back from the hustle and bustle of the street. It's filled with family heirlooms with charming rooms to let guests rest their heads after long days of play on and around America's mountain. A fireplace in the family room and a hot tub on the patio make for modern convenience coupled with antique charm. For breakfast, innkeeper Gwenn David wakes up every day before 5 a.m. to craft homemade meals for guests. Fresh-baked coffee cake or muffins are just the start. A juicer produces the good, fresh stuff, and she makes her own green chile, too. The full breakfasts alone are worth the stay. David says they've had visitors from 14 countries and 49 states (hey, North Dakota, we're looking at you), but their biggest base of guests comes from all around Colorado.

Higher Ed Institution

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

• Since 2007, enrollment has gone up about 50 percent at UCCS, which now boasts more than 12,400 students

• Folks flock here for its impressive offerings: 45 bachelor's degrees, 22 master's and five doctoral degrees — in addition to its open-minded and active campus culture

• Look forward to next year's opening of the Ent Center for the Arts, UCCS' 92,000 square-foot arts complex

• Also incoming: a new sports medicine and performance center, a project of the Springs' City for Champions tourism initiative

Higher Ed for Nontraditional Students

Pikes Peak Community College

• Choose from 197 programs, 83 of which come with associate degrees

• Balance academics with cool, credited electives like yoga and belly dancing

• There's usually a campus within a reasonable distance, even from Falcon or Woodland Park

• Online, hybrid, evening and summer courses make it easier for nontraditional students to get an education

• It's affordable — tuition is a third of the average in-state university

Bike Shop

Old Town Bike Shop

• Friendly service folks love to talk bikes and offer helpful advice to customers

• A fitted bike is a happily ridden bike — bring yours in to get it adjusted (it's also included in your new bike purchase)

• Family and friends visiting? They can totally rent a ride — mountain or road bikes available

• Monthly clinics help you keep your bike in great shape and teach you how to keep it that way

• More than bikes: Score cool bike gadgets, pro-worthy clothes and parts and tools

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MMJ Dispensary/East

Todays Health Care

• Just got a Marijuana Infused Product (MIP) license to produce their own oils, vape cartridges, salves, balms, etc.

• Every dispensary says that they've got good prices, but seriously, THC has got good prices — sometimes including $65 ounces for members

• Currently in the midst of a food drive in partnership with Care and Share where you can donate canned goods and get a free joint in return — win-win

• Runs a free shuttle service to medical appointments for patients with serious illnesses who are unable to drive

• General Manager Aaron Grubbs says THC will always be medical first, but "just like most, if the option came along [to sell recreational too] we would probably partake in it"

BRIENNE BOORTZ
  • Brienne Boortz
MMJ Dispensary – Central/Downtown

Quality Choice

• After years of searching for a license to take over, a second location's coming soon to Academy Boulevard and Constitution Avenue

• Has learned next-level security practices from several attempted break-ins

• May get into wholesaling flower on the recreational market

• Opened three new grows in the last two years to keep the shelves stocked

MMJ Dispensary – North, South, West (tie), Recreational

Maggie's Farm

• Cannabis, grown with sun and spring water, is Clean Green Certified (like USDA organic, if Uncle Sam did pot)

• Went pesticide-free before that was required

• Road construction near their Manitou Avenue location, inconvenient though it might be, hasn't slowed business one bit

• Proud to employ Manitoids at their combo Rec/MMJ dispensary there, introduce tourists to the city and generate more sales tax revenue than any other business in Manitou

MMJ Dispensary – West (tie)

Strawberry Fields

• Contrary to popular belief, Strawberry Fields is named for the local open space and not the popular Beatles song. And yes — the store fought to keep its namesake publicly owned last year

• With three recreational dispensaries around the state, Strawberry Fields would be well-positioned to get in the game locally should the Springs ever allow retail sales

• Got busy manufacturing infused products this past year, including concentrates, topicals and honey

• Welcomes revitalization of the sometimes-seedy No Man's Land

BRIAN TRYON
  • Brian Tryon
Cannabis Club

The Dab Lounge

• Just opened a second location in the Westside shopping center where their rival, the Family Joint, used to be

• Yes, it's personal — owner Dan Goodman jokes about opening a Dab Lounge wherever the Family Joint goes (which, reportedly, includes Denver and Los Angeles)

• Soon, between the two locations, expect to catch comedy every night of the week

• Video game tournaments, open mic nights and poker games too if you need, you know, something to do while dabbed

Writers: Laura Eurich, Bill Forman, Bridgett Harris, Craig Lemley, Cathy Reilly, Zahria Rogers, Matthew Schniper, Alissa Smith, Nat Stein and Griffin Swartzell.

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