Love it or hate it, we're all faced with occasions that require us to shop for more than just the essentials. And the Springs area has its obligatory malls (Citadel down south, Chapel Hills up north), as well as sprawling complexes like University Village, Southgate, the Shops at Briargate and much of Powers Boulevard. Truth be told, you'll probably find something to gift yourself or others at any one of them.
But finding locally owned, standout places can make the experience enjoyable even for the shopping-haters among us. The Tejon Street strip, downtown Manitou Springs and Old Colorado City all contain some stores you've never seen before, as does the more hit-or-miss Academy Boulevard corridor.
Below are a few specific destinations you might consider when the time comes to shell out for someone else. We'd urge you to give them a chance. Even if you'll never love the process, you actually may derive some enjoyment out of seeing your recipient love the product.
Rather than follow the expectant's registry to buy another package of yellow onesies, look to spoil the newest citizens of the planet with the über-fashionable and fun offerings at Mountain Moppets (2532 W. Colorado Ave., mountainmoppets.com). And if you must buy a onesie, make it a Colorado onesie.
For a splendid selection of squishy and adorable stuffed animals, books and tiny clothes, head to abaTina Boutique (1713 S. Eighth St., abatina.com). It's also a great source of giftables for grownups ... which can also be said for Terra Verde (208 N. Tejon St., terraverdestyle.com), which has won gobs of shopping-for-women-type awards in Independent readers polls. But tucked in the back is a fun selection of clothes for the pre-toddler set. And the store does free gift-wrapping.
Anniversaries (or V-Day)
How about investing in something that'll last as long as (or longer than) your relationship? You could go shopping for a piece of art you both agree on; see Indy arts editor Edie Adelstein's recommendations on places to go here.
Alternatively, you can learn to make your own. Register for a class at the ModboCo School of Art at Ivywild (1604 S. Cascade Ave., themodboco.com) or the Bemis School of Art (818 Pelham Place, bemisartschool.org). There are no guarantees you and your significant other will end up with a Ghost pottery wheel experience, but you never know.
And if you don't have the time to enroll in a class, you can at least consider an artsy one-night stand at Splash! (115 N. Tejon St., splashsprings.com). Classes lead artistic novices through the process of painting on canvas while sipping on wine or beer. There's a chain option, too, out east at Painting with a Twist (2834 N. Powers Blvd., paintingwithatwist.com).
Spa packages are fairly bulletproof, especially when you're looking at Indy Best Of winners like Veda Salon & Spa (multiple locations, coloradoveda.com), Mateo's Salon & Day Spa (5919 Delmonico Drive, mateosdayspa.com) or Genesis MedSpa (142 S. Raven Mine Drive, #250, genesis-medspa.com). Or, to keep things in-house, Salus (906 Manitou Ave., #105, Manitou Springs, shopsalus.com) lets you bring the spa to Mom. Its bath bombs, shower bombs and more are natural, organic and paraben-free.
As far as unique wearable fashion goes, wandering downtown is a good bet. One newer place where you can find a huge assortment of gifts that aren't too expensive is Koru Street (224 N. Tejon St., korustreet.com), which features jewelry, wallets and bags and other gifts that are upcycled — think city signs into tote bags. On the fair-trade front, Yobel Market (27 S. Sierra Madre St., yobelmarket.com) sells gorgeous accessories and other "gifts with a story."
Finally, if Mom's the type who just likes to get her drink on, Cheers Liquor Mart (1105 N. Circle Drive, cheersliquormart.com) has a giant selection of wine. Coaltrain Wine and Spirits (330 W. Uintah St., coaltrainwine.com) also has a rabid following. Either way, might we suggest the Mommy's Time Out, available in a selection of varietals?
Now, according to Father's Day cards, dads care about golf, fishing, barbecue and beer. And Hallmark wouldn't lie to us, right?
If you're looking for golf clubs or accessories, Valley Hi Golf Course (610 S. Chelton Road, valleyhigolfcourse.com) has a well-stocked pro shop. Dad's a fisherman? Angler's Covey (295 S. 21st St., anglerscovey.com) is a fly fisherman's paradise. (Well, maybe that's the river, but it's a close second.) This specialty shop also offers lessons, so maybe you can join the old man on his next outing. And it's considerably less intimidating than our new Bass Pro Shops location (13012 Bass Pro Drive, basspro.com).
If your guy wants to be king of the coals, you could help him upgrade his 'cue with the offerings at Alpine Hearth and BBQ (2619 W. Colorado Ave., alpinehearthbbq.com). The shop sells full barbecues and fireplaces, too. On the smaller side, it has a selection of sauces and rubs and accessories that could compete with some shops in Kansas City.
Apparently when dads aren't doing the above activities, they like to throw back a cold one. Merging that trope with the other one about taking on do-it-yourself projects, we direct you to Old West Homebrew (229 E. Pikes Peak Ave., shop.oldwestbrew.com).
Whether leaving high school or college, every graduate is going to need beautiful stationery on which they can thank everyone for their generous gifts. You can beat them to the punch at CJ Kard (214 N. Tejon St., cjkard.com), where employees will actually create customized stationery for your recipient.
Otherwise, let's be serious: You should just give the kid money.
Birthdays or holidays
For foodies: Start with spices at Savory Spice Shop (110 N. Tejon St., savoryspiceshop.com), or go for oils and vinegars at Venice Olive Oil (109 N. Tejon St., veniceoliveoil.com) or The Olive Tap (906 Manitou Ave. #103, Manitou Springs, theolivetap.com). Then find something for them to cook it in at Sparrow Hawk Cookware (120 N. Tejon St., sparrowhawkcookware.com), where in addition to the serious cookware there's a great assortment of kitschy kitchen accessories and coffee mugs.
Adventurers: Gear up adventurers properly at Mountain Chalet (226 N. Tejon St., mtnchalet.com), which has been outfitting locals since the LBJ administration, and Mountain Equipment Recyclers (1024 S. Tejon St., merecyclers.com), where 50 percent of donated-gear sales goes to nonprofits helping local military veterans. Also consider MacVan Maps (1045B Garden of the Gods Road, macvanmaps.com) — sure, everyone has a maps app on their phone, but the real adventurers will eventually find themselves out of cell service.
Kids: It's not just popcorn you'll find at Corny Cravings (2872 N. Powers Blvd., cornycravings.com), it's mind-blowingly flavored popcorn: banana pudding, birthday cake, bacon cheddar, etc. And oddly, there's a popcorn peddler in just about every other part of town, from Pop It Up (2514 W. Colorado Ave., #103, popituppopcorn.com) to Pikes Peak Gourmet Popcorn (7935 W. Hwy. 24, Cascade, pikespeakpopcorn.com) to Colorado Kernels (2748 S. Janitell Road, coloradokernels.com). Patsy's Candies (1540 S. 21st St., patsyscandies.com) sells a few flavors, too, though it's better known for salt-water taffy and other candy treats.
But without further ado, we should talk toys: Little Richard's Toy Store (324 N. Tejon St., poorrichardsdowntown.com) and Toy Station (5540 Library Lane, etoystation.com) provide welcome alternatives to big-box mayhem, proving playgrounds for creativity for all ages.
Comedians: Have some friends with a sense of humor? Or do you need something for a white-elephant gift exchange? Stuck right in the middle of Barracuda Bazaar (2603 W. Colorado Ave., barracudabazaar.com) is a display with small gifts that range from a bacon wallet to Maybe You Touched Your Genitals hand sanitizer. If more traditional gag gifts (or magic tricks) are more fitting, see Zeezo's (112 N. Tejon St., zeezos.com).
Friends who have, yes, everything: Time to find something one-of-a-kind. The stalwart American Classics Marketplace (1815 N. Academy Blvd., americanclassicsmarketplace.com) and the new Willowstone Antique Marketplace (2150 W. Garden of the Gods Road, willowstoneantiques.com) are juggernauts of more than 65,000 square feet each, teeming with antiques, art, collectibles. Willowstone also holds auctions on Saturdays. Auctions also happen twice weekly at Ross Auction (815 S. Sierra Madre St., rossauction.com), and it's not unheard of to find some sweet Broadmoor hotel castoffs up for grabs.