Guest Columns

STYLE MATTERS: Exploring Gift Shops at Denver’s Cultural Institutions

Contributing Columnist

Last issue we visited the museum stores at the Denver Art Museum and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Style Matters was even more impressed with their inventory than we had hoped to be. Looking for the unusual, the unique and the one of a kind? Denver’s gift shops have them all. Figuring we were on a roll, this week we hit the Denver Botanic Gardens and the Denver Zoo.

Denver Botanic Gardens

Here, Michelle holds the so-called Infinity scarf, named because it has no beginning or end. These come in a variety of colors and can be worn in a variety of ways. Michelle likes to wear hers over her shoulders. $20.95
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

Adorned in its holiday finery, the gift shop at the Botanic Gardens is a jewel. Style Matters found many unusual objects, most relating to gardening and plants in one way or another. All sale proceeds go to support the gardens. So, not only does the money stay in Denver, it goes to cultivate the BG programs and outdoor displays. In addition, the BG gift shop was the only one we visited that carries merchandise created by its volunteers and support groups. Let’s get right to what was on sale. (Disclaimer: I bought something. So did my photog Marie Griffin.) Every fall at the height of their color, Botanic Garden employees go out amongst the trees and select their favorite leaves. This year it is a leaf from the Japanese maple. These are then hand dipped in gold, silver and copper and turned into ornaments. Prices range from $24.50-$32.50.

Matt Moore, sales associate, models a hat.
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

Other gift ideas: crossover handbags, perfect for carrying just the necessities, are made by Rising Tide, a Fair Trade co-op based in Nepal ($45). Also, don’t forget to check out the leaf trivets and serving pieces by Michael Michaud. They are stunning.

Shelly DeChantal, fiber artist and BG volunteer, models one of the many different types of scarves for sale. Choose from silk woven to hand painted to a variety of knitted fibers. Have fun trying to pick one out. They are all gorgeous.
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

Visitor information:

Denver Botanic Gardens
1007 York Street, Denver
720.865.3500 
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily 
www.botanicgardens.org

Why should humans be the only ones to sport cozy scarves in the winter? BG membership coordinator Michelle Reilly knitted pet scarves in a variety of colors, brought them in to show Chuck Mcglothlin, store manager and buyer, and the next thing Reilly knew the scarves were on sale in the gift shop and flying out the door. Medium (dogs) size: $14.50 and small (cats and small animals) $10.
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

Denver Zoo

Other gift ideas: Local author Shane Derolf has written a book called Yesterday’s Zoo, which teaches kids about endangered animals ($12.99)

Michelle Reilly shows off one of the most popular hat styles, the cloche ($47.50).
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

Visitor information:

Denver Zoo
2300 Steele Street, Denver
720.337.1400
Winter Hours: November 1 - February 28
Admissions open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Open every day. Grounds close at 5 p.m.
www.denverzoo.org

The Botanic Gardens store is loaded with men’s and women’s straw hats ($45-$55). These hats can be crushed in a suitcase and still pop open looking as new as they were when purchased. And they are SPF 50.
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman

Judie Schwartz, AKA Style Matters, is the co-author of two best-selling books on the best places to shop in Colorado. Called “A Fashion-Lover’s Guide to the Best Shopping in Denver and Beyond,” the books are available at stylematters.us. Schwartz presents image seminars to corporations on the importance of a business casual wardrobe and entertains conventioneers with talks on how to look great on a budget. She is also a wardrobe consultant. Schwartz has one husband, three children, no pets and small closets. She can be reached at:
stylematters1@gmail.com
www.stylematters.us
• Facebook: StyleMatters1
• Twitter: StyleMatters123

During the summer months, volunteers tend the herbs planted at the Botanic Gardens. They then manufacture their own line of dried herbs ($8) and flavored vinegars ($9.75).
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
The store carries some very cool large felt tote bags made in Los Angeles ($195.95) by Gräf and Lantz.
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
During the summer months, volunteers tend the herbs planted at the Botanic Gardens. They then manufacture their own line of dried herbs ($8) and flavored vinegars ($9.75).
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
Could you find anything more appropriate for a Botanic Gardens gift shop then these beautiful earrings and matching pendants, each with a dried flower floating inside? Created by Atlas Joyas, a Denver based company, this jewelry line is new to the store this year. (Price $55)
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
Style Matters’ favorite gift: The leaf ornaments.
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
Welcome to the Kibongi Market. It’s a little bit of Africa in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. The Denver Zoo gift shop has more of what you would expect at a traditional gift shop — tee shirts, stuffed animals, carved animals, toys, mugs, etc. Style Matters went hunting for the more unusual and brought back some goodies for your consideration.
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
Here Amelia Nilson-Bartlett, left, and her sister Abigail model their favorite accessories. Amelia loved the cuddly soft polar bear hat with attached hand holds for $19.99. Abigail preferred the animal purse for $16.99. Dad Ryan kept saying “The holidays are coming. We’ll see. We’ll see.” More than a promise, but less than a commitment, Dad.
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
Don’t forget stocking stuffers like the lovely assortment of beaded rings. ($5.99-9.99)
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
The store has a beautiful collection of sarongs from Indonesia for a very reasonable $14.99. Great gift for your friends who are hitting the tropics this winter.
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
The Zoo’s pj’s are pretty cute. Sizes S-XL; prices range from $16.99 for boxers to $26.99 for a full set.
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
Silk and bamboo lanterns adorn the entrance to Kibongi Market and are made exclusively for the Zoo.
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
The oversized silk umbrellas ($9.99) proved irresistible to five-year-old shopper Amelia Nilson-Bartlett.
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
Sister Abigail, age 2, got into the act as well, as she fought for control of her umbrella.
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
Note cards made from elephant poop make for a truly interesting gift. ­(No, this is not what I bought!)
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
Retail store manage Marlina Schleuger, left, showed us the coolest tote bags, exclusive to the Zoo. Why? Because they are repurposed from the old zoo advertising banners which hung all along 23rd Street. Large totes are $45; small $24. BTW, they make wonderful diaper bags.
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
These animals are composed of bottle caps and are made in Kenya. They are real conversation pieces: small critters $14, large ones $19.99.
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman
This lifelike elephant is made from silver resin.
Photo by Marie Griffin Dennis/The Colorado Statesman