Keep it local

Some of the best gifts you can give this holiday season have a theme: Local.

Local stores

When you shop at locally owned stores, you help a fellow community member earn a living, keep your hard-earned money supporting the local tax base and you might just make a new business-owning friend who'll greet you by name.

For example, Becca and Jenny Bramhall, the two sisters who own and run The Clothes Pony & Dandelion Toys, say, "We want our store to feel like a village square and our main goal as a store is to build community. It's a place where kids can play and touch everything. Where kids and parents can come to relax and connect." Beyond the community you'll find at The Clothes Pony, you'll discover quality-made toys, books, clothes and shoes for children and moms, and even a boutique for tweens.

The Wright Life, across from Fort Collins' Old Town Square, is an alternative sports store specializing in items that will brighten the holidays for disc golf, and skate-and snowboard enthusiasts. Bill and Holly Wright started opened their doors for business in 1981 and have been greeting regulars ever since. The Wrights and their experienced and enthusiastic crew live the motto, "The most fun wins!"

A trip to Estes Park will land you in a winter wonderland where you can support the locally owned Toy Mountain or the Estes Ark stores.

Local goods

Another way to buy local is to purchase NoCo- or Colorado-made items. Here are some local companies with wares to share:

Amber and Haze (www.amberandhaze.com) specializes in raw, unpolished Baltic amber and hazel wood necklaces handmade to order by the company's founder, a mother of four.

BeginAgain (www.beginagaintoys.com) is a Fort Collins toy maker that builds a variety of ways to let kids play and explore. From bath toys to educational toys to puzzles and games, all of their toys are made from plants, not plastic.

The Doll Kind dolls (www.thedollkind.com) are soft, fabric dolls made in Berthoud, but they aren't just for cuddling. Each doll comes with 10 pay-it-forward tokens for children to hand out to people as a gesture of kindness. And for each doll sold, another is donated to a child who can use a best friend.

Elope (www.elope.com), founded by Colorado brothers Kevin and Keith Johnson, makes fun dress-up hats and clothes. In an effort to spread global happiness, the brothers say, "We create and distribute costume accessories and whimsical wearables through fantastical service while embracing socially responsible business practices."

HyPars (www.hypars.com) geometric building shapes were invented by a semi-retired nuclear engineer from Longmont. They encourage creative fun that incorporates fairly complex mathematical concepts, but everyone will enjoy them.

Little Colorado's (www.littlecolorado.com) wooden pint-sized furniture and play kitchens will be family keepsakes for generations.

Never Summer Snowboards and Longboards (www.neversummer.com), hand-crafted in Denver, are some of the finest in the world and will keep your adrenalin junkies gliding along smoothly.

Phunkshun (www.phunkshunwear.com) makes scarves, facemasks and hoods from recycled plastic bottles. The products' superior warmth and hip designs make them perfect for looking good during outdoor, cold-weather adventures.

Wolf Wipes (www.facebook.com/wolfwipes/) will naturally transport you through cleaning up your little one. Literally made inside a renovated school bus that's now a home, Wolf Wipes are just one of the eco-friendly goods made by Wolf Bus Products.

Local experiences

Sometimes, the best gifts are memories made by spending time together. One fun activity families can enjoy is bowling.

Matt Hoeven, one of Chipper’s Lanes owners, says, “Bowling provides a perfect social occasion in which the majority of time is spent talking and laughing, while a short time is taken for each person's turn throwing their ball down the lane. People of varying ages and abilities can comfortably bowl together; a 25-year-old professional, 4-year-old toddler and 85-year-old grandpa can share the lane and a game.”

Another new way to have fun with others is to play in an escape room. These rooms filled with hidden clues to solve puzzles and riddles are where groups of family, friends and co-workers can work as a team while playing physical adventure games.

Whether it's where you shop, what you buy or the fun you have, keep it NoCo local this holiday season.


 Buy local

Clothes Pony & Dandelion Toys
111 N. College Ave.
970-224-2866, http://clothespony.com

Estes Ark
521 Lone Pine Dr., EP
970-586-6483, www.estesark.com

Toy Mountain
160 W. Elkhorn Ave., EP
970-586-3552, www.facebook.com/eptoymt/

The Wright Life
200 Linden St., FC
970-484-6932, www.wrightlife.com


Roll and escape together

Bowling alleys

Chipper’s Lanes— www.chipperslanes.com

  • Estes Park, 555 S. St. Vrain Ave. 970-586-8625
  • Fort Collins, 830 N. College Ave., 970-484-4777 or 217 W. Horsetooth Road, 970-226-6327
  • Greeley, 2454 8th Ave., 970-353-4275

Highland Park Lanes, 1900 59th Ave., Greeley. 970-330-2695 or www.highlandparklanes.com

Sweetheart Lanes, 2320 N. Lincoln Ave., Loveland. 970-667-3510 or www.sweetheartlanes.net

The Summit, 4455 N. Fairgrounds Ave., Windsor. 970-663-6363 or www.thesummitwindsor.com

Escape rooms