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Colorado cool stuff: Gropener, hot socks, doggy beds, chocolate dice

Author/web developer/chocolatier Mario Lurig combined two unlikely ingredients – Dungeons & Dragons dice and chocolate – into one popular whole. In 2012, he embarked on a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $900 and netted $16,000.
“The shape really resonates,” Lurig says, highlighting the 20-sided die as his most popular. The concept emerged during a role-playing campaign when a player feigned a die ingestion in 2009. “I said, ‘You can’t eat that,’” Lurig recalls. His sage advice proved an a-ha moment, and now he makes chocolate dice for the retail market as well as weddings and other events. Next up: chocolate chess sets and chocolate tech gadgets. $7.99 to $9.99 for a set of six chocolate dice.

Made by Dice Candies Broomfield
Also available at numerous game and hobby stores in Colorado.

Mark Pumarlo has been making heavy-duty dog beds since 2011 from acrylic-coated polyester, stuffed with cotton – beds that are not only durable, but waterproof, non-toxic and antimicrobial.
“It’s one of the toughest materials out there,” Pumarlo says of the polyester, one of four layers on a Tuffr bed.
Dog beds never lasted long at Pumarlo’s house. Thus, he was pressed to go into business by this four golden retrievers. “I was never impressed by the dog beds on the shelves,” he says. “This is what I would buy.” $125 to $205 retail; covers are $30 to $50.

Made by Tuffr Dog Beds Breckenridge

Peter Duke founded Smartwool, sold Smartwool, and got back into the sock business with Point 6 in 2008 when his noncompete clause came to an end.
“We felt there was a lot of technology not being used in socks, believe it or not,” Duke says.
Point 6 counters with such innovative designs as compact-spun yarn, sport-specific cushioning and circulation-promoting compression, not to mention top-of-the-line Merino wool from Australia and New Zealand. “Not all Merino is created the same,” Duke says, laughing. $13 to $40 per pair retail.

Made by Point 6
Steamboat Springs
There is a store locator on the website.

Freelance photographer and ColoradoBiz contributor Mark Manger came up with the GrOpener the winter of 2011-12 – “drinking season” – when he improved upon a design he encountered in early-1990s Ghana while serving in the Peace Corps.
“You can open a bottle with one hand,” he says. “A magnet helps engage it.” At first Manger looked to contract manufacturers, but their per-unit price was higher than he thought the market would bear. But he got savvy, found a manufacturer in Utah to make him custom rails. He cuts them into half-inch cross-sections and then anodizes, finishes and ships them. After raising $11,000 via Indiegogo to launch the effort last year, he‘s sold more than 1,000 units, and Wynkoop Brewing Co. even recently awarded its 2013 Beerdrinker of the Year a Golden GrOpener. $16 to $24 retail.

Made by GrOpener
Also available at the I Love Denver store in the Denver Pavilions.

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Eric Peterson

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com

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