Artists’ Cooperative Opens on Main Street
by Beverly Corbell
Dec 16, 2009 | 2045 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MONTROSE – Several main street stores have closed their doors on in recent months, but one empty space is seeing a revival as an artists’ cooperative.

Keeping space rented in their historic two-story building at the corner of Main and Uncompahgre streets has been a challenge for Barb and Stu Krebs, and they were especially discouraged when the carpet company downstairs space closed its doors.

Then Keya Horiuchi, a friend, came up with the idea of creating space for an artists’ cooperative, and Barb Krebs was hooked on the idea.

The Creative Corner, just west of the Daily Bread, in the same building, has been open for just a few weeks, but it is already full with the creations of about 30 area artists, Krebs said.

Each artist pays $25 to join the coop, Krebs said, and contributes 20 percent of their gross sales “to keep it running,” as well as putting in four hours per week working in the shop.

Krebs said forming a true cooperative through the state involved insurmountable paperwork, so she formed a limited liability company instead.

The space was a mess, Krebs said, but with some work, fresh paint – and light fixtures acquired from the recently closed Miz Kitty’s Emporium down the street – the store opened a few weeks ago.

The opening coincided with the seasonal closing of the downtown Farmers’ Market, Krebs said, essentially ending the season for sellers of handmade goods and artwork.

The idea of an artists’ coop caught on surprisingly well, Krebs said.

“We started with six artists, and said if we can just get 10 we can staff the store,” she said.

Creative Corner is also giving farmers an extended selling season by holding an indoor farmers’ market in the back of the store on the first and third Saturday of each month.

Creative Corner offers a wide variety of products, including jams, jellies and gift-baskets by Janet Hartman of Hartman Gardens, one of several people who worked behind the scenes to get the store going.

“We have everything from a $1,200 dollhouse to homemade dog biscuits, with lots of cards, photos, knitted stuff, pottery, ceramics, wood carvings, handmade baskets,” Krebs said. “It’s a great place to Christmas-shop.”

That’s just what Melissa Turner was doing last week as she strolled around the store holding a handmade pottery bowl that cost $20.

The high-end merchandise, like Howard Roy’s intricate dollhouses, is offset by lower-end items, including many original and unusual Christmas ornaments.

The shop’s inventory includes framed and matted photos by Dennis Thurber, handwoven baskets by Nancy Strakbein, refurbished trunks by Trunks by Jerry, tole-painted furniture by Linda Guy and clear glass ornaments with real fishing flies inside.

A standup display showcases the work of Kathryn Carson, who creates personalized wrappers for Hershey bars of all sizes. Carson said she first wraps the candy bars in foil and then adds a wrapper with a personalized design or message.

“They can be used as favors at parties, graduations, anniversaries, as place settings, or for any occasion,” she said.

Carson said the store has filled a void for local artists, and then some.

“I love the shop. It’s so beautiful and everyone is so talented,” she said. “I’ll bet we could fill another of these.”

Hand-crocheted afghans, original jewelry, hand painted ornaments, photos on canvas by Terry Raven and countless handmade items abound. It’s too soon to know if the shop will be a success, but Krebs said it’s worth a try.

“We’re hoping it will keep going, and will see if the artisans feel it’s worth their time,” she said.

“Nothing was happening, and it’s better to have one more thing happening downtown.”
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