Glenwood Springs’ Confetti Design shop clearing the clothes racks after 30 years
Owner Sue Sharpe ready for some grandbaby time
Sue Sharpe has used her fashion sense a lot over the years, steering customers in the right clothing direction as owner of Confetti Design in downtown Glenwood Springs.
Occasionally, she’s even coupled that with a little therapy for some of her longtime loyals.
“When we put the sign up the weekend after Thanksgiving that we were closing, we had people driving up from Denver and Grand Junction just to say hi and reminisce,” Sharpe said Monday as she prepared for her final week in the northwest corner spot at Eighth Street and Grand Avenue.
“Some were almost in tears, saying, ‘I bought my daughter’s prom dress here,’ or ‘I got my daughter’s wedding dress here,’” she said. “So many fun memories …”
Sometimes, her regulars just wanted to come in and talk.
“So, I’ve been a therapist all these years, too, listening to people’s heartbreaks, divorces, problems with their children, whatever. I’m always happy to talk,” Sharpe said.
But, after 30 years and with her first grandchild on the way come spring out in California, Sharpe decided earlier this year that it’s time to hang up the clothing store business.
Sharpe was a clothing designer herself for several years, marketing her wares under the Confetti Design name before opening the store in August of 1990.
Originally located two doors west on Eighth Street, Sharpe jumped at the chance to take over the corner space of the historic Dever Building when it became available.
She sold mostly her own designs for four years, before evolving the store to carry designers from far and wide.
“I just wanted it to be different, and unusual, and unique,” she said. “We always changed with the seasons, and tried to make sure what we had would go with jeans … and also be comfortable wherever people were traveling.
“We built a great following all through the valley, and beyond.”
For several years, her husband, Peter Sharpe, had the next-door space where he operated the Sharpe Edge Hockey store, carrying hockey equipment for members of the Grizzly Youth Hockey Club that he helped to start.
The corner digs for Confetti made it ideal for whimsical, seasonal window displays, which became one of the hallmarks of the shop over the years.
Cindy Svatos, who has been working as co-manager of the store with Sharpe for about 15 years, has been a big part of the storefront look.
Svatos recalled that one time when she was working with the Downtown Development Authority on its holiday window contest, she wandered into Confetti and asked Sharpe if she planned to do up the window for the contest.
“She looked at me and said, ‘I thought it was done, but I guess not,’” Svatos said. “That’s how we knew we could be friends.”
Since then, they’ve conspired to come up with some of the most fanciful, fun window displays ever known to Glenwood, making use of twigs and branches from their yards, using old wooden chairs, and even refurbishing items they’d find in the dumpster.
“An effective window display has to be seen from the outside and be something that draws you in,” Sharpe said. “We’ve definitely had some eye-catchers, and everyone has talked about them for years and years.”
And, where exactly did they keep all that stuff when it wasn’t sitting in the window or out on the racks?
Between the basement space at the store, and both of their home basements, Sharpe and Svatos said they managed to keep it all somewhat organized.
Moving on … and over
That’s going to be one of the hardest parts about closing the store, said Svatos — “not looking at things sitting on someone’s curb and saying, ‘that might work.’”
For her part, Svatos said she’ll turn her attention to coordinating the summertime Downtown Market, which she and her volunteer board have run for several years. Now that the Tuesday night market has moved to the Bethel Plaza under the Grand Avenue Bridge, it’s time to evolve that event into the best it can be, she said.
Between her expectant son Jeff and daughter-in-law Jamie’s “da baby” coming, and the difficulties of operating a retail business during the coronavirus pandemic, Sharpe said the timing seemed right.
Not that she couldn’t have weathered yet another challenge, she said.
There have been plenty of those over the years, from the economic impacts that came after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the Great Recession of 2008, to the years-long Grand Avenue Paving Project in the mid-2000s and the Grand Avenue Bridge replacement three years ago.
“There have been a lot of upsides to some of those changes, too,” she said. “There’s a lot going on down here now, and we’ve been involved in a lot of things to improve the downtown.”
As for that special corner spot, it will soon be home to Murphy Brown Boutique, which is preparing to move over from its current location in the 700 block of Cooper Avenue.
“I am very excited for Sue starting her new chapter,” boutique owner Jil Murphy said. “Confetti has been a staple for our downtown retail community, and Sue’s enthusiasm for our downtown core will be missed.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to be re-locating Murphy Brown Boutique into Confetti’s location,” she added. “We will continue carrying a few core clothing lines carried at Confetti to add to our existing lines of clothing, gifts, jewelry and homegoods.”
Murphy said a late January reopening in the new location is planned.
The memories of helping customers find that perfect piece of clothing or accessory will also remain, Sharpe said.
“I would never, ever tell somebody that something looked good on them if it didn’t,” she said. “I think people appreciated that; appreciated the honesty.”
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