Meet Your Neighbor: Michelle Cools
Meet Your Neighbor — Fruita
Denise: How long have you lived here? Are you originally from this area?
Michelle: I am from Riverside, Calif. I first visited the Grand Valley in 2002 to see my great-aunt Ardith. In 2005, I moved here permanently.
Denise: What inspired you to move here?
Michelle: I was becoming disenchanted with California. It is like the movie “Her.” Everyone was walking around plugged in to their devices. They are all connected to something, but not to each other. In 2005, my daughter was very young, and we wanted something better for her, and the Grand Valley seemed to offer that. I had also fallen in love with the incredible diversity of the scenery in western Colorado, the seasons, and the climate.
Denise: When did you start sewing?
Michelle: My mom taught me how to sew, and I grew up making little things here and there. I always used recycled material and I started making bags from thrift store finds. When I was a teenager I saw a woman in a beautiful homemade dress and was inspired to make clothing. When I was 17 a friend and I started selling our hand-crafted items on Venice Beach.
Denise: How did you start your Vintage Common store?
Michelle: When I first moved to the Grand Valley I consigned some of my items to a shop in Grand Junction, but then I found Fruita. At the suggestion of some friends, I opened a small shop called “Ones” at the back of what is now Cavalcade. Ones is named after my clothing brand of hand-sewn items, all made from recycled material and clothing. In 2012, I had an opportunity to open a larger store in the same building, at 116 N. Mulberry. The name Vintage Common came to me in a flash of inspiration. In addition to my products, Vintage Common is a space for other local crafters to sell their items, and to meet with each other.
Denise: What does Vintage Common mean to you?
Michelle: Vintage Common is more than just a store to me. I honestly had hopes but my expectations were unclear when I first opened my door. In terms of operating a small business I had some idea what to expect, but the real investment wasn’t just inventory and overhead maintenance. The investment was in our community. Being part of a place where yesterday’s ideas become next year’s memories is invaluable to me. It’s about a story we are all writing together.
Denise Hight is co-author of Images of America: Fruita, which was published by Arcadia Publishing in 2011. She is currently working on another book for Arcadia, Legendary Locals of Fruita, which will be published in 2016. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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