New businesses make Cooper super-duper |

New businesses make Cooper super-duper

An assortment of new and recently moved businesses on the lower part of Glenwood Springs’ Cooper Avenue has, virtually overnight, given the area a distinctly grassroots, artsy feel. The businesses, although rather diverse, oddly complement each other. They turn an area that once was merely a backwater for the river of traffic on Grand Avenue into a place with its own burgeoning personality. The six newest businesses include an art supply store and studio, a coffee shop-bookstore built with all recycled materials, a classy consignment shop, a gift basket shop, a wholesale import business and a fancy sushi restaurant. Each new business has helped the 700 and 800 blocks of Cooper come to life.

“This street is becoming a gathering spot,” said Farland Fish, owner of Feral Book Cafe. Fish sees the coffeehouse, named after “things that are domestic and return back to the wild state,” as a place for people to come in and let go of their inhibitions. “Domesticity sometimes doesn’t fit in,” she said. One activity Fish plans is to put typewriters on some of the tables, ask people to write for five minutes, then jump onto the typewriter next to them and continue the story begun by the previous writer. “It could be kind of a `Naked Lunch’ thing,” said Maya Jensen, an artist friend of Fish who helped put the shop together. Fish said people from around the city have stopped in, made suggestions and even helped build the business since she began renovating the former bus stop caf at 723 Cooper Ave. in July. “It’s been lots of people’s ideas, efforts and energy,” Fish said. “It’s community-built completely.”And she’s not just saying that. Everything inside that didn’t already exist was recycled from something else. Throwaways, scraps, donations and elbow grease, all of it came from Glenwood Springs and the surrounding area. “It’s amazing how many people would stop by and add into it,” Fish said. “It’s all found objects, and it’s all recycled.” In addition to selling “organic, fair-trade, shade-grown coffee,” the coffee house features a large room set up for musicians, poets, puppeteers and spoken word artists.Duluth, Minn., native Maria Sippola, 23, hopes her new art supply store, The Artist’s Mercantile, becomes more than just a retail shop. Like the coffee shop, Mercantile mixes sales with a studio area for artists to create, and to meet and talk about their passion. “My biggest goal is to help people to get products they can’t necessarily get at every other art store,” and offer advice from an artist, she said. The store also has local crafts, some decorative items, shirts, gifts and books. “My thoughts are that it needed a little something to appeal to everyone,” Sippola said. The store is located downstairs from the former art supply store Black Diamond Studios, which Sippola used to manage, on the lower level of 823 Cooper Ave. “It hasn’t really affected the business, moving it downstairs,” Sippola said. “I wouldn’t have moved downstairs if there wasn’t retail upstairs,” she said, alluding to the interdependent relationship these new Cooper Street businesses have developed.-The retail shop Sippola referred to is also a new business. Finders Keepers sells home decorations, antiques, paintings, furniture and lots of other stuff. Owner Ginny Barbier said she came up with the idea to open a classy consignment shop while she was job hunting. “You’d send out rsums and people wouldn’t ever respond,” she said. “It was like sending them into a black hole.”So a friend told her, “If you can’t find a job, create one.”That’s just what she did.The place is a collection of so many different items, it’s difficult to classify them. “Basically what I’m doing is providing a showroom for people to show their stuff,” Barbier said. In addition to taking in consignment items – for which she splits the sale price 50-50 – Barbier also conducts estate sales. She chose Cooper Avenue because, for one, it was more affordable. She also sees Cooper Avenue replacing Grand Avenue in the future as the downtown’s retail and entertainment center. “Grand is just a drive-through,” she said. Inside Finders Keepers is yet another new business: Star Seed. The shop, owned by Ronnie Smith, has gift baskets, concentrating primarily on Colorado-made items.”It’s been a dream of hers for 15 years,” Barbier said of Smith. “We’re calling ourselves the Cooper Street Marketplace,” Barbier said of the line of businesses at 823 Cooper. -Right next door at Lost in Space, fourth-generation Glenwood native Scott Weatherly was hard at work making thousands of feet of garland.The company’s owner, Michael Carter – aka Mr. Christmas because he’s been making wreaths and garland in the Roaring Fork Valley for 25 years – provided some staggering statistics on his company’s prolific Christmas decoration production. “I’ll go through a mile and a half of red ribbon and probably another half-mile of other ribbon,” Carter said. “Scott will probably make upwards of 8,000 feet of garland.”In addition, Carter will help a local Boy Scout troop to raise money by selling Christmas trees in front of his establishment. “It’s a for-profit thing. It’s a good deal for us to help the community,” Carter said. “It’s capitalism with a consciousness, hopefully. That’s the idea.”While those activities keep Weatherly and Carter busy in the weeks leading up to Christmas, Lost in Space is primarily a wholesale importer that sells specialty items to retail shops throughout the area. As a policy, Carter said he doesn’t sell to the public, to protect his retail customers. “We deal with a lot of Tibetan and dharma items,” he said. Lost in Space isn’t a new business, but its recent move to Cooper Avenue from around the corner on 8th Street just bolsters the emerging scene there. The small shop, recently converted from a garage, also has Indonesian drums and wood carvings. “We also do quite a bit of devotional pieces,” Carter said, as he got ready to set off for a belly dancing convention in Nebraska.-Each of the aforementioned businesses are on the west side of Cooper Avenue. Two other new businesses are on the east side of the street. Mountain Memories Scrapbooks and Stamps, located at 720 Cooper Ave., sells everything you ever wanted to buy for scrapbooks, while Sak provides that much-needed nourishment for someone who already painted, shopped, read poetry and gathered scrapbook supplies at the other shops. “There’s definitely a lot of people on Cooper Street,” Mountain Memories sales clerk Matney Warner said. “We sell scrapbook supplies, stamps, stickers, handmade paper and anything that goes in a scrapbook.”The owners, Shannon and Mike Moler, opened the store in September. They plan to offer scrapbooking classes and encourage people to sign up for their mailing list. -Sak, by definition, is a Japanese wine served hot or cold that can be spiced to accent different types of food. Sak the restaurant, however, has rice wine and a lot more. First noticeable as a customer walks into the restaurant is the soft, blue light that emanates from several small Italian fixtures hanging from the ceiling. On the right is a 10-seat, fully-stocked bar, as well as a large selection of Japanese, American and other beers. Owned by Bleu and Linda L’Estrange and their partners in Sak LLC, the restaurant opened its doors Nov. 12 after more than a year of preparations. “I think it’s something I believe Glenwood needed,” Bleu L’Estrange said. “There’s not really a place to get this type of cuisine.”Until now, that is. Anyone who has ever hit the bar circuit in Basalt would know the L’Estranges. Linda worked for a long time as a bartender at the Rainbow Grill, while Bleu is a part-owner of Stubbies Sports Bar and Grill. In their new venture, the couple will be able to work together and bring their expertise to Glenwood Springs. “It’s hard for people to live upvalley now, and one thing they miss is all the great cuisine up there,” Bleu said. “And it’s not just sushi, we’ve got everything else, too.”But with a beautiful 16-seat, wood-accented sushi bar, Japanese delicacies are certainly a mainstay of the restaurant.J.D., a sushi chef from Aspen and a friend of the L’Estranges, put together the menu and will help get the restaurant off the ground.”Everything is prepared here on premise,” J.D. said.Contact information:Feral Book Cafe: 928-8744The Artists’ Mercantile: 947-0947Finders Keepers/Star Seed: 928-7355 Mountain Memories: 947-9644Sak: 947-9113

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