New owner, same great Collective
Post Independent Staff
Karla Bingham, the new owner of the Artists’ Collective in Carbondale, is keeping a tradition alive.
When she bought the store last spring from original owner Carol Shure, Bingham, 42, was also buying a legacy of support for local and regional artists, as well as eclectic offerings in true Carbondale funky style.
“I’m a strong supporter of the arts, so I got involved with the store as another way to support artists, especially local artists,” she said.
Along with the inventory of kids toys, jewelry, soaps, hats, pottery and general fun stuff, Bingham inherited what she now calls her “Dream Team,” Donna McGinnis and Greta Forbes, who help out in the shop.
Even with the downturn in the economy, Bingham happily reports, “Business has been incredibly steady.”
On a tour around the shop, which shares a red brick building next to the Carbondale Post Office on Main Street with the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities, Bingham points to the medley of items created by local artists.
There are beaded earrings and necklaces by Paula Lawley. Cute Pin Pals pins by Snowmass jeweler DD Gerdin, and the art of Carbondale’s Amber “Sparkles” Palochek, who layers and lacquers paint on found objects, creating whimsical one-of-a-kind art.
Carbondale artist Linda Drake has an eye-catching array of T-shirts that sport the saying, “I’m still a hot babe but now it comes in flashes.”
The shop has mobiles and wind chimes, refrigerator magnets and wild eyeglasses in their own pocket-sized cases.
The baby section is crammed with warm and fuzzy stuff for newborns: rattles that fit over a little one’s feet, and a ladybug with ladybug babies that unzip from a pouch on her back.
Across the room are toys for older kids, such as the dolls that say phrases in two languages.
“I love you,” said one. “Je t’adore.”
They also speak in Italian and Spanish.
Bingham loves old-fashioned toys and stocks plenty. She has a tin Roy Rogers mounted on a tin Trigger. And she has all sorts of wooden puzzles. There are Groovy Girls, which are a hot collectors item with the younger girls, and a panoply of accessories, including a soft sculpture car and a pony.
She also offers the collectible Beanie Babies.
“I want classic toys, not video and computer games,” Bingham said.
There are handmade paper journals from Glenwood Springs artist Wewer Keohane, Lezley Small cards, Edgar Davidson pepper mills and Michael McKenna’s pottery. All are local artists.
A woman from Hotchkiss makes goat’s milk soap and salt body scrubs.
The shop has always been a place to buy Christmas and birthday presents. And it’s a place for moms to satisfy both their children’s and their own whims.
“I have some really loyal customers. I have what I call my `mom base’ that buys all their birthday and Christmas presents here,” Bingham said.
Bingham came to the retail trade via law. She was a paraprofessional in law offices for 15 years.
“I loved it but it was very high stress,” she said.
She and her lawyer husband, Richard Dally, moved to the area from Denver in 1996. Bingham grew up in Cutbank, Mont., and graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1983. She also lived for a time in Scottsbluff, Neb., where she ran a health club.
She chalks up her move into retail as “an early mid-life crisis,” but one she’s happy to have gone through.
So far, running a small shop in a small town “has been fun, it’s just a lot of fun.”
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