The Vintage Common’s Vintage Creativity

 Photos by Cat Mayer

Photos by Cat Mayer

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Nestled between Fruita’s Cavalcade performing arts venue and Hot Tomato Pizza is a bright cerulean blue shopfront with cheery flower boxes lining the front windows. Inside, the nostalgic whirr of a sewing machine fills the store, along with one-of-a-kind fabric handbags, vintage clothing, and funky home decor of yesteryear.

This is The Vintage Common, Fruita’s go-to hub for unique handcrafted treasures, fabulous vintage clothing, and great conversation. At the back of the shop, maker and owner Michelle Cools contentedly goes about her work behind her sewing machine, her ruffly earrings (made from bicycle tubes!) swaying as she guides the fabric underneath its needle. Splashes of colorful textures and prints line her back table, on which she’s constantly honing her skills of recycling, repurposing, and refashioning clothing and home decor.

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“Crafting and supporting people who make things is important,” Cools says. “One of my motivations is using resources we already have instead of relying so much on mass manufacturing. There’s a lot of creativity in having to work with what you already have.”

After her mother taught her how to use a sewing machine, Cools started experimenting with sewing around age 10 and never looked back. She opened The Vintage Common in February 2012, filling the store with not only her own craftings but also those of about 30 other local artists and makers. Cools’ first sewing project — a pair of overalls crafted out of Star Wars bed sheets from a thrift store — still hang over her sewing table, Darth Vader presiding over the store’s happenings day in and day out. The overalls serve as a reminder of where she started and how far she’s come in her craft.

When asked if she plans to expand her store to online, Cools shakes her head. “I like this,” she says, looking around her 523-square-foot space. “The Internet is too cold; this is warm. I like the interaction with people, and I like seeing the things I make walk out with people I know I’ll see again.”

Cools sees The Vintage Common as not just a shop, but also an opportunity to help create the kind of culture she wants to see around her. When she moved to the area 16 years ago, Fruita’s downtown lacked the activity and spark it has now. Together with a small band of entrepreneurs, artisans, and makers, Cools has helped make Fruita what it is today: a small, folksy town teeming with community, recreation, and fresh ideas.

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“Places like the shop in our small downtown community are really where great ideas begin,” she remarks. “We all love Fruita, and we all want to see even greater things happen here.”

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THE VINTAGE COMMON

116 N. Mulberry Street

Downtown Fruita, Colorado

Carrington SchaefferMaker