The Artisan Center

Category: Small Business Spotlight

Published: June 6, 2017

The corner of Third and Detroit has been home to a little gem since 1977: The Artisan Center. Every inch of this eclectic store appeals to one’s sense of whimsy. We spoke with the store’s previous owner, Ellen Seale, and new co-owners, Julie Scott and Alex Nielsen, about the magic that can be found within their purple walls.

After forty years as a successful women-owned business, we’re about to see some changes at The Artisan Center, correct?

Ellen: Yes, after forty years I am selling the shop to Julie and Alex. I’ll still be working here two days a week, but they’ll be in charge. They’ve each worked here for over a decade.

It’s not surprising that each of you is wearing an accessory that instantly makes me want to ask you about it. Tell me about your necklace, Alex.

Alex: We support a lot of local artists, and I’m wearing a necklace by a local artist named Christy Payne. In fact, we’re each wearing some of her stuff. She started out selling her bracelets here, and has had amazing success. We have a strong personal connection with her. Her pieces tend to involve a lot of oxidized silver and stonework.

Julie: She’s got kind of a rugged Colorado feel, but with sparkle to it. I guess you could call it, “rugged sparkle.”

Speaking of style, let’s talk about your front door. It’s a country barn style where the upper half can open separately from the lower half. I feel like this door is a metaphor for something…

Ellen: I think it represents friendliness. You can see in; we can see out. It’s sort of living outside and inside at the same time. Colorado is like that. Years ago this place was a drugstore. We still have the original floors, which are around a hundred years old. I suppose our door helps us keep up that corner drugstore mentality of “come on in, look around.” It’s the definition of community… and Cherry Creek North.

Alex: We’ve been really lucky to have such loyal customers. They check in with us every Christmas or Mother’s Day, etc. Their loyalty is why we’ve been around so long.

You’ve kept a lot of things consistent here, in addition to your door. The walls have always been a rich purple color. You always have a bowl of free caramels by the register…

Julie: …and our packaging. We wrap everything from a seventy-five-cent finger monster and up in our signature brown box with a colorful bow. Everything here is special. It’s all important.

You’ve also maintained the same atmosphere you want visitors to have when they walk inside. It’s not a “cramped,” feeling, per se, but delightfully full. Would you agree?

Ellen: Right. I love that people really have to search for things here. It’s sort of like finding a treasure.

Julie: People love finding something new, and we’re always changing. We’re always moving displays around and bringing in new artists, but our core remains the same.


Artisan Center
2757 East 3rd Avenue
Denver, CO 80206

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