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.