Store combines old and new in historic building
Erica Buelow has an affection for quality items from the past as well as the present.
She combines the two at her recently opened Earthen Artisan House (called EAH for short), at 2611 W. Colorado Ave.
The business has the added touch of being on the ground floor of one of Old Colorado City's classic brick buildings from the turn of the 20th century, a two-story structure that Jacob Schmidt originally built for his beer hall.
Following her business plan that was three years in the making, antique curios and recycled art sit side by side with contemporary furniture, clothing, jewelry, food, gift items and other creations by regional artisans and craftspeople. Shoppers will even find modern reproductions of old-time items, such as compasses, hour glasses and sextants.
Erica and her husband Nathan spent hours remodeling the nearly 2,900-square-foot space to attain a rustic look and feel, including exposing and sandblasting the hardwood floors and using salvaged barn wood to highlight the front counter and to accent the fireplace.
“I like to give things new life,” she said. “That's one of the reasons I like mixing the old with the new.”
The site had previously housed Red Mountain Sports, which went out of business in 2011.
Another part of the Buelow plan is to have EAH's offerings, as much as possible, be made in America. That's not possible for all her inventory, but she estimates she's at about 75 percent. “We want to get America back to work,” Erica enthused.
As for the goods from other countries, the businesses making them have to qualify, in terms of practicing fair trade (meaning that the workers are paid fairly), being involved with charities and using “repurposed” (recycled) materials. This eliminates China, for example, she noted.
Originally from Florida, Erica went to college in Tennessee with a major in interior design, and that's been her career for the past 18 years. “I always knew that's what I wanted to do,” she laughed. “When I was a little girl, I rearranged my room every week.”
After moving to Colorado in 2002, Erica met Nathan a year later as the interior designer for the house he was building. He's an Army officer, with over 20 years service, including Special Forces.
The idea for the EAH came about when, as a Colorado Springs resident, she could not find the type of eclectic store she herself liked to frequent. “A lot of our customers are people who typically go to Denver to shop,” Erica said.
As she fine-tuned her business plan, she began building an inventory, shopping for items, old and new, and gradually filling up her garage and guest room.
Her original goal was to be in the downtown. That didn't work out, but she felt fortunate that 2611 W. Colorado became available soon after. “The location chose me,” she said.
The store's symbol is the bumblebee. One of the reasons Erica chose it is because some physicists have theorized that a bumblebee, with its relatively large size and small wings, should not be able to fly. “Our store is like that,” she said. “We're trying to take off and do something that's not easy.”
EAH is open Tuesdays through Sundays. The phone is 434-8016, and the website is earthenartisanhouse.com.
Westside Pioneer article