I’ll admit it. I’m one of those finicky-to-a-fault shoppers who eschews the mall like a sink full of dirty dishes. I hate dressing like everyone else does. No knee-length black jackets for me. No wide belts. And, no matter how much you entice me with your practical-yet-cute appeal, sorry, ballet-flats, no to you as well. I’m a stickler for originality. Problem is, I’m also outrageously cheap. So last month, when I realized that every piece of clothing I owned either had a hole in it or was dangerously close to developing one, I knew it was time for my once-a-year-on-even-years-only shopping day. Either that or wield a needle and thread. And I take to sewing even less than washing dishes.
After minor cajoling, I convinced a friend to take me up to Boulder. Yes, Boulder. I know what you’re thinking. That Boulder is home to yuppie boutiques and salons, overpriced hipster shops and Nepalese hippie stores. That cheap, yet original people like myself have no place in Boulder. Well, that might be true. But Boulder also happens to host Common Era, a little store after my own heart.
New York native Debra Mazur opened Common Era back in 2000, buying inventory from small manufacturers on the east and west coasts. The clothes are fantastic—sequined tops and hot blue skinny-leg jeans, mustard-colored spring dresses and shoes that provide toe cleavage aplenty. The jewelry—small dove earrings or yarn necklaces—is assembled by Mazur and her staff.
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The employees are ultra-sweet and the music is twee. And since Mazur shops in small quantities, she’s constantly renewing her inventory. Which means that almost nobody has the same pair of stovepipe black pants that I purchased. Suckers. Best of all, Mazur keeps her prices low because she doesn’t spend on an advertising budget. Recent prices range from $15 for a hat to $160 for a pair of boots. My pants were a steal at $40. And it looks like they’ll last until 2010.
I returned from Boulder with a smug grin on my face, a grin that returned last weekend when I learned that Denver, lo and behold, has its own Common Era. Mazur opened the smaller, yet equally well-priced satellite store, at 1543 Platte Street, a good six months ago. My cheap, yet original self could have saved on gas money by heading to the Riverfront Park location rather than Boulder. But no matter. I’ll be sure to hit up this one as well. It might even prompt me to shop, say, once a year.
-- Naomi Zeveloff