Fort Carson shop provides unique gifts, artistic outlet
Last updated 12/15/2021 at 10:27am
Life on a military base is simultaneously difficult and exotic, since it collects people from many places into one location and then sends them out again a few years later.
"The military families, every two to three years, they're moving from one place to another place," Tatiana Scharstein reflected.
For Tumbleweeds at the Mountain Post (located at 1510 Chiles Ave. on Fort Carson), where Scharstein is vice president of operations, this culture creates interesting opportunities. Tumbleweeds is an artist consignment shop, where local artists can sell their work. With the base's residents coming from almost anywhere, the art coming in can be very eclectic.
"Some people come from Europe to Fort Carson, and they consign with us," Scharstein said as an example. "Everything is handcrafted by military spouses or military active duty [people]."
When Tumbleweeds started in 2012, its stated goal was "promoting Fort Carson artists and crafters, outreach programs and scholarships." While the store wasn't able to sustain its art scholarship program, it still does outreach programs. Scharstein described a recent event where they connected with students at Patriot Elementary School.
"The teacher chose the best student in art and gave them a flier [so that] they can come to Tumbleweeds and have a free class," Scharstein said. "We had a pizza day as well."
Tumbleweeds not only sells items crafted by military personnel, it uses volunteers from military background. These include military spouses or children, active-duty volunteers and military retirees.
"We're all volunteers, we don't have a person who works for money here," Scharstein said. "It's more about creativeness, getting involved in the community and providing art to community."
Sometimes the volunteers or customers find that they learn unexpected things just by being around each other.
"If they work with me, they sometimes learn new cultures and history," Scharstein reflected. "I'm Russian and sometimes they'll talk with me and learn something new about Russia... It's communicating with our visitors about culture."
Along with selling art, Tumbleweeds offers a variety of artistic classes to patrons. These classes are organized by age group (some for small children, some for ages 15 and older) and include painting, academic drawing, sewing, and crocheting. Scharstein has seen how these classes allow people at different walks of life embrace their artistic side while also having fun.
"The kids love to express themselves, they enjoy art classes," Scharstein said. "Sometimes active-duty people come to have a class with us, they enjoy it because they just want to get away from work... It relaxes them, and at the same time, it provides new skills."
While Tumbleweeds provides a unique service and experience, growth has been difficult. COVID led to smaller class sizes and groups, and the fact that the store is on a military base affects word of mouth in interesting ways.
"Every year new people come, and new people leave, so every year we need to always find ways to tell people about us," Scharstein said. "We have a lot of retirees who live around Fort Carson- in Fountain, Pueblo, Colorado Springs – who don't know about us... We would like to reach them as well."
An open house on Dec. 5 – including a raffle and pictures with Santa – went very well; volunteers hope it is the start of Tumbleweeds generating new attention.
"We still have a lot of events, but [we want] bigger groups and bigger involvement," Scharstein said. "Tumbleweeds wants to do more creative stuff with families, with soldiers, to bring more people to us."
Tumbleweeds at the Mountain Post is open to any member of the public, provided they can enter Fort Carson. The store's hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Find out more about Tumbleweeds at the Mountain Post at tumbleweedsonpost.wixsite.com/tumbleweedsco or on the store's Facebook page (facebook.com/TumbleweedsattheMountainPost/).