A sign on the white, thatched chair directs visitors to walk through a gate, beyond which a stone path winds under the shade of a stately tree to a birch framed welcome sign on a door. Within is a …
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A sign on the white, thatched chair directs visitors to walk through a gate, beyond which a stone path winds under the shade of a stately tree to a birch framed welcome sign on a door.
Within is a small shop where the eye is immediately drawn to rustic wall hangings made from 1800-to-1900 corrugated metal and wood from barns in Missouri with messages ranging from humorous to sentimental. Further investigation reveals embroidered towels, custom rolling pins, mugs with pithy sayings, local honey, candles and — against the back wall — an array of goat milk lotions. Any attempt to escape is now futile. The Clever Cow claims another rustic decor lover.
Shari Norton, the owner of the Clever Cow on Main Street in Elizabeth, is responsible for how her shop lures the rustic decor customer. Most items on display are from local artisans who approached her as soon as they knew she was opening a shop with a rustic theme. She quickly found that talent abounds in Elizabeth.
Shari believes, “Using reclaimed materials like old barn wood and corrugated metal with a story behind it is so much more precious to me than similar items from Home Depot.”
One advantage to using local artisans is the opportunity for customers to special-order a wall hanging with a small change and Shari can say no problem, we can have it to you in day or two.
Shari is partial to local talent but very particular about the products carried in her shop and only stocks items she makes, uses herself or personally knows the product’s creator. She stands behind every item sold and her guarantee is, if you don’t like it, bring it back. Shari, herself, uses the goat milk lotions and swears by the products for moisturizing in our dry, dry climate.
Her husband was a little skeptical when she ordered the product, asking, “If you don’t like it, how long will I be wearing it?”
Three years ago, Shari, her husband, Tim, and their son, Wyatt, moved from Arizona to a ranch outside of Kiowa because they were impressed with the area when visiting friends. Her husband, a police officer in Arizona, had promised he would buy her a ranch when he retired from the police force and true to his promise, they now live on a ranch with too many cows, eight pet chickens and four rescue horses. Tim was elected Elbert County sheriff in November.
Her son, Wyatt, says, “We should have a sign out front that says, `All Animals are Family, not Food.’”
Shari is quick to laugh, and her explanation for the origination of the name Clever Cow hints at her special sense of humor. When they were first selling the corrugated/wood signs, her explanation of their origin and farm sentiments was, “Who hangs out in the barn and sees everything? The cows got bored and started making stuff.” Further evidence of the family’s unique sense of humor can be found on the logo mugs they design and display at the back of the shop.
Although the first time naming one, this is not Shari’s first foray into the boutique business. She ran a boutique in Arizona and the original Clever Cow was in Lone Tree but was too far away and costly to run. After a time, her friends and mother encouraged her to open another business, and when this cute little shop became available on Main Street, Shari Norton was in business again.
Open since March, the shop at 286 S. Main St. in Elizabeth is approaching its third season in business. New autumn products such as fall spice teas, corrugated pumpkins, skulls, scented candles, apple cider, muffin kits and many more seasonal items will be ready for purchase at the Clever Cow soon. At that time simply walk through the gate, follow the stone path to the birch framed welcome sign and step inside to learn what those clever cows have been up to.
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