New Fruita venue opens for creative endeavors

Photo by Gretel Daugherty—Max Connors, left, Josh Ott, center, and Michelle Cools are opening a new gather place called Mirth at the site of the old Hot Tomato, 201 E. Aspen Ave., in Fruita.

Josh Ott and Max Connors grew tired of Fruita residents complaining about having nothing to do.

With the help of friend Michelle Cools, the trio opened Mirth on New Year’s Day to generate more activity in downtown Fruita and provide a gathering place for residents of all ages who simply want to get out of the house and hang out.

“Max came up with (Mirth) being the living room of Fruita,” Ott said.

The concept of Mirth, 201 E. Aspen Ave., is evolving to say the least. The idea to create a space to hang out in downtown Fruita came about while brainstorming ideas about what the community needed for its residents.

The trio decided the community needed a space where people could meet new friends, hang out with old friends and get involved in new things.

The East Aspen Avenue location once occupied by restaurants and most recently a hydroponics store has since been gutted and repainted by Ott, 39, Connors, 42, and Cools, 32, who took over the lease Jan. 1.

“Josh had this idea that we should rent this space and make it our place,” Connors said.

Eventually, the trio plans to sell Mirth merchandise inside the store. In addition, Cools, who designs clothes and accessories, will begin selling items March 1 from her Ones line. Her apparel line is named Ones because she creates no two items alike and uses only vintage materials or recycled items to make her women’s clothes and accessories, she said.

The owners plan to pay the rent through the sale of merchandise and donations. Without much overhead costs in their personal lives or in the operation of the be-anything venue, the owners are confident they can consistently pay the rent out-of-pocket, each said.

Connors is retired from the military, and Ott is a part-time fabricator.

They have no plans to sell food or alcohol. Most interior improvements they plan to do at Mirth, they can do themselves, Ott said.

On a recent Friday afternoon, the trio sat on donated or thrift-store chairs to talk about everything Mirth is and isn’t.

What it isn’t is strictly a theater or music venue. After all, there is no stage or lines of chairs.

Instead, what it is, is a place where people of all ages can hang out. In other words, private groups, theater groups, music groups, etc., will be allowed to use Mirth to stage myriad events for no charge.

Connors joked that if a group of monkeys want to joust in a ring of fire, Mirth is the place for that.

Ott said there are no planned hours of operation. If the lights are on at night, someone is inside.

During the day, people are welcome to stop by and peek in the windows. More than likely, one of the owners is inside.

There is no set schedule of events yet, but Ott, Connors and Cools said people have been responsive to open poetry nights and philosophy groups, among other things.

“We want to bring that sense of community back,” Connors said. “There are a lot of creative people here.”

To stay updated on the happenings at Mirth, check Friday’s Out & About entertainment section in the Daily Sentinel. Also, visit Mirth’s Facebook page at Mirth Fruita.


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