The Emporium and Flying Circus change owners |

The Emporium and Flying Circus change owners

Shae Singer, left, is handing the reins of The Emporium and Flying Circus over to new co-owner Sharae Allen.
Jule Bielenberg

There’s a new ringleader in town; rather, new ringmasters. After 11 years as the heart and soul of the Emporium and Flying Circus, Shae Singer has decided this will be her final week at the reins of Aspen’s No. 1 gift shop in the city, voted by the people of city, five years in a row.

On Nov. 11, 2011, Singer opened Aspen’s only artisan collective. Over a decade later, the thriving conglomerate represents more than 90 local craftspeople, of which 95 percent are Coloradans.

“And each artisan continues to rent space and set their own prices within the business; this was certainly a fete for a town such as Aspen,” said Shae Singer, creator and soon-to-be former owner of Emporium and Flying Circus.

“Local artists who could not afford a physical brick and mortar storefront in Aspen could now say they did have a physical presence in town because they paid rent. It was such a bonus for the creative sector.”

“I’m going to miss the regular customers that I have gotten to know throughout the years. This group would spread the creativity of our local artists and it would be quite rewarding to ship our treasures across seas and to far away places that many of our creators would never be able to reach,” said Singer.

“The friendships that I have established with my regular customers are my most cherished moments. I would learn of the happy occasions, the births, the weddings, anniversaries, and help those I care about celebrate life’s good fortune. That’s what I am going to miss the most,” she said.

Locals and visitors alike were accustomed to Singer’s charismatic presence and enthusiasm for all things created within the Aspen community. Often greeting shoppers with a wild hand-woven hat or clothing made from the numerous artisans and craftspeople that comprise the store, Singer was never short on conversation or stories from the talents of her community to her passion for local non-profits.

“This is another happy ending for one of my local businesses,” Singer said.

“I started other stores in Aspen including Sashae Floral Arts that I was able to pass onto an employee and was excited at the prospect of being able to pass another business onto a local employee and artisan.”

“Shae asked me this past August if I would be interested in coming and working at the store in management. I suggested buying the Emporium and Flying Circus instead,” Sharae Allen said with a chuckle. She is the new co-owner of the Emporium and Flying Circus.

“Along with my business partner Gina Mattson, the creator behind Timeless Textiles, a vegetable-dyed, hand-made quilt producer, also represented at the Emporium, we will maintain the business in the same local and community-focused nature as its original intent,” Allen said.

Allen is no stranger to Aspen’s business genre, as she will continue to operate her locally-based Moving Mountain TEA in conjunction with being a weekday presence at the Emporium and Flying Circus. Mattson will oversee the weekend traffic.

On Monday, the second-to-last day of Singer’s tenure, the feeling throughout the Emporium was melancholic. As the sun began to peek out after a snow-filled weekend, Allen was excited to shine new light on the changes coming to the Emporium and Flying Circus.

“We are launching online platforms that will mimic Etsy’s e-commerce. This will also allow remote customers to shop from our artisans and help provide them additional income through these channels,” Allen said.

For physical retail shoppers, everything in the store will remain the same, including monthly donations to Roaring Fork Valley non-profits.

Allen added, “Each month Shae was passionate about selecting a different non-profit in which to contribute the store’s ‘donation’. We look forward to continuing this philanthropic legacy.”

Organizations such as Aspen Hope, World Kitchen, Shinning Stars, Music Therapy of the Rockies, Mountain Rescue Aspen-Snowmass and dozens of others benefited financially from Singer’s donation jar.

Don’t expect Singer to be a stranger among her own community.

“It just felt like the right time to move on,” she said. “After numerous successful businesses and the appropriate, local entrepreneurs to steer the ship, I’m excited for my next adventure. Nonetheless, I will still be visiting the store and making guest appearances.”

“Kudos to Shae for making this even possible,” Allen said. “I know she got a higher offer for the business, but we were able to come to a decision that made sense for all of us to keep this community thriving.”

Today is Singer’s last day at her Emporium and Flying Circus. For more information on the store, visit