We are honored to have received WESA’s Top Hand Award for 2013.
The Western and English Sales Association (WESA) organizes trade shows where retailers, manufacturers and sales representatives can conduct business in an atmosphere of fair trade and fellowship. The markets are the world’s largest trade events for the equestrian industry! During this last market, WESA awarded the Top Hand Award to F.M. Light and Sons in recognition of “exceptional contributions to the strength and success of their communities and the Equestrian Lifestyle as Industry Friends and Advocates.”
Thank you very much for such an honor – we are so grateful to be recognized in this way by leaders in our industry!
Congratulations to Ty and Del Lockhart and Michelle Baucknecht for all their outstanding hard work!
Here is a biography of the store, as printed in the WESA program:
As you drive into Steamboat Springs, Colorado you will historic yellow and black signs dotting the highway letting you know that you are approaching F.M. Light & Sons. This landmark western wear store has been in the same location and family owned and operated for five generations – since 1905.
When the store first opened, there was a huge inventory of men’s three-piece suits, boots and shows, Stetsons (F.M. Light & Sons is the oldest Stetson dealer west of the Mississippi) and other small town clothing store items. It was not always easy running a small business in the mountains of Colorado, but several business decisions were the key to the store’s success and allowed the store to not only survive but to flourish.
In 1911 the Light family began putting small signs on the trails coming into Steamboat Springs. When the automobile road from Denver to Steamboat Springs was improved in the late 1920s, they added small (3’ x 8’) billboards along the highway. At one point there were 350 signs. Most of the present day signs are the originals from 80 years ago. F.M. Lights is nationally famous for these billboards. People love them for their history, uniqueness, and being a part of Americana and “the way it used to be.” The Light’s sign idea proved very successful.
From the beginning the Lights accepted only cash or check and did not extend credit to anyone. They were able to advertise cheaper prices, as they did not carry any receivables. This turned out to be very fortuitous and helped them survive the Depression. Many businesses went broke, as they could not collect the money owed them.
Also during the Depression, the Lights came up with an extremely unique idea. They took their merchandise directly to the ranchers around Colorado and Wyoming. The Light brothers loaded up samples of store merchandise in a panel truck and visited each ranch twice a year- spring and fall. The ranch hands would place an order and the store would ship it out. This road business proved to be very successful and it continued for about 30 years. Think what a time it was at the ranches when the F.M. Light truck showed up with the latest in clothing, boots, hats, gloves and ropes! Also, they brought the latest news from the previous ranches down the road. Many lasting friendships were formed from those ranch trips.
The interior of F.M. Lights now features many large photographs showing the history of the town and the store. The original stained glass sign, brought in by stagecoach, is on display. The strong leather smell, many original fixtures and photos create a step back in time.
F.M. Light is also known for its promotions. In 1949 Clarence Light bought a fiberglass horse with a saddle and put it right at the front door on the sidewalk. For generations, kids of all ages have ridden “Lightning.” Grandparents bring their grandkids into the store and can be heard saying, “I rode that horse when I was your age.”
Another rather unique idea the Light descendants implemented was having a person lie in the store’s front window for a week, 23 hours a day. He slept, ate, read and truly lived in the window. IN 2005, to celebrate the store’s centennial year, a local radio celebrity ran his regular show from the window. Local restaurants donated food while the D.J. interviewed “old timers” about the area’s history and their memories. The store also once staged an old fashioned robbery complete with bandits riding horses, shooting six guns, and whooping and hollering. Just as the robbers were leaving with their bags of money, the sheriff and his deputies rode up with guns drawn and arrested the bad guys.
Other promotions have involved a camel walking around the store, a live buffalo on the sidewalk, barbeque with free hamburgers for all, the Bronco Cheerleaders, Native American dancers, a Wild West show, live western music and many celebrities. During the Christmas Holidays young members of the family dress up as elves and will wrap any present regardless of where it was purchased.
The store has been in the family for five generations. IT has transferred from F.M. Light to his sons: Clarence, Olin and Day; to Clarence’s son-in-law Lloyd Lockhart and his wife, Annabeth Light Lockhart; then to their sons (F.M.’s great grandsons) Ty and Del Lockhart; and recently to F.M.’s great, great granddaughter Lindsay Lockhart Dillenbeck and her husband Chris Dillenbeck.
The Light family and descendants have always been active in community affairs including Kiwanis, American Legion, 4-H, local athletic programs, public and particularly Christian education, being founding members of the local Rotary Club, etc.
The Light, Lockhart and Dillenbeck families believe strongly in God, family, free enterprise and the American people. Stop in sometime and discover true western hospitality at F.M. Light & Sons.