107 years ago a new business was opened in downtown Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
It was November 9, 1905 and the weather was blustery. With about a foot of snow on the ground and a severe cold enveloping the small community, it wasn’t an especially unusual day; but history was made. On that day Frank Light opened the doors of F.M. Light and Sons, which still stands as an icon in Steamboat. It is the oldest retailer in northwest Colorado, and is still family owned and operated by the fifth generation.
A Little History
- November 9th’s sales were $11.50 (that’s roughly $230 in today’s money). Not fantastic, but promising. The next day’s sales were terrible – they totaled just ten cents ($1.95 in today’s dollars).
- There were quite a few businesses in Steamboat at that time, considering its small size. They included: The Routt County Sentinel; Milner Bank & Trust Company; J.W. Hugus & Company, general merchandise; Dunfield’s store; J.L. Sherd, a general merchandise store; Sam Nay’s grocery and market; Barnum’s grocery; W.J. Franz Market; Killion’s Pharmacy; and A.G. Wither, a general store.
- There was no railroad in Steamboat in 1905, so opening up a business took some courage. Mail delivery was sporadic, and the population was only a few hundred.
- Frank Light believed Steamboat would become prosperous due to its ranching community. He felt an economy based on producing a living from the land lent itself to a stable business base. Little did he know that the mountain that stood over Steamboat would one day be its leading attraction.
- Inventory consisted of shoes, overshoes, suits, mittens, and men’s collars. Over time, work clothing from the Sweet Orr Co. and Frank Russell Glove Co. were added to the inventory, as well as overshoes from the Colorado Rubber Co.
- We are the oldest western retailer west of the Mississippi to carry Stetson hats. In 1905, a Stetson hat could be purchased for $5. A good pair of cowboy boots could be had for $10.
- Frank Light had two business precepts on which he founded the store:
- The customer is always right
- Cash-only buying and selling
- As the years have passed, the store has been handed down through the generations. Little did Frank know that 107 years after it was opened, F.M. Light and Sons would be owned and operated by his great-great-granddaughter Lindsay.
We feel very blessed to carry on such a legacy. Much of our success is due to you, our loyal customers. So, thank you very much for your support and encouragement. Here’s to another 107 years!