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Local landmark, Goodman’s Department Store, on the market

For 109 years, Goodman’s Department Store has been a Pagosa Springs fixture, family-owned and operated in the same location on Pagosa Street.

And now, that “institution” is for sale.

Although current owners Bob and Valerie Goodman hope the store will continue, their recent decision to sell the store puts in question whether or not the local area landmark will continue as it has for over a century.

“It would be preferable to me to keep it intact,” Bob said, “to keep the tradition going of quality goods and services that has been associated with the Goodman name.”

Bob and Valerie said the decision to sell was strictly personal, in a desire to find more time for themselves and each other. Even if the store does not sell, Bob said, “No matter what, we will be taking more time off. We’ve made a conscious decision to change our lifestyle.”

“We’re going to start finding time to do the things we’ve always wanted to do,” Valerie added.

Married 28 years, Bob and Valerie have been owners of the store since day one of their nuptials. “My dad sold out to us the day we got married,” Bob said.

Bob’s father, David (who passed away last year at the age of 83), passed the business on to Bob in 1974, but stuck around for a few years to assist his son in the transition. Yet, even after Bob and Valerie took full control of the store, David would often stop in to help customers, “Sometimes he would come in just to see the old-timers,” Valerie said.

Goodman’s was founded by Bob’s great-grandfather, David Lowenstein, around the turn of the last century (Bob said he suspects the business started in 1899 but only has definitive proof from the year 1900). Bob’s grandfather, Lewis Goodman, changed the name to Goodman’s, “Sometime in the 1920s,” Bob said. As such, Goodman’s is by far the oldest continuously run business in Pagosa country.

Stepping away from an enterprise such as Goodman’s, even if only temporarily, does not appear to give Bob or Valerie concern and, in fact, they expressed the utmost faith in their employee’s ability to run the store as the Goodmans take time off from the business.

“They’re making it possible for us to take time off,” Valerie said. “They’re very hard workers and we’re very fortunate to have the crew that we have.”

“Everyone who works here is family to us,” Bob added.

The Goodmans certainly deserve the time off they’re taking. “We’ve never had a Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Memorial Day or Labor Day off,” Valerie said.

“We have a daughter in North Carolina,” Bob added. “It would be nice to see the kids for the holidays, something we haven’t been able to do.”

In addition, Bob stated, “My mother’s getting up there in years and I’d like to be able to take care of her.”

However, both Bob and Valerie emphasized that they felt they’d earned the right to slow down and enjoy the finer things in life. “After my father retired, he’d spend his winters in Mexico and his summers in Alaska. We’d like to be able to take advantage of that. I’ve never been able to get away in the summer for a fishing trip and I’d love to be able to watch Valerie pull in a 30-pound Silver Salmon in Alaska.”

“We’ve made a conscious decision to change our lifestyle,” he said.

The Goodmans were quick to point out that times are good for the store and it was their desire to make that lifestyle change that led to their decision. “Our decision to sell the store was not predicated on the economy,” Bob said. “We’re having one of the best years we’ve ever had and I attribute that to a town that supports us and does everything they can to keep us going.”

“I want to end everything on an up note,” he said.

Again, Bob was emphatic to praise the town for the role it has played in the Goodman success story. “One thing I want to say,” Bob declared, “Is that this community has treated our family wonderfully for 109 years and I’m appreciative that our family was given the opportunity to thrive in Pagosa Springs.”

And the final chapter has not yet been written. Although the Goodmans have put the business and property up for sale, “It’s not a given that we will sell,” Bob said. “In ten years from now, we may still be running the store.”

jim@pagosasun.com