Ace icon Doug Post moves on
Post and his wife will head to Washington next month
Steamboat Springs — If you’ve ever been pelted in the noggin with candy at Ace at the Curve, odds are that Doug Post was the one slinging the sweets.
The store manager loves easing the tension of long lines or tough days, sometimes by tossing a snack, sometimes by belting out “Hey Jude.” Post is an icon, his colleagues say, the face customers conjure when they think about Ace. His beloved laugh bursts forth like snakes from a pressurized can, bouncing about as he and co-workers tell tales about his tenure.
After nearly 25 years at Ace and True Value, Post is on his way out.
Coming and going
In 1979, the Michigan native packed his possessions into a Chevrolet Suburban and motored to Steamboat Springs. His sister and brother-in-law, Carolyn and Barry Lamb, had invited him to work at their store, Lamb’s Beer, Bait and Beans.
His wife, Christi, followed a few months later. After a year, they moved to Kremmling so Post could work for a wholesaler. About four years later, Denny and Wayne Swanson invited him to interview for a job at the True Value they were opening in Steamboat.
“My brother and I hired him that day,” Denny Swanson said. “We didn’t let him get out the door.”
Post has a history with hardware. His father, Dick, ran a hardware store in Michigan, and Post worked there for years. He loves it. Post stayed when the True Value changed locations and became an Ace in 2004.
“There’s a lot of people in here, people I’ve known from when I first came here in ’79,” Post said. “I knew ranchers and miners and construction people that have been here 30 years ago that have been my customers. I’m going to miss a lot of people.”
But it’s time to follow his wife’s dream, he said. Christi Post grew up near the Great Lakes and the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan.
“She’s got the big water in her blood,” Doug Post said, and the pair decided to go to the ocean.
The Posts are moving to the Pacific Northwest with their six dogs next month. Doug Post is going to help open and run an Ace store in Tacoma, Wash. His last day at Ace at the Curve is Jan. 12, and he starts Jan. 16 in Washington.
“I’ve been to the Northwest, and I like it,” Post said. “People tell me, ‘Well, you know, it rains.’ And I said, ‘Yes, that’s why it’s green. And you don’t have to shovel it.'”
Hardware store hijinks
“There’ll be a lot of tearful goodbyes,” Store Manager Scott Schlapkohl said about Post’s departure. Schlapkohl has worked alongside his counterpart since the True Value opened more than 24 years ago.
He described himself and Post as sort of a yin and yang. Schlapkohl is more detail-oriented and quieter. Post is the loud, brazen guy in the store who jokes with the patrons.
“A person once told me I was the Don Rickles of hardware because I give customers a hard time,” Post said.
He stood around in the center aisle last week, telling stories with employees Rick Peters and Kirk Wishon. Peters ribbed Post about a time when Peters was a state park ranger and came in to get artificial trees. Post gave him a deal on “scrawny little ones,” Peters said, to groans from Post.
“Rick and I like to sing together,” Post said.
“‘I’m in the Mood for Love,’ that was yesterday’s song,” Peters said.
Post tried to think of other stories and recalled the arrival of new technology.
“I remember when we first got radios at True Value,” he said. “The first thing that ever went over the radio was the toilet flushing.”
The three men laughed, saying that still sometimes happens. It reminded Wishon about another story involving radios.
“When we were getting ready for the (Routt County) CattleWomen Association (barbecue), Doug roped me into getting into the dunk tank,” Wishon said. “The day before, Doug kept going into the bathroom – ‘whoosh’ – saying, ‘Kirk, this is the sound of you.'”
As the men’s laughter slowed and stopped, they fell into silence. The three looked in different directions but seemed to share a thought.
“It’s going to be weird,” Post said.
The other men quietly agreed.
“We need to figure out who’s going to do the hooting and the hollering,” Wishon said.
Post will say goodbye to several communities. He’s an avid fly fisherman and a musician, and he and Christi are active with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
His time at Ace has led him to several sweet fly fishing spots on private property – though, true to fisherman form, he wouldn’t reveal them.
“There’s probably nobody in town who has better fishing access,” Schlapkohl said. “He’s schmoozed with everybody.”
Post and several fellow Witnesses also set up a “geezer weekend” each year, to rent a cabin and cross-country ski, play music, eat and socialize. He’s leaving town before it happens this year.
One of his friends who shares in that fun, Tom Williams, dropped by the store while Post was telling his story. He and Post take trips together with their wives, going to places such as South Padre Island and Wyoming. They met while worshiping.
Williams joked that he wouldn’t come to Ace if Post weren’t there.
“It’s why I shop here,” he said.
“You lie like a rug,” Post burst out, laughing. “You shop here because it’s the only place you can go. You’ve been kicked out of every place.”
The jokes and that laughter are all part of what Post calls “rock ‘n’ roll hardware.” That’s part of what he loves – the showmanship of selling – and he treats all of his customers as friends.
That’s what he’ll miss, Post said: those customers who brighten his day.
“There are hundreds of people that come in here and shop that I just really enjoy talking to,” Post said. “I ask about their families, lives, really just get to know them. It’s not just, ‘Here’s your plumbing part and see you later.'”
Post had one message for the community he’s known for nearly 30 years: “Thanks for playing,” he said. “Thanks for playing with me.”
– To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234 or e-mail email@example.com
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