Long-time local Annabeth Lockhart speaks at Brown Bag Lunch Series
Steamboat Springs — There was once a time in Steamboat Springs when there was no telephone service, neighbors were family or friends and the F.M. Light & Sons yellow signs were found on a horseback riding trail rather than along the highway.
Friday afternoon, Annabeth Lockhart, granddaughter of F.M. Light, spoke about the history of Steamboat’s oldest store in “F.M. Light & Sons: 110 Years of History” at the Tread of Pioneers Museum’s Brown Bag Lecture Series. She also spoke about her book, “F.M. Light & Sons: One Vision, One Store, 100 Years.”
Lockhart spoke about her family’s history and how they got their start in opening Steamboat’s oldest retail store. With the intent to get out of Ohio, her grandfather F.M. Light set out for Steamboat Springs in 1905 on a train with his wife and seven children who ranged in age from 11 months to 17 years old.
“He had never been in retail before,” Lockhart said. “But he did his research to find the best place for a retail store. He found that 75 feet from an intersection was the best place for one. Opening day of the store was Nov. 9, 1905.”
One of the unique aspects of the store, Lockhart recalled, was the fact that her grandfather kept detailed records of every customer’s preferences for hats, shirts and shoes. Denim, she said, wasn’t a popular item when the store first opened, because men still wore suits. It wasn’t until 1909 that denim became a hot commodity.
“Everything was cheaper back then,” she said. “Some of the most popular things sold were the hats, shoes and suits. Now, it’s boots. They have a good supply of boots.”
Another philosophy that guided Light’s business was the phrase, “The customer is always right.” A poster that listed “the qualities of a customer” was posted in the store as a reminder of his commitment to customer service.
When Lockhart was growing up, there were only 1,800 people living in town, at least that’s what her mother told her. Lockhart said she has fond memories of visiting Audrey’s Candy Shop, which used to be located on Lincoln Avenue between Seventh and Eighth streets, and attending Steamboat’s first Winter Carnival events, which now are a local tradition.
“I remember the day they started the band on skis at the Winter Carnival,” said Lockhart. “I was in fifth grade and the director just had this idea one day at rehearsals and said, why don’t you bring your skis tomorrow?”
Her presentation came to a close with a question-and-answer session and the opportunity for luncheon attendees to look at a display of historic photos and old F.M. Light & Sons signs.
The next Brown Bag Lecture Series will take held at noon Friday, Aug. 21 featuring “Hahn’s Peak: Boom to Bust,” with Becky Hick, a former history teacher and Hahns Peak Historical Society board member, discussing the history of North Routt’s gold mining industry.
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