Goodman's Historic Department Store
The Goodman's legacy began long before the establishment of Goodman’s Dept. Store. This ongoing saga began with David Lowenstein sometime during the 1860’s, when David immigrated to New York City from Germany to live with an older sister. Soon after moving to the big city, David realized he wasn’t quite made out for the city life and arrived in Denver in the late 1860’s. After his stay in Denver he made his way to the San Luis Valley and later to Lake City, where he starting his first business being a cigar and tobacco shop. Later, he bought a liquor business and pool hall, which was eventually changed in to a wholesale liquor business with multiple outlets located in Telluride, Silverton and Rico.
“The building that housed the saloon and liquor store is still standing in Lake City,” says Goodman's current propietor Bob Goodman. “It’s where the Hole-in-the-Wall liquor store is.”
David developed a very strong friendship with a doctor in the area by the name of Dr. Sam Rapp by the 1880’s. When Sam’s sister Fannie came to visit him, David naturally developed an even stronger relationship with her. As expected the two of them married later in Lake City.
David’s new wife Fannie wasn’t too fond of the liquor store business, so the sold it and moved to Silverton, Colorado. This was not a long-lived move as Silverton was just about to go “bust” so the Lowenstein’s moved on to Durango where the started a grocery store only a block from the Historic Strater Hotel. During their time, while living in Durango in 1891, Bob Goodman’s grandmother Hortense, was born.
After selling the grocery store in 1899, according to old ledgers, the three moved to Pagosa Springs. It is here that David purchased a little store (Goodman’s) that was 12 1/2 X 35 feet and sold “Gent’s Furnishings,” and called it Lowenstein’s Gent’s Furnishings. Around this time, the big saw mill in Pagosa was running, as well as the big sawmill in Edith, and the railroads were constantly bringing in new people. Most of the logging crews consisted of Finns, Norwegians and Swedes.
“These people were pretty poor,” Bob said. “Most of them only had one pair of shoes and, most likely, one pair of socks to go with them. So when they’d come in on Saturdays in search of new shoes it could get pretty smelly in here. David would bring in a jar of limburgher cheese and place the jar under the bench so he couldn’t tell if it was the cheese or the shoes and socks.”
This continuous problem of the strong foot odor is what led to the development of Dave Lowenstein’s famous “Odorless Socks.”
“The longer you wear them the stronger they get. You put them in water they don’t even get wet.”
David bought his house that stood where the current middle school now exists and lived there until he died in 1921. Fannie as well died around this time in 1919 either of “bride’s disease” or “dropsy.”
Hortense went on to continue school at the old Pagosa High School on top of the big hill until it was burn down. Hortense was quite an adventurous pioneer. She was the first woman to drive her 1915 Jackrabbit over Wolf Creek Pass on a treacherous one lane road. Following the death of her father, she moved to St. Louis to stay with cousins while one of David’s employees named Walt Hill ran the store for a while. It was there that she met Louis Goodman. At the time she showed no interest in settling down, but Louis still followed her back to Colorado.
“Eventually she became more practical about it when she realized she couldn’t manage the business by herself,” Bob said. “Finally she said ‘I need a manager. I’m single. You’re single. So we have a deal or not?’ ”
Louis and Hortense went on to get married in November of 1922. They then came back to Pagosa Springs and took over the operation of the family business, later renaming it “Goodman’s.” Louis then expanded the store’s line to include women’s things as well. Along with women’s attire Goodman’s carried wedding dresses and veils, suits and wedding rungs (all $35 and below). Hortense also made wedding bouquets out of artificial flowers, due to the fact that at that time there was no such thing as fresh flowers at a wedding.
Due to the expansion of their products and lack of space, the two decided to enlarge the store in 1929. They hired gentlemen by the name of Axel Nelson to construct the new building out of solid concrete. They chose this material because there had been a lot of fires around that time that wiped out several other businesses in the area. The concrete was 16 inches thick with barbed wire reinforcement, and was built over the old store building. The construction would be fire resistant along all sides of the store, leaving only the roof vulnerable to the fires. During the construction of the new building, the store remained open having to constantly move the merchandise around to accommodate the contractor. They did not lose one day of business. After the finishing of the new building the old building was dismantled and carried out the front door piece by piece.
With the extra room available, Goodman’s starting to carry cowboy hats, boots, jeans, and other western things. Surprisingly, Louis was one of Phil Miller’s (of today’s Miller/ Stockman) first clients buying hats, Levis and boots.
Dave Goodman, son of Louis and Hortense, was born in 1923. After serving in the service in the Philippine Islands and Japan during World War II, Dave decided to join the family business in 1946. Dave remained true to the family tradition, and worked daily to improve the store and expand the lines offered to their customers. Along with the expansion of the lines Goodman’s carried they moved more into the western field. Goodman’s became one of boot maker Tony Lama’s first clients selling the many varieties of boots they had to offer. They as well started to carry a lot of items specifically for their Indian clientele. They began to carry Pendleton shawls and blankets, as Dave became very familiar with the plant manager, Mr. Buchannon in the 1920’s.
The store built up a strong trade with the Indians at the time because there weren’t very many stores that carried specific Indian goods other than Goodman’s and a trading post in Dulce, and Max Reed’s in Lumberton.
“The Indians came a long way to shop in the store,” said Bob. “When it was cold, they were invited to have their picnic around the floor furnace here in the store. It was so much like sitting around the fire; they would occasionally throw chicken bones down the furnace, like they would into the fire. It was a problem, but they were such good customers no one ever said anything.”
Dave married Dorothy Hawks in 1952. She had been a teacher who loved to teach, but was needed to help with operation and bookkeeping of the store, so she left her teaching position and joined her husband to assist the store.
Business was thriving for Goodman’s and the need for expanded space to allow Goodman’s to carry more merchandise was necessary. An addition to the store was built behind the store in 1957. Still, more space was needed so the Goodman’s built another building adjacent to their location. Hortense became known as “Granny Goodman” and worked for 66 years in the family’s store.
Dave and Dorothy’s 2nd son of 3 children, Robert Goodman, came into the family business after his graduation from the University of Northern Colorado in 1977. He formally took over management from Dave and Dorothy as today’s proprietor of Goodman’s in 1981.
Currently Bob Goodman has maintained the same old time feel of Goodman’s as well as remodel and modernizes the store, and expand the lines of merchandise as did those before him. The business is run by himself as well as his wife Valerie, and their two daughters Jordan, 21, and Hayley, 18.
“The store stands on the original site of the first store, which was built immediately after the Fort Lewis barracks were removed,” Bob said. “When we remodeled we tried very hard to keep the feel of the store intact. We even had the tin roof of the original store matched for the addition. This is it though; the next remodel will be in my children’s generation.”