Museum of Northwest Colorado: A family-run hardware store
December 26, 2015
Previously working as a gold miner, logger and iron worker, Tom Rogers came to Craig in 1908, finding employment up on Black Mountain at the sawmill run by Charlie Perkins. It wasn't long before the enterprising Rogers opened up a livery stable with Norman "Dad" Mills on Main Street, just west of Yampa Avenue, near what is now 29 W. Victory Way. Rogers used that as a base to haul lumber and supplies between the sawmill and town.
In 1915, Tom opened a feed store which he later expanded into a hardware store. That small store was in the false-fronted building which is now the west portion of Jackson's Office Supply. Tom's little hardware store served the growing frontier town and was the beginning of a 70-year business in Craig. He was active in his adopted community, serving on the city council, as fire chief and also eight years as a county commissioner. Known as a generous man, he helped many farmers and ranchers survive the depression years because he gave them credit to make it through. Unmarried and without children, Tom also quietly funded college expenses for various young people in the community.
By 1954, Tom's health was starting to fail and he sold his businesses to his two nephews, Charles and Merle. The two men had been helping Rogers in his businesses since the 1930s and were logical choices to take over the thriving enterprises. Charles bought the elevator located on Ranney Street, and Merle purchased the hardware store.
In 1956, cartoonist Chet Klock came to Craig to create his series on local businessmen. He interviewed Merle, who had built his newly acquired business up to include not only seed, hardware, and ranch supplies, but also offer sporting goods and house wares. In 1960, Merle and his wife, Millie, built a large modern addition to the small frame building which had served as a livery five decades earlier. With much fanfare the expanded business opened in April of that year, in the building that today is home to Jackson's Office Supply. After almost seven decades, Rogers Hardware was sold to John Charchalis who later moved it to Sixth Street and Breeze where the Moffat County Social Services is now located.
The hardware store closed in 1980s, but the feed store on Ranney Street continued to operate, and a new hardware store with new owners was built adjacent to the feed store. After Merle and Millie sold the hardware store to Charchalis, they spent their winters in Arizona and their summers in Craig. Later in 2001, they moved to Colorado Springs to be near their daughter. Merle died in 2003, and Millie passed away in 2004.
Craig has been home to numerous hardware stores over the years. There are some businesses that a rural community can do without, but the hardware store is a necessity. The Museum of Northwest Colorado strives to document the history of our local businesses and their owners. These businesses are the lifeblood of our local economy, and their owners are heavily invested in our community on many levels. Be sure to shop local whenever possible; it benefits the entire area.
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The museum will be open for most of this special season, excepting holidays, with free admission as always. Call 970-824-6360 to check on our holiday hours of operation.