‘The stars started aligning’: Loadout Liquor purchased by Craig native returning home | CraigDailyPress.com
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‘The stars started aligning’: Loadout Liquor purchased by Craig native returning home

(From left) Neil and Jessica Binder stand for a portrait outside Loadout Liquor. Neil and Jessica Binder took ownership of Loadout Liquor in Craig, Colorado on Dec. 21, 2021.
Billy Schuerman / For the Craig Press

When Ann and Darrel Irvin decided it was time to sell, they weren’t planning on giving away the store to just anybody.

The Loadout Liquor owners, who’d been proprietors of the W. Victory Way shop for 17 years, wanted to find the right folks to take over their longtime project.

“We weren’t gonna sell to just anybody,” Darrel Irvin said. “We wanted somebody to come in and improve it. Keep it going. It’s been here a long time and it’s got a reputation we want to continue.”



So, when a somewhat distant family relation of Ann’s came along with the notion to purchase the store, it seemed perfect.

“This young man and his wife that are buying the liquor store — I suppose he’s my second cousin, his mother is my cousin,” Ann Irvin said. “I’ve lived in Craig my whole life, and this young man lived here through high school, then he’s been out to California, Oregon — he’s super impressive and smart. They wanted to come back home, and he found out about us selling the store. We’re excited about having someone from the family taking it on.”



The young man is Neil Binder. He and his wife, Jess Binder, are the new owners of Loadout Liquor as of Tuesday morning. Jess is from California, and the Binders had been living in Oregon until this opportunity to bring the family back to Neil’s hometown fell in their laps.

“It’s one of those stories where the stars started aligning,” Neil Binder said. “It all fell into place, and we ended up buying it. We’ve been up in Oregon, and part of me has always wanted to come back to the small town where everybody knows everybody. It’s a good town, too, and it’s just been one of those things of how to get back.”

Binder said he’s tried before, but the timing and the factors just haven’t been right. Now it’s different.

(From left) Neil and Jessica Binder stand for a portrait in Loadout Liquor. Neil and Jessica Binder took ownership of Loadout Liquor in Craig, Colorado on Dec. 21, 2021.
Billy Schuerman / For the Craig Press

“It’s always been that puzzle piece that hasn’t quite fit in,” he said. “Then we happened to be visiting one week and found out my cousins were selling this, and holy cow, this could be our option. We sat down and worked it out.”

Neil Binder remembers the store well. Even before the Irvins owned it, his best friend growing up would take him to the store, which was owned in those days by his friend’s grandfather.

“He fondly remembers getting bubblegum there as a kid,” Jess Binder said.

Neil confirms that memory.

“The manager there has been here forever, since it opened, and she gave us candy when me and my best friend went to hang with his grandpa,” he said. “It’s crazy I’m buying this place — and she’s still there.”

The nostalgia of the store and the joy of returning home made this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Binders.

“I’m excited to be back,” Neil Binder said. “Seeing old faces I haven’t seen for 20 years, and now having kids adds another element. For them to grow up in Craig, I’m super excited about that. It’s going to be a good experience for them.”

Jess Binder admitted to being “way out of (her) element,” but said she was pleased to be in her husband’s hometown.

Jessica Binder rings the first transaction as owner of Loadout Liquor in Craig, Colorado on Dec. 21, 2021. Neil and Jessica Binder took ownership of Loadout Liquor on Dec. 21, 2021.
Billy Schuerman / For the Craig Press

“”The white stuff on the ground is a little overwhelming,” she said with a laugh. “But Neil has so many wonderful memories and wonderful stories. To be able to raise our kids with cousins and so much extended family, that makes it completely worth it. We’re excited, nervous, overwhelmed — all the things.”

Neil Binder declares his “heart is in customer service,” and his wife concurs.

“Customer service is me,” he said. “I’ve been a contractor in Oregon, and I see people, but you don’t see a lot of people all the time. That’s where my heart is. I love people.”

The beginning of January, the Binders say, the store will close for a few days to allow the new owners to put their stamp on the store. But customers shouldn’t expect any major changes.

“Everybody, come in, introduce yourselves,” Neil said. “We appreciate the business they’ve given Ann and Darrel and appreciate the new business they’re giving us.”


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