GOLDEN, Colo. — A guided tour walks by Arapahoe Street in Golden, stopping to hear the history of the gold rush town, given by a man in a cowboy hat and tweed vest. They talk about the 1850’s and the history of how the area was founded, as they sit in the literal shadow of another piece of Golden’s history: the family-owned hardware store behind them.
“A lot of history that goes way back,” Steve Shaefer said with a smile.
While the town itself was founded by gold rushers and settlers, it was also built, in some small part, using the tools and materials from Meyer Hardware.
“My grandparents started the store back in 1945,” Schaefer, now the owner, told Denver7.
It started in the 40s along Washington Avenue, at the base of the well-known Golden Arch. The store would expand to take up several storefronts along the main street, and would lead to the building of a new store in the 1970s.
“I would say it’s definitely a mainstay, one of the foundation businesses of the town,” Steve said.
Meyer Hardware would be passed down over three generations, in operation for 76 years.
“I’ve been here actually 56 years. I started here when I was 10 years old,” Steve added.
But, like the gold rushers before him, time catches up.
“It’s been a bittersweet decision to make,” the owner said.
Meyer Hardware is now in its final days. Saturday will be the last day in business.
“People ask me why are we getting out. That’s the hard part,” Steve said. “It’s time to step back while I have my health and be able to spend time with my family and my grandkids.”
Following a liquidation sale, the store, once full of 60,000 pieces of merchandise, sits almost empty. It could be managed and manned by Steve and maybe one more employee, yet the store’s full staff is still there, working their normal shifts.
“Many have been here many, many years. They're very dedicated and supportive," he said. "I wanted to make it right for them.”
Steve calls the staff a family, and part of it is family. His brother Jim has worked at the store for 49 years.
“He’s been an integral part of Meyer Hardware,” the owner said,
When the store closes its doors, tour guides that walk by may not include it in their spiel. But that doesn’t mean the store will simply disappear.
“We’ve been in contact with the (history) museum. There will be things we will be donating to that to try to continue the legacy of the Meyer family,” Steve said.
Seventy-six years is a long time for a family-run business to be in business. After that much time, putting more than a half a century in himself, Steve came to a difficult but simple conclusion.
“It’s time,” Steve said.