ASPEN - Aspen will mark the closing of a local institution in April, when longtime family-run ski shop Pomeroy Sports shuts its doors, but owner Tom Anderson will retire without regrets after 55 years in a profession he loves, most of them in a town he loves.
"We'll be sad, and happy, and that's OK," he said Tuesday in his basement office, surrounded by skis, photographs and memorabilia that suggest a man who adores his family, the outdoors and the ski resort he has called home since 1970.
The store's springtime closing, he stressed, signals nothing more than time for a change.
"It was a great community to do business in - it still is," he said.
Anderson and his wife, Janny, bought the business from Jim Pomeroy in 1979, a few years after it opened. Later, they also purchased the commercial space it occupies, facing out on the corner of Hunter and Durant. It was a fortunate decision.
Aspen's then-new pedestrian malls were the retail hot spot, and others in the ski business told Anderson he was crazy for solidifying his position several blocks away.
"I just had a feeling this was the spot to be," he said.
A few years later, the Silver Queen Gondola was constructed, and the plaza directly across Durant Avenue from Pomeroy Sports became the main portal to Aspen Mountain. A retailer could hardly choose a better spot to sell and rent ski gear, tune skis and sell skiwear.
"I decided if I'm going to have a ski shop, I'm going to have the best ski shop, and I'm going to have it in the best ski town in the U.S.," Anderson said. Later, he would add "right at the bottom of the best ski mountain," to that list.
The shop was the culmination of a dream in the making long before the Andersons made Aspen home.
When he was growing up in Minneapolis, it was a ski visit to Aspen in the mid-1950s with his parents that put the town on Anderson's radar. He wound up back at the resort after college, working an assortment of odd jobs until he landed in skiwear magnate Klaus Obermeyer's employ. By then, Anderson knew he wanted to work in the ski business.
He eventually moved back to Minneapolis to become Midwest sales manager for Sport Obermeyer before changing jobs and opening the ski shop at Dayton's, a Minneapolis department store. Tom and Janny married in 1960, opened the tiny Le Ski Hut in Wayzata, Minn., in 1963 and ran the store until they moved to Aspen in 1970 with daughters Debbie and Jill in tow.
"I guess the big reason for coming to Aspen was the love of the town, the skiing," Anderson said.
Like other longtime locals, he has watched the town change and grow, but he hasn't lost his reverence for the place.
"Aspen has kept its natural flavor, I always say. There is nothing but good about Aspen, Colorado," he said.
Now, the pending close of Pomeroy Sports on April 30, after ski season, marks the end of a chapter for Aspen. The shop has long been part of the community's fabric, employing countless locals over the course of its existence and, in some cases, their children. Anderson counts friends around the globe who have been his customers.
While daughter Jill pursued a teaching career, her husband, Mark Pisani, was formerly Pomeroy's financial officer. Debbie, who successfully battled leukemia in recent years, handles all the merchandise buying for the store while her husband, Gus Kadota, runs the day-to-day operations. Most days find Anderson there as well, though Janny retired from her own retail career several years ago after operating the Freudian Slip lingerie shop in Aspen for 35 years, much of that span in a space that is now part of Pomeroy Sports.
Janny is ready to see more of her husband and, at 75, he is ready to retire, though the couple has no plans to leave. They moved into a home they built in Snowmass Village last summer.
The family has sold the store's commercial space (the deal closed last month) and has decided to close the store, as well. Logical successors Debbie and Gus, too, are ready to move on to whatever comes next.
"You know, things change. Things come to an end," Anderson said philosophically. "It was a good run, and it's something to be proud of."