Longtime Rifle business Miller’s Dry Goods closes its doors
With only a few racks and shelves of clothing still full and a little over a dozen boots and hats remaining the final days of Miller’s Dry Goods, one of the staple businesses on Third Street in Rifle, have arrived.
Since 1981 Gary and Monica Miller have owned and operated the clothing store nestled in the heart of Rifle.
Monica Miller’s parents Phil and Joan Anderson founded Anderson’s Clothing in Glenwood. Gary Miller said with a little nudging from Phil Anderson and a lot of research the couple purchased the store after Gary Miller decided to leave his job managing Glenwood Hot Springs.
He would come down to Rifle on his days off, look it over, and crunch numbers, and it just worked out.
“We bought the store from the Wilson family, the third generation of the family to own the store,” Gary Miller said.
The building has been home to a clothing store for more than 105 years, he added.
H.C. Wilson opened the store in 1914.
Gary Miller said one of the first obstacles was convincing people they were not upvalley investors moving in.
“It was a challenge down here, because at that time in 1981 Rifle was going crazy. It was just an amazing amount of business, and businesses coming in,” he said.
Monica Miller admitted it took a little more convincing. She said that at first it was hard to move to Rifle, because she was a Glenwood girl and Rifle was their rival.
One of the early lessons of being a business owner was when his first customer walked through the door asking for a donation, Gary Miller said.
“The very first one, we had barely opened the door,” he added.
“We did very good that first year — it was crazy. There were times I thought about staying open 24 hours. On a Thursday night from 6 to 8 p.m. you could make as much as you could in a whole day.”
The Millers said the boom was short-lived and a year to the day they purchased the business, Exxon Corp. pulled out of Rifle. To make matters a little harder they had just put an offer on their home in Rifle a week before.
“It was difficult for us to make it through those years from mid-1982 until Union came in,” Gary Miller said.“(But) we are dang happy where we ended up.”
The Millers hoped to keep the clothing business alive and even stayed in business longer than they had planned.
“This store is one of the oldest clothing stores in Colorado, and it’s definitely the oldest continued-operating business in Rifle,” Gary Miller said.
They hope to travel the United States together, but they both insist that Rifle will remain their home base.
“That’s the best part about being in business here, it keeps you connected to the community and being in the know is great,” Monica Miller said.
“We met so many of our best friends right here in the store. We made a great living, but it’s not near as good as the connections we made.”
The Millers said they closed with the new owners last week and had planned to hand over the keys to the building at the end of the month. With inventory flying off the shelves plans have changed, and they now anticipate Friday and Saturday to be their last days in business.
Gary Miller said the new owners do not have a plan for the building yet, but do plan to update the 117-year-old structure.
“I want the new owners to succeed, I don’t want this building to sit empty, I really don’t,” he said.
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