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100 years of nearly everything

Caramie Schnell

This year marks the 100th birthday of The Eagle Pharmacy, otherwise known as The Nearly Everything store. And if you haven’t been in the store for a while (or ever, for that matter), they’re not lying. It’s a wonder the store doesn’t feel cluttered considering how many items they carry. From children’s toys, to hunting and camping gear, to pet food the pharmacy has a little bit of it all.Originally the name “The Nearly Everything” Store was a joke, according to owner Annie Colby. It wasn’t meant to stick; yet somehow it did.”That’s not an official name at all we’re the Eagle Pharmacy. Before we enlarged we always used to say we were the stuffed-little-store-that-thought-big. When we expanded in ’87, we decided to do something funny on the marquee.”And now the new people in town don’t even know that the store is a pharmacy anymore. They call it the “Everything Store,” even dropping the “Nearly,” Colby said.”A lot of times people will call and we’ll answer, ‘Eagle Pharmacy,’ and they’ll hang up because they think they have the wrong number.”For many, the store is not only a familiar site on the corner of Broadway and Third in downtown Eagle, it’s a convenience that county residents take advantage of weekly.”I’m in the pharmacy, at minimum, once a week, whether it be for batteries or a card or even a nice gift,” Eagle resident Jody Cox said.”The store has been a part of our lives and my kids lives for so long,” Cox said, ” I can’t imagine life without it.”Al Hoza is the face behind the store that old-timers will recall. In 1966 Al and his wife, Mary, moved their nine children from Colorado Springs to the small cowboy town of Eagle.”We had lived in Colorado Springs for 15 years,” Al remembers. “We decided since we were coming to the mountains every weekend to hunt or fish, why not move (here)?”Colby remembers that year quite fondly.”There were nine of us kids at the time,” she said. “We thought we’d died and moved to heaven. There was so much snow that year, it was in the middle of winter and there must have been four-feet of snow on the ground.”The store was truly a family venture for the Hoza’s.”We used all (the kid’s) savings when we bought the store. We cleaned out every account,” Hoza said.At that time the store was open seven days a week from eight in the morning until eight at night. During the days Al ran the store and acted as pharmacist and restocked the shelves and worked on the books at night.After the store closed each night, Colby remembers her dad giving the kids (which numbered 11 in all) full-reign of the store.”Us kids learned how to run the store by playing,” Colby said. “He’d close out the cash register and we’d all take turns being cashiers and shoppers. That’s how we learned where everything was and how to count out money.”Over the years, each of the kids worked at the family store, though their father, Al, made it a point to not force them into it.For Colby, the store held a special place in her heart from the beginning. Each day after school she would take the bus to the Pharmacy to work, and every weekend she could be found behind the front counter. By the time she was in high school, Al trusted her with the family station wagon. She would make the trek to Denver to do all the buying for the store.The father/daughter team stuck for Colby even after high school.”That was my college education, I always said I went to EPU or Eagle Pharmacy University with Professor Dad,” Colby said with a smile.In 1987 Colby finally talked her dad into expanding the store. One day, after she’d given up asking, he approached her as they were closing up.”I’ll never forget the dayhe came up and said, ‘Well, I think we’re smothering ourselves,’ because by then we had just packed the place. He said, ‘If you do the work, I’ll pay the bills.'”For Colby, that was a deal she was glad to make.After the project was at a no-turning-back point, the two were dismayed to hear that Wal-Mart would indeed be opening in not only Glenwood, but also in Avon.”We accidentally had gotten started early and two months before (Wal-Mart) opened in Glenwood, we actually opened,” Colby said. “We changed peoples attitudes, you’d hear, ‘Oh my gosh, we don’t have to go to Glenwood anymore.'”Now, 38 years after Hoza purchased the corner store, the family business has been passed on to Colby. Meanwhile, Hoza is enjoying retirement.”He still comes in almost every day, though,” Colby said.And both Wal-Mart’s, parked and looming east and west of the little-store-that-could, haven’t proved to be the nemesis people worried.”Not only do our loyal Eagle residents come in, it’s the whole valley,” Colby said. “The people who live up (in Avon) around it, don’t want it, and they come here. The people moving into town are fabulous because they moved here for something like us for that small-town feel.”And besides, how else are those new to town going to know what ‘nearly everything’ looks like?” VTCaramie Schnell can be reached at cschnell@vailtrail.com.


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