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A day in the life of a business

Special to the Daily/Chris Estes familyRon Estes, pictured here shortly after they opened, and his father built this building at the corner of Valley Road and U.S. Highway 6 in Gypsum 60 years ago. It was a Texaco station until the early 1970s. The building is now Gypsum Valley Feeds, and it's going out of business. The Estes family sold the building and land after 60 years in business there. The entire inventory of tack, feed, supplies and Western wear will be sold off by Saturday.
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GYPSUM ” Some day soon, Chris and Tina Estes will fire up the Trans Am Chris is restoring, hit the gas and go see America, or maybe go fishing ” just as soon as the work is done.

For 50 years your best bet for finding Chris Estes has been the building at the corner of Valley Road and U.S. Highway 6 in Gypsum.

One more day.

Estes and his wife, Tina, sold the one-acre parcel to developer Ron Ward of Edwards. They’re closing their store, Gypsum Valley Feeds, and selling off all the clothes, tack and supplies by tomorrow ” which they say will likely see them working reduced hours because they want to go to the fair, or go fishing, or have some fun. In other words, if you want anything from there you have …

One more day.

The building is 60 years old. In 1946 Chris’s father, Ron, and grandfather built the uncomplicated building to be a gas station, to fuel and repair uncomplicated cars. Chris and his brothers, Rusty and Randy, started working there washing windshields before they were tall enough to reach the glass without a boost.

“We stood on a milk crate so we could get high enough to get the sponge all the way across,” said Estes.

Their grandmother ran a motel in the back and the whole family lived in the house next door. Because he wasn’t allowed to cross the highway, he didn’t know the town contained another kid besides his brother until he went to school.

Gypsum was home to about 200 souls in those days. Hunting season, which was a three-week free-for-all back then, saw them stay open all night, catering to travelers, hunters and locals.

“You make money while you can,” said Chris.

Gas was 30 cents a gallon, so they didn’t make all that much. But they knew every fishing hole in western Eagle County.

Chris is trying to finish restoring his Trans Am before the building is demolished. Or maybe he’ll move it to one of the buildings on the farm ” art cannot be rushed.

One more day.

Their Texaco station had been humming along for a few years when Ron landed in the Army and the Army landed him in Korea. When he returned from the war his father turned the station over to him and he ran it until the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, when Texaco stopped supplying independent stations. Ron turned it over to his sons.

“By then he was tired and he told us kids we could run it for a while,” said Chris.

The gas station business didn’t last long after Texaco pulled out.

The building became an auto repair shop for a while, which gave way to an auto parts store. Chris and Tina made it a feed and western wear store NAPA moved up the street into their own building.

“We were trying to decide what to do with it. That’s what we knew so that’s what we did,” Tina said.

They’re not sure what Ward has in mind for the property, except that he’s paying them to tear down the building.

There’s still a hollow place under the floor where Texaco left its hoist when they cut and ran. Chris said they can have it if they come and get it. But they better hurry.

One more day.

Tina and Chris met at Eagle County High School in Gypsum and it wasn’t long before the two started living happily ever after. (Eagle had its own high school back then. The two schools were eventually consolidated). They still run a cattle and horse farm, bale hay as long as they can each season and do everything else that goes with running a farm.

Tina is one of the area’s best horseback riding teachers. When we went looking for her for this story, we found her coaching kids at the English show at this year’s Eagle County Fair and Rodeo.

“People keep asking us where we’re going, Tina said. “We aren’t going anywhere, except to the farm.

After Saturday, they won’t share the two-job lifestyle so common in Eagle County. The store will cease to exist.

“We have the store and the farm and we really weren’t able to do justice to either one,” Tina said. “So we decided to sell the store and keep the farm.”

In the meantime, there’s the farm to run. As long as the ground is fertile and the sun and rain take turns covering their fields, there will always be hay to cut, rake, dry bale and stack. There will be cattle to raise and horses and people to tend and train.

They might take a little time for fishing, but not until the work is done.

Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado


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