Gorsuches brought elegance to Vail’s retail image
“There was a difference in Vail. Everyone wanted Vail to be a success,” said Renie. “Everybody invited us to their homes and told us they were glad we were here. Everybody worked together. We were young and enthusiastic.”
It didn’t take long. With Vail’s booming economy and prime location at the corner of Meadow Drive and Bridge Street, Renie and Dave Gorsuch became premier entrepreneurs.
“People always ask me what it was like,” said Dave. “And I tell them it was a frontier. We came late – we thought we were too late – but hard work and a little luck made the difference.”
It wasn’t long before he was asked to serve on the hospital board. Both Dave and Renie Gorsuch were active in the Vail Mountain School, the church, the annual house tour and the ski club. Their son had dyslexia and wouldn’t have made it in the public-school system. But the Vail Mountain School provided the necessary training to enable him to go on and graduate from college with cum laude distinction.
The Vail Mountain School has been a great asset to the community. Vail Associates donated property for its present location. Along with four other families, the Gorsuches borrowed $5 million from the bank and all signed personally, enabling the school to survive.
The Gorsuches became entrenched in the community and became leading citizens of the new locals. When they say they were lucky to come to Vail, Vail would say the community is lucky because of Renie and Dave Gorsuch.
“In the beginning, your shop, Vail Blanche, was the creme de la creme,” Renie told me. “The others were Ellie’s in Aspen and Pete Lane’s in Sun Valley. I had seen Ellie’s and Pete Lane’s. I always said to Dave that we could sell anything, but what we sell has to be nice. People always ask me why I still work, but I love making the store pretty. I wish we could have a grand opening every year. I don’t think we got anywhere by being smart. I think we made every mistake we could have made. The thing that pulled us through was that we always recognized our mistakes. In the early days, competition between the leading shops was very keen. It was a battle for territorial rights. However, as the businesses grew and became self-sufficient, the atmosphere became more friendly.”
The year 1976 was not a good one. There was very little snow and Vail had just started to install snowmaking machinery. The Gorsuches were having a bad year. But it was also the year they started their catalog business. It was all they could do to stay solvent. As in the past, however, they were survivors.
Renie’s sister, Judy Cox, came to live with them in Vail and became an integral part of the family. Even Dave and Renie’s children called her their “other mother.” Judy was a big help.
The store and the catalog business helped to make the Gorsuch family the toast of the town. They enjoyed what they were doing and became friends with many famous people. In a quiet but effective way, they were admired by almost everyone.
The Gorsuches added European furniture to their ever-increasing business. Their stores are elegant.
“For all those years we worked really hard, and struggled really hard, we never had a day that we didn’t wake up and say we were so lucky to be part of this,” Renie said when asked to give an overview of their time in Vail. “We are so lucky to brush elbows with those who came through our front door. We are grateful that we had the opportunity to live here – to help shape a young community. They were wonderful days. They still are.”
Editor’s Note: In a continued effort to help the community understand its roots, the Vail Daily for a second time is serializing Dick Hauserman’s “The Inventors of Vail.” This is the 109th installment, an excerpt from chapter 12, “The Ever-Increasing “New Locals.” The book is available at Verbatim Booksellers, The Bookworm of Edwards, Pepi’s Sports, Gorsuch Ltd. and The Rucksack, as well as other retailers throughout the valley. Hauserman can be contacted by phone at 926-2895 or by mail at P.O. Box 1410, Edwards CO, 81632.