Rucksack closing after 45 years |

Rucksack closing after 45 years

Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyNicole Hoffmann, left, manager of the Rucksack store in Vail Village says goodbye to salesman Jim Kent, right, Wednesday after explaining to him why the Rucksack is closing down after 45 years.

VAIL ” Molly Vaughn remembers the Rucksack’s great sticker collection.

She would come to the store as a child for things like stickers, toys, wrapping paper and greeting cards when her family vacationed here from Illinois.

Now, some 17 years after she first visited the store, it’s strange to see it closing its doors, Vaughn said.

“It’s weird because it’s one of the places I always come and send people to,” said Vaughn, who now lives in Vail. “It’s just weird.”

The Rucksack is closing its doors after 45 years on Bridge Street in Vail Village. The general store sells T-shirts, toys, medicine, greeting cards, books and magazines.

It opened in December 1962, during Vail’s first winter. Its last day will be July 13.

One of the owners of the store space, Jeff Selby, is buying out the other owners.

Selby plans to remodel the Rucksack space and not bring back the store, said Nicole Hoffmann, manager of the store.

Selby was traveling Wednesday and could not be reached. Chuck Rosenquist, one of the owners who is being bought out, confirmed that the Rucksack won’t return.

“We enjoyed it, and it was a good store, and it’s time to move on,” Rosenquist said.

Neither Rosenquist nor Hoffmann knew what would replace the Rucksack.

“It’s just kind of a staple in the town,” said Hoffmann, who has worked at the store since 1979. “It’s been here forever and is one of the few things that hasn’t changed.”

There have been lots of celebrities in the store over the years, including Gerald and Betty Ford, who would buy Christmas gifts there, Hoffman said. Robert Redford, O.J. and Nicole Brown Simpson and Joan Rivers also stopped in. Hoffmann’s favorite was Richard Dean Anderson.

“MacGyver,” she said. “I got his autograph.”

Sandi Manning, who works at the Toy Store across the street, was surprised at the news.

“Where are people going to go?” she said. “You have no idea how many people I send to the Rucksack.”

She directs people there for things like Band-Aids, diapers and allergy medication, Manning said.

“I am just stunned and saddened,” she said. “It’s the end of an era.”

Candi Knox, an owner of the Moose’s Caboose across the street, said she would be sad to see the store go.

“It’s going to be harder and harder to have mom and pop stores,” she said.

Art Kelton, who owned the Rucksack in the 1970s, said the Rucksack was a hub of activity in Vail.

“Everything changes,” Kelton said. “It was certainly an institution for a long time,” he said.

Suzie Shepard owned the Rucksack with her then-husband, Ottie Kuehn, in the early ’60s. They sold things like toothpaste, aspirin, Alka-Selzer and Band-Aids, she said. They later added a pharmacy.

She said she wasn’t too sad to see the store go.

“Time marches on,” she said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

Support Local Journalism