It was a different time and different place when the Harris family boarded a plane in Ohio headed for Colorado. Bill and Kate Harris and son Greg, twenty one at the time, were looking for a viable business opportunity in the colorful state of Colorado, when they quite literally stumbled upon the Fraser Valley Ace Hardware property in downtown Fraser.
Greg Harris, one of three sons said, “We were not looking for a hardware store, we had actually been looking for any opportunity that seemed to have appeal.” We borrowed a truck in Colorado Springs and had been traveling around looking at property management opportunities, hotels or anything we could make work.
It was the end of a long day of exploration and we were on our way out of town, when, quite by chance, we saw a tiny sign that said ‘PROPERTY FOR SALE’ in a small hardware store window, the original Fraser Ace building, where Icebox Mountain Sports is located today. The little shop was owned by Ron Irwin and looked more like a tool shop than a hardware store. Not knowing anything about the hardware store business, the Harris family decided to investigate, and, after chatting with Ron, they decided that they could make it work. Literally overnight, the family put in an offer and secured a deal with Ron, who said, “ I’ll stay on and help you get it started”. Three weeks later, they had the family belongings packed in a truck headed west.
Jenny Harris, who grew up in Grand County and married Greg in 1981, recalls “At one point, Bill, Kate and all three Harris brothers and their wives were running to keep up with the business demands. The timing was right. The Fraser Valley started to take off and we got in at the right time.”
Next generation, Rochelle Harris-Gould said, “I grew up in the store, playing in the isles, and, today you can occasionally find my daughter Hanna, if you look. It’s amazing, we have been a part of the Fraser Valley for forty years. There are literally parts and pieces of our business in just about every home in the valley.”
The 40th Celebration was also a 4th generation of family members. The celebration also took place of the first birthday of Claira Armstrong, daughter to Stacy and “Grillmaster” Nick, who had on her own special pink tee shirt proclaiming her place, as the next generation in this local business story.
One Family. One Business. Forty Years.