A Foss Loss

As a longtime fan of Foss General Store, a landmark in Golden since 1913, I was heartsick to discover that it's slated to close soon -- another victim of that bane to small-town businesses everywhere, the Big Box Store. But upon dropping by on Saturday, July 28, smack in the middle of Golden's annual Buffalo Bill Days celebration, another emotion joined my overall melancholy: a tremendous desire to pick the old joint's bones.

Although some old-timers lament Foss' transition during the past decade or two from a quaint throwback reminiscent of a previous retail generation to a more self-conscious establishment partly geared to tourists, the place retained plenty of its eccentricities: a wall of candy pocked with brands that haven't been regularly stocked in supermarkets for decades, a built-in liquor store with a tendency toward trashiness (love the selection of fine Elvis Presley wines), and oversized curios such as pinball machines, antique signage and more. It's as much a pop-culture museum as a standard shopping stop, and losing it means a gut-shot to downtown Golden's personality.

On the 28th, Foss was packed with others who felt the same way, as well as plain old bargain hunters, most of whom seemed to have a powerful thirst; the couple in front of me and my clan in the checkout line purchased enough hooch to have kept Charles Bukowski happy for a week. As for us, we picked up different types of necessities: a coat rack from Chile that looks like it can double as a torture device, an oversized thermometer advertising free foot checks courtesy of your neighborhood Dr. Scholl's dealer, a bag filled with weird sweets (love them vanilla Cow Tales), and a male torso mannequin to match a female one I dug out of a dumpster as a high schooler. Her name is Venus, so, of course, we've dubbed the new one Milo.

The woman who rang up our purchases laughingly revealed that she'd already put her name on a Milo of her own. She was less chipper, however, when discussing Foss' impending closure. The idea was to keep it open into September, she said, but with the rate everything from racks and shelving to souvenir t-shirts were flying out the door, she thought the end might be nearer.

So for you Foss fans, don't wait: Stop by today, and bid a fond farewell to a Colorado favorite. And as you leave, take a little of its weirdness with you. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts