It was a single act of vandalism that was the last straw for Fistell's Electronics. "We had an RCA sign on the building and it was stolen last year -- my dad just gave up," says Howard Fistell, whose family has owned Fistell's Electronics since 1936 in some incarnation or another in the Golden Triangle area.
But long before that famed piece of history was swiped from the brick building at 1001 Bannock Street, the company's days were numbered, Fistell says.
Declining sales -- the shop sold parts for television sets, radios and various other electronic devices -- and a changing industry were nails in the coffin, though the family held out for as long as it could.
Once upon a time, Fistell says the shop was the premiere supplier of parts in the region -- back when electronic devices were repaired instead of disposed of. "We sold to every radio and television station and all the radio and TV repair people. We were the hardware store for electronics," he recalls.
His father, David Fistell, started the business in the '30s at a location at 12th and Broadway. A serviceman who also worked on airplane radios out at Lowry Air Force base, he mostly fixed car radios there. But eventually, Fistell's became less a service shop and more of a massive electronics supply warehouse. In the '50s, it settled into 1001 Bannock Street, where the founder also doled out advice and expertise.
Howard Fistell himself is an engineer and wood carver; once the shop is closed for good, he's going to focus on the latter. Along with his siblings, Fistell has been running the operation for a number of years: He'd worked there in his youth, eventually branched off with his own business (Fistell's Micro Electronics resided on Colfax Avenue for two decades), then came back to the family business.
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Fistell laments the changing face of Denver when discussing the Golden Triangle area -- the neighborhood where he was born and raised. "When my dad bought this building, this neighborhood was the dregs of the city," says Fistell.
But Denver was still a great place to grow up, he remembers: "Denver was different then -- it was a safe place to live. Everyone took care of each other."
Fistell's Electronics may live on via the web, but Fistell isn't sure. As of today, the shop's last in business, much of the inventory has been sold off. Once the paperwork is done, the building will be in new hands -- to be redeveloped in a neighborhood where fancy retail and residential complexes are popping up all over.
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