Craige’s closing end of era

After 78 years, Craige’s Store is closing the doors to its Church St., Montrose location at the end of this month. Services including custom picture framing, the florist shop and UPS and FedEx shipping will move to Craige’s Photique, east of Montrose on Rt. 706.

BY STACI WILSON

Since 1933 Craige’s Store (formerlyTaylor’s) has been a part of downtown Montrose.

But that era ends Jan. 31 with the shop closing the doors at itsChurch St.location.

“It’s like losing a member of the family,” said Dick Craig, who purchased the store from A. Ralph Taylor in 1975.Taylor’s father, George Taylor opened the store.

The name changed to Craige’s in 1977.

Dick Craige sold the store business to his son, Ron, in 1998 and the photography business to his son, Rick, who opened Craige’s Photique, east of Montrose on Rt. 706.

Ron Craige will move the custom framing shop, florist shop andUPSand FedEx shipping services to the Rt. 706 location.

“Change is hard,” Ron said. “It’s hard to go through.”

But change is sometimes also necessary.

The flat economy coupled with the increased cost of doing business, contributed to his late December decision to close the storefront.

Ron said, “It’s not a great time for small businesses.”

And the rise of box stores has also hurt business, he said. “They don’t help, even though they are 20 miles away.”

Another thing that hurt, Ron said, was the death in 2007 of his business partner Gail Golden, who purchased the business with him.

The extra set of owners hands were an asset, Dick said.

“I could not have operated this store without my wife. I could not imagine Ron doing it without a partner,” Dick said.

“We miss her deeply and dearly,” Ron said of Golden.

“All the little things add up. Mom and Pop shops are getting hard to find,” Ron said.

And Craige’s provided shoppers with the Mom & Pop store atmosphere.

“As far as the store goes,Taylor’s and Craige’s has always been about customer service, whether offering bill paying or custom framing” Ron said.

Those customers, he said, have been asking, “Where are we going to go?” but he also said there have also been a lot of well-wishers.

Through the years, the store changed with the marketplace, with linoleum offered in 1961; to the addition of the photo studio, one-hour photo processing and paint store.

Dick said, “We used to stock about 50 kinds of Venetian blinds. There have been a lot of changes in merchandise as things faded.”

One store employee, Jane Whitesell, has witnessed many of the store changes.

She joined theTaylor’s staff in June 1953 but with the closure of the store, she now plans to retire.

“I’m going to miss the people,” Whitesell said, who has helped thousands of customers through the years.

“It was my second home really. It’s hard to step away,” she said.

Also stepping away are employees Debbie Holbrook and Tracy Luce. And Ron thanked his fellow employees for their service and dedication to the business through the years.

Staff member Elaine Greene, who has over 30 years experience in the floral business, will be part of the move to the Photique.

As of today, Wednesday, Jan. 25, all items store items will be clearance priced at 75 percent. The inventory, fixtures and all equipment will be offered for sale in preparation of the Jan. 31 closing.