Vacuum store’s traditions still alive after 25 years
When Dwight Griggs was a boy in Buena Vista, he used to marvel at his father's work ethic. He heard Paul Griggs' stories about growing up on a farm, where what
people did in the evening was go to bed early so they could rise before dawn to start on chores, Then, for 31 years, Dwight watched while his dad worked in the
Climax molybdenum mine near Leadville, repairing vacuum cleaners in his spare time over the last 20.
"Dad had a rack on the back porch. People would leave their vacuums there, and he would fix them in our garage and put them back where he found them," Dwight recalled, when asked for memories as part of the 25th anniversary of the West Colorado Avenue store this month.
Along the way, Dwight himself was picking up the tools of the trade - albeit reluctantly. "My brother [Danny] and I spent our childhood trying to avoid it," he grinned, "but Dad would tell us, 'I've got vacuums back there to work on.' "
By 1980, there were signs that Dwight was following in at least some of his father's footsteps. Like his dad, he had gone to work at the Climax mine, with both leaving that year because the mine was closing. And, right afterward, both men started vacuum shops - Dwight in Buena Vista (it's still in business) and Paul in Colorado Springs.
Paul Griggs' original shop was on the east side, off North Carefree Circle, Then father and son heard about a vacuum shop that was moving from 1704 W. Colorado Ave. They decided they liked that side of town better and went in as partners. That was in March 1983, the date the 25th anniversary is tied to.
"The Westside is a little similar to Buena Vista," said Dwight, who still lives in the family home there. "It's like a small town, where you see people you know in the shops."
For some businesses that might mean problems, if the products they sold or fixed did not work well. But not for Paul Griggs. That was one of the key lessons Dwight learned from the man before he died a year and a half ago at age 81: "Treat people right." He realizes a lot of businesses advertise that nowadays; all he can say is that his dad made it an absolute - even in his later years, when he'd become bent over - and now he tries to carry it on. "Dad was a guy you don't meet every day," Dwight said.
The philosophy has paid off for the business, even though casual vacuum shoppers might not recognize some of the brand names on the Griggs showroom floor. The idea is to sell only good-quality, long-lasting vacuums at reasonable prices, based on the family's years of experience in the business. "We're very choosy about the brands we carry," Dwight said, adding that his dad's theory was that you sell someone a good vacuum and then over the next 20 years you just sell them bags and belts for it.
About a year ago, the store moved next door, to 1706 W. Colorado Ave., in conjunction with a major remodel of that set of storefronts by property owner Mike Reeg. At 2,200 square feet, it gave them three times more space… although Dwight has to admit it didn't go as far as he'd anticipated. "We filled up everything from the old store," he chuckled. "We didn't realize how packed in we were."
For most of the 25 years, Griggs was an all-family operation, and even now brother Danny pitches in at times, as well as Dwight's sons, Adam and Aaron. The first exception was eight years ago, when family friend Tony Rodasta started helping out (initially just as a volunteer). Dwight still works on machines himself - he comes down from Buena Vista Wednesdays and weekends -but with an average of 40 repairs a week (including those brought down from Buena Vista), he has a repairman take on much of that load.
It's not as if Dwight has so much time available. He is also employed full-time at the Buena Vista prison. Could that possibly mean he's become as hard a worker as his dad? Dwight just shakes his head. "He probably still thinks I'm lazy," he said.
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