DENVER - Lefty Martin has left Colorado Boulevard.
Well, his store left Colorado Boulevard before the turn of the century, but now his name is gone too.
"It's been 20 years and everything's changing; the gentrification of the neighborhood. It's really come to the point where we needed to upgrade our store," said Chuck Ewing, CEO and owner of Appliance Factory and Mattress Kingdom. "We bought the building in 1999, almost 20 years ago, and we left the sign up because everyone knows that it was the Lefty Martin store."
This summer, the Lefty Martin sign -- which used to be neon -- and the 30-foot vertical appliance sign were taken off of the Appliance Factory and Mattress Kingdom location at 2816 Colorado Boulevard.
"We decided that it was time, after almost 20 years, for us to take down the Lefty Martin sign and redo the store and upgrade it," said Ewing.
He said he hasn't heard from anyone about the signs being taken down. This story might change that.
"There wasn't any requirement to check with the community, and so we didn't talk to them," said Ewing. "In hindsight, maybe we should have."
Martin opened his store on Colorado Boulevard on Aug. 21, 1961, replacing Fischer Auto Supply. Based on documents provided by Denver Community Planning and Development, the store was 60 percent radio, hi-fi, stereo, television and small appliance sales and 40 percent refrigerators, ranges, washers, driers, freezers and household appliances.
"I like the historical part of the 'Lefty Martin' and the business there, and we've been able to keep it open as an appliance company, which I feel really good about because a lot of independent businesses are struggling," said Ewing. "We left it up for a long time, and on purpose, because it's Lefty Martin, everybody knows that it's Lefty Martin. We've had a lot of new people move into our neighborhood and into our communities, and it's kind of lost its recognition."
The sign had to be cut in half to take it from the store to the Appliance Factory and Mattress Kingdom corporate warehouse near Interstate 25 and 84th Avenue.
"We had people approach us. We've had 'Save Our Signs' approach us, and then some local people, about preserving the sign," said Ewing. "It's a piece of nostalgia, it's a piece of Denver."
There was also a vertical sign that said "Appliances" that was taken down along with the 'Lefty Martin' sign. It turns out, that vertical sign was out of code.
"It was really hard to work on that sign because it was 30 feet in the air, straight up," said Ewing.
Ultimately, Ewing said the decision was based on business.
"We looked at it and we needed to upgrade it to make it more appealing for people to come in. The business has not been particularly strong at that location and we needed to do something to make that business more viable," said Ewing. "Progress can be difficult, and to be honest, we waited a long time before we changed the front of the building because we knew Lefty Martin had been there for a long time. It wasn't something that we did lightly, but we decided that we really needed to change the signage and upgrade it to make the business successful there so people could identify it as Appliance Factory and Mattress Kingdom."
There will be a new addition, though. The store is preparing to install a 10-by-12 feet sign that will be visible from both directions of Colorado Boulevard.
Look for our story about that sign being taken down 56 years from now.
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