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June birthday special one for R & R Market

Posted: Tuesday, Jun 26th, 2007

Photos by Larry Winget The R & R Market in San Luis, as it appears in June of 2007, 150 years after its first day of business on June 23, 1857. The business is the oldest retail store in Colorado.


older than Front Range communities


SAN LUIS — Colorado’s oldest retail business, today known as the R and R Market, in the town of San Luis, is set this summer to celebrate 150 years in business. Not only has the store completed a century and a half in business, it has been in the hands of a single family the entire time. The store is currently owned and operated by Felix Romero, great-great-grandson of founder Jose Dario Gallegos, and Romero’s mother Joyce Romero.

When Gallegos started what he called the Gallegos Store, in San Luis, he took mule trains over La Veta Pass, down the Arkansas River and on to St. Louis, Missouri, and Independence, Kansas, for his supplies. He didn’t go to Pueblo, Colorado Springs or Denver because those cities did not exist. The store was opened on June 23, 1857, years before any of Colorado’s Front Range cities were established.

On June 30, 2007, the Romero family is hosting a celebration of the store’s history. The event is to take place in San Luis and will include a Mass celebrated by San Luis’s Father Pat Valdez, a history presentation featuring guest speaker Dr. Modupe Lobode, of the Colorado Historical Society, a chili cook-off, an arts fair, and music by the student-centered band Mariachi San Luis.

Gallegos’ descendent and daughter of Joyce Romero, Emerito Romero-Anderson, will introduce her book about the store’s founder, titled “Jose Dario Gallegos-Merchant of the Santa Fe Trail,” at the century-and-a-half festival.

Romero-Anderson said she wrote the book to document “the first established mercantile in the state.” She said her grandfather built the store’s original adobe building. The enterprise has suffered two devastating fires since then; one in 1895 and again in 1947. The building once included the Don Carlos Hotel on its second floor and today the hotel has been made into apartments. Her book also tells some of the story of her family’s 16 generations in the area. “Our family was in New Mexico prior to the 1680 revolt,” she said. In that action Native Americans killed or expelled all Spanish soldiers, priests and other representatives from the area.

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