Sunday Profile: Catching up with the Andersons (the clothiers)
After living in seven towns in as many years, Joan and Phil Anderson came to Glenwood Springs hoping to find a permanent place for themselves.
That was in 1954, and the family found more than a home. They would become an institution with their Grand Avenue clothing store.
“Glenwood has been very good to us,” Joan said. “I always said that anyone that would criticize this place would grumble in heaven.”
The Andersons, now both 87, grew up on farms down the road from the same small Nebraska town full of Swedish Lutherans. Both born in 1928, they met in confirmation class during the hard years of the Depression and the Dust Bowl.
“She was born a few days before I was but not very many,” Phil said.
“I said he should respect his elders,” Joan quipped.
They started dating in high school.
“I asked my dad if I could marry her before we were 16,” Phil said.
They actually married two years later, then had their first daughter a year after that.
“Boy does that make you grow up in a hurry,” Phil said.
Phil went to work as a stockroom boy at Hested’s department store, then took a series of manager positions at other outlets.
“In those days, chain stores transferred men pretty fast,” he observed.
Often, Phil would go ahead to get things settled, but when it came time for the move to Glenwood, the whole family came along.
“We’d never heard of Glenwood Springs. People said it was real nice. I was awestruck by the canyon,” Joan recalled. “We got to the entrance and smelled the hot springs and I thought it was a shame in such a pretty area that they put the sewer right next to the town.”
It was February, and the young couple and their three daughters – Monica, Connie, and Angela – ended up staying in the Terra Vista Motel for a month before they found a place to rent. Greg, the youngest, was born at Dr. Nutting’s office on the corner of Ninth Street and Grand Avenue. In 1960, they bought a house on Polo Street – named, possibly, for the time Teddy Roosevelt played the sport there.
With a population of around 3,000, Glenwood was a much quieter community than it is today. As the Andersons recall, there was one day and one night police officer. Groundbreaking was just taking place on Valley View Hospital, and Jack Farnum served as ambulance driver as well as mortician while his brother, Bill, was the postmaster.
It didn’t take the Andersons long to get involved in the community. Joan was the second president of the hospital auxiliary, and Phil was one of the first non-Mennonite members of the board. Their daughter, Angela, has since carried on the family tradition with a year at the helm of the auxiliary.
“There was a great community spirit,” Phil said.
“It was so easy to get acquainted here,” Joan agreed. “You didn’t call first. You just visited people. I didn’t get any work done. I didn’t care. That’s the way we were raised.”
Managing a prominent business helped, too. On Phil’s first day, local business owner Kohler McInnis insisted on taking him out to lunch at the Glenwood Café.
“We had coffee together for as many years as he lived in Glenwood Springs,” Phil recalled. “That became a tradition.”
In later years, their meetings moved to the Hested’s lunch counter. The tradition finally petered out around the time that the couple decided to strike out on their own.
In 1974, they opened Anderson’s Pants Pocket – later Anderson’s Clothing – a “tops and bottoms store” that ended up lasting 40 years.
“We started on a shoestring,” Joan remembered.
They set themselves apart by being willing to adopt the styles of the day. They carried bell bottoms when another store had the corner on regular Levis, but it was leisure suits that really gave them the momentum they needed. They were later able to buy the building, and purchased Wilson’s Taugery – now Miller’s Dry Goods – in 1980.
“We wanted to keep it kind of Western because that’s what the owners had done,” Joan explained.
They also branched out into suit rentals, and at one point were one of the tuxedo companies’ top clients in the state.
“It was pretty competitive,” Phil said. “You had to keep track of things and know what people wanted.”
In 1997, they turned over both stores to their daughter, Monica Miller. Anderson’s Clothing stuck around until 2014, and Miller’s Dry Goods persists to this day.
Now retired, the Andersons live with their dog, Duke the second, in the same house where they raised their children. They have 10 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren, with one more on the way.
Sometimes they take the opportunity to travel, but often to other small towns.
“We like to pull off the Interstate,” Phil said.
And although their hometown has changed, it remains the place they chose to settle down.
“It will always feel like Glenwood to me,” Joan said.
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