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After five years of visiting, snowbirds Bob and Sandy White moved south permanently to Las Cruces a couple of years ago, when Bob’s doctors told him the high altitude of their beloved home near Cuchara, Colorado, was bad for his health.
“We have two stores in Colorado, a couple running them,” Sandy said. “We couldn’t go home last summer because of COVID-19. He gets all antsy, and the doctors told him if you are so bored, open a store down there. So, he did.”
The Whites opened their store in Mesilla Jan. 2. Bob turned 86 Jan. 11.
“They say that’s what keeps him going,” Sandy said.
The couple has had their two Colorado stores for 21 years, having opened them after they retired. Sandy was a medical assistant and Bob the director of a local Disabled American Veterans group.
The Cuchara stores are tourism based. The town is in south-central Colorado, about 40 miles northwest of Trinidad, near the San Isabel National Forest.
Their stores, including the one in Mesilla, Dakota Dukes Wild Coyotee, have a lot of tourism-related stuff but hold surprises for the locals, too.
And, while Sandy continuously brags on Bob and his doggedness, working 7 days a week and keeping everything going, she keeps busy herself making much of the jewelry at the store, including mask holders, glasses holders, earrings, hair clips, hair ties, necklaces, bookmarks and key chains, just for starters.
The store also sells t-shirts, sweatshirts, birdhouses, toys, essential oils, canes and handmade wooden bowls. There are goat milk soaps and lotions, CBD oil and salve, too.
“We invite anyone to compare our prices to others,” Bob said.
Along one wall and around a corner, the unique and tasty products of The Amish Buggy out of Newton, Illinois, draws the eye and tickles the salivary glands.
“We have really been selling a lot of the Amish stuff,” Bob said.
Along with some strange and intriguing preserved goods in jar,s like Chow Chow, bread and butter squash, boysenberry jam and corn relish, there are various brittles, chocolate-covered nuts, noodles and caramels in sea salt, vanilla and butter-rum flavors.
“Those noodles are fabulous,” Sandy said of one of her favorite products.
“We’ve had these products for 21 years in Colorado, and their products are fantastic,” Bob said. “I’ve known that company for a long time and never had one complaint about their products. People love it.”
Bob said the main goal for him is customer service.
“That’s how we do business,” he said. “Customer service is 75 percent of any business. If you can’t give customer service, you are doomed for failure. I just want to take care of the people of Mesilla, serve them our different products and serve them in any way we can.”
He is hopeful the store carries the right kind of product, but is happy to adjust the stock.
“We may not have all the right things, but we will find them,” he said.
Bob said he has too much to do yet with his life.
“I’m just getting started,” he said.
The store is in a little plaza at 2470 Calle De Guadalupe, behind the Mesilla Valley Fine Arts Gallery, across from La Posta.