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Monday, September 14, 2009

Starr’s Clothing: 95 Years and shining brighter than ever.


Starr’s Clothing is without a doubt a Boulder institution. For 95 years they have been in Downtown Boulder providing quality clothing to the populace for multiple generations. When Ben Wigotow started in the store 1914, Boulder had just 31,000 residents with miners still in the hills. A recent immigrant from Russia, who was traveling west and stopped in Denver to visit a sister, Wigotow bought his first store at 1025 Pearl Street for $10. He starting selling suits and dry goods, making trips into the mountains to retail his wares to the mining community. Little did he know that over nine decades later his store would stand the test of time.

Although the name has changed (Originally known as A Star Show and Clothing Company), today’s third generation has kept the ethos that has made it such a lasting success. “Selling work clothes has always tapped into the spirit of Boulder,” owner Karen Wigotow says. “Starr’s was always a working man’s establishment where the Levis wall was always prominent. “ Now, 95 years later, customers who went to college here a generation bring their kids in, remarking that “his is where I bought my first hiking boots,” relates Karen Wigotow Having a store that has evolved with Boulder means the Wigotow family has seen the shifts in clients from miners to housewives, and hippies to yuppies. “ We’ve survived a lot of changes, and seen a lot move in and out…every 10 years it’s different, but the core customers always come back, ” said Wigotow.

And although they have moved their address over the years , home was always in Downtown Boulder, usually on or near the 1700 block of Pearl, where most customers remember this venerable institution. In 1947, Ben’s son became owner. He and his wife lived above the store on 17th and Pearl until his death in 1973. In fact the building still bears the old Starr's clothing logo on the alley side. George, like his father before him, made it a point to befriend his customers. “Everyone who comes in is our friend,” remarked Karen Wigotow, who has worked at Starr’s with husband Steve Wigotow since 1973. “We love to hear stories from the customer.” Karen recalls the old space across 17th Street that used to be an old Safeway before it housed Starr’s twin men and women’s’ stores. She still has customers come in who remember the unique floor and reminisce about playing hopscotch on its patterns, or playing under the stairs while their mothers shopped the two story store.

Karen and Steve have owned Starr’s for over a decade, picking up right where father George and Grandfather Ben left off. The key to their longevity on Pearl Street? “We always try to stay with the relaxed Boulder lifestyle as our key along with quality and style…we keep an interesting mix that is different from all the stores.” Karen adds, “By being local we are able to change with our customers more quickly than the chain stores and really get to know them on a more personal level.” With brands like Free People, Tommy Bahama, Levis, Carhartt, Lucky Brand, Royal Robbins and Columbia sportswear, Starr’s continues to attract new customers while being there for the generations that have relied on its quality for over nine decades. With four generations of Wigotows having worked at some point in the store, Starr’s Clothing has no plans of slowing down. “We are already making plans for our 100th Birthday bash!” Happy 95th anniversary to a Downtown Boulder landmark.

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