Two well-known Dodge City business people will retire at the end of the year.
It's all in the family for Merle Kaufman, who operated Lee's TV for 47 years, and Sharon Anglemyer, manage of Southwest Nursery. Kaufman's son, Steve, is married to Anglemyer's daughter, Jan.
Apparently the in-laws get along well because when Kaufman sold his shop on Wyatt Earp Blvd. to the city as part of the highway widening project in 2006, he moved his business to a space in the nursery.
"Now, it's time to close," he said in an interview with the Globe Wednesday.
A new industry
Kaufman started working on TVs in 1956. He went to electronics school in Denver, then worked at shops in Ellsworth and Russell, and came to work for Lee Chartier in Dodge City in May of 1965.
By July, Chartier was ready to move back to Hennessey, Okla., to run the family farm and Kaufman bought the business.
"I kept the name because he had a good business. He'd been gone three years and there were people who still didn't realize he left," Kaufman said.
Lee's TV was located on E. Military at the time and moved to the W. Wyatt Earp location in 1972, between what is now Arbys and Cup of Jo-nes. The shop was too close to the highway so the city purchased the property and demolished the building as part of highway improvements.
Kaufman's decision to close shop was helped along last April when he was injured in a fork lift accident.
"About 400 pounds of those forks fall down on my arm," Kaufman said.
"Luckily, I had my cell phone with me. I could hear the sirens before I got off the phone," he said.
The equipment broke his right arm in three places but medics were more concerned about the gash at the top of his arm that was dangerously close to an artery.
Kaufman was flown to Wichita and returned home a week later.
"I still don't have much use of my right hand," Kaufman said.
And that made the decision to close the shop a little easier.
"I haven't kept up with technology lately. I didn't think I'd work this long," he said.
Kaufman has seen a lot of changes in the television business over the years.
He started selling sets in 1968 and by the early 1970s business was booming.
"I moved a huge stock to the new location — we had them stacked three high — and I thought 'When will I ever sell all that?" but we ran out soon enough," he said.
He remembers seeing color TV for the first time — a J.P. Morgan special in 1956.
Page 2 of 3 - The first big change in technology Kaufman experienced in the business was when electronics went to solid state.
"I used to order a tube that we used a lot 100 at a time and the distributor would give me a dozen T-bone steaks — those I ordered every month or two. And I sold antennas like crazy — I'd order a dozen and they'd throw in one for free."
The industry changed more rapidly as years passed.
"Whenever something new would come out, they'd send up to school for a day," Kaufman said.
The most recent major change Kaufman saw was the advent of flat screens.
"TVs are a good buy now but all the electronics are on one panel and it usually costs more to replace the panel than to buy a new TV, so people just throw them out," he said.
Anglemyer began working for Dick Mueting at Mueting Nursery in the early 1990s to make some extra cash to send to her son, who was in seminary in Denver.
"I worked from February to the first of July, helping in the greenhouse," she said.
"Then when Dick got sick, I went full time."
Anglemyer's daughter and her husband bought the nursery in 2004 and, since they both have full-time jobs, Sharon became the manager.
Anglemyer and her husband have built their dream home in Omaha and will move there at the beginning of January.
"We'll be close to our son, our grand children and great-grand children," Anglemyer said.
They're working on selling the nursery.
"I sure hope it doesn't have to close. That would be a shame," Anglemyer said.
Changes have occurred in the nursery business over the years. Perhaps not as dramatic as the changes in the television business but still significant.
"Nurseries have to diversify – offer more than just trees and plants," Anglemyer said.
"And we start and grow a lot of our own plants now," she said.
Demand for low maintenance landscape products has always been high but recent concern about water shortages and the drought have made customers more aware of conservation practices.
"The trend now it toward what they call zeroscape, which really cuts down on water usage," Anglemyer said.
And more people seem to be interested in trying their hand at gardening.
"They might start with a herb garden or a few tomato plants, nothing like the big gardens people used to have, but people are getting more interested in growing part of their food," Anglemyer said.
When asked what they'll miss the most, both Kaufman and Anglemyer had quick answers: the people.
Page 3 of 3 - "I've made so many wonderful friends here over the years and I will miss them," Anglemyer said.
"I'll miss those loyal customers," Kaufman said.
"I used to make house calls to fix TVs so I knew a lot of the women and not so many of the men, but I'd like to thank them for their business over the years," he said.
"I'd also like to thank the people who helped us out when I got injured," he said.
"I also have to thank the wonderful people and families I've connected with through my health challenges," Anglemyer said.
"That day next week when we load up the last things and head out of Dodge for the last time — that will be hard," she said.