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Feeding all of Golden’s critters

Golden Mill closes after serving the community as a feed store since the 1950s


The Golden Mill served as a gathering place for animal lovers, farmers and ranchers from miles around.

It used to have a large bulletin board where people could advertise hay for sale, a pasture for rent or connect with people looking to buy or sell cattle and horses, recalled Mary Ramstetter, a longtime Golden resident.

“People would come here to get the latest news by word-of-mouth,” Ramstetter said. “They’d tell of fires or floods or missing cattle. They’d pass down the information of the mountains to the town through the feed store.”

At the end of April, the Golden Mill, 1012 Ford St., is closing its doors. A farewell event that doubled as a donation drive to benefit the Foothills Animal Shelter took place on April 28.

“It’s been a labor of love for animals and animal people,” said John Boyle, who began working at the store in 1978 and took over ownership in 2003. “The customers have made the store what it is, and that’s the hardest thing to let go of.”

Boyle, 60, grew up on a ranch in Coal Creek Canyon. Working at the store, then owning and operating it, felt to Boyle as if it were an extension of growing up on a farm, he said. But it was the customers that was the best part of it, Boyle said. They all became family friends, he added.

“Golden has an essence about it that’s hard to describe,” Boyle said. “A lot of people supported this place. It’s a good community, and their support of small businesses is huge.”

Boyle and his wife moved to Florida about two-and-a-half years ago. It became too difficult to own the property and operate a business when living out-of-state, Boyle said. In addition, his children recently opened the nearby JL&B Feed Store in Arvada.

“It just felt like it was time,” Boyle said.

Boyle has been writing a lot — he recently finished memoir called “Ranch Raised” and a fictional story based on his rodeo days in the mid-1980s called “Thrown for a Loop.”

He also plans to write a book documenting the anecdotes and people from the 40 years he spent at the Golden Mill.

“I didn’t quite have the final chapter,” Boyle said, “but I do now.”

The store is currently under contract, Boyle said. He added he is not sure what the potential owners will do with it, but noted “they do have some really cool ideas” if they follow through with them.

“At the age of 153 years old, (it’s) now among the oldest businesses in Colorado,” said local historian Rick Gardner, “and quite likely the oldest animal products business in the Centennial State.”

Jan Zehr bought the supplies she needed for her horses and cats at the Golden Mill for at least the past 20 years, she said. A couple of weekends ago, she went to take pictures of the place because “it’s probably going to change,” she said.

“I never thought this day would come,” Zehr said. “The Golden Mill has so much character and I wanted a piece of the history.”

It will be a hard adjustment for many of the longtime customers, said Debbie Hottinger who had been shopping at the Golden Mill weekly for probably 40 years, she said.

“It has always been the friendliest retail business I have ever known,” Hottinger said.

Hottinger lives on 12 acres just outside of Morrison and has sheep, cats, dogs and horses. The employees always had good advice on food and care “for all our critters,” she said. “We’ve really appreciated them.”

Purchasing feed and other products from the Golden Mill was more than a business transaction, said Jeff Wiechman whose three daughters were involved with 4-H growing up.

“They cared a lot more than just selling you a bag of feed,” he said. “And we weren’t the only ones who felt that way.”

The Golden Mill was a constant and loyal supporter of 4-H, Jeff Wiechman’s wife Donna added. And they were especially good with the children, she said. They always engaged with them, whether it was asking how their various 4-H projects were going or answering the 4H’ers questions.

“They were a great example of kindness and hard work for our daughters,” Donna Wiechman said. “They’re just great people.”

Mary Ramstetter’s husband Charles is nearly 80. He grew up on a dairy farm that his mother operated in Golden Gate Canyon and he remembers going to the Golden Mill as a child, he said.

“We hate to see it close,” Charles Ramstetter said.

Mary Ramstetter agreed.

“People used to talk about Golden in relation to where the feed store was,” she said. “It’s a real landmark.”


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