by Marissa Lorenz
Kremmling’s West End Liquors changed ownership this week, but the faces will remain familiar to all as longtime resident and former employee Carol LoBello steps up to take the lead with her husband Joe.
Most in Kremmling will recognize Carol, if not from the friendly interactions they’ve had with her at West End Liquors over the last two and a half years, then as Kremmling’s postmaster for the decade between 2006 and 2016. And Joe has been well-established, especially among the sportsmen community, as an avid outdoorsman and owner of American West Taxidermy since they moved to Kremmling in 1991.
But Joe first moved to Colorado in 1978 after having served four years in the US Air Force. He had come through the state and fallen in love with its beauty the previous year. He had friends who had moved to Denver, and he moved to the Front Range where he was a carpenter for a few years. However, like many adventurers before him, he soon headed for the mountains, ending up in Breckenridge.
A decade later, in 1988, during a trip back to the East Coast, Joe would meet Carol, promise her a horse, and the rest is history. Carol followed Joe west and settled with him in Summit County.
But home ownership was getting more difficult in the growing resort community. Carol says that they were “all over” when they were in Summit, with her working in Frisco, Joe working in Silverthorne, and their horses being boarded in Fairplay.
By chance, Carol picked up a real-estate magazine one day and found the house that would become theirs just outside of Kremmling. And although they would both
continue commuting to Summit for a few years, they were eventually able to consolidate their home, their hobbies, and their careers at their home base in Kremmling.
Joe found a community that was more fitting for his outdoor interests and taxidermy expertise. And Carol found a place to settle into her work and enjoy her horses. They would raise their daughter in Kremmling and watch her graduate from West Grand in 2014.
Carol retired from the Post Office in 2016 after 31 years of service. She was enjoying her quiet time at home, occasionally accompanying Joe when he went hunting or fishing–he says there’s been lots of good ice-fishing lately–when she realized it wasn’t enough and she was feeling a little bored.
“I was doing a lot of nothing,” she explains. “And sometimes, nothing can take all day.”
Carol heard of a job opening at West End Liquor and, initially, took it “just to get out of the house.” But she soon found that she really enjoyed the work.
“I like doing what I do. It keeps me busy,” Carol notes. “I love the interaction with the people. Everyone is happy when they come in here, unlike the Post Office, and they’re happy when they leave.”
And so when her then-employer, Laura Pettit, indicated that she was thinking of selling the business, the LoBellos were immediately interested.
“Carol’s retired. I’m semi-retired,” says Joe. “You find you need to do something.– This is what we’re doing.”
Carol will take on the regular management of the store and staff. “Joe,” she laughs, “is my stock boy.” And Joe laughs happily too.
The couple says that they don’t plan on making any major changes any time soon. “It’s a well-established, well-run business,” Carol observes, noting that customers include locals, visitors on their way to Steamboat, and lots and lots of campers, fishers, hunters, and boaters.
“We’re just excited,” Carol says. “It’s a new adventure.”
“It’s something different,”
Joe agrees. “It’s the next chapter in our lives.”
West End Liquors is located at 200 W. Park Avenue at the west end of Kremmling. It is most recognizable by the large American flag that flies above it and has become a landmark in the area. Make sure to congratulate Carol and Joe next time you stop in!