From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 7, Number 40 - December 27, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Store’s Era In Pinedale Comes To A Close
Faler’s sells to Idaho father and son
by Trey Wilkinson

It becomes official on Jan. 2 when the deal is closed, turning Faler’s General Store over from the ownership of Jud Faler to a father and son out of Jerome, Idaho. Mark and Jerry Ridley will be the new owners of Faler’s in Pinedale after the New Year. The Ridleys, based out of Jerome, Idaho, have stores in Idaho, Nevada, Utah and now Faler’s, which will be the first in Wyoming.

“We have big shoes to fill,” Mark said on Monday. “We understand there is a proud history there and we hope to continue that.”

According to Faler, negotiations began in June.

“That’s when things started to get serious,” he said.

If Faler had it his way the store would not be sold. After two years of battling a rare form of cancer (a form in the Sarcoma family), Faler had no choice but to make one of the most difficult decisions in his life.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “It’s difficult for me. I feel like I let them (employees) down.”

Those who know Faler know letting his employees and the community down is anything but the case. Business partner Ridge Larson can attest to that. “Jud is a great person,” he said. “He’s been good to a lot of people and the community. Falers as a store has been good.”

Larson can speak from experience seeing that in a way the Falers took him under their wing when the Iowa product moved out west. After graduating from the University of Wyoming, Larson found himself in Pinedale.

“I worked for Harold (Jud’s father) in the summers,” Larson said.

Larson also taught science at Pinedale High School, and that’s where he and Jud really got to know one another.

“Jud taught social studies,” Larson said. “That’s where our paths crossed. We really hit it off.”

The two young men met in the teaching field, but also coached middle school football together.

In 1978 Harold and his wife and business partner Beulah, along with their son Jud gave Larson an opportunity to enter into their business.

“When I look at where I’m at now I look at those three people,” Larson said. “It’s seldom you enter into a partnership and still maintain a wonderful friendship. It’s pretty unique. He’s one of the best friends I’ve got.”

But the Falers’ name, product and success started long before Larson moved to Pinedale.

The family-owned store started in Boulder back in 1946 when it was called the Boulder Mercantile.

“There was no running water and no electricity,” Jud recalled. “It was really small. We sold groceries and little bit of beer.”

The family didn’t have much money at the time. In fact, Jud came into this world without the luxury of his parents having a car to get him to the hospital. “We didn’t own a car, so when it was time for me to be born we borrowed my aunt’s car and went to Jackson,” he said.

The Faler family moved the store from Boulder to Pinedale in 1949 where Harold and Beulah shared a partnership with Earl Hope. The store was located in downtown Pinedale across from what is now the Corral Bar and next to what is now the Patio Grill. Another move several years later took Faler’s to a building next to what is now the Chamber Visitor Center. In 1960 another move took place, this time to the Knotty Pine Plaza where Faler’s store was one of the first parts of the plaza. It wasn’t until 1980 that Faler’s moved to its current location.

Jud said he felt it was his father’s goal to see his children come back and become involved with the store. He said he has always been blessed with a close family, but the unfortunate death of his brother Les took things to another level.

“Les died as a freshman in high school,” Jud said. “That changed everything. We had always been a close family, but after that we became very close. I could not have asked for better parents. They’re perfect.”

After attending college at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Jud did come home where Faler’s became part of his everyday life.

“Like any privately-owned successful business you live with it,” Jud said. “If a refrigerator goes down in the middle of the night you have to come down to the store.”

Jud credited his kids for keeping things running as smoothly as possible. “The kids made it work too,” he said. If someone didn’t show up on Sunday the kids would be in working.”

Jud’s daughter Beau Faler still helps out at the store. The popular business owner has four other children – Karen Neilson, Kristy Wright, Benda Szymczk and Steve Faler.

The Falers have had a lot of success throughout the years thanks in part to their customers and employees, but mostly to the hard work the family has put into their business.

“We’ve been successful over the years because of the loyal customers and good employees,” Jud said. “That’s been the key.”

Larson believes there was another key – hard work.

“From a young man, Harold grows up, serves his country and starts his own business,” Larson said. “In the true sense this has been an American store and an American dream.”

Larson also commended Jud for his part in the family effort. “Jud took that and made it better,” he said.

Jud mentioned Faler’s manager Ronnie Wilson for helping make the store as successful as it has been. Wilson has been at Faler’s for 35 years.

“Without him we wouldn’t have made this happen the way it did,” Jud said. Wilson, a friend of Jud’s since the boys were 6 years old, praised him in a number of ways.

“It’s been great working for Jud all these years,” he said. “He’s compassionate, caring and forgiving. He’s been responsible for a lot of lives in Pinedale and has helped a lot of people through tough times.”

Wilson also talked about work. “It’s been a fun place to work and it has been a big part of the community,” he said. “They’ve been fair, they’re very family oriented and community minded. It’s going to leave a big hole when they’re gone.”

Another friend and former employee is Darlene Penton,who worked at Faler’s for 34 years. Penton, who now manages the VFW Post 4801, did everything from work in produce to work in the meat department to act as a cashier and more. “I loved going to work,” she said. “I can’t believe all the great people I worked with. We were all a family.”

Penton told a story that she says she still thinks of to this day every time she sees Harold. “He (Harold) would come into the store in the morning when we were all getting ready for the first customers and say ‘good morning ladies... and you too Darlene.’ I’m very fond of Harold.”

It isn’t just Harold Penton is fond of, but Jud as well.

“Jud and I have a good relationship; he’s always been very good to me,” said the lady who used to baby-sit Jud.

Jud couldn’t say enough about all of the people who have worked for him and the fact that so many over the years have been irreplaceable.

It truly has been a community-minded and family-oriented business. To have so many of the same employees over the years (there was very little turnover until recently) who have nothing but positive things to say about the Faler’s is a testament to the job the Falers have done with their business. Jud’s goal was to run a good store and be around family and friends. It’s safe to say he’s accomplished that goal.

“You never accomplish everything you want to,” he said. “What am I going to do now? I’ll do the exact same thing I’ve done in the past – hang out with friends and family. I have a lot of good friends.”

“I’ve enjoyed it all,” Jud added. “I won’t miss getting up at 5 a.m., but I’m sure going to miss seeing all the people down here.”

“There are so many memories,” Larson said. “It’s been a great run.”

Jud keeps things in perspective and while he’s been hit with hard times between his fight with cancer and selling the store, he’s kept a quote in mind throughout everything.

“Calvin Elliot used to be the minister at the Episcopal Church and I remember him telling me something that I’ve always kept with me,” Jud said. “He told me, ‘Out of everything bad, comes something good.’”

Jud and the Falers have plenty of good coming to them.

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