90 Years of History
This year marks the 90th Anniversary of the Garden of the Gods Trading Post, the oldest, largest and arguably, the best gift shop in the Pikes Peak region. In all those years, the Trading Post has been owned by only two families and their history is as rich as the hills that surround them. When you have a story worth telling, people are bound to tell it and that’s just what happened. Mother and daughter writing duo, Pat and Kim Messier have just released their book about the history of the Garden of the Gods Trading Post.
To mark this doubly momentous occasion, the Trading Post will be hosting a book signing this Saturday and Sunday, June 22 & 23 from 11-3. Enjoy these specials throughout the store:
Kissing Camels Coffee Shop
- Enjoy a Tall Coffee of the Day for just $.90 (Normally $1.95 )
- Enjoy a single scoop of ice cream for just $.90 (Normally $3.49)
Balanced Rock Café
- Two Buffalo Cheeseburger Meals with a Small Drink for just $19.29. (Normally $29.00)
- With the purchase of a book from the Authors during book signing, receive a coupon for 20% off of your next visit.
More on the history
The original owner of the Trading Post, Charles Strausenback, began selling souvenirs to visitors in Garden of the Gods at the turn of the last century. Pictured here with a tripod table full gypsum carvings, and a group of interested Victorian ladies. Strausenback was a huge admirer of Southwestern culture, and endeavored to bring the Native American artwork to the forefront of western society with his new store in 1929.
During its early years, the Garden of the Gods Trading Post had several Native American artists in residence, and the pottery, jewelry and lithographs are still coveted treasures in the region. Awa Tsireh was one of the most notable artists. Tsireh was from the San Ildefonso Pueblo, and spent the summer months at the Trading Post for nearly two decades beginning in 1930. Both a silversmith and painter, many of his murals are still visible throughout the original section of the Trading Post and his jewelry bench is on display in the historical section of the Trading Post.
The Garden of the Gods Trading Post is fortunate to still have many fine examples of his work, but Tsireh can also be seen at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, and a special display at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. Tsireh has been attributed with bridging Native and Anglo American art — worth the trip alone to see some of his original works.
In 1979, two local brothers purchased the Trading Post from the Strausenback’s estate. The new owners are rather shy and don’t like to have their names out in the public eye any more than necessary, but they can both be seen in the store from time to time, usually tinkering on a display case or swapping out lightbulbs. In their 90 years, the Garden of the Gods Trading Post has always been very locally owned and operated.
People ask me all the time which attraction out of our 26 is my favorite. It’s kind of like asking me which one of my children is my favorite, while they look on with great interest. That being said, the Garden of the Gods Trading Post has always been near and dear to my heart for a few important reasons. This was my first job, hired at 16 in 1993, they soon became my home away from home. I worked there year around and through the school year. One of the brothers would make me bring in my report card. If I didn’t keep my grades up, he told me, he wouldn’t give me any hours. They really truly care about their people and it shows in everything they do. Many of my dearest friends today, were coworkers so many years ago.
That list of dear friends includes the son of one the brothers who now runs the day to day operation of the Trading Post. He sits on the board of Pikes Peak Region Attractions, and it was he who reached out to me when the previous Executive Director was leaving. I haven’t loved a job this much since the first one, so I think they’ve earned the right to be a favorite.
Share the Love
I’m not the only one who loves the Trading Post like a first home. Many of the folks behind the counter were there with me back in the 90’s. Some have left and come back, some had been there years when I started. In our modern corporate world , isn’t it refreshing to find people who love what they do, who love where they work, who care for one another and in turn, really truly care for you and your experience in their store? That’s certainly where I prefer to spend my hard-earned money.
With that, I enthusiastically congratulate them on an amazing 90 years, and hope my children and their children get to witness 90 more.
Much love and gratitude,