The Fair Store

… …. … 162 Linden

The Miller Block as it looked in 2021. Photo by Meg Dunn. This building was the last location for the Fair Store. 

Advertisement from the May 31, 1882 Fort Collins Courier.

The first Fair Store in the United States was started by Ernst J. Lehmann, who opened the Fair Store in 1874 in Chicago, Illinois. He gave it the name because he felt “the store was like a fair because it offered many different things for sale at a cheap price.” Fair Stores soon sprung up across America advertising low, low prices.

The Fair in Fort Collins was a low cost dry goods store started by Jason Wilkins in 1882. (Fort Collins Courier, July 13, 1882)

“Mr. Jason Wilkins, the Fair man, has moved his extensive stock of goods into the north room of the Reed & Dauth block, on Linden street, when he will be found, hereafter, ready to make his customers happy.” (Fort Collins Courier, January 7, 1886)

“‘THE FAIR.’ (Reed Block, Linden Street.)” (Fort Collins Courier, January 7, 1886)

“It will only cost you fifteen cents to attend the novelty social to be given next Friday evening, June 25th, at the old stand of Wilkins Fair, on College avenue.” [This must be where the shop was located before he moved it into the Reed & Dauth block.] (Fort Collins Courier, June 24, 1886)

“Mr. Jason Wilkins, of the Fair, has moved his stock into the building next to Silcott Bros’. furniture store on Linden street, where he will be pleased to meet all his old patrons and as many new ones as he can wait on.” (Fort Collins Courier, May 23, 1889)

It looks like a McGregor may have joined as a partner in the Fair. (Fort Collins Courier, October 3, 1889)

“The Courier is sorry to learn that Mr. Jason Wilkins, proprietor of the Fair, is confined to his bed by severe illness. Rob. McGregor is attending the store during the inability of the genial proprietor to look after the business.” (Fort Collins Courier, March 6, 1890)

“Geo. Black is now sole owner and proprietor of the Fair, having recently purchased his partner’s, Jason Wilkins, interest in the stock of goods and good will of the business.” (Fort Collins Courier, May 10, 1894)

Crittenden & Black

Miller & Black took is over from Crittenden in October 1897. (Fort Collins Courier, October 14, 1897)

“The Fair store has changed hands. Messrs. D. C. Armitage and Henry Koch, late of Central City, being the new owners. They have arleady taken possession. Mr. Koch is an experienced business man and a very pleasant gentleman, while Mr. Armitage has been in business in this city long enough to need no recommendation. Mrs. Armitage, who has been conducting the flower store in Masonic block, will continue at the old stand, while Mr. Armitage will conduct the Fair.” (The Weekly Courier, February 1, 1905)

Frank Miller Sr. passed away on April 1, 1905 while traveling.

The 1906 directory lists both Koch and Armitage as proprietors of the Fair. The 1907 directory lists only Armitage. And the 1908 lists Armitage and Frank Miller Jr.