A marble mosaic with the company’s name embedded in it leads you in from the street. Inside, the original, quarter sawn fir floors, the aroma of leather, the lights hung from high ceilings create a dim, comforting, helpful light; everything about The Davis Clothing Company, in Delta quietly conveys to the visitor that this is a place where well-dressed gentlemen prefer to shop. And have for 112 years.
The oldest single-family owned company in Colorado, Davis Clothing was established as The Roy L. Emry Mercantile Company in 1909. A few years later it changed to The Park-Davis Clothing Company in 1912, and finally to The Davis Clothing Company, Inc. at 3pm on the 5th of June in 1922 by a unanimous vote of the shareholders present at that meeting. Both of them.
The gentleman who incorporated The Davis Clothing Company with the State of Colorado was John W. Davis. Davis began working for Roy Emry in 1908, started investing in the business two years later, and bought the store with a partner in 1912. Since the early 1920s, The Davis Clothing Company has run without interruption on 4th and Main as a local, single-family owned ‘mercantile business,’ as the original Colorado state documents certify.
“The first sign that you were in Davis Clothing was the smell of leather, combined with cotton and wood oil on the floors,” recalls Delta native Gayla Clay. “The store was packed to capacity. Shirts stacked as high and deep as possible without toppling, and boots shelved as high as one could climb on the very tall sliding wall ladder.”
‘Gentlemen’ is how many describe the store’s proprietors. “They always greeted you with a smile and warm handshake,” recalls Gayla, “and quality of product and service were the key to their successful business.”
John’s son, Mel, short for Melbert, ran the growing business with his dad through the innumerable ups and downs that befell the Uncompahgre Valley over the ensuing decades. Boom or bust, during war time and in peace, the store remains always open, serving natives and visitors alike, with kindness and knowledge.
John’s grandson, and current owner, Bradford G. Davis, took over the company in 1988 after the death of his dad. Brad liquidated inventory to pay off debtors and heirs. But slowly, methodically, and always with an eye to the future, Brad reestablished, restocked, and resumed what his grandfather had begun so long before. Not even a second pandemic could keep Davis down.
Brad explains that in addition to a tradition of excellence in selling boots, hats, and other cowboy staples, he perfected hat cleaning and restoration. There are few craftsmen in the United States who still keep to these crafts. And today, the next generation is building a website and learning to fashion custom hats from scratch.
“Davis clothing is, and has been, a treasure for Delta,” says Gayla wistfully, “and I'm not sure many people realize that.”