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Ackleys about to turn over local rock shop after 45 years

By: HELEN WOLT
July 30, 2009
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photo - Art and Helena Ackley are selling their rock store after 45 years, but are keeping the stamps side of their Colorado Springs business. Photo by Christian Murdock, The Gazette
Art and Helena Ackley are selling their rock store after 45 years, but are keeping the stamps side of their Colorado Springs business. Photo by Christian Murdock, The Gazette  

Art Ackley bought his first stamp album when he was 8. Now 85, he’s still collecting, with no plans to stop.

Art and his wife, Helena, 84, have operated Ackley’s Rocks & Stamps, at 3230 N. Stone Ave., for 45 years.

“We really love it,” Helena Ackley said. But the long hours have become a burden, so they’re selling the rock side of the business.

The Key family; David, retired, Cathy, 55, and Molly, 23, have purchased the rock operation for $150,000 and plan to buy the building in two years. They’re renaming the shop Ackley’s Rocks. The Ackleys will retain control of the stamp room, which will be called Ackley’s Stamps.

“I don’t know what I’d do if I wasn’t hanging out here,” Art Ackley said.

Stamp revenue has slowed, but the rock trade, which has always been the busiest, continues to perform with strong sales, he said. The shop brings in just over $300,000 per year.

“People stick with their hobbies,” he added, even in a poor economy.

Art Ackley has lived through his share of economic ups and downs. Forty-five years ago, as an aerospace engineer with Martin Marietta in Englewood, the threat of a layoff spurred the couple to purchase their own business.

Rock collecting was their hobby, so they decided to make a living with it. They bought Bader’s rock shop on North Nevada Avenue, changed the name to Ackley’s and added stamps to the inventory. They later moved to Stone Avenue.

The Ackleys have been pleasantly surprised with the shop’s success, Art Ackley said. Their inventory attracts metal smiths, rock hounds and jewelry hobbyists. The shop offers lapidary service, jewelry repair, gold panning supplies and a large selection of gems and minerals.

Molly Key discovered the shop two years ago when she needed supplies for a jewelry-making class Pikes Peak Community College. She liked the shop’s ambience and started working as a clerk. Soon, her parents were smitten. Her mother, Cathy Key, has been an Ackley’s employee for one year. With help from David Key, Cathy and Molly will run the business.

Cathy Key said Internet sales have not impacted store revenue. Customers like to see what they’re buying and walk out with goods in hand, she said.

Molly Key expressed delight with the family’s newfound livelihood: “People are in awe of technology, but now I’m in awe of what’s in the earth.”


TRANSITION CELEBRATION

Meet the new owners of Ackley’s Rocks: David, Cathy and Molly Key, and see the shop’s Colorado collection, fossils, and minerals.
Cake will be served.
Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
3230 N. Stone Ave.
Call (719) 633-1153 for more information.

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