Steamboat Springs There has been a changing of the guard at F.M. Light & Sons, but the 107-year-old family tradition remains intact.
Ty Lockhart confirmed that his daughter Lindsay (Lockhart) Dillenbeck and son-in-law Chris Dillenbeck are the new owners of the landmark Western wear store with the big plastic horse out front at 830 Lincoln Ave. in downtown Steamboat Springs. Together with Lindsay’s brother, Brandon, who works at the store, they represent the fifth generation of the Light and Lockhart families involved in the store. Ty and his brother Del are stepping aside to allow the newest generation to carry on the tradition.
“They’re well-prepared, and both have a lot of good common sense,” Ty Lockhart said. “A year ago, Lindsay and Chris took over Bushwackers, 810 Lincoln Ave., and have done a dramatic job there bringing about changes that made a big difference. But I don’t expect big changes in the merchandise at F.M. Light’s.”
Chris, however, has a few ideas about modernizing the computer and phone systems. But tradition remains firmly intact — customers who pay for their purchases by check will continue to get a handwritten thank-you note in the mail.
“It’s getting harder to get peoples’ (postal) addresses these days,” Ty observed.
The new owners come with the educational background needed to succeed at running Steamboat’s signature retail store: Chris and Lindsay Dillenbeck each hold master's degrees in business administration. They now own 100 percent of F.M. Light & Sons and Bushwackers, a second clothing store with an identity of its own.
Lindsay said her role in her family’s store was all part of a design.
“It’s always been my plan to come back to Steamboat and take over the family business,” she said. “Growing up with my grandmother (Annabeth Light Lockhart), she always told me stories of the area and picnicking and swimming in the creek. I hope to continue the tradition of F.M. Light’s being a part of the community. It’s so much more than a store; to me, it’s a part of my heritage.”
Frank M. and Carrie Light moved their family, including seven children, to Steamboat Springs in 1905, covering the final leg in a stagecoach. The store first opened in November, seven months after their arrival.
F.M.’s sons Olin and Clarence carried on a tradition of delivering a clothing store on wheels to far-flung ranches and farms, mailing in their orders. It was Clarence, in 1928, who erected the now-familiar 260 yellow signs with black lettering within a 150-mile radius of Steamboat to promote his business.
Still in the family
Chris, who spent his junior high school and high school years in Colorado Springs, confirmed that his wife has been single-minded about returning to Steamboat after living in Washington, D.C., and Southern California.
“She made that clear to me on one of our first dates,” he said.
Chris has a background in engineering. After working for a time in former Vice President Dick Cheney’s office of domestic policy, Lindsay was involved in business consulting.
“We moved back to Steamboat about 2 1/2 years ago,” Lindsay said. “My dad and (uncle) Del allowed us to start transitioning into the business. … The family legacy and having that connection mean a lot to me.”
The Dillenbecks pointed out that Ty’s stewardship of F.M. Light & Sons has spanned four decades of its 107-year history.
“Ty and Del have done so much for this store,” Chris said. “We’re thankful for everything they’ve done.”
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com