Lawrence Covell 50th Anniversary

Fifty years ago today my dad opened the doors to a small store at 13th and College on the Hill in Boulder. It was 400 square feet on the second floor above a pool hall (the pool hall is still there). It was called Phantasmagoria – Lawry came across the word in a dictionary one night…then a few years later it became Lawrence Covell.  Cathy’s idea. They got tired of spelling Phantasmagoria.  Fifty years.  Pretty cool.

It was a Thursday just like today. Lawry thinks he opened the doors around noon. Classic! My mom and my Uncle Ez were there as well - though my mom thinks she was in class and came over later that afternoon (she was a freshman at CU Boulder). About two weeks later my dad ran over to my mom’s dorm one night and was ecstatic because the store had done $75 in business that day! The best day yet!

In our infancy, we were a makeshift quasi-headshop. Lawry graduated from CU in August ’66 and was trying to figure out what he wanted to do. He had broken his leg in a motorcycle accident that summer and was eventually granted 4F status - a deferment from the draft. With the fear of being drafted no longer a concern, he mulled his future and after reading an article in Time magazine about how profitable “headshops” were he had an idea.  My uncle had messed around with some leathermaking in high school, so Lawry thought that Ez could make some watchbands to sell along with psychedelic rock and roll posters, artwork brought back from friends in L.A. (his hometown), and some rolling papers. Soon Lawry and Cathy (his girlfriend) taught themselves how to make belts, sandals, handbags and more. Within a few months the store transformed entirely into leather goods. Bob Lange of Lange boots was an early customer. Lawry fit him for a pair of custom sandals. And we occasionally have customers bring in the old sandals or handbags they still have.

That was the beginning. And here we are now another generation in with my wife Amy and myself running the business (along with my mom’s guidance!) – and my dad making belts again by hand having started a new business under the original name Phantasmagoria - and wholesaling to some of the best stores in the country.  As the Sixties gave way to the Seventies we switched from leathermaking to men’s and women’s clothing and did our part in pioneering the fashion scene in Colorado.  Lawry and Cathy (dragging me along as a toddler) made buying trips first to New York and then to Europe and were often the first to carry many unheard of fashion lines in -  let’s face it – a smaller and not entirely fashion-conscious market. We’ve always strived to carry things that we first and foremost like for ourselves – and then we try to “sell” them – but being solely commercial has never been our guiding light which we think is a good thing. Thankfully our customers agree. It’s been a long rewarding journey that has included challenging times and many long hours – and we owe a debt of gratitude to those many employees that have been part of our family business for these past 50 years, including Rick, Larisa and Lisa who have been part of our team for 15 years or more. But most importantly we owe a tremendous thank you to you – our loyal customers, many of whom we call friends – some who have even been shopping with us since our early days in 1967!   Thank you so much for your business, your loyalty and your friendship! Here’s to another 50!