Fistell's Electronics pulls the plug after nine decades in the Golden Triangle

Categories: Business

fistells.electronics.205x205.jpg
Big photo below.
It was a single act of vandalism that was the last straw for Fistell's Electronics. "We had an RCA sign on the building and it was stolen last year -- my dad just gave up," says Howard Fistell, whose family has owned Fistell's Electronics since 1936 in some incarnation or another in the Golden Triangle area.

But long before that famed piece of history was swiped from the brick building at 1001 Bannock Street, the company's days were numbered, Fistell says.

Declining sales -- the shop sold parts for television sets, radios and various other electronic devices -- and a changing industry were nails in the coffin, though the family held out for as long as it could.

Once upon a time, Fistell says the shop was the premiere supplier of parts in the region -- back when electronic devices were repaired instead of disposed of. "We sold to every radio and television station and all the radio and TV repair people. We were the hardware store for electronics," he recalls.

His father, David Fistell, started the business in the '30s at a location at 12th and Broadway. A serviceman who also worked on airplane radios out at Lowry Air Force base, he mostly fixed car radios there. But eventually, Fistell's became less a service shop and more of a massive electronics supply warehouse. In the '50s, it settled into 1001 Bannock Street, where the founder also doled out advice and expertise.

Fistells2.jpg
Rafi Metz via Panoramio/Google Maps
Fistell's in better days, prior to the RCA sign being stolen.
Howard Fistell himself is an engineer and wood carver; once the shop is closed for good, he's going to focus on the latter. Along with his siblings, Fistell has been running the operation for a number of years: He'd worked there in his youth, eventually branched off with his own business (Fistell's Micro Electronics resided on Colfax Avenue for two decades), then came back to the family business.

Fistell laments the changing face of Denver when discussing the Golden Triangle area -- the neighborhood where he was born and raised. "When my dad bought this building, this neighborhood was the dregs of the city," says Fistell.

But Denver was still a great place to grow up, he remembers: "Denver was different then -- it was a safe place to live. Everyone took care of each other."

Fistell's Electronics may live on via the web, but Fistell isn't sure. As of today, the shop's last in business, much of the inventory has been sold off. Once the paperwork is done, the building will be in new hands -- to be redeveloped in a neighborhood where fancy retail and residential complexes are popping up all over.

From our archives: "Denver Book Fair is liquidating, every nudie magazine must go!"

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33 comments
James Speiser
James Speiser

The owner is a fabulous tube amp builder Noel Stubblefield Stubby Fex!

Horacio Andres Hernandez
Horacio Andres Hernandez

But you still can't tell me it's not true that's the reason why most locally owned business are closing down they just can't compete with the big corporations

Horacio Andres Hernandez
Horacio Andres Hernandez

Hahaha sorry I actually quit that job a while ago cause of it guess I just contracted to much about my info update Sterling Meeks

Horacio Andres Hernandez
Horacio Andres Hernandez

It's cause everybody is to busy buying corporate instead of helping local shops and businesses it's the consumers that are to blame

Lesa Tafoya
Lesa Tafoya

So sad to see the best Denver Landmarks going to the wayside :( Denver is just not the same anymore.....

Lesa Tafoya
Lesa Tafoya

I used to go there with my Dad to get parts in the 70's

chester.steven
chester.steven

I have lived in the neighborhood for 5 years and the most activity I have ever seen here was a pick-up truck out back. I had no idea it was even open to the public. Looking forward to a more active use coming in (who says it has to be fancy retail?). 

Lyn Wheaton
Lyn Wheaton

And what happened to the wood carving of the Indian?

Mike Casto
Mike Casto

I was ar Fistell's several years ago and they were talking about going out of business then. I am surprised they are still around.

Blu Martinez
Blu Martinez

I was buy'n partz from Fistells back in th 80's..sad to see it go.

Jordan Snyder
Jordan Snyder

Someone should buy it, lock stock and barrel, and turn it into a hackerspace. This place is an engineer's dream and has so much special charm, it can't just disappear. It can't!

Ryan Conway
Ryan Conway

Yes, definitely save the picture. Sorry to hear that it was stolen.

Eleen Fistell
Eleen Fistell

Ryan nice to see it, sad that it was stolen. Thanks for the pic

Leah Ryan
Leah Ryan

Thanks Lindsay for tagging me!

Leah Ryan
Leah Ryan

Ryan, do you mind if I save it? That is my moms side of the family's biz... Or was.

steppesmusic
steppesmusic

I'm not sure what this store used to be, but it was a real struggle to find common electronic parts every time I walked in there.  The whole layout looked like your hoarder grandmother's basement nightmare.  Only employees (if you could find one) could possibly have a chance at finding anything.


And that was pretty sad for me, because finding a real electronics store is like a dream come true anymore.  Radioshack is pretty embarrassing and it's not always easy knowing what you need on the internet.  For those of us who like soldering things together, it's a real disappointment to see these kinds of businesses go away.

IZen
IZen

It will be sad to see them go but they have not been relevant for a while, were never customer oriented, and held on to nearly useless junk forever because they thought it was worth much more than it was.


I hope the building is saved and reused, unlike the single story across Bannock that is about to be demolished to make way for town homes.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

You make a good point, Lesa. Thanks for posting.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Good luck in the future, Eleen, and thanks for posting.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Thanks for sharing the link, Ryan.

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