After more than three decades in the Lower Arkansas Valley, the Kreft family has made a difficult decision to close Kreft’s Sales.

After more than three decades in the Lower Arkansas Valley, the Kreft family has made a difficult decision to close Kreft’s Sales.

Started on Feb. 1, 1983, by Glen and Kelly Kreft, the decision to close was not an easy one, but one that needed to happen as Glen begins treatment for cancer.

“Sadly, due to Glen's health, the business is closed,” Kelly said. “The decision was not ours, but one we have to accept due to his health. It's hard to explain the heartache of working almost 34 years, building a business, having it support us all these years, meeting so many people, and now having to shut the doors. Glen is always asked ‘What are we going to do when you retire?’ Leaving the Valley without a repairman leaves us sad beyond words. Our customers are family. Many we have known from the beginning. We've watched them graduate high school, get married, have children, their children have children, and pass away.”

Over the year, Kelly said the Krefts were periodically asked why they weren’t doing service calls anymore or if they were closing the business. Rumors began to circulate and the Krefts felt it was time to get the facts out there to the public.

“Some may ask why I am sharing this information. As a respected small business owner in a small community, we have talked and we want to pass the respect on to our community by getting facts out,” Kelly said. “In August 2015 Glen was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma. It's a very slow growing cancer and can go years without needing treatment. Sadly, this was not to be his case. He had not been feeling very well for a couple of months and a couple of weeks ago we started pushing to get an updated CT scan done. (Recently) we got the diagnosis that he has what they refer to as a ‘double hit.’ The lymphoma has also formed a ‘B Cell Lymphoma stage 4b.’”

It’s complicated, Kelly said, but because it requires chemotherapy, they started immediately.

“This is going to have to force (Glen) into disability which means we will have to close our business,” Kelly said. “It is with a heavy heart that we have to do this. Leaving the Valley without an appliance repairman breaks our hearts. But we have no choice. The doctors (last) week at Parkview have been very aggressive in getting tests done and are equally aggressive in starting treatment. If my local friends hear anything contrary to what I have written, this is why I'm making this public. We would like to control any rumors that may, and will, be going around.

“Glen and I have each other and our family. We have a community that we have served proudly almost 34 years. We are strong and we will fight this. We will win,” Kelly said.

Kreft’s Sales history

Glen grew up in Rocky Ford, graduating from Rocky Ford High School in 1970. He moved to Fort Collins and started working for Gambles. He was transferred to McCook, Nebraska, where he worked until he was transferred to Worland, Wyoming, in May of 1982. He worked there until Jan. 2, 1983, after the remaining stores had been sold or liquidated.

“With the thought of opening a used appliance store, we moved to La Junta, opening our business, Kreft’s Sales, on Feb. 1, 1983,” Kelly said. “It didn’t take long for the business to transform into an appliance repair business. About the time we opened our business, Paul Johnson had retired, leaving the valley in need of an appliance repairman. Our goal was to treat people the way we wanted to be treated. Our business truly was a mom and pop business. One we are very proud of.”

And they found success.

“Our success came from our customers,” Kelly said. “Their loyalty is the backbone of who we are, what we did, why we stayed in business. The largest struggle was the recent changes when energy efficiency went computer. Once computers were put into control boards, we encouraged people to keep their manual timer appliances going as long as they could. Repair them until they were too costly to repair, or the parts were no longer available, because those appliances won't have the failure rate computer boards do.”

But through all of the changes over the past 30-plus years, the most difficult change the Krefts face is no longer providing a much-needed service to the Lower Arkansas Valley.

But through social media, the Krefts have found some comfort, as well as control of their reasons behind closing.

“Upon the diagnosis of the new cancer, and how aggressive it was and the need to start chemo that same day, we were told he could no longer do the work he did,” Kelly said. “We had talked of sharing the diagnosis via Facebook. One, to help control rumors that may start due to us not being open and the answering machines message being outdated. Two, out of respect for our customers and community. They deserved to know why no one is answering their calls, why no one is available to be getting them set up for appliance repairs.

“Glen has had a hard time with the chemo, so I haven't been able to read the comments to him. For me, I can only say thank you for the outpouring of support and prayers. I never tire of hearing the respect his customers have for him. I want to say that being married to him almost 37 years has me a bit biased, so hearing it from others touches me deeply.

“I want to thank the Arkansas Valley for your support and patronage with us all these years. I hope, as it did when we opened our business and Mr. Johnson retired, that someone will come in and offer the Valley this same service with the same goal as we had.”