Lost button, rediscovered Golden business

Doing Business in Golden

I lost a button on one of my favorite shirts recently, so I went to Carleen of Golden. (I have not sewn anything since home economics in junior high). 

Carleen of Golden

Carleen of Golden was established in 1974 and opened a shop on Washington Avenue. Owners Carleen and Jack Wilhelm originally specialized in custom-made sheepskin shearling coats, vests, purses, pillows, and, interestingly, sheepskin bikinis (yes, you read that correctly). They are also experts at alterations and tailoring. This institution is still going strong after 47 years despite four moves and two owners.


Janney Collins in her shop today. She recently donated photographs and one of the original store signs from her legacy Golden business.

Longtime residents may recall the mannequin displayed in their storefront window. Fondly called Donna by store staff, she proudly sported their popular sheepskin bikinis. Every year the Wilhelms exhibited their custom-made sheepskin goods at the National Western Stock Show in Denver too.

Today, owner Janney Collins, who bought the business in 2000, continues the tradition established by Carleen years ago. Carleen’s is now located on South Golden Road in Pleasant View, where Collins moved in 2006.

But that’s not all

Carleen and Jack were extremely involved in the community, bringing their German work ethic and putting their can-do attitude into action. Together they promoted the Golden Chamber of Commerce and are credited with creating Golden’s beloved Oktoberfest. As a result, they were honored annually as the Burgermeister and Meisterein for this grand party, once held in Lions Park for over 15 years. The Wilhelms also worked with the nonprofit Native American Connections out of Boulder to donate countless boxes of clothing to Native American reservations in North Dakota and Wyoming.   


Jack Wilhelm and Carleen’s employee, Sharon, who is modelling their popular sheepskin bikini and slippers outside the store, c. 1980s.

When news of Meyer Hardware closing went public this summer, my colleagues and I pondered what other longtime ”legacy” businesses remained in town besides our Coors industries. Foss Company Liquor, Golden Liquors, and Ace Hi come to mind downtown, but who else? We forget easily, and our memories get fuzzy over time. Maybe this will jog yours. If it does let me know.

Perhaps it’s time to deemphasize downtown and focus a little more on our outlying businesses, and residents. That’s what we’re doing at the museum as outlined in an expanded scope of collecting adopted earlier this year. This summer I’ve focused on some legacy businesses in Pleasant View, but places like Fairmount, Lookout Mountain, and the west Colfax corridor are also in the mix. 

Anyhow, I picked up my shirt with the button reattached. It set me back $1.00. Janney doesn’t accept credit cards, and I still owe her.

Mark Dodge, Curator