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CHECKERBOARD SURVIVES CHANGING TIMES

Guido Rachiele didn't think of himself as a survivor when he and a partner in 1947 bought the small Checkerboard Grocery and joined more than a dozen other grocers already serving the community.

But in 1991, Rachiele, who sells "necessities" such as milk, bread, salt, soap and canned goods, along with an array of penny candy, is the only one left. The buyers of the penny candy are often the children and grandchildren of his first customers.A couple of years after they went into business, Rachiele's partner, Joe Santi, decided to leave and Rachiele bought Santi's interest.

He then settled down at the same location he now occupies at 90 S. 100 West to run the business, help his wife, the former Dorothy Hammond, raise their five children and serve at different times as Price City councilman and Carbon County commissioner and on several governmental committees.

All his competitors from the larger Main Street stores, such as Jeanselmes and Safeway, as well as other small off-Main Street operators like himself, quietly succumbed to changing times and changing family situations.

All but Safeway were independently owned.

They have been replaced by Smith's; City Market, based in Grand Junction; 7-Eleven; Swift's Stop and Shop, locally owned and similar to 7-Eleven; and for some items, K mart and WalMart.

Rachiele is the first to admit that in the face of such competition, it is difficult, if not impossible, to make a profit. "I pay the rent and utilities and that is about it," he said. But he has no intention of quitting.

"I love what I'm doing," he said. "I don't want to do anything else and I don't want to retire." He enjoys visiting with the people who run in to pick up a few items, and he keeps the same long hours he always did. His store is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. six days a week and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

He sometimes worries that the day is coming when someone with a few dollars and lots of ambition no longer can go into business. He said small, independent businesses - free enterprise - are what has built the country.

Now everything from business to government is large.

One of his more remarkable achievements is never missing a day's work for illness in all the years he has operated the Checkerboard Grocery. He has missed some days to tend to government business when he held public office, but never for sickness.

He attributes part of his success to his father, Sam Rachiele, who emigrated from Italy to Carbon County in 1910. His mother, Rose Marchese Rachiele, followed five years later. It was a marriage arranged in the old country.

Guido Rachiele said his father desperately wanted his 11 children to get a good education and to work hard. He often quoted an Italian proverb to them that said, "If you don't work, you don't eat."

The children, 10 of whom still are living, became teachers, some on the college level, a librarian, a nurse and a railroad engineer, among other things.

Guido early entered the grocery business in Helper.

There were no child labor laws, he said, and when he was 12 he began working for the Broadbent brothers, who had stores in Helper and Price.