Meet Eric Reed, Louisville’s “Giant” of Fine Goods. At 6’5″ there is certainly a larger than life presence Eric brings to the room. It’s not all about stature though. Eric is a master at his craft. His winding and often overlapping history of jobs which included repping numerous brands in a multitude of markets has given him a collective knowledge few people have in the retail space. This is evident by his concept store, Acme Fine Goods, recently being recognized as Best Men’s Clothing Store (Best of Boulder 2020).
Q: What inspired you to led you to your current career?
A: I grew up with a father who ran his own business and watched him be his own boss. At the time though, I was of all over the place. I was in western Massachusetts and couldn’t wait to graduate high school and move directly to Colorado. And that’s what I did. Two weeks after graduation I moved out to Red Cliff with 4 other guys, where we literally had a garage to sleep in. I moved for the Colorado lifestyle and was happy running around doing all sorts of jobs, from retail to manual labor.
I soon found myself in Vail, where I “slung chairs” at the resorts, but quit that job because I moved their to ski, not watch everyone else ski. To be really honest, a lot of my choices were out of convenience and happiness. I was lucky and versatile enough to pull that off, through a variety of jobs in the service industry. Unapologetically I was a ski bum. I moved there for that purpose and I crushed it!
As time went on, I met a girl who was living in Boulder and attending CU. I made a decision to leave Vail and chased her to Boulder. I began going to night school at CU Boulder and ended up getting a degree in Environmental Science and Water Specialization. My goal at that point was to go into education. I worked after school program for elementary school kids, hiked them all over the mountains, and had a job teaching for an alternative high school.
The girl (who I chased to Boulder) and I got married in 2005. We both were uncertain about full time teaching careers and decided to make a move to San Francisco. She began some additional schooling, and I ended up back in the service industry working at A.G. Ferrari Foods, where I gained tremendous experience selling high end items such as Italian wines and cheeses, to a $300 bottle of balsamic vinegar. I had a great manager and mentor who helped teach me the process of story telling and weaving in a romanticism that is unique to each customer’s experience.
After reaching a peak in that career I returned to education working with the emotionally disturbed at a high school program. I was on a crisis team that involved physical restraints everyday. These kids either came from hospitalization or jail. It was really, really tough and incredibly sad.
My wife had gone into her masters program and my first daughter was born. Everyday I was in a war zone and decided to leave that traumatizing work. We moved back to Boston and it was reinvention time. I had always been into photography and began school at the New England School of Photography in Kenmore Square. Within the first two terms my professor suggested I go ahead and be a professional photographer. Ironically, I ended up working at the school.
During my time in San Francisco I really enjoyed fly fishing. I was taking photos at a contest called ‘Spey-O-Rama’, where I met and became quick friends with James Shaughnessy, owner of Beulah Fly Rods, which led me to my first brand repping job for Bauer Fly Reels. It was a crazy time as I was essentially working three jobs, my wife was in her masters program for mechanical engineering, and by this time she was pregnant with our second child.
After 5 years of being a rep and my wife now working after graduating her masters program, we both felt we were grinding at work everyday. New England was great, but it wasn’t for us. We pulled the plug and moved back to Colorado. We landed in Louisville in 2015. A couple months later I started working for Topo Designs when they were looking to open their flagship store on Pearl St. I was hired, helped launch the store, then helped launch their San Fran store, and was doing everything Topo. I was back to traveling non-stop and Topo was expanding exponentially.
Then after an annual review, while things were going really well, I decided I was done. I had always been telling the story of someone else’s brand. Everything I had been doing brought me to a point of confidence to say, “That’s it! I’m doing this now! I’m ready to begin telling my own story.”
That decision was on a Wednesday evening and by Sunday morning I was standing in this location. I bought the rights to the Acme Fine Foods, had the business license, and compiled a list of brands to carry from relationships I nurtured as a rep. On April 1st I signed a lease for this space and on June 1st I opened fully stocked, completely remodeled, and ready to go. (mic drop)
Q: How long have you lived or worked in Louisville/Lafayette?
A: In Louisville proper since 2015.
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Louisville?
A: For the family, it is Pica’s Taqueria. It is hands down the most consistent and most delicious family restaurant you can get.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?
A: That’s a tough question… in a different time (non-COVID) I would tell you some place exotic, but I think I would love to go back to New England and see family. If I could click my heels I would go outside of La Paz, Mexico and I’d be on the Baja right now fishing.
Q: What is the first movie you remember seeing in a theater?
A: I saw “Return of the Jedi’ when I was a kid. It was so crowded that we actually sat in the fire escape at the Bing Theater in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Q: What advice would you give to a group of people?
A: Be grateful for every experience, whether good or bad.
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: It’s still travel related… getting down to South America, and would love to fly fish in Patagonia.
Q: What three bands that you would like to see(dead or alive)?
A: I would loved to have seen Jimi Hendrix. Stevie Ray Vaughan would be amazing. Also, it would be to see Joe Cocker in his prime – ’69 Woodstock.
Q: What current / former local business makes you the most nostalgic about Louisville/Lafayette?
A: People have memories of the Blue Parrot, which was a restaurant down the street. They made it for 99 years. It was classic, old school Italian food. Right now, if you come to Louisville and you’re trying to find the “thing” that you should know about it’s Moxie. It’s only 4 years old and might as well be a landmark. The owner, Andy Clark, is a genius and great guy. We in fact crossed paths and didn’t know it while working at Whole Foods (he was in the bakery – of course!).
Q: If you could choose anyone that is alive today and not a relative; with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? And where locally would you take them for lunch?
A: I would love to have lunch with Steven Rinella. I’m reading his book ‘American Buffalo’. He has a hunting podcast and think he’s an interesting guy – so I would love to talk to him.
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about Louisville/Lafayette?
A: I love the old history of this place, it’s so cool. I love this old town feel. It is why I named this place Acme Fine Goods – as a nod to the old Acme Coal Mining Company.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
A: I don’t know, but I am still here in Louisville that’s for sure. My kids are in school, I love the Boulder Valley School District, the store is going to be here, and hopefully I’ll have someone else working with me so I can take a second to breathe.
Q: (Even for friends and family) What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: I have dyslexia. Unfortunately, it generally runs in the family so my son has it now. It’s something we work on and he works really hard.
Q: If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your co-star, who would you choose?
A: First to mind is my buddy, Colby Smith. Every time we get together I can’t stop thinking how funny he is, likely due to familiarity. There’s a crew of us from Massachusetts that are all still here and I never laugh harder than when I’m with that same crew of people.
Q: Is there something that you can add that would benefit or add value to the community, what do you think would that be?
A: I’ve noticed there seems to be a disconnect between business owners and the home owners in the community (I don’t mean it for everybody), but there’s a little bit of “us” and “them” situation and because I’m both, I feel a little torn. I think a real sit-down-discussion between business owners and home owners working together to make Louisville great would be wonderful.