Retail  February 3, 2023

Boulder business leader Sam Sussman dies

Editor’s note: The information about revenue from segments of Eight Days a Week business was corrected after relistening to the 2005 oral history interview.

BOULDER — The longtime co-owner of the Eight Days a Week store in downtown Boulder died Thursday. Funeral arrangements for Sam Sussman were not yet determined as of Friday afternoon.

His death was met with sadness by a wide swath of the Boulder business community. He and his wife and business partner, Cheryl Sussman, had been active in the community since the business was formed in 1976.

Sussman was born in Germany June 29, 1947, — he was 75 at the time of death —and came to the U.S. when he was 2, he related in a 2005 oral history interview available at the Boulder Public Library. His family landed in Wilmington, Delaware, where he grew up. He graduated from the University of Kentucky and headed west to California. On the way in 1971, he stopped to visit a friend in Boulder and decided to stay. He left temporarily only to help with his father’s custom tailoring business after his father died.

His first business endeavor was with a company called Earth Dynamics, which used the concepts of architect and futurist Buckminster Fuller to build geodesic domes. The Sussmans’ home at one point was a geodesic dome on Sugarloaf Mountain. It burned to the foundation in the Four Mile Canyon Fire on Labor Day 2010; the family has lived in Eldorado Springs since that time.

In 1976, he and Cheryl founded Eight Days a Week at 18th Avenue and Pearl Street, which at the time was a general store selling coffee, copies, sub sandwiches and other merchandise. 

“Boulder was an interesting place at the time. People were innovating,” he recalled during his oral history interview. The business was open long hours — early morning to late into the night. “It felt like the week was eight days long,” he said.

The concept for the business, he said, was to be an information center, and it became a hub for not only commerce but also the general public and students.

In 1980, he spun off the coffee business to Isadore Million, and Million renamed it Penny Lane. Sussman recalled that copy services represented about 25% of Eight Days’ sales and 50% of the profit.

He wasn’t averse to risk, his friends related. 

“He was authentic. He was always ‘hip’ and always on the front of things. He had the first fax machine, the first color copier. Sam loved technology. He was a huge help to other businesses,” said Richard Polk, who until recently ran the Pedestrian Shops.

Polk said that Sussman spent time on the technology of the copy and business services store, and Cheryl made the business work. “She was totally his partner,” he said.

A recent LinkedIn reference for the business, which they owned until 2017 when it sold to an Allegra Marketing-Print-Mail franchise owner, noted that it sold 3d scanners and printers in addition to the usual office-related equipment. The building at 840 Pearl St. sold earlier that same year to MidFirst Bank.

Sussman modestly described his success this way: “I was a good guesser about what I thought was going to happen.”

He said small-business owners have to “move quicker than the chains and make your own way.”

He also attributed success to his friends. “I had a lot of friends in town. If you have a lot of friends, you stay in business,” he said.

Among the friends was George Karakehian, owner of Art Source International on Pearl Street. 

“He was one of the first people I met downtown,” George recalled. “Everybody went to the copy store. He was a credit to the downtown business scene … always smiling, telling jokes. You’d go in [to the store] and he’d have a new piece of equipment. He always had the best.”

“When it came to his work, he wasn’t afraid to invest,” Karakehian said.

Sussman was involved with the community’s efforts to secure Dushanbe, Tajikistan, as Boulder’s sister city. He and Cheryl were part of the delegation that first went to that Soviet city to encourage a relationship, said Mary Hey, who also was part of the sister city effort.

She recalled that their bus got stopped when one of the passengers was seen taking pictures of a military installaton along the route. “Sam got out and talked them out of arresting us,” Hey said.

She said Sussman was engaging and always trying to make friends. He brought a tennis racquet to the Soviet Union on one trip and went out to find someone to play a match.

“We were both activists working for world peace. I saw him on the street one day and he asked, ‘are we doing enough,’” Hey said. “I knew he was; I wasn’t sure about me.”

Cheryl Sussman recalled that Soviet trip as well — it was 1986. She said they spent about three weeks in the Soviet Union. 

Cheryl described the working relationship that she and her husband had. “We did well working together. He was more visionary. I was more practical. We balanced each other out,” she told BizWest. He was often out in the community serving on committees and with groups; Cheryl managed the store.

Together, they had two daughters, Mariah Garcia of Denver and Mollie Sussman Frankel of Echo Park, California. Mariah and her husband Mauricio Garcia have one daughter, Delilah; Mollie and her husband Bradley Frankel have a son, Eli.

Dave Query, owner of Big Red F restaurant group, said Sussman “was a fixture on the west end of Pearl Street.” 

“You were hard pressed to meet a person as kind, humble and leaning toward solutions rather than conflict than Sam Sussman. I never met a dude that exuded such positivity, with the appropriate amounts of healthy grumpiness, than Sam.”

Query encouraged people who know similar people to “make an effort to tell that person that you acknowledge it, recognize it and admire it. That the culture of business and communication they have created is fantastic and that their spirit and right-sided energy has benefited the community at large in so many ways. 

“Culture is currently under attack on this planet, at every turn. To those who have spent their professional careers devoting that energy to creating a positive work and community culture, you are the very best of all of us.

“I wish I had told Sam that yesterday,” he said.

Sam and Cheryl Sussman were inducted into the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame in 2019. 

Natural Funeral Service in Lafayette will be in charge of arrangements.  Cheryl Sussman said a memorial service will be held in the spring.

Editor’s note: The information about revenue from segments of Eight Days a Week business was corrected after relistening to the 2005 oral history interview.

BOULDER — The longtime co-owner of the Eight Days a Week store in downtown Boulder died Thursday. Funeral arrangements for Sam Sussman were not yet determined as of Friday afternoon.

His death was met with sadness by a wide swath of the Boulder business community. He and his wife and business partner, Cheryl Sussman, had been active in the community since the business was formed in 1976.

Sussman was born in Germany June 29, 1947, — he was 75…

Ken Amundson
Ken Amundson is managing editor of BizWest. He has lived in Loveland and reported on issues in the region since 1987. Prior to Colorado, he reported and edited for news organizations in Minnesota and Iowa. He's a parent of two and grandparent of four, all of whom make their homes on the Front Range. A news junkie at heart, he also enjoys competitive sports, especially the Rapids.
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