Mt. Lemmon General Store History

Since the 1940's there has been a presence of some type of general store in the Summerhaven area. The current location of the Mt. Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop has been in operation since May of 1988. Prior to that there was a very small general store located in The Vine, later to be called the Alpine Lodge. In 1988 Roy Julian and Susan Garcia opened and operated the Kimball Springs Gift Shop which had a general store and gift shop included within the building.

On January 17, 2000 Phil & Carol Mack purchased the property and began renovations to the building, their first Grandson Tanner, was born 3 days later. The opening of the Mt. Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop was on April 1, 2000 at 10AM. Phil & Carol quickly learned that fudge and gifts were going to be a big part of the stores success.

The very first customer through the door asked for fudge and the second was looking for the gift shop. Within 7 days both of these categories were operating with the walls of the new establishment and continue to be a big draw to the business today. Things went pretty smoothly until June 17, 2003 at 3:00 PM. By this time Phil had the contract to transport the US Mail up and down the mountain daily. Jack Samples was a driver that had been hired to drive the US Mail up the mountain and work in the gift shop while he waited for 3 PM to transport the mail back down to the Cherrybelle Post Office. 

In 2003 Carol had been training with the Mt Lemmon Fire District to become a volunteer firefighter since the Bullock Fire threatened the village of Summerhaven a year earlier. At 3:01 PM on June 17 the fire tones went out with a report of a fire just off of the Aspen Trail near Marshall Peak. By approximately 6 PM that day an order to evacuate the village and mountain was given. A door to door sweep was made in Summerhaven and everyone was told to leave take what they could and leave the area within 2 hours. Just short of 2 days later the village of Summerhaven burnt to the ground, with the exception of the Mt. Lemmon Café and adjoining US Post Office. The office of Mt. Lemmon Realty also survived flames of the Aspen Fire. In addition to these businesses approximately 220 private cabins escaped the Aspen Fire, leaving 330 cabins as large piles of ash.

Phil & Carol Mack made an appointment to see an architect and began drawing plans as quickly as possible. The Mt. Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop re-opened one year to the day after burning down. The old and new store looks nothing alike. The rebuild has a log cabin look and feel. 60 foot trusses were brought in from Montana and the construction crew, Cozzetti Construction, worked 6 days a week to get the store completed and re-opened with the year time frame they had been given. June 19, 2004, re-opening day, was a festive occasion. There was a very large crowd waiting at 10 AM to patronize the General Store & Gift Shop, seems most people were waiting to get fudge. We thought we had made enough fudge for almost a week. As it turned out, we barely had enough for the day. We were the first of 3 businesses to rebuild & reopen.

It has now been over 8 years since the re-building and re-opening of the stores. We have always had a large following of fudge lovers but it seems to grow every year. In 2009 we were named the Best Fudge in Tucson by Tucson Magazine. In 2006 Arizona Highways Television did a story about our fudge and this show brought may visitors up the mountain, to check out this 9,157 foot destination and to try the fudge.

It is amazing how many people in the Phoenix area have never heard of Mt. Lemmon. Many can even get here quicker than they can get to the White Mountains. The stores are open year round. Anytime after Halloween we can expect snow and it may continue to snow into April. Please call and check the Road Condition Hotline at 520-547-751

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