Edison Eskeets was born in 1959 on a farm 20 miles northeast of Gallup. An avid runner, Eskeets spent most of his career as a coach and educator before taking the position at the trading post in 2007. He works for the nonprofit Western National Parks Association, which runs the trading post for the federal government.
Eskeets said Hubbell’s empire once spanned 400 miles, reaching into Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. The advent of the car, interstate system and big-box retail, he said, led to the demise of most trading posts, including those established by Hubbell. But the one in Ganado is still doing business, showcasing American Indian rugs, jewelry and baskets, and providing locals a place to buy food, housewares and other goods.
Another trading post Hubbell owned in Winslow, Ariz., is listed on the National Register of Historic Places but no longer functions as a trading post. It now serves as the town’s Visitor Center and Chamber of Commerce.
“People can now go where there is a lot more stuff,” Eskeets said. “We can’t compete with the Walmarts of the world. But I also look at it as trading posts were the first Walmarts. We carried everything from bubble gum to underwear to food. We were the prototype.”
In addition to food, drinks and Native American pieces, the store still carries a little bit of everything, including books, board games, yarn, lotion, ointments and cooking pots.
Not far from the trading post is the home where Hubbell lived with his family, transformed into a museum showcasing how they lived. The home features Southwestern art collected by the family, their furnishings, and many Navajo rugs.
“The way it is set up,” Eskeets said, “it seems like the Hubbell family is coming home at any moment.”