Meet Your Merchant: Carson man rides lifelong fascination into niche business

Shannon Litz/Nevada Appeal

Shannon Litz/Nevada Appeal

Guy A. Foster got his first vacuum cleaner when he was 7 years old.

He asked his dad for it as a gift. It quickly became something more.

"You know when you're young and you do something that your parents weren't very happy with, and they'd take your bicycle away?" Foster said. "They'd take my damn vacuum away!"

Now, Foster owns Carson Vacuum and Cleaning Supplies at 2170 Highway 50 East, and he's surrounded by vacuum cleaners on an almost daily basis. The store manager, Greg Beavers, joked that with the small kitchen in the back of the building, the store is a bed away from Foster never leaving it.

"Most people don't believe I love vacuums, ain't that right, Greg?" Foster asked.

"You? No!" Beavers joked.

Foster said he'd show customers only vacuums that he would use himself, unless they insisted on a specific model. He showed one walk-in customer the power of a particular model by having him hold his hand under the suction hose, eliciting an "Oh, wow," from the man.

Foster bragged that all of his showroom vacuums are brand new - no refurbishments. He said the professionalism of his staff, as well as the quality wares, set his specialty shop apart. He said his store prides itself on going the extra miles - a point Beavers emphatically agreed with.

"Customer service is our most important thing," Beavers said. "I want to stress that."

Foster said he gets a lot of his customers via word of mouth - and, he said, because people are tired of spending $100 every six months on low-functioning vacuums. His walls are lined with brightly colored models, some stand-up, some on-the-ground canisters.

He even has one that is a similar model to his first vacuum, a stand-up with a cloth bag he keeps perched in the window. Foster has made collecting vacuums a hobby and he rattles off models the way gearheads do classic cars.

Give him a chance, and he'll even show off his personal collection: He keeps a picture of his 1954 Kirby, 1936 Royal, 1940 Hoover and 1950 Hoover, surrounding a picture of Marilyn Monroe, on his phone.

At 62 years old, Foster said he's taking it slower at his business, but doesn't plan on fully retiring. He said his job is his passion and he counts it as lucky that he can make a living at it, translating his knowledge into a better purchase for his customers.

Beavers jokes - or maybe not - that even when Foster's not one for the world, he won't leave his shop. Instead, Foster will get cremated, dumped on the carpet and - what else? - vacuumed up.


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