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Cheryl Sowder Set To Retire ... New Owners Take Over The Finishing Touch Nov. 1

on September 28, 2017 - 12:01pm
Cheryl Sowder is set to retire and the new owners are taking over Nov. 1. Photo by Carol A. Clark/
Los Alamos Daily Post

Cheryl Sowder is retiring after 38 years of owning The Finishing Touch at 174 Central Park Square. Her husband, Joe Brophy, retired two years ago and now Sowder has sold her business and will essentially retire Oct. 31.

Julio Gaytan and Marcelo Ruano heard Sowder was looking for a successor and contacted her expressing their interest in the business. They have a small shop in Santa Fe and told her they have wanted to work in Los Alamos for a while.  

Sowder said the new owners want to take over operations Nov. 1 and she will work with them to ensure a smooth transition through Dec. 31.

“They are young and enthusiastic and just what the store needs,” Sowder, 69, said during an interview Monday afternoon. “They said all the right things … they want to make sure the customers are happy and satisfied … all the things important to me, so I am feeling comfortable turning this over to them.”

The store has been a part of Los Alamos and in the same location since August of 1979.

“I have to find a new identity … I still can’t believe I’m selling the store … it’s a good thing I’m so busy otherwise I would be sitting here being really depressed,” she said.

The new owners told Sowder they plan to keep her staff intact and the operation running as is. She pointed out The Finishing Touch specializes in design, flooring, window coverings and paint. Although the one thing the new owners don’t plan to continue is carrying paint products. They have asked Sowder if she will handle design for them.

“Design is the part of the business that I love the most so I am going to give it some serious thought,” she said, adding that there are two other good paint stores in town so she isn’t worried about that portion of the business.

Sowder is going to sell her remaining paint inventory. She has kept paint records for her customers through the years and is making them available for customers to pick up at the store.

Sowder is known for her annual Halloween Haunted House inside her store during Trick or Treat on MainStreet. She will have the opportunity to create the extravaganza on last time and said the new owners love the idea and plan to carry on the tradition.

As a native to Los Alamos, Sowder has strong ties to the community. “I love this community; I grew up here and lived here most of my life. I want to see a thriving business community and I’m happy to know The Finishing Touch will continue to be a part of that.”

Sowder graduated college with a degree in design and after returning to Los Alamos she and her husband started a home construction and design business, Handcrafted Homes. Sowder explained her husband built the homes and she designed them. While running Handcrafted Homes, she said they purchased paint and products with Netuschil Paint and Glass. When Netuschil Paint and Glass went up for sale, Sowder and her husband decided to purchase it.

Sowder moved to Los Alamos as a child when her father was transferred to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory (LASL) from the Nevada Test Site. Sowder opened her first of three businesses 43 years ago. She has owned The Finishing Touch for nearly 38 years.

Sowder describes the greatest thing about her business as the connections she and her staff have developed with their customers throughout the process of a home improvement project.

“It’s been a mutual gain here,” Sowder said. “This store has been good for Los Alamos and Los Alamos has been very good to me. I’m incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to pursue my career in my hometown and to develop relationships with so many people over these years. Thank you to my customers for your support and for trusting me to help you with remodeling, renovating, renewing – it’s been fun working with you. My hope is that The Finishing Touch succeeds far beyond my 38-year watch so that Los Alamos continues to have a local option for flooring and window coverings.”

Sowder wanted to make it very clear that the absolute highlight of her career has been working with all the wonderful people in Los Alamos. She is hosting a Chamber After Hours event, 5-7 p.m. Oct. 19, at her store and invites the entire community to stop by to say goodbye. She isn’t moving away from the area, she said. She also plans to continue her involvement with Leadership Los Alamos, the Los Alamos Retirement Community (LARC), YMCA Board, Leadership New Mexico Alumni Committee and teaching Tai Chi at the YMCA.

“I’ll have even more time to volunteer now that I’m not going to be working 60-70 hours a week,” Sowder said laughing.

She and her husband Joe have been married for 42 years. Once she turns the store over to the new owners, Sowder said she and Joe also plan to do a lot of traveling including frequent visits with their 4-year-old granddaughter in Seattle.  

To contact Sowder, call 505.662.3388 or visit