With its unique products and quality merchandise, Colonel Ichabod Conk Products Inc. in Los Lunas has successfully become known throughout the country and the world.
Frank Shofner, who has owned the local wholesale company for the past 14 years, sells products including straight razors, shaving brushes and mugs and their own line of shaving soap and aftershave.
“We have about 600 dealers across the United States,” Shofner said. “We sell all over the United States and a lot in New England and in California. We also ship internationally to South Africa, Australia, Canada, Central America, Chile and South America.”
Shofner bought the then-15-year-old business in 1988 and moved the business from Albuquerque to Los Lunas in October 1999.
Most Colonel Ichabod Conk products can be found in several Albuquerque stores, including at the World of Knives in Winrock Center, Martha’s Body Bueno and Duran’s Pharmacy in Albuquerque.
“We sell a lot to tobacco shops,” Shofner said. “Because the sales of tobacco has dropped dramatically, the tobacco stores picked up men’s gifts, as an addition to their lines and they have become very good customers.”
The company also has a website — www.col-conk.com — where anyone can buy their specialty men’s items.
Shofner, who was in the retail cutlery business before acquiring the local company, said he didn’t come up with the unique company name but the history of the colonel is very interesting.
“The original Colonel Ichabod Conk lived in the 1870s in central Texas. He went around from town to town with a team of horses and a wagon, and he would beat on a drum to draw a crowd,” Shofner said.
“He would sell his customers elixirs, and he found his fame when he lived with a bunch of Indian tribes and he had taken the roots and berries they used, bottled it and sold it as a cure-all.”
Conk is said to have traveled with a lady named Laramie Lil, who owned a soil parlor and barber shop. She would cut hair and sell baths. The couple is said to have become legendary in Texas.
Dee Wright, the manager of the wholesale mail-order business, said the shaving soap become their best seller.
“I’ve always said the soap is the foundation of our company,” she said. “We move a lot of soap – about 80,000 bars a year. The other products are kind of seasonal products, such as at Father’s Day and Christmas.”
After two failed attempts to use outside companies to manufacture their shaving soap, Col. Ichabod Conk Products Inc. has now built its own soap plant in Los Lunas.
Although some may say using straight razors is an old-fashioned custom, Shofner says men all around the world are still using them for the best and closest shave. The razors are all imported from Germany.
“We’re the only company in the United States promoting them,” Shofner said. “We sell a lot. Several years ago, we tied up all German production of straight razors for 60 days. We took every straight razor made in Germany, and we bought it.”
The local company also specializes in four different types of aftershave lotion – amber, lime, bay rum and almond balm. With products such as shaving brushes manufactured in the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea and mugs with American war designs, men’s gifts are in abundance at Colonel Ichabod Conk Products Inc.