The End of an Era: ‘The Black Hole’ is Closing

Despite operating a junk yard, Ed Grothus almost always dressed in a white shirt with an elaborate inlaid kachina bolo. Often his enthusiasm overrode the caution to don work clothes and he ruined countless shirts and pairs of pants. He wore the bolo everywhere for years. Courtesy photo


Barbara Grothus, president of Los Alamos Sales Company, a unique salvage store affectionately dubbed “The Black Hole,” has announced that the business will close.

The business, established in 1953, has operated at 4015 Arkansas Ave. in Los Alamos since the 1970s. Edward Grothus, the company’s founder and internationally known anti-nuclear activist, died in 2009. His wife Margaret Grothus died in March of this year.

A public liquidation sale of the contents of the buildings, parking lot and adjoining property will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 21-23.

Items for sale include Cold War relics, equipment and supplies from the Manhattan Project and the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, now known as Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The company website at has an extensive list of items for sale. The family intends to sell the property in the near future and hopes to see it redeveloped for local needs.

“The end of the Black Hole is noteworthy, not just for the family, but for the community. It has been a popular attraction for tourists, tinkerers, artists, film crews and scavengers for all these years, but it is time for us to focus on our own lives and families,” said Barbara Grothus, who has been the company president since her father’s death. “We are sad of course, but we look forward to the change this will bring.”

Before his death, Ed Grothus conceived and orchestrated the production of two 40-ton granite obelisks to memorialize the world-changing development of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos. The family will continue to work towards their installation at some future time.

“My father recognized that the use of the bomb changed the course of human history, and we are dedicated to finding a proper site for their display,” Barbara Grothus said.

His family recounts that Black Hole owner Ed Grothus was an ardent supporter of freedom of speech, saying that he felt it his duty as a citizen not just to vote but to participate in the political process. His causes ranged from local (opposed to spreading salt on winter roadways) to international (in favor of a nuclear weapons ban.) Courtesy photo

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