South Valley plumbing store closes for business after 86 years of service

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – One of the last mom-and-pop shops in the South Valley is closing down for business after 86 years of service. 

On Saturday, Martin Bros. Plumbing held a celebration for not just the business, but for someone a part of that business that touched so many lives.

“Well, we’ve been planning this for about five years now. He said when you get about 62 we’ll close the store,” said David Santillanes, co-owner of Martin Bros. Plumbing. 

The business started back in the ‘30s until Santillanes and his brother Bob Santillanes took over in the ‘80s.

“Originally the two brothers started it in 1936, we took it over in 1936,” said Santillanes.  

David and Bob decided to keep the name “Martin Bros’ when they took over, and the rest was history. The shop became a popular spot in the South Valley for generations with people who came to grab any plumbing items, and different hardware supplies, or to just chop it up with the owners.

Some people even had parents who brought them to the store when they were children, becoming regular customers most of their lives – like George Sanchez.

“I’ve always come here all my life, my father’s come here also,” said George Sanchez, a longtime customer. 

But what made so many people come back for all these years? It’s simple.

“Customer service, if you’re good with your customers and you treat them right, you’ll have them for life,” said Sanchez. 

But this little celebration on Saturday wasn’t just to remember all the good memories from this business, it was also to remember David’s oldest brother and co-owner – Bob – who was cherished by many. 

“He passed away Tuesday evening about 8:30,” said Santillanes. “I don’t know how to explain it, he was a wonderful person, he taught me everything I know, he was the best brother, my best friend.”

Bob passed away at 75 years old just days before their going away party, after dealing with different illnesses the last few years.

While Bob was supposed to attend Saturday’s celebration of their business – his memory filled the room for those who knew him.

“Now it’s a go away, go away party. It’s a double go away, one for the store and one for Bob, so, Bob was a great guy,” Sanchez said. 

With food and music, the celebration of life and a lifelong business concludes this chapter for many in the South Valley.