Ellis Tanner Trading Company is a modern-day old fashion trading post. People can bring in lambs, piñons, jewelry, wool, and rugs to sell. In the general store, they can buy groceries, dry goods, and hardware. And there is a Pawn Shop where people can pawn for cash, and a jewelry store where they can buy jewelry. During income tax season, they can file their taxes and get credit on their anticipated refund. With these services, Ellis Tanner Trading Company continues to serve its customers much like the old fashion trading posts from the past.
Ellis Tanner is the fourth generation of the Tanner trading families. His great-grandfather, Seth Tanner, came West with Brigham Young and helped settle this area. The Navajos gave him a name which is an honor. They called him "Hosteen Shush" which means "Mr. Bear". Ellis Tanner's grandfather, Joseph Baldwin Tanner, was also honored with Navajo name; he was called "Shush Yaz" which means "Little Bear". He was a highly respected trader and a very good friend of Chee Dodge, the first Chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council. Joseph Baldwin Tanner played a major role in helping the Navajo leaders form the first Tribal Council. Ellis Tanner's parents, Rule Levi and Stella Tanner, were well respected traders and they had stores in many different areas of the reservation.
The influence of the Tanner family can be seen in several geographic names around the area. There is Tanner Springs and Tanner Wash in Arizona, in the areas where Seth Tanner settled.
Ellis Tanner Founded Ellis Tanner Trading Company in 1967 on the old Zuni Road on the south side of Gallup. In 1980 the business was moved into a building on 10 acres of land on New Mexico Highway 602. The Navajos have honored Ellis Tanner with a name also - "Aye'hee'Yazzie" - which means "Little In- Law". In the Navajo way the "Little In-Law" is the one who helps out. When the "Little In-Law" comes to your house, he chops firewood and carries it to the hogan or does any chores that need to be done. Being called "Aye'hee'Yazzie" is a great honor and a great responsibility that Ellis Tanner takes very seriously. He works very hard to do what he can to help his "In-Laws", and to carry on the Tanner tradition and build a good reputation of being a fair, honest businessman.
Ellis Tanner built his company from 200-300 customers the first year to tens of thousands this year, all on this business philosophy: "It has to work for all of us." Ellis Tanner believes anything that is going to grow and prosper has to work for everybody involved, or it won’t last and it won’t grow.