NAVIGATION — Getting a map is easier than ever with online services and software.
But getting a good durable map that's specific for your application took a big hit this month as Northwest Maps — formerly Northwest Map and Travel Book Center — closed its shop in Spokane Valley.
As consumers have shifted to digital mapping sources, owner Steve Mitrovich decided to sell his massive map inventory and shifted to an online- and phone-only business to sell only his local-area atlases and marketing maps.
For years, Spokane was a premier hub for maps, including the U.S. Geological Survey office in the Downtown Post office. That office was closed at the end of 2001 after offering 43 years of service.
Mitrovich, who opened his shop in the mid 1985, stepped up to offer not only 7.5 minute quads for the entire region, but also all of the state public land maps, Canada maps, national park and Forest Service maps, wilderness maps and the travel guides to go with them.
If Northwest Maps didn't have a map you needed, Mitrovich likely could get it.
I pity people who think an 8 x 11-inch printout with smearable ink or even a GPS unit are satisfactory replacements for the information available to somebody who spreads out and pores over a topographic map.
Meanwhile, Northwest Maps is still offering a free map index service and taking phone orders for its local products through its website www.nwmaps.com.