March 22, 1995 in Nation/World

Summer Theatre Draws Tourists, Pumps Dollars Into Coeur D’Alene

Nils Rosdahl The Spokesman-Revie

Having been a tourist this past week, with a primary diversion being a Broadway show in New York, I was interested in how Coeur d’Alene theater affects tourism here.

It’s pretty amazing.

Just checking with Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre alone, more than 24,000 customers are expected to attend Carousel Players’ productions this summer. Of these customers, about 64 percent will be from outside the Coeur d’Alene area.

That’s pretty interesting.

And what’s more interesting is that each of these customers will spend an average of $144 each time they come to Coeur d’Alene. So, a little math here reveals 15,457 outsiders will be coming to the plays and spending … Man, this totals … let’s see here … $2,225,848.

Man. More than $2 million! And this is just from the out-of-towners who are going to Summer Theatre productions.

This was the message that David Hollingshead, Summer Theatre honcho, gave attendees at the Chamber of Commerce Upbeat Breakfast last week.

His bottom line, albeit quite subtle, is that merchants should clue into this and be staunch financial supporters of the Summer Theatre.

Methods of this, he explained, vary from being a corporate sponsor (buying blocks of tickets for employees, guests and customers) to buying business subscriptions (season tickets) and advertising in the theater program.

No doubt the Carousel Players’ move to Boswell Hall Auditorium at North Idaho College helped make a big difference in the Summer Theatre’s success. Growing about 25 percent a year, attendance was 6,024 in 1990; 9,265 in 1991; 11,025 in 1992; 15,777 in 1993 and 19,322 in 1994.

Shows this summer, starting July 22, are “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” “HMS Pinnafore,” “Funny Girl” and “Showboat.” Phone 667-0254. (The purpose of this item is not to ignore other area theaters, such as the Lake City Playhouse, but to point out the economic impact provided by the arts. And the primary example is the biggest show.)

Oh, yeah. In New York we saw “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” Quite an extravaganza with magnificent performances, sets and special effects. However, it’s not a show that you leave humming the catchy tunes.

On the special side, we saw star Vanessa Williams’ last performance and on her birthday. We saw her outside the stage door; she’s tiny and, in person, not near as flashy as the media portray her.

Other impressions of The Big Apple …

The taxis are awesome. Probably 10 of 11 vehicles are taxis racing almost bumper-car style. Actually they’re affordable if you put three or four people in one. There’s no pickups (trucks, that is); that made me homesick.

Hotels are real pricy. Allow a minimum of $100 a night for just above sleazy. Because of competition, food is moderately priced with a tremendous variety. We thought the people were friendly and helpful.

If you have money to invest, try the coffee companies. Lattes haven’t hit the East Coast yet. No one knew what a slim double mocha was, my daughter said.

We ventured into a Gucci clothing store. The least expensive men’s item was cotton boxer shorts for $250. The only sale item was a silk scarf for $450. Sigh. The men’s restroom had an attendant.

Back to reality.

Interstate Office Supply will be the new name of Interstate Typewriter when it moves to the former Modern Drug spaces at 1207 N. Fourth St., Coeur d’Alene, in early April.

Advantages in the move will give owners Gary and Leisa Ulvan twice the space (to 5,000 square feet), off-street parking, potential income from lessees of three small spaces, and the privilege (and problems) of owning their own building.

With the new name reflecting the change in business technology, the store offers complete office supplies, furniture and business equipment.

Gary’s father, Herman Ulvan, started the business in 1946 at 417 Sherman Ave. When that building was damaged by fire seven years ago, the business was moved to 303 N. Fourth, which was the original home of Knudtsen Chevrolet. That building is now owned by a Spokane company.

The Ulvans bought their new store (and vacant property facing Third Street to the rear) from Del Kerr of Coeur d’Alene. They have no plans for the land, although the three spaces on the Harrison Avenue end of the building will be rented.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Nils Rosdahl The Spokesman-Review

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email