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Idaho Voices

5,000 businesses later, column comes to an end

Sun., Jan. 2, 2011

Well, this is it – my last work for The Spokesman-Review.

Although the exact date isn’t available, this business column first was published in 1985, the same year I became the journalism instructor at North Idaho College. So, if I scribble a little math (not often easy for a words person), that’s 25 years. Take that times about 50 columns a year for about 1,200 total. Since each column contains four-plus items, and I’ve written about nearly 5,000 businesses.

Whew, No wonder I retired, and that’s just from NIC! I get teary just thinking about it.

People have often asked how I get all my clues for businesses to cover. They’re usually new businesses, new locations, new owners, major expansions, etc. And I’ll do the tidbits at the end of each column about businesses that are closing or some other, well, tidbits.

Plenty of my leads (that’s the term in the journalism field) come from spies, readers like you, who phone or e-mail a tip or a question. I get leads from city/county building permits, which are now online, and prior to that I’d see them in newspaper legal notices or I’d go to the government offices. I go to a Tips Club once a week where each attendee gives a business tip or pays a 25-cent fine. And I use a different route each day from my home in Coeur d’Alene’s northeast corner to NIC in the southwest corner and notice a “sold” sign, new construction or a suddenly empty retail/office space.

Probably my most thrilling “scoop” occurred on my route one day. In the morning, while headed to NIC, I saw workmen surveying and pounding stakes into an empty field north of Neider Avenue between Fourth Street and Government Way. I stopped, but they wouldn’t tell me what the stakes were for. On the way home that afternoon, I saw the men were gone. I parked and went into the field. The stakes just had numbers or things like “SW corner” marked on them. Then, one way across the field said “Costco.”


It’s been a good 25 years. That’s what is thrilling about the news industry. Something’s new every day. Of course, that’s the base of the word “news.” It’s rewarding if you’re the one to tell it. And even more fun if your name is on it. Deadlines also are exciting.

I’ve also been able to use much of what I’ve learned in this process for journalism classroom instruction. Not just the writing process – but the headlining, story placement, page design and photo work.

And for this, I want to thank my editors, photographers and readers. None of this would have happened without you.

This week’s tidbits

• Watch for Jamm’s Frozen Yogurt in the mini-mall at that same Costco corner. (Credit my daughter, Cory Jasmin, for seeing this).

• And a Top This yogurt store in Ironwood Square. (I saw an interior remodel going on here when I went into a neighboring store).

• Although the signs don’t say what sandwich place it is, a Jimmy John’s is going into Coeur d’Alene Town Center on Appleway. (Got this with help from a spy in a neighboring store).

• Kira’s Kiss Dessert will be opening in downtown Coeur d’Alene. (From my Tips Club).

Thanks to all of you, once again. And now you can contact me at

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