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Front Porch: Visitors already miss Coldwater Creek

The sun took the edge off the early spring chill as I enjoyed the view. Towering evergreens provided a picture-perfect frame for snow-capped Schweitzer Mountain. Sighing, I sat in a deck chair, cradling a cup of steaming coffee while gazing at the pristine beauty of Lake Pend Oreille.

Derek settled into a chair next to me and grinned. “I’m glad we came back,” he said.

In March we spent our 28th anniversary at the same place we spent our 27th – Sandpoint. Friends recommended The Lodge at Sandpoint and we fell in love with the beautiful inn and its amazing amenities.

Sandpoint has long been a favorite getaway for our family. When the boys were little, we took many picnic lunches to City Beach, and played in the sand and water until exhausted. But lately, Derek and I have discovered the joys of off-season grown-up time in the lakeside town.

While Lake Pend Oreille and Schweitzer are lovely attractions, what really lures us to Sandpoint are the amazing restaurants and unique shopping opportunities. That’s why I was saddened to learn of Coldwater Creek’s bankruptcy. The store is as much a part of our Sandpoint excursions as crossing the Long Bridge or sipping Bistro Rouge at the Pend Oreille Winery.

The looming bankruptcy was unknown to us as we snagged a window table at Forty-One South and feasted on almond-crusted pan-roasted trout. We laughed, recalling how last year a friendly couple struck up a conversation with us while we waited for a table. The next day, the female half of the couple greeted us like old friends when we walked into Coldwater Creek.

After enjoying coffee on the deck in the morning, we headed into town and perused our favorite Main Street shops, making a point to stop in at The Corner Bookstore. Derek treasures his copy of “The Vagrant Viking,” the autobiography of a Danish explorer he found on a previous visit.

Speaking of Vikings, a visit to Scandinavian Affair is a must. Derek proudly wore the Norwegian sweater he purchased last year and the clerk said, “Oh! I remember that sweater!”

Shopping makes us hungry and a friend recommended MickDuff’s Brewing Co. It was our first visit and we grabbed a table, barely beating the Saturday lunch rush.

Our beer sampler had just arrived when the friend who’d recommended Mick Duff’s greeted us. Proof that Sandpoint still has small-town appeal.

While I played it safe and ordered a steak salad, Derek went all in with the burger special which featured peanut butter, bacon and jalapeños. You won’t find that at any chain drive-thru burger joint.

Thus fortified, we crossed the street to Coldwater Creek. I’m not much of a shopper, but this store has always appealed to me. Though the fashions are often too spendy for my budget, it seems that every time we visit they’re having a storewide clearance sale! Perhaps that should have been a sign.

Derek took a comfy seat near the dressing rooms and gamely gave his approval or disapproval to the outfits I tried on.

That night we paid our first visit to La Rosa Club where we were treated to an evening of delightful live music and tapas featuring wild boar and smoked pork shoulder, among other delicacies.

No visit to Sandpoint is complete without a Sunday visit to Foster’s Crossing Antiques. The 1930s three-story building began life as a railroad freight house. Now, it overflows with antique furniture, collectible dishes and old books. Derek scored a vintage British pipe to go in the pipe stand he bought here last year.

Next up: Laughing Dog Brewery. While I’m not much of a beer enthusiast, we both enjoyed the friendly doggies who greeted us, the tasty snacks served in dog food bowls, and the interesting tour of one of the region’s award-winning breweries.

During the drive home we recalled previous visits to longtime restaurant institutions like Ivano’s and The Hydra. We bemoaned the fact that we didn’t get a chance to return to new favorites like Shoga sushi bar, or to soak in the ambiance and live music at Coldwater Creek Wine Bar. A weekend visit never seems long enough.

“There’s always next year,” Derek said.

Two weeks after our visit, the Coldwater Creek bankruptcy made the news.

Which just goes to show in today’s business climate – next year is never guaranteed.

Contact Cindy Hval at Her previous columns are available online at columnists. Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval.


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