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Tuesday, August 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Nation/World

Excessive Growth Could Mean Lean Times For North Idaho Merchants

By Nils Rosdahl The Spokesman-Revi

Ah, the new year!

We’re supposed to be filled with hope, new life, all that. Believe me, I’m trying.

Not that I think North Idaho is hurting. Our general economy will be quite healthy as we grow.

It’s the growth that concerns me. Growth is a two-edged sword. Bringing in more people results in more business, whether the “more people” are tourists or residents.

But is “more people” what we really want?

Many of us live here because there aren’t too many people.

I also worry about the potential of over-building. Who is going to live in all those housing developments, new apartment buildings and new retirement facilities? And can our community support all the restaurants, motels and stores coming in.

In the Coeur d’Alene area, the Fred Meyer multieverything store and the 100-plus room Ameritel Motel beside ShopKo are under construction, and an Albertson’s is planned to anchor the new 30-plus store Prairie Shopping Center.

Putting holiday shopping aside, and I simply don’t see our population adequately supporting the existing businesses, let alone the new ones. The new ones probably will make it, barely, but they’ll definitely harm or kill their smaller competitors.

Let’s face it. Our new supermarkets are not thriving. And I can’t help but scratch my head when I see this new motel. From I-90 you see mostly unlit windows in the existing motels, many of which are not that old themselves.

Then I see that the Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association wants to “look at” ways to revamp the public area that has views of the lake, Tubbs Hill and the mountains. Merchants say that perhaps the space taken up by ball fields and tennis courts could be put to better use - to attract more tourists.

Perhaps the Downtown Association needs to reconsider and decide if it’s serving its resident population or the tourists. Many people are attracted to living here because the ball fields and tennis courts beside the lake are part of the amenities! True, the parking lots with wonderful views of the lake are worth considering for changes. But leave the recreational facilities alone unless they’re being improved.

Perhaps downtown Coeur d’Alene merchants should realize that business may not get a whole lot better in the near future.

“The novelty of Coeur d’Alene is over,” explained Patrick Jones, one of the owners of Harvey’s clothing store and landlord of downtown buildings.

“Been there; done that” is the comment of most regional visitors regarding the Coeur d’Alene Resort and Golf Course.

Silverwood will attract repeat visitors as it adds attractions and remains affordable, but that doesn’t bring people downtown. Same with Wildwaters and smaller attractions such as Go Kart Family Fun.

Harvey’s is one example of the long-time local businesses realizing it’s as good as it’s going to get and therefore is tightening its belt. The Jones’ formerly separate Pendleton shop has become absorbed into the Harvey’s store.

“Our local business isn’t bad at all,” Jones said. “We just got hit by our third straight lousy summer (for lack of tourists). It’s not what it was five years ago (when the resort was new).”

The former Pendleton space will become an upscale pine furniture and accessories store in March. Owners Becky and Monty Webb, original owners of the nearby Coeur d’Alene Coffee Roastery, have a similar store at Lake Tahoe.

Another Jones-owned space, downtown CDA’s short-lived McDonald’s Express, needs to be filled, preferably with a restaurant since the space was remodeled for a food tenant.

“McDonald’s had to survive on the summer,” Jones said. “It was too rainy; no one came to the beach.” He said finding a new tenant won’t be a problem.

Clark’s Jewelry is tightening in a move that should prove positive. With tenant Cast & Blast closing its downtown store, Clark’s Jewelry is moving back into its original location, highlighted by fine, old woodwork and cabinetry meant for a jewelry store.

Proprietor Dan Clark is consolidating his stores from Post Falls and 421 Sherman into the original space. The old street-side clock will be returned to its original spot.

, DataTimes MEMO: Nils Rosdahl’s column appears in the Idaho edition of The Spokesman-Review on Wednesdays.

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

Nils Rosdahl’s column appears in the Idaho edition of The Spokesman-Review on Wednesdays.

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

Wordcount: 711
Tags: business, column

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