As if the struggling economy wasn’t enough to cause stress for those in the retail business this holiday season, the forced temporary closure of more than a dozen Sandpoint shops cut short their busiest season of the year.
On Dec. 22, merchants in the Cedar Street Bridge Public Market in downtown Sandpoint were forced to close their businesses due to water damage on the enclosed bridge which was formerly home to Sandpoint’s Coldwater Creek retail store.
“We had two to three spaces that had water damage,” said one of the bridge’s owners John Gillham. In addition to the fire sprinkler system causing water leaks, Gillham said there was also a main sewer line that froze. “That has never happened before.”
With Christmas just a few days away, many businesses were counting on last-minute shoppers to help boost seasonal sales. But with the lack of a functioning fire suppression system and no indoor plumbing, Gillham and his partner Jeff Bond were left with no option but to close.
But both Gillham and Bond are optimistic that the bridge, which is about 16,000 square feet and houses approximately 15 shops and kiosks, will be open Thursday in time for Sandpoint’s Winter Carnival – breathing life back into what was a disappointing holiday season for the shops.
The bridge was converted into an indoor marketplace by a local entrepreneur who modeled his idea after the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy. Spanning 400 feet across Sand Creek near Lake Pend Oreille, the bridge is built with massive tamarack logs and solar windows and is a favorite among residents and tourists.
Gillham said that while some stores have had to move out their inventory to facilitate repairs, everyone should be back in business by the Jan. 15 giving the public the opportunity to enjoy one of the more popular tourist attractions in Sandpoint.
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