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‘Tis the Season to Shop and Support Local

Downtown businesses come together to provide wonderful experience to locals and visitors alike By Jillian Chandler

Sandpoint Downtown Shopping District

“I love the camaraderie of our group. We have such a variety of owners with such diverse backgrounds, and we all love being a part of the downtown experience,” shares Deanna Harris, owner of Sharon’s Hallmark and secretary/treasurer of the Downtown Business Association, better known as the Sandpoint Shopping District.

A central location in the community, made up of a variety of businesses, from restaurants and bars to retail and service businesses, the Sandpoint Shopping District is currently comprised of 32 business members in downtown Sandpoint. The boundaries of the group run from Pine Street to Cedar Street and from 5th Avenue to Sand Creek.

“The boundaries are not set in stone, but we have found that businesses that are located outside of these boundaries may not see the benefits of membership from events,” states Deanna.

Spearheaded in 2008 by Ranel Hanson, who at the time owned Zany Zebra, the group of business owners focused on the Christmas holidays and a spring event, with the purpose of working together to promote downtown Sandpoint as a shopping destination.

Today, the purpose of the Shopping District is to promote these small, independent and locally owned businesses by collaborating on group events, specials, promotions and sales throughout the year. “This increases community vitality and the enjoyment of downtown Sandpoint and the businesses that make our core so special,” shares Justin Dick, owner of Trinity at City Beach and 113 Main, and member of the Sandpoint Shopping District.

“This was especially pertinent 2009 through 2011, as Sandpoint was hit hard with population and job loss, lack of demand, and during the City’s much-needed construction that blocked off access to many of our storefronts while three-phase power, new streets and sidewalks were put in.”

Benefits of membership are many, according to Deanna: “As a group, we can advertise more economically. Our events have a much bigger impact when we all participate. We have a ‘unified’ voice with City issues and have an open line of communication with City officials. Our group is also beneficial for brainstorming new ideas and helping businesses with issues and concerns.”

During the initial stages of the COVID shutdown, Shopping District members met weekly via Zoom to discuss the many issues their businesses were facing—employee retention, canceling product orders, forced closures for “non-essential” businesses, and much more. “We had business resources join in on these calls to answer questions and give suggestions,” adds Deanna.

“A win for one of us is a win for the group,” affirms Justin. “I love how connected we are despite the differences in our businesses. It’s great to see the collaborative efforts of the entire group, which in turn creates comradery amongst us all.”

He goes on to share: “I have come to the group many times to ask for their participation with my involvement with the Bonner General Health Foundation and am repeatedly blown away by the donations, support and volunteerism that we receive from the businesses in the Shopping District. These business owners not only employ a vast amount of our population but give so much back to our local nonprofits and service clubs.”

After years of trying to run the organization solely on a volunteer basis—which was difficult, as members were plenty busy trying to run a successful business—Sandpoint Shopping District hired Leilani Williams as a part-time administrator. She works hand in hand with Shery Meekings, Carousel Emporium owner and president of the Sandpoint Shopping District, to help promote and support these businesses.

There are some great events happening this season thanks to the Sandpoint Shopping District. So don’t miss out! Shop Small Saturday will take place the Saturday after Thanksgiving on November 26; Ladies Shopping Night is happening Friday, December 2; and lastly “Are You Yeti for Christmas” Late Night Shopping on Friday, December 16.

Show your support to these downtown businesses and the Sandpoint Shopping District not only during the holiday season but year-round. They look forward to serving you!

Downtown Sandpoint Shopping District

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