Leonard Paul shutters on Thursday

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The owners of the historic Leonard Paul Store at Priest Lake announced the business is closing on Thursday and going up for auction on Friday. (Photo by MARY MALONE)

COOLIN — The 112-year-old Leonard Paul Store is shutting its doors on Thursday.

Owners Pat and Teri Akins announced the closure in a post to the store’s Facebook page on Saturday.

“It is with great sadness that Teri and I have to make this announcement,” the Akins said in the post.

The couple, who took ownership of the Priest Lake landmark in 2005, said they spent the last year to try and sell off the business and settle debts without success on either front.

The store began its life as a 20-foot by 30-foot log cabin just after the turn of the century and was replaced by the current structure in 1926. It is scheduled for auction on Friday in Sandpoint.

“We know there are some investors going after this, but if it remains a store is unclear. We hope it does for the community,” the Akins said in the social media post.

The store began a disgorging its merchandise on Tuesday in a clearance sale, although its fixtures and equipment were not part of the purge.

Pat Akins listed the store’s custom-painted 1911 Hall’s Safe Co. safe for sale on Facebook with an asking price of $3,000.

“Needs to be gone by Thursday...” the post read.

An emailed message for comment on the store’s gmail account bounced back as undeliverable.

The store signaled financial troubles in 2016, prompting the creation of a gofundme.com fundraising account.

Andy Coolin recruited Paul Mears to establish the outpost in 1906 with the promise of growth, according to “Wild Place,” a history of Priest Lake written by Kris Runberg Smith and Tom Weitz. Mears recruited his 19-year-old nephew — Paul — to open the general merchandise store next to Coolin’s cabin. Paul bunked on the kitchen floor of Coolin’s place over the Thanksgiving holiday while he and a Priest River carpenter installed the store’s milled windows and doors.

Despite heavy snows, Paul opened what would become Priest Lake’s first fully equipped store on Feb. 15, 1906.

The shipping rate was a penny per pound from Priest River, which caused Paul to provision the store with top-shelf items, according to “Pioneer Voices of Priest Lake,” an oral history edited by Runberg Smith.

“And that’s always been the case in out-of-the-way places. You get a better grade of stuff than you would back in town. No use in paying a lot of freight on something that isn’t very good,” Paul said.

The store, located on deeded land at 341 Bayview Drive, is slated to go up to auction at 10 a.m. on Friday at First American Title Co. in Sandpoint.

“We wish to thank all of you that have supported us over the past 14 years! We have made many friendships that we will cherish,” the Akins said in a Facebook post.

The couple plans to return to Spokane to be closer to family and find new employment.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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