Monday, April 12, 2021

Sandpoint Shopping District looking forward to the future

| March 31, 2021 1:00 AM

Deanna Harris, spokesperson for the Sandpoint Shopping District, is happily looking forward to a good summer for downtown businesses.

It’s a 180-degree turn in an optimistic direction compared to the panicking repercussions of COVID a year ago. Here in Deanna’s own words is how Sandpoint’s downtown businesses faced challenges together, surviving through unified efforts, mutual support, and creative marketing actions. The summer of 2021 promises revival and the joy of thriving once again.

“Just about a year ago most of the downtown businesses were starting to panic about how they should be handling operations. From March 21 of last year to May 1, most downtown businesses closed. During this closure, we were able to do personal shopping for customers and curbside pickup. The businesses stepped up to the challenges and got pretty creative, really stepping out of the box. Some did live Facebook events to show products and had people call and order over the phone.

“As a group, the Sandpoint Shopping District met on weekly Zoom calls to discuss the issues they were dealing with. We had representative Andrea Marcoccio from Bonner County Economic Development Council join some of the meetings and walk us through different grants available and share information about the Paycheck Protection Program. We also shared information to other business owners on how to get their employees unemployment. We worked to be a resource, often in conjunction with Kate McAlister, Executive Director of the Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce.

“We persevered and stayed positive, but no one knew what the future held—how long we would have to be closed or whether our employees would be able to hang on financially and come back. We all tried to be resources for each other because everyone was equally concerned. The governor did weekly updates as to opening businesses, and most opened right about May 1. No one knew what our customers’ reactions were going to be, so we were pleasantly surprised at how business rebounded. Everybody in downtown Sandpoint had good summer traffic and did good business. One positive thing about the time of closure was the completion of the road project on First Avenue so we welcomed customers back to new, wider sidewalks and new landscaping. The summer not only brought the tourist trade but also many new customers who have relocated to our beautiful area.

“We have continued to be pleased at business levels through fall and winter, and we are looking forward to a great summer. There are some new developments, building, and remodeling in progress. The Panida Theater and other local creative organizations are planning entertainments, events, and activities.

“After a year of uncertainty, we’re looking forward to seeing our favorite customers back downtown and welcoming new ones, enjoying all of the improvements that have been done this past year and all the upcoming planned events. Follow us on Facebook at Sandpoint Shopping District and we’ll celebrate the summer together.”