Downtown heartbeat

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  • Brown

  • 1

    Sommers

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    MITCHELL BONDS/Press Dawson Williams, left, gets ready to take burger orders from the first half-dozen people in the door as soon as Hudson’s Hamburgers opened on Sunday morning.

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    MITCHELL BONDS/Press Charly Olson, left, and Sarah Naglich test kinetic toys at Figpickels Toy Emporium on Sunday morning. Olson and Naglich were on a field trip with the Successful Stuttering Management Program along with more than a dozen others.

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    MITCHELL BONDS/Press Brian Selmser of Santa Clarita, Calif., puts a pin in the map at Coeur d’Alene Souvenir, marking his hometown.

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    MITCHELL BONDS/Press Malia Mapston, right, and her daughter Rylie, 3, of Richland, Wash., pose to show off Malia’s new Lake Cd’A shirt on Sunday morning, designed in-house at Coeur d’Alene Souvenir.

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    Mitchell

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    Colombini

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    Jaeger

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    Hudson

  • Brown

  • 1

    Sommers

  • 2

    MITCHELL BONDS/Press Dawson Williams, left, gets ready to take burger orders from the first half-dozen people in the door as soon as Hudson’s Hamburgers opened on Sunday morning.

  • 3

    MITCHELL BONDS/Press Charly Olson, left, and Sarah Naglich test kinetic toys at Figpickels Toy Emporium on Sunday morning. Olson and Naglich were on a field trip with the Successful Stuttering Management Program along with more than a dozen others.

  • 4

    MITCHELL BONDS/Press Brian Selmser of Santa Clarita, Calif., puts a pin in the map at Coeur d’Alene Souvenir, marking his hometown.

  • 5

    MITCHELL BONDS/Press Malia Mapston, right, and her daughter Rylie, 3, of Richland, Wash., pose to show off Malia’s new Lake Cd’A shirt on Sunday morning, designed in-house at Coeur d’Alene Souvenir.

  • 6

    Mitchell

  • 7

    Colombini

  • 8

    Jaeger

  • 9

    Hudson

It doesn't matter if you're in the business of selling sweets, auctioning artwork, hawking hamburgers, peddling pastimes or marketing memorabilia — it's a good year to be in business in downtown Coeur d'Alene. Mostly.

"We got off to a slow start this spring," Laurie Jaeger of Coeur d'Alene Souvenir said Sunday morning. Jaeger and her husband, David, own the souvenir shop next to Hudson's Hamburgers on Sherman Avenue. "Like, we lost a third of our season. It took a little time, but we're back up to how we were last year."

The shop has seen quite a few tourists this year, if the pin boards of the U.S. and the world — marking the hometowns of tourists who have visited this year — are any indicator. To be specific, it's 4,600 pins since January.

"We've got more from California this year but less from Europe," Jaeger said. Many things affect international tourism, "Like Brexit," she added. California is the top source of tourist visits, followed by Washington at No. 2, and Texas at No. 3. "And we've got a lot more from Idaho this year, too."

One of the Californian tourists, Brian Selmser, and his family browsed the shop for huckleberry souvenirs.

"I came here as a kid with my mom, 40 years ago," Selmser said, though he now lives in Santa Clarita, Calif.

Speaking of Hudson's, the renowned hamburger counter has had a steady year, too.

"We've had a good summer," Steve Hudson said. The 17-stool counter was already full, with another family waiting outside as early as 11:15 a.m. Sunday. The staff was in constant motion, making burgers from scratch, by the dozen, and the shop had only been open for 15 minutes. It wasn't even noon yet. 

Hudson gestured at the small space. "Of course, we can only do so much."

"This is actually slow, compared to the last three weeks," Dawson Williams said as he took burger orders. "We're blessed to have a little breathing room."

Hudson's might do about the same volume of business every year due to its specific business model and small size, but it's still an attraction to out-of-towners.

"It was high on the to-do list," said Jack Mitchell of Baltimore, between bites of a hamburger. On a break from the National Funeral Directors Association meetings at The Coeur d'Alene Resort over the weekend, Mitchell took time to enjoy the tourism offerings.

"I love it, it's a neat town, everyone's friendly, and there's a lot to do," Mitchell said. "I'm going ziplining tomorrow."

Children were plentiful in the downtown throng late Sunday morning, but oddly absent in the Mrs. Honeypeeps sweet shop.

"We see more adults than kids," shift manager Katlyn Colombini said. "All morning we've just had adults."

The sweet scent of fresh-made cotton candy pervaded the entryway to the Plaza Shops as Colombini wrapped it around the sticks.

"We've been a lot more busy this year, overshooting last year by a lot," she said. "You can't go wrong with sugar.

"It slows down in the winter, but we'll keep busy through Halloween."

It's not just a busy season for consumer goods, either. At the "modern and contemporary ... ish" Blackwell Gallery, according to Beth Brown, things have picked up.

"I took over in October," Brown said. "I wasn't here (in summer 2016) but my art was, and I've been selling more."

"We're starting to see people moving to town and are looking for art for their homes," she continued. "At ArtWalk on Friday, we had over 300 people here."

But it's not all roses in downtown Coeur d'Alene. Sometimes the foot traffic is just traffic, and doesn't spend as expected.

"Our numbers are down from last year," said Devin Sommer of Figpickels Toy Emporium, despite standing in the middle of a store packed with curious children and their parents watching resilient bubbles and disc-launcher demonstrations. "It's not a huge, noticeable thing; we're not doing bad by any means."

Figpickels has reduced its open hours, because sometimes people just look, like on the Fourth of July.

"I wish more of the traffic translated into sales," said Sommer, the son of Figpickels owners Brett and Susan Sommer. "The Fourth was hugely disappointing. People were only there to watch the parade. We do better on the days before and after Ironman."

The loss of the full Ironman triathlon has drawn mixed reactions.

"We're thrilled that this is the last year of the full Ironman," Jaeger said. The full Ironman event, she said, clogged the streets with barricades, and there wasn't room for tourists to park and visit her shop. She's still happy with the half Ironman, though.

"We had more visitors with the half than we ever did with the full."

"People used to make a vacation out of Ironman," Sommer said. "They used to bring their families and stay a couple days. But now the prices and the rates go up and it hurts the tourists. Even the guys — they can't afford it. So we won't have it anymore."

"What we need is to engage the community, and get involved with families," Sommer said, not just focus on tourism. "We need more diversity and services, to be vibrant year-round."

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