The Straight Poop: The quest for dog-friendly businesses in North Idaho

Larson’s Department Store

By Drake the Dog
Reader Pet Columnist

Where am I taking my humans today?  The snow keeps coming, the wind is howling, it’s single digits, the Missus has been grounded with an ear infection, and I need to get a birthday gifts for the both of them.

Can you guess where I’m headed?

•The name of this place included ‘princess’ at one time

•One staff member has worked there since junior high

•A cat on a leash was spotted sitting on a chair there

•Mike and Ike is the best selling candy

•This establishment will celebrate its 77th birthday (the week before Easter) in the same location.

Brrr, baby it’s cold outside! I am so glad that I didn’t get my locks trimmed, as  I need all the warmth I can get! I quickly lift a leg at the Dalmatian fire hydrant, bang out a few bars of  “How Much Is that Doggie in the Window” on the community piano in front of the Music Conservatory, and round the corner onto Main St. My pads are gripping the ice covered sidewalks, sans boots! This boy is on a mission!

 Lindsey Larson takes a break from her busy day to hang with Drake.

Lindsey Larson takes a break from her busy day to hang with Drake.

Finally, I am thawing out inside Sandpoint’s oldest Haberdashery, Larson’s Department Store, located at 327 N. First Ave. This downtown store has been an institution since 1940. Owners Dick, Linda and Lindsay Larson live their mission of “a quality driven value oriented company with an attitude and commitment to customer service everyday.”

Dick shared a bit of history with me. His grandfather, Lloyd started the store in 1940. Originally, it was only a one-floor shop occupying the north side of the building (where the men’s department is today). In the late ‘50s Lloyd bought out his partner, Thor Larson. During this time, there was a ladies clothing store next door called Marjeans. Lloyd acquired the store and renamed the entire establishment. Wait for it…wait for it…b (Hint: it’s not a simple name like Selfridges, which I have been binge watching!).

LARSON’S MEN’S AND BOYS SHOP AND THE PRINCESS SHOP!  (Dann Hall… do you have a picture of that marquis in the archives?).

In 1974, Lloyd bought the entire building from owner Jim Parsons Sr. and remodeled it. After a few years, Lloyd retired to Arizona, and in 1983, after he graduated from U of I, Dick, his son, (who started working at Larson’s in junior high) took over.

Today, the three level Sandpoint store boasts 10,000 square feet, and I found awesome merchandise everywhere! And speaking of everywhere, the family also owns Larson’s in Bonners Ferry (since 2006), and Grangeville (since 2010).

As I continue to look around, I recognize some favorite labels from the Mister and Missus’ closets—Dockers, Helly Hanson, Sorel, Kamik, Pendleton, Under Armour, Erin London, and Woolrich, just to mention a few.

Whew—now I know that my gift selections will be easy-peasey, as Larson’s has quality merchandise at reasonable prices. Did you know they rent tuxedos? Winter formal, Homecoming and Prom here we come! Maybe I’ll find something that the Mister can wear with his blue suede shoes.

I had to rely on Lindsay and Nancy’s expertise in the selection and the gift-wrapping process. By this time, Duke, Lindsay’s 12-year-old Australian Shepherd mix (aka Dick’s grand dog) was chomping at the bit to take Grandpa down the street to his favorite watering hole. According to my research, shopping with your dog can be a bonding experience, while helping with socialization and confidence boosting.

Look for the Reader paw-print sticker in the window of dog friendly businesses.

Larson’s Rules:

1. Bring your “get along with other humans behavior”

2. Leashes please

3. No running up and down the stairs, or chewing on the shoes or gloves

4. The hydrant is only a block away

5. Kiddos—find the Mike and Ike candy

6. Mark your calendar for the 77th birthday bash in April

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