By Cameron Rasmusson
Over the course of 10 years, Common Knowledge has established itself as something of a Sandpoint institution in its own right.
It’s understandably bittersweet for co-owner Shelby Rognstad, then, that the business is closing its doors, with this Sunday marked as the last day of operation. The property is now on the market, and those with outstanding store credit should fill it by this weekend.
“The staff here has been great, just like a family,” Rognstad said. “And the customers are a part of that family, too.”
There are several reasons for the business’ closing, Rognstad said. Chief among them is the Sandpoint City Council president’s upcoming campaign for the November mayoral election.
“It’s really important that I spend more of my time on this campaign,” Rognstad said.
The market for local coffee shops has also become considerably more packed in the last 10 years, Rognstad added. When Common Knowledge first opened, Monarch Mountain was the only other prominent coffee shop in town. Since then, options like Evans Brothers Coffee, Tierra Madre, Panhandle Cone and Coffee, Kokanee Coffee and more have entered the fray. Considering their excellent quality and downtown locations, Rognstad said they gave Common Knowledge a real run for their money.
“All those businesses added a certain amount of direct competition,” Rognstad said. “Collectively, they provided a real challenge.”
Common Knowledge distinguished itself by adding services targeting new markets over the years. In addition to the coffee shop and teahouse, the business featured a book store and a food menu focusing on organic and healthy options.
“We did everything we could to stick to high standards as far as the quality of the food we served went,” Rognstad said. “That was an ethic we always wanted to live by even when it didn’t make financial sense.”
Before Sandpoint welcomed more venues into the community, the business was also a location for events like parties or book signings. Authors like Amy Goodman and Jim Hightower, for instance, hosted very popular book events.
While Rognstad has much to look forward to, he said it’s difficult to close the door on Common Knowledge. Arriving in the morning to greet restaurant regulars and enjoy the cozy yard provided him a peace that he’ll miss.
“Just having that nurturing feeling everyday is what I’ll miss most about this place,” he said.
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