Shop downtown and support nonprofits at the same time

By Ben Olson
Reader Staff

If nonprofit organizations and charities are the lifeblood of our community, it goes without saying that the downtown merchants are the oxygen that breathes life into it. Aside from the vitality and fun our downtown retailers give to the community, they are some of the biggest supporters for charities across the county.

A family meanders down the First Avenue shopping district in Sandpoint. Photo by Ben Olson.

A family meanders down the First Avenue shopping district in Sandpoint. Photo by Ben Olson.

Downtown merchants get asked to donate products for raffles and giveaways that support local charities almost on a daily basis. While they rarely complain about helping these worthy causes, it can sometimes seem like a daunting task, which is why downtown merchants put their heads together recently to come up with an idea to pool their resources together.

“Spring for Sanpdoint” is the result of the brainstorming; a one-day event on Saturday, April 30 where two dozen downtown shops plan to host an extravaganza of sales and special events. Each of the merchants has chosen a local nonprofit to support. A percentage of each merchant’s receipts will go to support their chosen charity.

“We all give as much as we possibly can,” said Ranel Hanson, owner of downtown clothing boutique Zany Zebra. “Now, we’re trying to pair up to do that more effectively.”

Each of the 24 participating retailers will feature a special event to go along with the sales; be it instructional classes, heavily discounted items or family oriented festivities.

Great Stuff will be featuring a chocolate and garlic tasting event, combined with a book signing for local author Jane Fritz. There will be an interactive artist demonstration at Artworks Gallery. Weekends & Company plans to host kitchen gadget demos while Larson’s will have some fun games and prizes available. Zany Zebra will be carrying handmade poodle skirts in anticipation of the upcoming Lost in the ‘50s weekend, in addition to their 70% off all winter items sale.

For the kids, Creations inside the Cedar St. Bridge will host a bevy of fun children’s activities, including face painting, portraits by local artist Mary Maio, tissue paper flower arrangements and flowerpot painting.

No matter which of the 24 locations you visit, there will be something fun going on, so make sure you visit them all.

Shoppers will be provided with a “Spring for Sandpoint” passport at any store they visit. When the passports have been stamped by at least eight participating stores, the customer will be entered into a drawing for a one of three downtown shopping sprees.

According to Hanson, when you spend money with downtown retailers, you keep your community vital.

“When you spend $10 downtown it goes right back into the community,” she said. “A lot of people say shopping online is easy, and that you don’t have to worry about parking and all that, but by shopping locally you can talk to real people, meet friends, build relationships.”

One of the best ways to keep your community vital and strong is to support the small businesses downtown. These aren’t chain stores owned by corporate suits and ties; these are mom-and-pop shops owned and operated by the same smiling faces you’ve seen around town for years. These are business owned by families who rely on your patronage to pay for their kid’s college tuitions and soccer uniforms. These are the real people that keep our community funky and moving forward.

Please do your best to support them, even if you only make one purchase downtown instead of at a box store or online. You can make a difference, shoppers. Shop downtown on Saturday, April 30. You’ll be thankful that you did.


Here is a list of participating merchants and their chosen charities:

Azalea Handpicked Style – Bonner Community Hospice

Eve’s Leaves – Bonner Community Food Bank

Zany Zebra – Food For Our Children

Carousel – Panhandle Animal Shelter

Art Works Gallery – Emerging Artist Scholarship Fund

Larson’s – Sandpoint Teen Center

Greasy Fingers Bikes n’ Repair – Pend Oreille Pedalers

Northwest Handmade – Creations Pirate Ship

Meadow Brook – Special Olympics

Weekends & Company – Bulldog Bench

Pedro’s – North Idaho Aerospace Program

Great Stuff – Habitat for Humanity

Petal Talk – POAC Outreach Program

Santosha – Community Cancer Services

Bella Terra – Multiple Sclerosis “Fill the Boot”

Cedar Street Bistro – Kinderhaven

Finan McDonald – North Idaho CASA

Sharon’s Hallmark – Healing Gardens at BGH

Zero Point – Angels Over Sandpoint

Creations – Community Resource Center

Storm Sports – Independence Ski Team

Alpine Shop – Panhandle Alliance for Education

Panida Theater – Panida Playhouse

Cedar Day Spa – Transitions in Progress

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