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Biz ‘Bites:’ New store, competition finalists announced and groundbreaking news

Dollar General to open first Idaho store in 2022

Dollar General announced on Sept. 27 that it will open its first store in Idaho in Athol, a community of approximately 700 people halfway between Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint. The store location is scheduled to open sometime in spring 2022.

Dollar General is one of the two biggest “dollar store” chains in the country. Along with its rival, Dollar Tree, the two firms overlap in the convenience, variety and discount store categories in the retail sector. Successful chains in this market niche have expanded over the last two decades. As of July 2021, Dollar General had over 17,600 stores, up from 16,000 in September 2019. Dollar Tree had over 15,000 stores as of July 2020. There are currently 51 Family Dollar stores and 38 Dollar Tree stores in Idaho.

Rival Dollar Tree, which is a Canadian company with a large U.S. presence, operates both the Dollar Tree and Family Dollar chains. Dollar Tree has seen similar growth but fueled its expansion by buying up smaller dollar store chains. Dollar Tree shed Family Dollar stores, selling off 300 stores in 2015 to placate U.S. antitrust regulators after the firm acquired Family Dollar in 2014. Since then, the company closed 390 less profitable Family Dollar stores in 2019-2020.

Both chains have been criticized for their business model, which targets food deserts and lower income areas in rural communities and under-served urban neighborhoods, places where larger stores like Walmart pass over because of insufficient consumer traffic to maintain a big box retail location. This business model takes advantage of the convenience factor and product variety to build market share at the expense of larger variety stores like Target and Walmart located further away.

Groundbreaking ceremony at Parkway Station on Oct. 1, hosted by Galena Equities and ESI.

Groundbreaking ceremony at Parkway Station on Oct. 1, hosted by Galena Equities and ESI. Photo courtesy of Dan Fullmer/Galena Equity Partners.

Parkway Station groundbreaking

Galena Equity Partners and Engineered Structures Inc. held a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 1 in Garden City to mark the next phase of building at the Parkway Station, which is a mixed-use, mixed-income planned neighborhood development with a mix of cottage homes, townhouses, apartments and retail, all within a quarter mile of the Greenbelt and Boise River. Building activities on the 10 acres of the Parkway Station site began in 2018 with the construction of townhomes.

Something’s brewing in Moscow

The third annual Brewersfest in Moscow will be held on Oct. 9. The event began in 2018. It was not held in 2020. The event will be at the Latah County Events Center at the county fairgrounds. The event begins at 4 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m. or whenever the beer runs out. Six Lewis and Clark Valley breweries will be serving their products. The event benefits United Way of Moscow and the Latah County Fair.

U of Idaho’s mass timber ICCU Arena opens Nov. 9

The completed ICCU Arena at the University of Idaho.

The completed ICCU Arena at the University of Idaho. Photo courtesy of the University of Idaho.

The new mass timber ICCU arena is complete enough that the university was giving members of the press tours during the last week of September. The $51 million structure seats 4,200 and will be the new home of the Vandals’ basketball programs. Private donations of $43 million helped to fund the construction of this unique massive timber building, including a $10 million donation from the Idaho Central Credit Union (ICCU), whose gift came with the naming rights to the arena for 35 years.

The previous basketball venue for the university was Memorial Gymnasium, which was completed in 1928 and has provided almost a century of service.

The new arena is a mass timber structure. Mass timber is a type of framing style characterized by the use of large solid wood panels for walls, floors and roofs, and wood framing systems of six feet or more in width or depth. Mass timber includes an array of wood products like glue-laminated or dowel-laminated timber, which allow for innovative shapes. The flagship structure for mass timber construction in Idaho is the ICCU Arena with its signature laminated wood beams and curving roof, all made of mass timber.

The university broke ground on the arena in June 2019. The arena’s inaugural event will be a Nov. 9 exhibition game when the Vandals womens’ basketball team plays Lewis-Clark State College. An economic study by the University of Idaho College of Business and Economics estimated that the new arena would add 74 jobs to the local economy.

7 Idaho companies announced for annual ‘Trailmix’ pitch competition 

Idaho’s largest entrepreneurship-focused community event, Boise Entrepreneur Week (formerly Boise Startup Week), selected seven Idaho companies for its annual pitch competition called “Trailmix,” which will take place during the week-long hybrid event that begins Oct. 18. With this event marking its sixth year in existence, Boise Entrepreneur Week has provided more than $166,000 in funding to Idaho entrepreneurs. The Trailmix pitch competition alone offers $30,000 in total prize money and helps food and beverage startups take their products from the farmers market to the supermarket. Trailmix applicants compete for a chance at winning a $25,000 grand prize and shelf space at Albertsons, with $5,000 going to the runner-up. This year’s competitors include ERTH Beverage Company, Chicana Foods, Cocoa Bombs LLC, Free Spirits Beverage Company, Naughty Fruit, Root Chips and Three Sisters Artisanal Meats. The pitch competition will be free to watch online for any Idaho residents who want to support their favorite startup. Register in advance at boiseentrepreneurweek.org.

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