Silver Valley businesses embrace alternative methods

by Chanse Watson
Managing Editor | March 24, 2020 1:14 PM

One by one, businesses across the county are shutting their doors due to the COVID-19 situation. Whether it be to follow recommendations set forth by health officials or simply to keep losses at a minimum during this period of limited shopping, shop owners everywhere are facing the very real possibility of closing for an extended period of time to wait out the pandemic.

The few that have not yet decided to flip off that open sign for the foreseeable future have had to develop some creative means in which to get their products to their customers while still keeping things safe and clean.

To share a variety of perspectives, the News-Press spoke with three business owners in Wallace, Osburn and Kellogg that are doing their best to adapt during these troubling times.

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The first business owner was Ali Koski with Oliver’s Mercantile based in Wallace.

Normally an establishment for customized swag and craft beer (both on tap and cans/bottles to go), Koski has embraced home craft beer delivery to keep the doors open as long as she can.

“We really wanted to think outside of the box and try to figure out creative ways to still serve the Silver Valley while limiting exposure,” Koski said. “We know that people still really want craft beer, but not everybody wants to fight the TP hoarders in the big box stores to get it. Now they can call or text their order into us ahead of time, pick it up on the curb, or for a small delivery fee, we’ll drive it anywhere from Pinehurst to Mullan.”

Koski reached out to the Idaho Liquor Division and quickly learned what was needed to be done to legally deliver her product.

Customers can check out Oliver’s selection of more than 50 craft beers on their Facebook or Instagram page. Once they’ve made their selection, customers can then call in or text a completed order sheet with their delivery address.

Delivery orders must be at least one six-pack in size or more and customers should have their ID’s ready when they accept their order.

Idaho regulations require that payment for these orders must be made either over the phone or in person at the store. Delivery drivers cannot accept payment at homes.

It is still a very real possibility that Koski will have to follow the lead of other local businesses and close temporarily, but she hopes that this delivery option will help her keep her employees paid as long as possible.

“We figured out what it was going to take and we went through the process to offer delivery service,” she said. “With a huge selection of beer available that would otherwise sit around, we figured that we might as well put it on wheels and get it to people in their houses.”

Oliver’s Mercantile can be reached by phone at 208-660-1083 and is located at 605 Bank St. in Wallace. Visit their social media pages for more information regarding products and hours of operation.

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Next, the News-Press got in contact with Mom’s Vintage Eatery owner Candyce “Candy” Gilmore in Osburn.

Gilmore, like most purveyors of dine-in eating establishments right now, made the tough choice last week to close her dining room to the public.

While this decision certainly decreases the amount of foot traffic in Mom’s, it hasn’t decreased Gilmore’s drive to provide food to her loyal customers and help out in the community.

To abide by CDC social distancing recommendations, Mom’s is currently offering curbside pickup for call-in orders during normal business hours.

“We’re trying to comply as best we can, for as long as we can,” she said.

To order, customers can simply check out the Mom’s Eatery menu that is available on their Facebook page. Once a customer has made their decision, they can call their order in and pick it up without even leaving their vehicle.

While this service can’t bring in the kind of revenue that dine-in customers do, every little bit helps Gilmore continue her many acts of kindness in the community.

With a 26% child poverty rate, it’s not uncommon for some children in Shoshone County to go without a meal. During this period of unrest, things can get even worse.

To combat this as best she can, Gilmore decided a while ago that Mom’s would help feed Silver Valley children during the warmer months of the year when they weren’t in school.

“We started feeding kids two years ago in the summertime,” Gilmore said. “…and we decided that we would go ahead and do them now because things are tight for people.”

From 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., Tuesday through Friday, Mom’s Eatery will be offering free “grab-and-go” meals for kids up to 18 years old.

Food items include whatever Gilmore and her team have to put together. For example, Tuesday morning they offered pancakes, sausage and fruit — but this can change daily.

Currently, Mom’s offers this service at their location in Osburn, but Gilmore plans to open up a satellite location at 519 1/2 Cedar St. in Wallace to help even more kids. Gilmore said that as long as she has the volunteers, she will continue to serve the free meals as long as needed.

If this kindness wasn’t enough, Gilmore and her team were also spotted on Saturday delivering hamburgers to the hardworking folks at Shoshone Medical Center in Kellogg.

“I have two friends that are nurses and I know that they are just overworked right now, so we thought we’d thank our (medical professionals) for everything they do. They’re on the front line!”

Mom’s Vintage Eatery is located at 713 E. Mullan Ave. and is currently open for curbside pickup orders between 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. To reach them by phone, call 208-556-1668.

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Lastly, we spoke with Prospect Fitness Studio owner Monica Miller in Kellogg.

Normally known for exuberant dancing and demanding zumba workouts, Miller’s studio will be a bit quieter for a while after she made the tough call this week to cancel all her in-person classes.

Miller was hoping to keep the doors open and the music up for at least one more week, but due to multiple cancellations following the news of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kootenai County, the decision was essentially made for her.

“For some business owners, it was an easy decision to close,” she explained, “but for me, especially since I (Prospect Fitness) meet all those guidelines and criteria like fewer than 10 people and keeping 6 feet away, it was tough. Most of my class sizes are smaller, everybody is spaced out, and there’s not a lot of face-to-face interaction. Everybody has their own isolated workspaces in the room.”

Until Tuesday, Miller stayed open and continued classes — leaving the decision to attend (and stay open) up to her students.

“Part of being an instructor and looking out for people’s well-being is knowing when to call it, but at the same time, I didn’t want to call it too soon and miss out on however much face-to-face time I had with my students,” she said.

Unlike restaurants or other businesses with physical products, Miller can’t just invite her students to call-in and pick up some zumba curbside, nor can she deliver some zumba to their homes.

What she can do though is keep them active with the use of technology.

While not set in stone just yet, Miller hopes to utilize services such as Zoom, YouTube and other social media platforms to keep her students moving by recording/broadcasting her classes from the studio while they follow along at home. The goal is to provide the same energy and service, just at a safe distance.

“My plan is to have a combination between pre-recorded videos and live videos,” Miller said.

For certain classes, she even plans to loan out small workout equipment so her students can get the full experience.

The online classes will be free, but Miller is thankful to anyone who wishes to kick some money her way to cover the bills.

“It’s not even really about the money at this point,” she said. “It’s really about keeping people engaged and letting them know that we don’t bend over and take it from COVID-19!”

For more information on Prospect Fitness Studio, visit their Facebook page or call 208-512-0911.

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Prospect Fitness Studio owner Monica Miller demonstrates how she will digitally interact with her students and post classes online.

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Photo by CHANSE WATSON/ Oliver’s Mercantile employee Alannah Ford makes a beer delivery to Michael Hutchins in Silverton on Friday. Oliver’s is accepting delivery orders during normal business hours.

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Mom’s Vintage Eatery owner Candyce “Candy” Gilmore whips up lunch for the nurses and doctors of Shoshone Medical Center on Saturday.