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Sandpoint Super 1 stalls

by RALPH BARTHOLDT
Staff Writer | June 15, 2010 9:00 PM

SANDPOINT - Grains and grapes are holding up the opening of the area's latest grocer.

Super 1 Foods had hoped for a mid-June opener despite announcing months ago that the new store will be ready for customers July 4.

The Hayden-based grocer hired 100 employees in its efforts to be prepared when the doors swing, and a quicker-than usual construction schedule, helped in part by a mild winter, put the building ahead of track.

The opener, however, could be delayed because of a speed bump in the beer-wine license application.

According to the state police Alcohol Beverage Control Bureau, the store's application is being processed. But because the state contracts with the federal government for background checks, and the government has a backlog of background checks to perform on its thousands of census workers, things are a bit snarled.

The last time Super 1 opened a new store was a year ago, said store director Randy McIntire. The business received the license in a month.

It has taken longer this time. He expects it could take as long as 12 weeks.

With thousands of background checks to perform, the government process has slowed to a crawl.

"That makes sense to me," McIntire said. "That's reasonable. The feds hired a ton of people this year."

The beer and wine license is always critical, he said, because the government requires new store construction to be at a certain stage before a license can be applied for, he said.

Once the feds sign off on it, the state clears it before local entities, county and city, are asked for approval.

That is when the process speeds up, he said.

"We're moving as fast as we can," he said.

He anticipates the Sandpoint Super 1 to be ready for customers by the original opening date next month.

Once they start working, the 100 employees will provide an additional boon to the local economy Bridgette Bradshaw-Fleer, manager of Sandpoint's Idaho Department of Labor office, said.

"That's huge," Bradshaw-Fleer said. "That's a big boost for our economy."

With a county unemployment rate of 10.8 percent and 2,277 people out of work, adding between 80 and 100 local residents to the work force will make an impression.

"It's a big impact," she said.

The last time a retailer hired that many people was when Home Depot moved in, she said.

"It's a boost," she said. "It's a positive sign when people return back to work, or are finding jobs."

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