Tri-State’s Lewiston store will close its doors

Tri-State Outfitters manager Paul Laferriere walks through the camping gear aisles Wednesday afternoon at the store in Lewiston. Management has decided to not renew the lease on the Thain Road store, which expires Oct. 1. Laferriere said the tentative plan is to close at the end of July.

An outdoor recreation retailer is shutting the doors of its Lewiston store after more than 30 years of business.

Tri-State Outfitters will carry all its regular spring merchandise, but will begin to transfer items to other stores after July 4 and close later that month, said Joe Power, CEO of Crown Enterprises, which does business as Tri-State and Sportsman & Ski Haus.

Tri-State’s locations in Moscow, Coeur d’Alene and Moses Lake will remain open, as will Sportsman & Ski Hauses in Kalispell, Mont., and Whitefish, Mont. Unlike Tri-State in Lewiston, all of them are thriving.

The store at 120 Thain Road in Lewiston has been a part of Power’s company since 2010, when his business acquired all of Tri-State’s stores.

The deal didn’t include the real estate, which is owned by Gerard Connelly, whose family founded Tri-State in 1946. The Lewiston store opened in 1987 and originally was at 914 21st St.

Lewiston’s performance has been an issue for almost nine years.

“(Lewiston has) been the least profitable, and it just kind of kept going that way,” Power said.

The shift in Tri-State’s ownership happened not long after Walmart moved from a site about a block away from Tri-State in Lewiston to its Clarkston location.

That hurt Tri-State. The stores shared customers because Tri-State carries upper-end products Walmart doesn’t stock.

“The dynamic of the traffic coming up the hill changed at that time,” Power said.

Tri-State executives responded, altering Lewiston’s format by discontinuing gun sales two years ago in hopes of improving the numbers.

The sales margins on guns are low for a variety of reasons, such as the paperwork they require. They only help stores’ bottom lines when the people buying them are purchasing other higher-margin goods, according to Power.

”We tried everything we could to make it work,” he said.

Power’s decision has created an opportunity for another business. The 20,000-square-foot Tri-State building will be leased by Lewiston’s NAPA Auto Parts in an agreement that begins in October.

The NAPA stores at 914 21st St. and 1032 Bryden Ave. are consolidating into the location to have more space, Connelly said.

No tenant has been identified for the former Tri-State building that NAPA is vacating on 21st Street.

“I still have a problem,” he said, “but it’s a smaller problem.”

Williams may be contacted at ewilliam@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2261.

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