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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, June 2, 2004


Zip Code 83333 open for business

Entrepreneurs raise the ante in Hailey

Express Staff Writer

It takes the talent of a skateboarder to negotiate the slope and angle of the incline being created by Hailey’s bustling business environment.

Becky Brown, right, and Maya Knapp serve it up in Hailey at Big Belly Deli, preparing lunch for a favorite customer, Karen Fisher. Express photo by Matt Furber

In the swirl of new lease and purchase agreements for business owners, trends in Hailey are in lock step with current growth patterns.

It seems a business is opening new doors or shuffling locations nearly every week in the city.

Several businesses have moved from other parts of the Wood River Valley or have opened as a second location, but there are plenty of new entrepreneurs as well.

"Hailey provides a lot of opportunity for new businesses and with our industrial park, out by the airport, it’s an exciting time for Hailey," said Hailey Chamber of Commerce Director Tom Smith. "Retail costs are less than Ketchum, which is attractive for people. Hailey’s population is twice Ketchum’s."

Food is a big part of the movement and, being very public businesses, restaurants are perhaps a key indicator of where Hailey is headed.

"We’ve got a lot of new restaurants in Hailey," Smith said, although the expansion of business in Hailey extends beyond Main Street and cuisine.

Even the Chamber of Commerce has moved to a new office in the Community Campus. A recycled furniture store is moving into the old location on River and Carbonate streets and the Hailey Visitor’s Center has moved next door to the Idaho Health and Welfare office on Main Street, in the same block with Les Schwab.

Around the corner from the new Hailey Skateboard Park is the Obstacle Skateshop that opened last summer.

L.L. Greens hardware store moved out of Alturus Plaza into the refurbished Bullion Square on Main Street, and the vacancy at Alturus Plaza quickly filled this year with Flolo’s One Hour Photo & Video, Colortyme, which moved up from Bellevue, and a new beauty salon, Noggin’s-N-Nails, just opened for coiffures and manicures. There is even a Zen center, called Being Peace Center, in the complex.

Reviewing all the changes on Main Street can make a person hungry, but the new restaurants fill the void.

Although the owners of Chester and Jake’s in Bellevue skipped Hailey in favor of a second location in Ketchum, the current trend is for movement in the opposite direction.

From CKs, which was the first restaurant to open this fiscal year, to Ketchum Burritos, which is the latest dining establishment to get going, entrepreneurs have decided Hailey is the place to make a start or expand already thriving businesses.

Where CKs started in a brand new building, KBs and Big Belly Deli moved into the refurbished Bullion Square, which has been the hub of change in Hailey this year.

A grand opening celebration at the square will be held June 12.

Another new business, Wize Guy Pizza Pie, opened recently. The fast food pizza joint is seeing little slack in its burgeoning business even during the spring shoulder season.

Big Belly Deli proprietors Becky Brown and Maya Knapp, who opened for business at the end of 2003, were the first of the new wave of cooks to expand Hailey’s lunch selections. The pair is showing what can happen at the Bullion Square address, which became fully occupied when KBs moved in their new fish tank.

The West Coast transplants, who’ve done office time, dreamed of owning a business in a ski town where they could stay.

"We met here and knew it would work. Our personalities are compatible and Hailey needed a lunch place," Brown said.

The most popular sandwich at the deli is the Rueben, but demand for hot or cold sandwiches is weather dependent, Brown said.

"The business has been a whirlwind," Knapp said, commenting on how fast the changes have been to the co-owners lives. "We foresee business getting busier as it gets sunnier."

In fact Brown and Knapp envision a thriving Main Street reminiscent of Italy with outdoor tables and umbrellas.

"We wanted to establish a local town feel," Knapp said, giving the word "town" a valley wide scope.

The pair sells Lyndee’s Cookies, which are baked in Ketchum, and they are actually excited to have longtime lunch experts Ketchum Burritos next door.

"KBs will bring more traffic for the whole city," Knapp said. "It’s a great thing for Hailey," said Brown.

KBs owner Brian Kriesien said he and his wife Jennifer did a substantial amount of research before they chose to try expanding to Hailey. They looked on the West Coast for new locations, in Salt Lake City and even in Jackson Hole, but in the end they settled on Hailey.

"I think Hailey will be more consistent," Kriesien said, who opened the Hailey shop April 22.

In the first two weeks of business, lunch lines at the Ketchum original’s second home reached out the door.

"We’ve gotten a lot of support and we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about our food and our style." Kriesien said.

The Hailey kitchen is bigger. Another change may be to introduce a Hailey Burrito on the menu. Kriesien said. "I’ve got 17 new employees out of 18 in Hailey. I’ve got to get this menu dialed in before I create a new one."

Kriesen said he may look for community participation to build a new Hailey Burrito.

Some things won’t change Kriesien said, hopeful that customers will continue to bring in their photos of KBs tee-shirts shot around the world for the new set of walls.

As KBs reaches out, more of the world is coming to Hailey, said Smith. "I get two calls a week from people looking to start new businesses in Hailey."

Recently, some Czechs and Tasmanians even stopped by the Chamber of Commerce to inquire about the city.

At Big Belly Deli, Brown and Knapp have three committed employees who they said have worked out so well that the two owners have each been able to take a few weekends off from the fledgling business.

"It’s about quality of life," Brown said.

And it’s about the quality of lunchtime life in Hailey, said pharmacy owner Karen Fisher, a regular customer who is using her Big Belly Deli punch card on a near daily basis.

"I think it’s really great," she said between bites.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.