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Biz Buzz: What’s happening to all these vacant buildings in Idaho Falls?

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Some of these buildings in Idaho Falls have been vacant for a while. Several have new tenants moving in. | Rett Nelson,

Do you want to know what’s happening in the eastern Idaho business scene? We’ve got you covered. Here is a rundown of this week’s business news across the valley.



7 empty businesses and what’s happening with them

IDAHO FALLS – Over the last two years, multiple businesses in town have closed, leaving big buildings empty and vacant.

Smith’s Food and Drug is the latest casualty, which will be closing April 7. Deseret Industries and Ferrell’s in downtown are some other buildings that have been vacant for quite a while.

We are frequently asked what’s happening with these empty buildings and thought we’d look into that.

Deseret Industries

Deseret Industries building on E Street in Idaho Falls closed in March 2018 after a new location opened in Ammon. | Rett Nelson,

The old Deseret Industries building in downtown has been vacant since the business relocated to Ammon in March 2018.

Kerry Howell with SVN High Desert Commercial and Century 21 High Desert tells there is interest in the 34,560-square-foot space, but nothing has been finalized yet.

“We’ve got a couple of interested parties, but I really can’t share any of that information at this point,” he says.

RELATED | New D.I. in Ammon exists to help people get a second chance in life

The building has undergone some renovations since it was vacated. Howell says the interior is a shell right now with some minor odds-and-ends repairs being done.

“We’re not really doing anything until we have a definite tenant involved,” Howell says. “We’re really feeling good about things, feeling positive that the right person will come along.”


Ferrell’s clothing store closed in February 2019 after 68 years of business. | Rett Nelson,

The fate of the old Ferrell’s building on Broadway is uncertain.

Jayce Howell, the contractor who currently owns the building, says they are still waiting for the right tenant.

“We had somebody pretty interested in it, but I think they’re going to build something down on the river,” Jayce Howell says.

RELATED | After a month of business at their new location, Ferrell’s decided to celebrate with a ribbon-cutting

Some building renovations were completed last spring after the previous owners moved out. The original brick is now visible. Some repairs have been made to the inside as well.

“You don’t want to get too crazy with repairs — otherwise, you’re going to be ripping walls out when people decide what they want,” says Jayce Howell.

Dana and Tenael Wright closed the store at 417 W. Broadway in February 2019 after 68 years of business. A new store opened at 3194 S. 25th next to Kiwi Loco last year.


The south side entrance of the old Sears building at the Grand Teton Mall. | Rett Nelson,

Drake Taylor, the general manager of the Grand Teton Mall, tells us there is no change with the Sears building since it closed in January 2019.

There is interest, but nothing to discuss yet.

“There’s some prospects,” he says. “We are in communication with various groups.”

He hopes to have a deal finalized soon.


Rett Nelson |

Rumors about tenants for the old Shopko building at 800 E. 17th St. began circulating recently, but we reported last week an indoor storage facility is moving in.

Steve Keim acquired the 90,000-square-foot space in November after it had sat vacant for several months. He tells it will soon be the home of iNdorStor Storage Solutions.

“It’s still being finished up, but it’s pretty close,” Keim says. “Construction is going on as we speak.”

The first phase of construction is slated for completion later this spring, but Keim is uncertain when the whole project will be finished.


Toys ‘R’ Us

Al’s Sporting Goods is opening in the old Toys ‘R’ Us building in September. | Rett Nelson,

The Toys ‘R’ Us building at 2395 E. 17th St. has had several temporary tenants since it closed two summers ago, but Al’s Sporting Goods announced in December it would be moving into the 30,000-square-foot space this September.

You may have noticed the new signage out front.

Al’s Sporting Goods is a full-line specialty sporting goods retailer based in Logan, Utah. Company President Jason Larsen told us Idaho Falls was an ideal spot for their third location.

“We love the market. We love the community. We have been looking at real estate options in Idaho Falls and Ammon for so many years. The right opportunity came up. We can’t wait to get the store open,” he says.


Smith’s Food and Drug

Rett Nelson |

It’s too early to tell what will happen to the building currently occupied by Smith’s Food and Drug inside Parkway Plaza at 400 S. Woodruff.

The company announced last week its last day of operation would be April 7 and will move into the Fred Meyer building at 1555 Northgate Mile.

RELATED | Smith’s closing Idaho Falls store next month

“We are pleased that all Smith’s associates have been offered positions at the Fred Meyer location and will continue to serve our customers with the same fresh products and services they have come to expect,” says Aubriana Martindale, Smith’s Food & Drug Corporate Affairs Manager.

A grand re-opening will occur in conjunction with the transition April 8.

CAL Ranch

Arcane Marketing moved into the old CAL Ranch annex building on Anderson St. last month. The photos above show the building before and after the transition.

North of Fred Meyer is the old CAL Ranch building at 675 E. Anderson St.

Arcane Marketing moved into the 5,000-square-foot office building on the east side last month. Arcane Marketing serves more than 100 clients across the globe and specializes in search engine optimization, social media, paid search management, web development and videography.

There is still an additional 57,300-square-feet in the main building that is still vacant.

“We are currently pursuing a tenant, however, we do not have any details currently. There is also 27 acres of industrial railroad land directly behind the (property),” Shane Murphy with Venture One Properties says.

CAL Ranch sat vacant for several years after the company relocated its corporate office in 2017.



Popular apparel and home decor retailer opening in Blackfoot

BLACKFOOT – Gordmans, the popular apparel and home décor retailer, is opening its doors in Blackfoot later this month, and you’re invited to celebrate. The store will be opening at 1350 Parkway Drive, Suite 29, in the old Beal’s location inside Riverside Plaza
 on March 31. A grand opening celebration is happening in conjunction with the store opening. The festivities kick off at 9 a.m. March 31 with a ribbon-cutting. There will also be giveaways and discounts available. The first 100 guests in line will receive a Gordmans insulated tote bag and have an opportunity to win a $50 gift card or a $5 shopping card. A $1,000 donation will be presented to Blackfoot High School as well. Gordmans offers popular brands at prices way lower than department stores. Customers can ship their Amazon orders to the in-store Amazon counter for fast, flexible and secure package pick-up.

New pizza restaurant opening in downtown Idaho Falls

IDAHO FALLS – As we were walking downtown taking photos of the old Ferrell’s building, we noticed a sign for a new pizza shop opening across from The Celt. It’s called Pie Hole. The sign did not indicate when it would open, but a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page says it will be offering eight different kinds of slices daily from pretty, pretty princess and drunk candy to old-fashioned pepperoni. There will also be a daily vegan and vegetarian option. reached out for further information and will post a more in-depth story if managers respond.

Millions in federal and state dollars tied to 2020 census in Madison County

REXBURG – Madison County stands to lose out on millions of dollars over the next decade if its population is undercounted in the 2020 Census. The Madison Complete Count Committee, an organization that includes Madison County, the cities of Rexburg and Sugar City and other community organizations, says the 2010 Census in Madison County resulted in a significant undercounting of the true population of Madison County. More information about the 2020 census and how it will affect Madison County can be found on the count committee’s website.



Local man’s love for basketball helps kids succeed

RIGBY — Sean McDonald loves basketball, and his love for the game is turning kids into athletes.

Jump Start Sports Academy is near U.S. Highway 20 at exit 325 north of Rigby. Since McDonald opened its doors two years ago, kids across eastern Idaho have been meeting there five days a week for basketball training courses. Coaches divide the kids into age groups and work with them collectively and individually to teach them different aspects of the game.



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