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Downtown Boise business to close up shop after 113 years

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After 113 years, a downtown Boise institution will pass into history.

In December, Idaho Blueprint & Supply Co. will close the doors on their store on Main St. next to Hannah’s for the last time.

Earlier this year, local developer Jay Story purchased the Idaho Blueprint building. And owners Christian and Sheila Cummins said it caused them to think about what’s next.

“The motion got kicked off when Jay gave us an offer. It got us thinking about what we should do. It’s earlier than we thought,” Christian Cummins said.

The Cummins’ said they have a son and daughter who had other interests. And, the business is changing.

“We didn’t want people to think we were closing because downtown was forcing it or because of our friendly competitors,” Christian said. “I can’t imagine moving (the business) and going into a new place and doing an improvement on a new place. We looked at that – it just doesn’t work with leases and that. It didn’t pencil out.”

Idaho Blueprint and Supply Co. is still serving customers in Downtown Boise for a few more months. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

“We were going to push (sales of) supplies and open up more and try to do more,” Sheila said. “It was a timing thing.”

“Printing is changing and isn’t the same,” he said. “The technology is changing, and you have to have a lot more invested, and a lot more space.”

After a few months of finishing up orders and saying goodbye to friends and customers, they’ll wrap up the business. What’s next for the building – and next for the Cummins isn’t clear.

Idaho Blueprint started life a few blocks away on Capitol Blvd., started by the Miller family. Christian’s grandfather Tom Zabala first worked in the business and later took on ownership. The business, located in the Adelman building at Idaho St. and Capitol, kicked along for more than 60 years before moving to the current building in the early 1970s. Tom handed it down to his daughter Linda, who passed it on to her son Christian and his wife Sheila.

Site with history

The building itself dates to the early 1900s as well. It served as a theater, a sporting goods store and even a small apartment. The site was even the site of Boise’s first fire station.

“It burned down,” Sheila said with a laugh.

Since Idaho Blueprint moved in, it’s been a Main St. mainstay, with printing services and some retail upfront. But that area of Main St. – and really most of Downtown Boise – has moved away from retail, and towards bars and restaurants.

Idaho Blueprint is wedged between Humpin’ Hannah’s on one side and Coa de Jima on the other. Amsterdam Lounge and Brickyard round out the block. Story’s firm listed the space for lease earlier this year.

As for the Cummins’ – after they wrap up a few more months of work, they say they’ll do some traveling and tackle some house chores. But after generations of laying out blueprints for others – they haven’t laid out a blueprint for their life just yet.

“I honestly – we really don’t know what’s next,” Christian said.

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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