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An Elmira landmark enters an eclectic new phase

February 22, 2022

By Mike Weland

Heather and Todd Koeppel
Once renowned for the best burgers in North Idaho, the grill at the Elmira Store on Highway 95 just south of the Bonner/Boundary County line was turned off in January, 2017, after the death of proprietor Ed Cook Jr. For decades, it was a place locals not only stopped in regularly to check their mail and grab a bite, but the place many took their out-of-town visitors before they went home so they could say they had a true taste of North Idaho.

The grill remains cold, the post office closed, but that unprepossessing old building is open once again, now as Mountain Traders, and with a vibrancy that is sure to grow both the legacy and the legend of the way station between Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint.

Todd and Heather Koeppel and nine of their ten children moved to the area from Wisconsin in 2018, and looking for an opportunity for the whole family, the old store made a fine fit.

Mountain Traders opened in October, 2021, thoroughly revamped to befit the new name; a place as in days of yore where people could rendezvous for a bite to eat and to buy and sell those things that you need to live and thrive in North Idaho, as well as an eclectic collection of gifts, toys, puzzles and more, most locally crafted, to ensure that Mountain Traders will be a must-stop for those passing by as well.

There's no longer a post office, but there is a mail drop box out front, just down from a rack of nice coats offered free to whoever needs one. The old grill is now inoperable, just part of the decor behind the counter in a sparkling clean and cozy dining area on the cafe side. The menu features pulled pork sandwiches and chili, both homemade from the family recipes, smokies from Wood's Meats, along with soups, a luscious variety of pastries and desserts, ice cream floats and much more.

An row of hard to find flavors of old-fashioned brown bottle soda pop, made and bottled in the Northwest, lines a shelf on the wall above, just one of many unique and joyful finds tucked away in Mountain Traders, where an ever-changing array of the crafts and creations of around 100 North Idaho artists and artists are offered, everything from jewelry to knives to handmade tools and furniture, clothing for both pets and people ... the list goes on.

There's locally made cider, honey and birch syrup, soaps and lotions. Antique furniture, cookie cutters, things both useful and necessary and utterly whimsical.

There's a wooden Indian with lollipop feathers, a menacing but harmless sasquatch and plenty of signs to warn of his presence ... a whole lot more than you would imagine could fit in such limited space, so give yourself a bit of extra time to look around. And don't forget, the inventory is ever-changing ... with spring coming work is underway now to set up an outdoor sales area where you'll find those items for use in the outdoors, be it tools, tackle, tires or toys!

By next month, you'll be able to get your hunting and fishing licenses at Mountain Traders, and Todd is working to obtain permits to sell firearms as well.

While all that might be deemed sufficient to warrant a visit, what truly makes stopping in at Mountain Traders a wonderful experience is the genuinely friendly welcome, whether you're greeted first by Heather, Todd or one of their delightful children. Every customer is a friend, and they're genuinely happy to see you.

Mountain Traders is located at 490870 Highway 95 and they're open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays, closed on Mondays.

To learn more, visit their website, https://mountaintraders.net, visit and like their Facebook page or call (208) 557-3733. Eat in or take out, and if you see something online you'd like to buy but you can't make it in right away, give them a call and a credit card number and they'll hold it for you!

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

A 9B Media LLC publication
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