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Q&A with Leilani Williams

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

Sandpoint’s Downtown Shopping District

Discover Sandpoint’s Downtown Shopping District By Jillian Chandler

Photo by Adiar Media Group It was 2020 when Leilani Williams was appointed as the official downtown manager for Sandpoint’s Downtown Shopping District. In her role, she has been growing and supporting the group ever since.

“This beautiful soul loves on all of us creative shop owners, informing us and keeping us organized.

Our amazing hostess of well-attended local events such as Crazy Days, Apple Fest, Candy Walk, Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday, Day of Giving, Ladies Night, Are You Yeti for Christmas, Chocolate Walk, Spring Fling and Lost in the ‘50s (support), Leilani is priceless! All of us shop owners used to volunteer to make all this happen, and it was such a challenge to manage your own business and then try to find time to connect with other very busy business owners to make these events happen. Leilani has taken all the pressure off our organization members and has truly made us what we are today. If you've ever attended Ladies Night in December, you can only imagine how much work goes into an event like that. It becomes a full-time job! Leilani rocks! And she does from a place in heart that loves our community.” - Shery Meekings

Q. Leilani, can you share a bit about how the Downtown Shopping District came to be and when it was realized?

A. The Downtown Sandpoint Business Association (DSBA) was rebirthed by Deanna Harris from Sharon's Hallmark and Shery Meekings from Carousel Emporium in 2016 as a voluntary commitment with the intent to create community events and business owner unity for Sandpoint. The group was formerly operated by an imposed business tax on every business in the district and was not well received from the early 2000s to 2016. Many aspects of the existing plan were successful—but not the imposed tax, which led to the organization’s abolishment.

Realizing the participation from town events and how important that local support is in the off-seasons, the decision to rebirth the group was adopted … and the show went on! Today, the DSBA, better known as the Downtown Shopping District, operates with a heart for our community that reaches out to our neighboring communities, sharing LOCAL deals and family fun for all! We are honored to be a part of it all.

Q. How many businesses make up the Downtown Shopping District? A. We operate as a nonprofit 501c3 with 38-plus current members spanning from not only retail but service providers, real estate, medical, massage and salons, as well as restaurants and bars. We have found strength together, helping us to better create community events, 3,000-plus local jobs (total jobs downtown Sandpoint), and share our heartbeat and the gift of our beautiful town with all who love Sandpoint and North Idaho!

Q. The Downtown Shopping District is more than an organization made up of local business owners; it is a community that works together to make downtown a beautiful place to work and shop. Can you add to this sentiment?

A. The DSBA has truly become a bridge that spans the gap between business owners and our local community. It has also built a bridge to connect our business owners. It's created a community of support, friendships and unity. Another cool fact is that our members donated over $100,000 back into our community! We support locals in need, sports teams, churches, schools, nonprofit groups and so many more—it’s hard to remember them all! Our town has a symbiotic relationship with our community. We need each other! Our shoulder seasons, yes, seasons consist of mainly locals, are vital to our existence and to the local jobs we create for all members of our families. We provide jobs for professionals climbing the success ladder, first jobs for our teens, last jobs for our retirees, and everything in between. When you shop locally, you become part of the heart that makes all this amazing happen!

Q. What will locals and visitors alike be treated to when shopping downtown?

A. Downtown Sandpoint has some amazing shopping! You can find a variety of handpicked gifts, toys, clothing, services, gourmet foods, handmade chocolates, sips, gear, boutique, new, used, handcrafted, organic, fairtrade, maker, trend ... there really is something for everyone! Even for those on a budget. Plenty of parking by the hospital, City Lot, Third and Fourth streets. It's worth the small effort for sure. You won't be expected to check yourself out or bag your own goods, and you'll most definitely be greeted with a warm welcome, your questions answered, and there is a high probability you'll be hugged by a neighbor, friend, or employee from a local store along your way. Sandpoint is a friendly town. We wear our hearts on our sleeves, and we all love being a part of such an amazing place! So, I encourage you to shop local first! Do it for our community! Your support really does make a difference! We look forward to visiting with you or meeting you for the first time!

Q. Is there anything else you would like to add?

A. Want to jump in and get to know your neighbors and become a part of the heartbeat in this amazing community? Our dues are just $600 per year. Don’t think you’ll benefit? Or maybe you’re not a business that benefits from local events? I encourage you to think outside the box, partner with another business member, share your clientele and grow your business. All this, plus group marketing, radio, and social media spotlights, in this amazing magazine, Go Sandpoint, for the cost of just one traditional ad. See you downtown! Contact Leilani Williams at or 808.780.2079 to join this amazing community. Downtown Shopping District | ||

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