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Hippie Down remains open despite pandemic and storefront car accident


IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - A truck ran through the storefront of Hippie Down on October 18. Store owner, Sean Waters, says the truck took out the front window of his shop, a fish tank, electric guitars, amps, small electronics and plants. 

“I could be really upset about the guy driving into the building, I could be upset about the damage, but essentially it can all be replaced,” Waters said. “Nobody was hurt, that was the main thing, he was okay, his dog was okay for the most part. I was able to save one fish so that was a bonus.”

Waters says he was a few blocks away when the accident happened and his first reaction was to gather up his fish in an effort to save their lives. He says most of the damage was material and replaceable but he was most concerned for the living creatures within his shop to include the pet fish and his plants. 

“I rushed straight in to the fish tank and tried saving what fish I could, then I grabbed my plants...these things mean something to us,” Waters said. “Everything else is material. We can have everything in the world or lose it all in one day and none of it really matters. But you lose your dog, a family member, a friend or a pet, that’s something that lasts a lifetime. So that was our main impact was losing our fish. I know this sounds kind of funny, but the fish was the main thing.”

Waters has since replaced the fish tank, though it is currently empty and moved to the middle of the shop and away from the front window.

He says they are still waiting on insurance and contractors to come through and fix his shop. Waters has no idea when the repairs may be made.

“It’s going to be getting mighty cold here soon and my gas bill is already up,” Waters said. “So there’s extra costs involved, which is a simple accident and no blame to [the driver].”

Hippie Down is currently boarded up, but they are still fully operational. Waters says business has slowed down dramatically since the accident and he fears most customers see the boarded-up window and assume the business has closed down. He says he initially thought his store would have been busy with people coming in at least asking what happened because of all of the publicity and Facebook posts. Waters says he still gets phone calls asking if the Hippie Down is still open. He says Hippie Down has been open since the day the accident happened, and he had customers in the store while he was still cleaning up the aftermath.

“We’re definitely open for business,” Waters said. “We’re not going to let little things slow us down, especially during COVID. Everyone’s struggling right now, little businesses, small businesses, those are the ones that really need the help. We have [work by] 40 local artists in here so it’s not just our shop that’s affected. It’s the 40-50 people who rely on sales and traffic to come through here to make their sales and to feed their kids as well.”

Many of those local artists have reached out to Waters to offer their help but he says support from sales is the greatest help Hippie Down needs right now.

“Accidents happen everyday. It could have been anybody, it could have been my own brother that ran into the shop,” Waters said. “I’m not upset about that. It’s the comeback, trying to come back from the loss of traffic, the loss of wages and things that we’ve had to put back in to get things back in order.”

Waters says volunteers have been coming in to clean and help get the shop fixed up so Hippie Down can look like a normal functioning business. He says the plywood that now boards up the front window came from a random citizen who saw the scene of the accident and donated leftover wood he had.

Waters says Hippie Down has taken a loss due to COVID-19. He suspects this is from people not wanting to go out in public and prefer the perceived heightened safety from shopping online. 

“A lot of people struggling through this right now aren’t necessarily out here trying to shop,” Waters said. “They’d rather shop online, which is great, but what happens when everyone’s shopping online and COVID passes? Then you have all these small businesses shut down one after the next because they just don’t have that traffic.”

He says he has also lost customers who refuse to comply with the “mask required” sign posted on his storefront.

“I feel like it’s a simple request. It’s for the safety of all of us,” Waters said. “I have four kids myself, I don’t need them getting sick. I have to be here everyday, so my interaction, if I interact with 100 people a day, go home and interact with my kids, there’s a little bit of concern about that.”

Waters says when he opened Hippie Down, his intentions were to create a community bond where everyone shares friendship, support, and helping one another achieve their life goals.

“I feel like if the community can come back together, start supporting local, not just my business but every other business in town that’s local, and maybe spend less time online,” Waters said. “Take the risk. Go out one day a week and go do some shopping, go support your local people. Show them that you still care about them and love them. Because I know all the businesses around here 100% love all their customers.”

Hippie Down is located at 333 W Broadway St. in Idaho Falls. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with extended hours until 8 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday.

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Chelsea Briar

Chelsea is a reporter and producer for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.


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