Whitehorse Daily Star

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CONSTRUCTION JUNCTION - Coast Mountain Sports co-owner Mary-Jane Warshawski inside the shop's as-yet-incomplete digs in the old Taku Hotel on Main Street. Star photo by JASON UNRAU

Major renovations enter the homestrech

"We're camping," Mary-Jane Warshawski said of Coast Mountain Sports' current location above the old Main Street Zola's Cafe.

By Jason Unrau on July 7, 2008

"We're camping," Mary-Jane Warshawski said of Coast Mountain Sports' current location above the old Main Street Zola's Cafe.

After vacating where children's clothier Please Mum now operates, the retailer of outdoor recreation and sporting goods will soon have a permanent home, once its new location in the former Taku Hotel/Bonanza Inn is finished.

The extensive renovations on the aging downtown landmark began in October 2007 and should be completed in time for a late-August, early-September grand opening.

"Drive-in malls don't attract the kind of customer we service," Warshawski said of why she and husband Craig Hougen decided to stay downtown.

"And there's a major tourist component to our business, so when the hotel became available, we jumped at the chance."

Wanting to keep downtown Whitehorse vital was another reason.

"Craig and I really invested in Main Street ... this will really be an anchor for that, and main streets are really the heart of a community and we wanted to be a part of that."

As the store has catered to climbing, skiing, camping and hiking enthusiasts for more than 20 years, Warshawski thought it important the new store embody the green ethic shared by those who revel in the great outdoors.

To heat the 10,000 square feet of store space and 15,000-plus square feet of offices, R22-rated insulation and five oil furnaces gauged to zonal heating should cut the former building's $6,000-a-month winter heating bills by a third.

Efficient lighting matched with natural light that's accessible for all areas of the building will reduce electricity consumption, as well.

According to Warshawski, building materials from the old structure were recycled and all the hotel's furniture was given away.

"Our goal and philosophy is, of course, protecting the environment because that's what we're all about," she said.

As construction continues, Warshawski reminisced about the challenges of bringing the 60-year-old building at Main and Fourth Avenue back to life. Due to permafrost melt, the back end of the structure's foundation had sunk nine inches.

"It was quite an engineering feat," Warshawski said. "First they had to jack it up, then hold it up so they could pour a new foundation."

But with big issues corrected and renovations in the homestretch, thoughts of merchandise pervade. In addition to trusted brand names, the new Coast Mountain Sports will have a "Yukon Corner" displaying locally-made items.

"I want to feature Yukon products whenever I can - jewelery, travel pouches, hats, natural soap and those types of things. And it could include artwork related to the outdoors or the environment."

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