Decades-old market closes up shop after traffic pattern changes keep customers away

Posted at 4:03 PM, Jul 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-19 19:28:19-04

After 40 years in business, the Karcher Ranch Market off Idaho 55 in Nampa is closing its doors for good.

Don Barnhill took over the business in April 2007, and says he’s forced into retirement due to changes in the traffic pattern out front, cutting off business access to many of his regulars.

“In order for people to get in here from the west, [now] they've got to go to the Nampa Caldwell Blvd and come back up Sundance or go down to U-turn, which is really unsafe, and come back,” Barnhill said.

The Idaho Department of Transportation says safety improvements were implemented in 2015 after extensive public outreach and analysis identified this stretch of Idaho 55 as a high-traffic, high-crash location.

Don says after construction began in February 2015, customers just stopped coming in.

“We were hoping this summer it would pick back up and those people would return, and it hasn’t happened, so the highway construction has totally ruined the business,” Don said. “I'm taking a beating here, but that's life. It's forced me into retirement. Forced me in to closing this building and that's what we've done.”

When he took over the business nine years ago, Don says the market was completely vacant. From the ground up, he established a regular customer base serving up unique goods, antique collectibles, and 350 varieties of old-fashioned pop.

“There wasn't anything in here to speak of, so we created what is here, specialty items, stuff you can't find anywhere else and really created a niche business,” Barnhill said.

He feels closing his market could have been avoided if construction engineers were willing to compromise on the new traffic pattern. The new median in place doesn’t allow drivers from the west to turn left into his business.

“I argued my best case and ultimately it fell on deaf ears,” Barnhill said. “It could have been designed differently in my opinion, and it would have not adversely affected it. I know customers come in and they despise the new traffic pattern to get in here.”

The City of Nampa says the changes were made with safety in mind.

“It’s unfortunate that Mr. Barnhill is shutting down his business,” Public Works Director Michael Fuss said. “The busy intersection was carefully studied by both city and state planners and engineers. In 2012, during the design phase, the Karcher/Middleton intersection was one of the most accident-prone areas in the state, with about 30,000 cars passing through each day.  The barrier to prevent left turns across busy traffic lanes was the best solution for that location and is often the answer today for similar unsafe traffic flow.”

As a result, Barnhill now sees only a quarter of the sales he used to, which he says doesn't even cover overhead costs. Now all he hopes is his loyal customers over the years come celebrate the end of an era.

“I really have had good patrons and we hope people will patronize this store through the closing process, that's it.”

Through the last few weeks of business at the market, Don hopes to sell everything inside, including antiques, fixtures and signage.

The last day of business will be August 25th.

Don will now focus his efforts on his cattle business.