Louie Falco and Falco’s of Spokane Valley

My first encounter with Louie Falco was one of a strange kind. It occurred 34 years ago back in our junior high years. I was walking  with a friend of mine along a side road at about  7:30 at

night when all the sudden a kid on a Stingray bike whips around right in front of us . We were shocked to see this kid straddling his bike, all puffed up and demanding to know what we were doing in his neighborhood. “You guys go to Bowdish, don’t you?” he
he snarled, “I go to North Pines, and I’ll take you both on right now.”
   That was my first glimpse at the Falco fighting spirit. Later, when we wound up at the same high school, University, and we
were on the same team, he was a great guy to know. As the years have passed and we have both worked to make a living in the Valley, I have grown to admire and respect this feisty kid who has taken on all competitors and challenges that have come into the neighborhood.
    The legacy Louie inherited started back in 1928 when his Italian immigrant grandfather, Giusseppi, founded Falco’s Produce at 9310 E Sprague. From the beginning the family has adapted and prospered at that location. The Depression, which began the next year with Black Friday in October of 1929, was actually good for the Falcos because everyone canned and stored produce to save money. When things gradually changed, Giusseppi
adapted by buying the area’s original Safeway location next door and set up the Valley’s first television store. Talk about spotting a trend.
   But while Guisseppi sold TV’s, ice cream and sandwiches to
make ends meet, produce was Falco’s mainstay. When his son
came on board and times again  changed with the emergence of
the supermarket, Falco and Son  diversified and went into the nursery business which sustained the family through the Sixties and Seventies. Then came Ernst and Malmo on the corner of Sprague and Pines.
   “I remember my Dad saying those guys are going to kill us,”
Louie told me recently. “That’s when we decided to get into
 the stove business.” By then produce was a thing of the past
for the Falcos just as the orchards and truck farms were history for the Valley, and so selling stoves during the offseason was another great adaptation. This was right when the energy crises hit and everyone who had a fireplace needed an efficient insert
be it gas, pellet or wood burning.
   So again the Falco’s adapted and prospered to the new environment in the old neighbor and the torch was passed down to Louie as his father retired and left him to cope with whatever changes the times threw at his son. It soon arrived in the form of a couplet.
   “We really struggled for three years,” Louie said, describing the strain his business endured as Sprague transformed from a bustling two-way corridor into a couplet configuration that now gives him access to east-bound traffic only. “There was a month there during construction when no one was going by our store, but we got through it.”
   Their response was to build a beautiful new “home resort'” store showcasing a diversified line of hot tubs , tanning beds, pool tables and of course a line of stoves to fit every budget.
Like his predecessors, Louie ensured success by finding yet another niche in the area’s explosive new home construction market.
   “We started with the Black Rock development and discovered a market for high-end fireplaces and barbecues and
have been building on that ever since,” Louie said. Today they rent 25,000 feet of the old Home Base location to warehouse inventory and run a crew of 6 full-time installers. Overall they have 35 employees, as compared to the nine they had when Louie took over the reigns. Two of those employees are Grant and Tyler Falco, generation next.
   Undoubtedly what they have learned from there father is what he learned from his father who learned from his father which is how to adapt and prosper.
   While Louie is one of best friends you’ll ever want to have and one of the sweetest people you”ll ever meet, he still has that fighting spirit he showed that night 34 years ago. You come into his turf and  he will do whatever it takes to make sure the family heritage of serving the Valley with ingenuity and integrity is passed on to fiesty Falco’s of the future.

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