Apr 18, 2024

Preston, Idaho DI: Celebrating Napoleon Dynamite’s Flippin’ Sweet 20th Anniversary

Fans of the popular indie comedy, Napoleon Dynamite, might be interested to know it celebrates its 20th anniversary this year! The one-of-a-kind, coming of age high school comedy debuted in January 2004 at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and was released in theatres later that year, on June 11, 2004. 

The original screenplay was written by husband-and-wife team, Jared and Jerusha Hess. The movie takes place in the small, rural town of Preston, Idaho in Franklin County located in the southeast corner of Idaho (close to the Idaho/Utah border) about 27 miles north of Logan, Utah. Jared Hess lived in Preston, Idaho as a teenager and attended Preston High School after his family moved there from Kansas. It is said that some of Napoleon Dynamite is based on his life and experiences there. Filming was done in various areas in Franklin County, Idaho, including Preston High School and the Preston Deseret Industries store. The filming started in July 2003 and was completed by August 2003 in just over 20 days.

Front of Preston, Idaho DI store
Front of the Preston, Idaho DI store.

In the film, the Preston DI store is featured as a thrift store that the main character, Napoleon Dynamite, visits several times to score low-cost items such as the unforgettable three-piece rusty orange suit for his high school prom (thanks to the amazing DI mannequin display) as well as a hip dance instruction video that helps teach him some sweet dance moves. 

Fun fact: The Preston DI is one of the famous places that people visit when they go to Preston, Idaho, to tour the sites from the Napoleon Dynamite movie.

The Preston DI opened in 1978 at its current location, 36 South State St, along what is considered the main street in Preston. The town looks roughly the same today as it did in Napoleon Dynamite, including the Preston DI store. It’s even arranged similarly today as it was 20 years ago in the movie.

With only about 2,300 square feet of space, the Preston Deseret Industries is by far the smallest store of the 46 DI stores currently in operation. You can find DI stores in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington. See where DI stores are located and find the one closest to you. Some of the bigger stores, such as the Saratoga Springs, Utah store, have about 10X the amount of retail space. So, some processes are done a little differently at the Preston DI store due to the amount of space available. 

For instance, the Preston location does not have a dedicated drive-thru donation area in the back of the store like other DI stores do. Donations are made on the street behind the building. 

retail floor of the Preston, Idaho DI store
The retail floor of the Preston, Idaho DI store.

“One of this store’s most unique features is that it has old-style window displays in the front of the store to highlight products. It is part of the vibe here on the main street of Preston. We even do a Nativity display in those windows during the holidays,” states Mac Jones, current Preston DI manager.

No matter the size or location, DI stores each use the same training program that includes setting goals, acquiring skills, and learning basic work skills. The Preston DI store usually has about 12-15 associates going through their work program at a time. Typically, associates work up to 28 hours while enrolled in the 6–12-month training program. The goal of the training program is to help people gain skills, certifications, and education to move on to a new career.

State Street in Preston, Idaho
State Street in Preston, Idaho is considered the main street in town where the Preston DI store is located.

If you are ever in Preston, Idaho taking in the sites of Napoleon Dynamite, or just lucky enough to live close by, go visit the Preston, Idaho DI store. You might not be lucky enough to find an amazing suit for your next formal dance, but you could score some pretty sweet stuff of your own.