Nearly a dozen people wandered through West Elm, the furniture and decor store in downtown Reno, on Friday afternoon, surrounded by signs announcing a large clearance sale.
“Shop closed,” the signs said in capital letters—”40% off” and “all final sales” were printed in large, red letters.
West Elm first opened in Reno in August 2016, making its home in the former 1930s US Post Office building at 50 S. Virginia St. in a move heralded as a landmark moment for the revitalization of retail in downtown Reno.
“You won’t recognize downtown for the next three years,” Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve said in an April 2016 RGJ report on the opening of West Elm. “It’s a testament to downtown. Big retailers don’t choose big cities that are in decline. We’re getting noticed.”
More than five years later, this major retailer is apparently ending its investment in Reno.
A West Elm employee told RGJ on Friday that she was instructed not to speak to the media about the store’s closure.
Voicemails left with Bernie Carter, owner of the former post office that also houses The Basement on the first floor and an office on the third, were not immediately returned to this story.
On Friday afternoon, couples perused the rugs and living room furniture sets displayed throughout the store. Ceramic and glass centerpieces of various shapes and sizes lined the shelves, while dining sets, packets of tablecloths, and wine glasses lined the many tables on the floor.
Larger furniture, such as sofas, chairs, and dressers, had yellow notes on them, declaring, “Sold.”
Customers in the checkout line had candles and cups in their baskets.
Shawnna Lapiana, assistant manager at Vida Coffee — one of several locally owned retail stores, food vendors and other businesses located at The Basement downstairs — said West Elm employees are regulars.
She said she’s not worried about her store closing because West Elm is closing.
“I’m very confident in our store,” said Lapiana.
West Elm, which has more than 100 locations in the US, operates a second Nevada location in Henderson, which reportedly will not be affected by the closing of the Reno branch.
West Elm was the first major retailer to open in downtown Reno in 30 years. Before West Elm, the last major retail stores in downtown Reno were JCPenney and Woolworths, both of which were closed about 35 years ago.
Kristin Oh is a public safety reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal. She can be contacted at [email protected] or 775-420-1285. Help support their work by subscribing.