Downtown Reno’s luxury furniture, West Elm home decor store closes

Nearly a dozen people strolled through West Elm, the furniture and home decor store in downtown Reno, on Friday afternoon, surrounded by signs advertising a massive business closure sale.

“Store Closing” signs read in capital letters – “40% off” and “all sales final” were printed in large red letters.

West Elm opened in Reno in August 2016, moving into the former 1930s U.S. Post Office Main Building at 50 S. Virginia St. in a move heralded as a historic moment for retail revitalization in downtown Reno.

“You’re not going to recognize downtown for the next three years,” Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve said in an April 2016 RGJ article about West Elm’s opening. “It’s a testament to downtown. Big retailers don’t choose big cities in decline. We get noticed.”

More than five years later, this major retailer is apparently ending its investment in Reno.

Customers enjoy a closing sale at the West Elm furniture store in downtown Reno on the afternoon of April 15, 2022.

A West Elm employee told RGJ on Friday that she was instructed not to speak to the media about the store closing.

Voicemails left with Bernie Carter, owner of the old post office which also houses The Basement on the first floor and offices on the third, were not immediately returned for this story.

On Friday afternoon, the couples browsed the rugs and living room furniture sets on display throughout the store. Ceramic and glass centerpieces of various shapes and sizes lined the shelves, while dining sets, bundles of tablecloths and wine glasses littered the many tables on the floor.

Larger pieces of furniture, such as couches, chairs, and dressers, had yellow markings that read, “Sold.”

A look at the exterior of the West Elm furniture store, located in the old post office in the town centre, on April 15, 2022.

Customers queuing at the checkout had candles and glassware in their baskets.

Shawnna Lapiana, assistant manager of Vida Coffee – one of several local retail stores, food vendors and other businesses housed in The Basement downstairs – said West Elm employees are regulars.

Freshies, which will offer bowls, sandwiches and other healthy foods, is opening this spring in The Basement, an underground location in Reno's historic post office.

She said she wasn’t worried about her store closing because West Elm was closing.

“I’m very confident in our store,” Lapiana said.

West Elm, which has more than 100 locations across the United States, operates a second Nevada location in Henderson, which would not be affected by the Reno branch closure.

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 closed about 35 years ago.

Kristin Oh is a public safety reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal. She can be reached at [email protected] or 775-420-1285. Please help support his work by subscribing.

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