Renee’s, another iconic store in downtown Everett, is closing

EVERETT — Sue Nemo, co-owner of Renee’s Contemporary Clothing in downtown Everett, created an e-commerce site at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to help the business survive.

It worked. Online sales initially flourished.

“It got us through COVID,” Nemo said.

But when the physical store reopened at 2820 Colby Ave., e-commerce and in-person sales slowed, Nemo said.

Downtown Everett had become quieter.

Nemo recently decided to shut down the 29-year-old womenswear and apparel business in August.

With many private businesses, municipal offices and county offices closing during the pandemic — more people were working from home — foot traffic has decreased downtown and along Colby Avenue.

It didn’t help that the busy Starbucks store across from Renee’s quietly closed, Nemo said. The Starbucks, which had been open for over 15 years, had no drive-thru access.

“It was a little lonely here,” Nemo said of the stretch between Hewitt Avenue and California Street.

The city center is changing.

In March, Judy Matheson retired and closed her Colby Avenue store, J. Matheson Gifts, after 31 years in business.

Holly Burkett-Pohland, the owner of Burkett’s Savvy Clothing at 2617 Colby Ave., took over the space and opened Burkett’s Home + Gifts at 2615 Colby Ave in June.

Despite the closure of these venerable stores, downtown has seen a string of new retail outlets pop up over the past two years, including Chai Cupboard, with tea and spice at 2809 Colby; Planted, with houseplants and more at 2829 Wetmore; and Artisans PNW and Artisans Books & Coffee, books, with craft art and local music at 1800 and 1802 Hewitt Ave. The Best Puzzles & Gifts opened last year at 1315 Hewitt Ave. Pops Skate Shop at 2826-A Rucker Ave. and Salish Sea Ceramic Studio, a pottery studio at 1111 Hewitt Ave., also opened in 2021.

Renee Quistorf founded her namesake store in 1993. Originally located near Wetmore and Hewitt Avenues, Renee’s moved to its current location a few years later.

When Quistorf decided to sell the store in 2016, she looked for new owners who would “put their heart and soul into the business”, she told the Daily Herald in 2016.

She chose identical twins Nemo and Sharon Sanford, who live on Camano Island and own Laurie’s Boutique in Stanwood.

Nemo and Sanford had hoped to continue with the store for at least four more years, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to their dream, Nemo said.

“We would have liked 10, but we’ll take six,” Nemo said from inside the store’s small back office.

The sisters will continue to sell women’s clothing and accessories at their Stanwood store.

“That will be our goal,” Nemo said.

Laurie’s Boutique will carry some of the same styles and brands as Renee’s, Nemo said. They plan to open an extension within the Stanwood store which will be called The Back Door. It should open later this year.

“We are excited to be working together in one place again and hope our loyal customers will check us out there,” Nemo said.

Renee’s will be offering a “moving” sale by mid-August. Store fixtures will also be available for purchase.

“We would like to thank all of our customers for their loyal support over the past six years and look forward to continuing our passion for selling quality contemporary clothing in our local community,” said Nemo. “We’ve met a lot of great customers.”

Janice Podsada: 425 339-3097; [email protected]; Twitter: @JanicePods.

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