EVERETT — Sue Nemo, the co-owner of Renee’s Contemporary Clothing in downtown Everett, created an e-commerce site in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to help the business survive.
It worked. Online sales flourished, initially.
“It got us through COVID,” Nemo said.
But when the brick-and-mortar store reopened at 2820 Colby Ave., both e-commerce and in-person sales slowed, Nemo said.
Downtown Everett had grown quieter.
Nemo recently decided to close the 29-year-old women’s clothing and apparel business in August.
With many private businesses, city offices and county offices closed during the pandemic — more people worked from home — foot traffic dwindled in downtown and along Colby Avenue.
It didn’t help that the busy Starbucks store across the street from Renee’s quietly closed, Nemo said. The Starbucks, which had been open for more than 15 years, did not have drive-thru access.
“It felt a little lonely along here,” Nemo said of the stretch between Hewitt Avenue and California Street.
Downtown is changing.
In March, Judy Matheson retired and closed her Colby Avenue shop, 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 closures of those venerable stores, downtown has seen a round of new retail stores pop up in the past year or two, including Chai Cupboard, with tea and spices at 2809 Colby; Planted, with house plants and more at 2829 Wetmore; and Artisans PNW and Artisans Books & Coffee, books, with handcrafted 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, she moved Renee’s to its current location a few years later.
When Quistorf decided to sell the store in 2016, she sought 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 on with the store for at least four more years, but the COVID-19 pandemic put the kibosh on their dream, Nemo said.
“We would have liked 10 years, 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 focus,” 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 boutique to be called The Back Door. It is set to open later this year.
“We’re excited to work together again in one location, and hope our loyal customers will check us out there,” Nemo said.
Renee’s will feature a “moving on” sale from now through mid-August. Store fixtures will also be available for purchase.
“We want to thank all of our customers for their loyal support over the past six years and look forward to continuing our passion of selling quality, contemporary clothing in our local community,” Nemo said. “We’ve met a lot of wonderful customers.”