She’s hang­ing it up

Re­nee Quis­torf is clos­ing her down­town cloth­ing shop

The Daily Herald - - HERALD BUSINESS JOURNAL - By Jim Davis The Her­ald Busi­ness Jour­nal

EVERETT — Re­nee Quis­torf’s face bright­ened as a fa­mil­iar cus­tomer walked through the door.

“Hello, hello, hello,” Quis­torf said.

“There she is,” cus­tomer Re­nee Peter­son said.

The women greeted each other with a hug.

For 23 years, Quis­torf has run her women’s cloth­ing store, Re­nee’s Con­tem­po­rary Cloth­ing, in down­town Everett. She was of­ten on a first-name ba­sis with her clien­tele, help­ing them find just the right cloth­ing, ac­ces­sory or shoes.

Now, she’s sell­ing the shop at 2820 Colby Ave. that’s long been a fix­ture in the down­town busi­ness com­mu­nity.

“I love to help peo­ple look and feel their best,” Quis­torf said. “I gave them hon­est opin­ions. I gave them a value for the dol­lar they spent. I did what I said I would do. I called the cus­tomers, ‘Some­thing’s here you need to come in and see,’ or ‘Your fa­vorite line is in.’”

Part of the charm of the shop has been Quis­torf, said Peter­son, who vis­ited at least once a month for years.

“I have to stop by and see what’s here and, of course, say hi to Re­nee,” Peter­son said. “It’s just so friendly and easy to come in. It’s not like you have to buy some­thing, but you look around and usu­ally you do find some­thing.”

When she de­cided to sell, Quis­torf sought out new own­ers who she thought would put their heart and soul into the busi­ness.

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

Nemo and Quis­torf went on a trip last year shop­ping for mer­chan­dise in Los An­ge­les. Nemo said she and her sis­ter felt hon­ored to be picked by Quis­torf.

“We’re ex­cited to take on the chal­lenge,” Nemo said. “We re­ally admire Re­nee and we admire what she has done and ac­com­plished with that store. We want to keep it as a great lit­tle shop­ping des­ti­na­tion.”

Nemo and San­ford are tak­ing over the shop Thurs­day. Quis­torf will stay on to help with the tran­si­tion as long as she’s needed. Nemo said they plan to keep the name Re­nee’s on the shop.

“We’re not go­ing to make Lau­rie’s into Re­nee’s and we’re not go­ing to make Re­nee’s into Lau­rie’s,” Nemo said.

When Quis­torf opened the shop, she didn’t know the first thing about sell­ing clothes.

She and her hus­band, Bill, had

moved to Everett in the early 1990s when he was sta­tioned at Paine Field while serv­ing in the Army. They had talked about her open­ing a busi­ness and he sug­gested one that she could run with­out him in case he was de­ployed over­seas.

She had de­cided on open­ing a cloth­ing store.

“I think mainly be­cause I liked nice, qual­ity cloth­ing,” Quis­torf said. “It was al­most like a dream come true, ‘I can own a women’s cloth­ing store.’”

The cou­ple were wait­ing for their new home to close. That’s when Bill Quis­torf said they should start plan­ning the busi­ness.

“I said, ‘Now? We’re in a ho­tel,’ and he said, ‘Yeah,’” Re­nee Quis­torf said. “Back then, there was no in­ter­net so we went to the li­brary to make our busi­ness plan.”

They planned ex­penses, profit-and-loss and cash flow for three years.

The re­turns on the store came back bet­ter than ex­pected from that very first year.

“That speaks so highly of this com­mu­nity to em­brace some­one who’s not from here, to de­velop a loyal cus­tomer base,” Quis­torf said. “They wanted some­thing like this in their com­mu­nity to suc­ceed.”

The store was first lo­cated at Wet­more and He­witt av­enues. She later opened the store on Colby when she bought the build­ing. She held fashion shows twice a year and in­vited cus­tomers to model cloth­ing.

She would travel to New York, Los An­ge­les, Port­land and Seat­tle sev­eral times a year look­ing for new fash­ions. She’d take lists of cus­tomers’ names to match the cloth­ing with her clients.

She kept an air of whimsy in the store with her “Rack of Op­por­tu­nity” clothes on sale at the front or dis­play­ing promi­nently cloth­ing like the T-shirt with the words, “I Told My Ther­a­pist About You.”

“Ev­ery­thing in here is unique and hand cho­sen,” Quis­torf said. “Peo­ple shouldn’t have to drive to Seat­tle to get nice things and when peo­ple in­vest in our com­mu­nity it brings up the whole com­mu­nity.”

And Quis­torf and her hus­band opened the busi­ness, in part, be­cause they want to make the city bet­ter.

And the com­mu­nity re­sponded, she said.

“They want to shop in down­town and they want a thriv­ing com­mu­nity and they want op­tions,” Quis­torf said. “They re­al­ize they need to sup­port what’s here. And they’ve come through.”

She praised her employees, past and present, who helped run a suc­cess­ful store. She has two employees that will con­tinue on af­ter the own­er­ship change.

Even so, Quis­torf found that run­ning a small busi­ness was all-con­sum­ing, from mar­ket­ing, ad­ver­tis­ing and ac­count­ing to wash­ing the win­dows and vac­u­um­ing.

Af­ter she helps with the tran­si­tion, Quis­torf plans to take some time to spend with her hus­band and to rest, to ride her bike and take up yoga.

Even­tu­ally, Quis­torf, who is 51, wants to go back to work. She doesn’t think she’ll start a new busi­ness even though she’s en­joyed the past 23 years.

“I have had so much fun,” Quis­torf said. “That’s the best part of it.

“Wow, what an ad­ven­ture it has been. Meet­ing the peo­ple. The re­la­tion­ships we’ve had. I’ve helped dress not only them, but their fam­ily mem­bers, too, over the years. I’ve lived vi­car­i­ously through them, go­ing on their va­ca­tions, telling me about events go­ing on in their lives. It’s been fun. It’s been re­ally fun.”

DAN BATES / THE HER­ALD

Af­ter 23 years run­ning her store, Re­nee Quis­torf is sell­ing the fine cloth­ing and shoe shop she calls sim­ply “Re­nee’s” at 2820 Colby Ave. in Everett.

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