She’s hanging it up
Renee Quistorf is closing her downtown clothing shop
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.”
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.