We love a good comeback story and Reno, Nevada, served its fair share of booms and busts over the past century, is one on a grand scale. To outsiders, this stunning mountain town might conjure images of glittery casinos and celebrity divorces, but locals are quick to dispel such hackneyed mischaracterizations. The Reno they know is the Reno we fell in love with when we started laying the groundwork for our store there—one of creativity, optimism, and an infectious can-do attitude. With its gambling past fading in the rearview, the Reno of the twenty-first century has become home to a bourgeoning tech and creative industry, one that is putting “The Biggest Small City In The World” on the map in a whole new way.
The story of Reno’s Renaissance is echoed on a personal scale in the location of our latest store—50 South Virginia Street, the site of the city’s former post office. Built in 1934, this Frederic DeLongchamps-designed structure harkens back to another golden era in Reno’s history, its Art Deco ornamentation and stately design breathtaking by any standard. In 2012, the building was transferred to a local development firm and a comprehensive restoration and renovation process began.
As one of the main tenants of this meticulously restored building, west elm Reno joins The Basement marketplace, an underground venue with a mission to create a multi-use incubator space of both retail and food vendors celebrating handicraft. Historic preservation remained front-of-mind throughout our design process and we made sure to incorporate elements of the building’s original architecture and ornamentation within the space. Repurposed banks of post office boxes are used to display our insignia behind the register and motifs from the building’s exterior door pediments were replicated in raw wood and metal for the front cash wrap.
“The revival of downtown Reno is an inspiring example of how a network of entrepreneurs, artists, and makers can help a city to preserve and honor its history,” says west elm president Jim Brett. “Opening our doors in the former post office is just the first step in our commitment to support our new community as part of downtown Reno’s placemaking movement.”