Holiday Cash & Carry is open at Never Ender, 119 Thoma St., until Dec. 28. Extended holiday hours are Mondays-Saturdays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Dec. 23. The shop is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 24. For information, visit myneverender.com or call 348-9440.
In October, 2004, 23-year-old Amber Gutry leased a storefront on Liberty Street. The University of Nevada, Reno art-program grad was excited to open Never Ender, a tiny but professional looking back-room gallery supported by a front-room boutique, where she sold independent-label clothing, handmade gifts, and arty accessories.
“We had no floor, no heat, no AC and no bathroom,” she remembers. “The first year was rough.”
As her opening-exhibit date was approaching, the store wasn’t yet ready to move into, so she hung the show in a space around the corner in what is now St. James Infirmary. That space was under construction, too. The walls were framed with lumber but waiting for drywall, so she made temporary walls from plastic sheeting, thus beginning the crash course in improvisation and adaptability that carried her business through almost a decade.
Eight years and four locations later, now 31, recently married and with a new surname, Amber Solorzano relaxes in a cute, one-story brick bungalow called the Thoma House, which Never Ender shares with a skate shop and a one-room micro-business of a vintage clothing shop.
She recalls those challenging, early days fondly: “It was a good time in Reno for art. Chapter House [Gallery] was still open. La Bussola and River Gallery were still open. It was easier to sell art then.” She had an energetic stable of young artists steadily producing work that was experimental but appealing to viewers and priced to sell. The art community appreciated her Type-A approach to keeping artists on schedules and making sure her exhibits looked professionally mounted. And she had a trustworthy customer-service expert behind the counter: her mom, Melanie Crane.
“The customer service is great because of her,” says Solorzano. “She’s personable and honest. If you try something on, and it doesn’t look good on you, she’ll tell you.”
In 2007, Never Ender moved to a space on Second Street. The store closed and went strictly virtual for a while in 2008, operating just online. Then Solorzano gave the business to her mom, Melanie Crane, whose reopened the bricks-and-mortar shop, sharing a duplex with The Hub on Cheney Street. This year, she moved it to 119 Thoma St.
“We’re always having this conversation,” says Solorzano, “Do we keep the gallery?”
For now, the boutique and gallery stay. Crane still owns the shop. Solorzano, who now has a day job in marketing, is still the back-room gallery curator. The store’s location, not too far off the beaten path in fast-growing Midtown, gives it a helpful boost.
“This Black Friday was our best day in history,” says Solorzano. It was a record sales day to begin with, then, “At 4 o’clock, a Greyhound-sized bus pulls up and 40 women get out, and the place just floods.” They were part of a shopping tour of independent retailers organized by fellow independent retailer Junkee.
For the rest of this month, in addition to the usual retail offerings, Never Ender is hosting a gallery show for holiday shoppers, Holiday Cash & Carry. Solorzano chose artwork at a range of price points, from indulgent to peanuts, and she’s selected pieces that can be functional and decorative at the same time. She points out that any of the candy-colored lidded jars, wheel-thrown ceramic cups, vintage-photo ornaments, or even the cast-silver bird skull pendants, are nice to use and nice to display. Even though the exhibit looks more like a gallery show than a retail selection, buyers can take a piece right from the wall or display case and have it wrapped for giving.