Dressed for success and safety | nnbw.com

Dressed for success and safety

Since Reno Uniforms & Tactical Store opened in Midtown a little over a year ago, owners Michael and Stephanie Hoffert have been welcomed by neighbors.

The store sells uniforms for a variety of fields but the bulk of their clientele is from law enforcement.

Reno Uniforms has contracts with Nevada Highway Patrol, Reno Police Department, Sparks Police Department, Nevada Department of Corrections, California Department of Corrections and is working on a contract with Washoe County to provide uniforms and body armor. The store also sells gadgets such as flashlights and knives.

"We say, 'we serve and protect those who protect and serve,'" Michael said during an interview with the NNBW at the store at 70 W. Taylor St.

It's a service the store's neighbors appreciate.

"The neighborhood thanked us for being here," he said. "With all the law enforcement people in the store, incidents went down in the neighborhood."

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Midtown incorporates some of Reno's oldest neighborhoods. After decades of neglect it's getting a new life with new shops and restaurants that now make it the cool place to be.

That also means climbing real estate costs that pushed the Las Vegas Uniforms store, where Michael was a partner, to open its Reno expansion store earlier than expected.

"We weren't supposed to be here until this year," Michael said of the move to Reno to open the new store. "My partner said, 'we've got to do this move now. … If we wait, we won't be able to afford it.'"

Michael said they wanted something in the middle of the city, but not necessarily on a main road.

"Uniforms are destination shopping," he said. "They'll come to you wherever you are."

The partners purchased the Midtown building on New Year's 2016 from The CUBE, a business incubator that still occupies the second floor along with AboveNV.

It turned out to be an even better location than they realized.

"We didn't know the extent of Midtown revitalization when be bought the building," Michael said. "It's good to be here. On a map, we're right in the middle of Midtown itself."

The 8,300-square-foot store is a much smaller version of the 19,000-square-foot Vegas store, but still offers a broad assortment of uniforms and gear for restaurant and hospitality professionals, medical professionals and other work wear, as well as law enforcement.

For restaurateurs, for example, they stock chefs' hats and coats, servers' shirts, aprons, gloves, professional knives, and more.

"We have the latest and greatest in chef coats, with mesh backs. They're cooler (in a hot kitchen)," Michael said.

For medical professionals, they have a large selection of scrubs and supplies including stethoscopes, pulse-oximeters, scissors, watches and more.

Reno Uniforms has an embroidery machine on premises to stitch logos, names, etc. onto uniforms, hats and accessories, and seamstresses sew department patches onto garments in the sewing room. Reno Uniforms employs four people full time and an on-call seamstress.

The move to Reno meant some changes, and at least one surprise, in their uniform business.

Last September a customer came into the Reno Uniforms store and asked where their winter jackets were, Stephanie said.

In Vegas, winter wear means long sleeves. Not being used to real winters, it was an oversight that they scrambled to fix. Next winter, they'll be ready earlier.

Hofferts themselves faced the biggest changes.

Michael, who grew up in Vegas, has a background in hospitality and worked for the Venetian for 14 years, ending as assistant director of housekeeping before the jump to retail at Las Vegas Uniforms in 2014. Last year he became a partner in the store.

Stephanie's background is in retail and human resources. She grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Las Vegas for college.

Moving to "The Biggest Little City in the World" after living in really big cities presented mostly good changes for the Hofferts and their daughter Madeline, who will start kindergarten in the fall — although Stephanie isn't so sure about the weather after experiencing her first winter with snow, and a record-setter at that.

But after the hectic pace in major retail, Stephanie appreciates the small staff, getting to know their customers and the pace of Reno.

"It's nice to step back and just have a conversation and get to know them," she said.

"In Vegas, there's a lot to do if you have money," Michael said. "Here there's a lot to do for everyone."

"Vegas did us really well, but we love Reno," Stephanie said.