Riverwalk District businesses weather storms
Despite the harsh weather that northern Nevada has experienced over the past several months, retailers in the Riverwalk District said the weather has not hindered business overall. In fact, several business owners said they are seeing more people coming to the area to see the river.
“This weather brought a lot of people out and about that wouldn’t normally have been down by the river this time of year,” Jessica Fiegel, co-manager at Sierra Tap House, said.
Sierra Tap House is located at 253 W 1st Street right in front of the Truckee River. The local bar had to close on Jan. 8 due to the projected flooding. Community members helped them build a large barrier out of sand bags to protect the business.
“It was nice to see the community come together,” she said.
Fiegel moved to Reno 10 years ago from Washington and has worked at Sierra Tap House for seven years.
“This is by far the most I have seen,” she said about the wet weather and flooding.
Besides the one day in January, they have been able to remain open throughout the storms. The closure of 1-80 did delay Sierra Tap House from receiving some shipments of goods.
It was important for retailers to let their customers know if it was safe for customers to come down to the Riverwalk area. Many of the businesses used social media, live stream videos and other forms of communication to keep their patrons up-to-date during the harsh storms.
“We saw a lot of information sharing on our end between employees, customers and tenants,” Britton Griffith-Douglass, vice president of operations for Reno Engineering, said.
Reno Engineering owns several buildings in downtown that are leased to retail and office tenants including Arlington Towers.
Griffith-Douglas also said that the river is drawing people to the area.
“Right now people want to come down and they want to see it,” Griffith-Douglas said. “They want to see the new bridge and how it held up during the storm. So it is actually an odd draw.”
Chuck Shapiro, owner of the Wild River Grille, said the impact to their business has been minimal. Like Sierra Tap House, they had to close on Jan. 8 and placed sandbags in front of the establishment, which is located near the Virginia Street Bridge. Shapiro said the water never got close enough to be of real danger.
“It is hard to say what would of happened with the old bridge, but having the new bridge completely took that out of the equation so it made us feel a lot better,” he said.
Shapiro said that most of their suppliers are local so the closure of 1-80 did not have much of an impact on his business.
“We probably would have made some more money on those rainy days but overall I think that it helps,” he said.
In fact, Shapiro said that the business had their best January and February ever due to the economic growth and the revitalization of downtown Reno.
“With the economy generally growing and new businesses coming to town we are just positioned in a good physical location and have a good business model for what has been happening in Reno,” Shapiro said.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.