Former Tahoe City boutique clothing store finds a home in Truckee
Special to the Sun
Who: Roxanne Williams
Address: Gateway Center, next door to Starbucks, 11260 Donner Pass Road, Truckee
Hours: Mon. - Thurs. 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.; Fri. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Sun. 9:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Alexander Graham Bell’s illustriously timeless saying, ‘when one door closes, another opens,’ has never rung so timely and true for Truckee resident Roxanne Williams.
It’s been nearly one year since Williams closed the door to Sassafras – one of seven businesses in Tahoe City’s Lighthouse Center that had to clear out for a $1 million renovation.
But, as Bell’s saying goes, rather than “look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door,” thereby missing other opportunities, Williams opened a new door at Truckee’s Gateway Center.
“I live in Truckee, so I was happy to find a good location in the Safeway Center here,” said Williams, who renamed her store Keena in homage to both her mother, who passed away when Williams was 11 years old, as well as her daughter. “They were both named Joaquina and nicknamed Quina (pronounced like “Keena”).
“It’s a pretty name, I think.”
Doors and names aside, the new location is shaping up to be the perfect fit for Williams’ “mountain-feminine” boutique, showcasing a vibrant and stylish collection of hippie-chic clothing, lingerie, jewelry, home décor and accessories.
“I like the buzz at the busy Safeway Center, and the friendly Truckee patrons,” said Williams, whose style is influenced by a blended expression of art and romance, contemporary and timeless, and earthy and colorful designs. “I’m inspired by different cultures and simpler times.”
‘I ENJOY A CHALLENGE’
The Bay Area native sings a familiar tune about moving to Tahoe for one winter, which turned into spring, which turned into summer, which turned into 20 years, two kids, and a successful business, all surrounded by a tight-knit community.
The decision to stay in Tahoe was a no-brainer, but that’s not to say she forgot about her fashionable upbringing.
Growing up in an eclectic suburb north of San Francisco, Williams recalled digging for buried treasure at the smorgasbord of discount stores that were at her fingertips.
“I loved finding unique clothing and good deals at consignment shops and flea markets,” said the Bohemian entrepreneur.
After deciding to settle at Tahoe, Williams was faced with a crossroads in her career, but she knew working for “the man” wasn’t in the cards, so she turned to women’s fashion, and immediately found her footing.
“I’d never worked in women’s retail before Sassafras, but I knew I wanted to own my own business,” she said of her former Tahoe City-based clothing store, which she owned and operated for the last 20 years until it became time to vacate. “I enjoy a challenge, and succeeding with a small retail business in today’s internet world is definitely that.”
‘IT’S ALL GOOD’
Williams is always unearthing new ways for a storefront like Keena to curb current trends and stay ahead of big business, one of which is by selling local goods.
“Currently, I’m offering local jewelry and handmade soaps, but am always interested in supporting local artists as long as I can keep the prices reasonable,” she said in a nod to her loyal client base.
Keeping up with Keena amid the fast-paced digital age and growth in online retailers may present its fair share of complications and fluctuations, but Williams said it’s a calculated risk made manageable by the level of support from the local community.
“I love what I do — the challenge of finding beautiful things at a good price and offering them to my customers, plus the merchandising, the socializing,” she said. “Even the math and accounting — it’s all good.”
Jenny Goldsmith is a North Tahoe-based freelance writer and a former reporter for the Sierra Sun newspaper. Have an idea for a merchant to feature? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.