Keeping it local, Part 2: A look at Incline Village businesses being passed down to younger generations
Special to the Bonanza
This is the second in a two-part series featuring several family owned Incline Village businesses that are being passed down to the family’s younger generation to operate. Click here to read part one.
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Locals know that Incline Village is a small place where everybody knows your name. And anywhere you grow up, it’s understandable to want to leave when you graduate high school.
But for a handful of individuals who grew up in the family business, they soon found their way back to the lake.
Here’s a look at what four more Incline High School graduates are doing now:
Village Pub: Nick Webber, IHS Class of 2005
“My dad bought the Village Pub in 1983 and opened it in 1984,” bartender Nick Webber says.
Calling the Village Pub his second home, Webber remembers grabbing the dustpan and cleaning up popcorn off the floor when he was a kid.
After graduating IHS in 2005, Webber lived in Reno for six years working in concrete construction. He then spent a year traveling around the East Coast before finding his way back to the lake.
The Village Pub — tucked away in the heart of Incline Village at 848 Tanager St. — is definitely a family business, with Nick’s dad, Steve, still coming in every morning seven days a week, and his sister Stephanie (IHS Class of 2002) splitting her time as a bartender between Jack Rabbit Moon and the Pub.
But Nick knows that his dad wants to retire someday, so Nick and Steph are next in line to continue the operations.
“I spend more time here than at my own house,” he says of being at the Village Pub fulltime.
Plus, Nick has never been able to stay away for too long.
“I always come back, I love Tahoe,” Webber says. “It’s hard to beat — I love to ski and all of the seasons.”
Spees Law: Kristen Spees, IHS Class of 2005
Longtime attorneys Frank and Judy Spees moved to Incline Village to continue their law practice when their daughter Kristen was just 2 years old.
As the youngest of the family, Kristen graduated from IHS in 2005, worked on her undergraduate degree in Hawaii from 2005-2008, and then continued her education at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.
Her brother Justin (IHS Class of 2001, same year as T’s Jamie Swing) is also involved in the business as the paralegal and financial planner.
Currently licensed in Nevada, California, and Hawaii, Kristen and her parents work as estate planning attorneys helping people draft and implement wills and trusts.
The Spees family splits their time between Nevada and Hawaii; Kristen spends the summers and winters in Hawaii and the spring/fall in Incline Village.
“My dad took the Hawaii bar exam with me; we studied together,” Kristen said.
She has enjoyed learning the old style from her parents while helping them understand the new trends of estate planning.
“My parents used to only advertise in newspapers, but I took it to a new level. I created a website, ran Facebook and Internet advertising on it, and drove my car around promoting our services,” she says. “And estate planning has changed over time — women are more involved now.”
Spees also speaks of her love for Lake Tahoe: “I love working in Tahoe because you can meet clients in interesting ways. I used to meet clients up at Diamond Peak all the time; I would talk to people on the chairlifts and they’d ask for my business card.
“Taking over the business in Tahoe makes it easier to be able to stay; I’m so lucky to be here.”
Incline Boat Storage & Marine: Mark Marelich, IHS Class of 2003
“He’s the best boss in the world,” Incline Boat Storage employee Connor O’Brien says about Mark Marelich.
Owned by the Marelich family since 1989, Incline Boat Storage went through an expansion in 2001 and continued to increase its customer base.
As the business located at 875 Oriole Way grew, Mark Marelich graduated from IHS in 2003 and then went off to several colleges in Northern Nevada and California. Earning a degree from California State University, East Bay with a double major in finance and economics, Marelich pursued his budding baseball career in Austria.
However, in hearing that his parents wanted to retire, he decided to put family first and come back to Incline Village to take over the business.
“My mom was getting overwhelmed, so I came back to relieve some of the pressure,” he says.
Marelich said that his financial education has helped — since Incline Boat Storage manages over 200 boats, there is a lot of paperwork and office time involved.
“We’re pretty lucky to have a good amount of customers,” Marelich says.
One of their biggest challenges is space, though. As their customers are obtaining bigger boats, Incline Boat Storage is running out of room.
“We would love to expand and eventually want to be able to offer self-service kayak storage,” he says.
However, the biggest challenge of running Incline Boat Storage is the weather.
“The low lake levels, drought and condition of the ramp can be a huge problem for us because it forces us to launch boats from Tahoe City or Cave Rock,” Marelich says.
Marelich says that former Incline High grad Scott Menath is one of his best friends, and he knows Jamie Swing well.
“It’s nice to shoot around ideas with other people in the same situation,” Marelich says. “This is a small community and we have a lot of support.”
The Potlatch: Lisa Nelson, IHS Class of 1998
“When can I take over the Potlatch?” 7-year-old Penny Nelson asks her mom Lisa.
If Penny takes over the Potlatch someday, she will be the fourth generation in the jewelry business.
Back when the jewelry shop was located on Ski Way, it was owned by Jane Ross, and it had a house attached to it. Nelson’s grandparents worked as traders and sold jewelry to Ross before eventually buying her out.
Meanwhile, Lisa’s mom was running her own jewelry store in Southern California, but when her parents got divorced, she decided to come back up north.
When Lisa was in the third grade, she moved to Incline Village and her mom took over her grandparents’ Potlatch on Ski Way.
In 1997, the building sold and Lisa and her mom moved the Potlatch to its current location with the Raley’s shopping center.
Just like little Penny, Lisa pretty much grew up in the Potlatch.
“I’ve been doing this since I was born,” Lisa says.
After graduating from IHS, she moved to Reno and studied business management and marketing at UNR before coming back and taking over the Potlatch.
When Lisa started running the business four years ago, her and her husband remodeled the store by repainting, re-staining, and redoing the window fixtures.
Lisa says it’s also nice having one of her good friends, Andrea Azzara Gitchell (owner of Azzara’s Restaurant), in the same situation and so close by.
“It’s nice that we can bounce ideas off each other,” she says.
“It’s an awesome opportunity to be able to stay in Tahoe,” Lisa adds. “There are only a handful of people from our class that get to live here; we are so lucky.”
Kayla Anderson is an Incline Village-based freelance writer with a background in marketing and journalism. She loves sharing stories about Lake Tahoe and her community. Have a story idea? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.