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Business Feature: The Potlach

December 10, 2021 | Kayla Anderson

Celebrating 50 years in business, Lisa and Aaron Nelson sell unique jewelry and gift items that make it one of the best boutique shops to visit for any occasion. The Potlatch was originally started by the Ross family on Ski Way in Incline Village and bought Native American jewelry from Lisa’s grandparents who were traders. The Ross’s sold the business to the Olsen family, who then sold it to the Wurtele’s (Lisa’s grandparents) eventually took it over. Lisa and her mother Lynn Brown lived in the house behind the store, and Brown eventually bought the store and moved it to the Raley’s Shopping Center. 

Lisa took over The Potlatch in 2010 and still enjoys curating jewelry and other gift items from small mom-and-pop businesses. From home décor items to skincare, clothing, and children’s products, The Potlatch has it all. And while COVID-19 created some challenges with staffing and inventory, Lisa feels lucky to have great employees, repeat customers, and a supportive community.

“It takes a lot to run this business. But luckily, I have a great core group of amazing managers,” Lisa says. And she emphasizes being incredibly grateful for the employees (and customers) who’ve stuck with her through the pandemic. 

“It’s like having a second family. Especially during Covid, I’ve found that this is a nice little community, being able to lean on people and residents who come in to spend money,” Lisa says. 

The Nelsons have two daughters, 10-year-old Penny and 12-year-old Katie, who are also “jewelry addicts”, Lisa says. When asked if her daughters have plans to take over The Potlatch someday, Lisa responds, “They talk about it all the time. In their ‘What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?’ reports for school, they say they want to be shopkeepers. My fifth grader says she wants to run a candy store.”

They already have a leg up on knowing how the business runs and Lisa appreciates their help. 

“They know how to use an adding machine, they’ll vacuum, clean windows. They’re reliable… and their little fingers are perfect for handling necklace clasps and earrings,” she smiles. “It’s cute, it reminds me of working with my mom,” Lisa adds.

This article originally appeared in the 2021 Fall Live.Work.Play. publication. 

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