Owners leave 27-year legacy behind at lncline Hallmark
August 20, 2005
INCLINE VILLAGE – For a moment it all was too much for Marcie Lanz. In front of her, three tourists tried on Lake Tahoe T-shirts to commemorate their stay at Incline. On the counter beside her, a 27-year-old curled newspaper clipping announcing the opening of the Lanzes’ Hallmark Store received furtive glances from curious customers. Behind her stood the many rows of cards and books and knickknacks where thousands of nascent shoppers over the years stumbled upon just the right thing to say.
A task that suddenly overwhelmed the store’s proprietor.
“I’m sorry,” Lanz said, momentarily turning toward the back of store to gather herself. “It’s just that it’s been so many years – we’ve known so many good people. So many have moved away or passed on. It’s just a lot to think about – a lot of emotion.”
The Lake Tahoe Basin’s last remaining Hallmark franchise will close its doors for good on Aug. 30. One of the original tenants of the Raley’s shopping center, the store opened 28 years ago as owners Pete and Shirley Warden joined Raley’s and Azzara’s restaurant as the original occupants.
“We came up here to open a Swenson’s (ice cream) in the Village (center),” Lanz explained. “That fell through. My husband and I were eating that day at Sambo’s – which is now Rookies – and the waitress told us if we wanted to know anything about what’s going on in town, to go see Pete Warden at the Hallmark.
“We walked into his business and asked him if he knew of anything available in the area. He said ‘everything’s available – for the right price.'”
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Shortly thereafter Marcie and husband Larry found themselves in front of the store posing for a picture as the store’s new owners. Marcie was just 27, Larry 29.
“I tell people I’ve spent half my life here,” said Lanz. “But I also tell them that’s not a bad thing.
The store soon built a steady and loyal clientele, but the Lanzes, who were also wanted to start a family, were having a little less luck with that endeavor.
“We finally stopped trying and that’s when it happened,” Lanz said. “I wound up working here with a bassinet on the counter – spending every holiday with our sons playing with their toys in those aisles while we did inventory. I just have so many memories here.”
The Lanzes sons, Ryan, 24, and Jason, 23, were raised attending Incline schools and have since finished college, both moving on to work full-time in the golf industry. While in Reno, Ryan is in Southern California – where the Lanzes lived before moving to Incline.
“We may wind up back down there,” Lanz said. “Wherever our family grows is where we’ll probably go. But first we’re going to travel. We’ve got a cruise planned and a couple other vacations. Who knows though we may get ‘tripped-out’ sooner than later.”
As far as other future plans go, Larry may invest more in real estate as well as resume a more rigorous schedule of golf and tennis. Marcie, who in her spare time is a counselor at the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Reno as well as a group bible studies leader, said she’ll find more time for volunteer work, and, of course, family.
“It’s going to be different now,” she said. “I won’t miss working until 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve. I get to be that crazy shopper now and enjoy my holidays like a normal person.”
But it also comes at a price.
“I’ll miss the wholesale cards and the books. It will be so strange having to actually go in and buy these things.”
The closure of the Hallmark also marks the end of Incline’s only book retailer.
“People have tried to open (book stores) here throughout the years, but it’s a tough business,” Lanz said. “There’s not a huge mark-up on books. But it’s sad that there won’t be a store for that here anymore. Personally, I’m going to have to go work at a library or something. Books are my passion.”
But it is thinking about the people that really gets Lanz. From the tourists who stop in every year for supplies, to the loyal year-round customers, the Lanzes hope to see many familiar faces as they celebrate their years in business Saturday at 4 p.m.
“We’ll drink a little wine, share some memories, say goodbye to friends and customers and toast the future,” said Lanz. “Who knows, we may finally get to see the rest of the world and decide that this is the place.”