First Street’s compass

Kelli Nicolato

Photo By Kelley Lang

With her husband, Giorgio, 35-year-old Kelly Nicolato owns La Bussola, 211 First St. They purchased the eclectic shop, formerly known as Not Too Shabby and Art & Rubbish, in May. Nicolato is a lifelong Reno resident who graduated from Wooster High School in 1984. Before she took the reigns of La Bussola, she worked as a fitness trainer.

What in the heck is a La Bussola?

La Bussola means “the compass” in Italian.

Why did you name the store that?

It’s a very eclectic shop. It’s got a little bit of everything, including local art and hemp products. I didn’t want to niche the store in any direction. It’s so eclectic, going in so many different directions, and I thought of how the compass represents all different directions.

How’d you go from being a fitness trainer to being a shop owner?

The change occurred in a span of three weeks. I had no inclination or idea that I’d end up owning this shop. I have no retail experience whatsoever. The former owner [Sheryl Kleinendorst] was an acquaintance, and I’d heard that she was looking at selling the shop. We jumped at the chance with both feet.

How’s it going so far?

It’s been fantastic. We’ve signed on new artists and kept most of the artists who came with the shop. Artown was great, and everyone—the merchants, the city, the police—we’re really working together. This area is really awesome.

What’s the weirdest thing you have in your shop?

By far, the Elvis Mexican mosaic toilet seat covers.

How in the heck did you find those?

[The artist who makes them] found me, which is amazing. The greatest artists just walk in the door and say, “I am not sure if you’re interested in these, but …” I may tell some artists to hone things a little bit, but if it’s fun, it’s going in my shop.

What are some of your future plans?

We’re putting on an edible art event, with all the riverfront merchants, here in February 2002. We’re already getting response from artists who want to participate. We’re also having our official grand opening on Sept. 15.

Why are grand openings often held so long after the actual openings?

It usually takes so long to prepare. I’ve only had two days off since we took over the store. It’s like a house party—you want everything decorated and ready to go. You want to show off.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened so far at La Bussola?

The weirdest thing, as far as nontraditional shop-type things go, happened one night during Artown. My husband is a great Italian cook. One night, he made a huge bowl of pasta, and we put it near the door and stayed open late. Anyone who wanted some could have some. We ended up having a big party. I don’t really know how to do retail, so I have no rules. I am learning as I go, but it leaves me open for some nice adventures.