Romanza retail shop to shut down

The home decor store has been in operation on Main Street for six years.

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WALLA WALLA - Romanza Gifts and Home Decor, the retail shop whose name means "romance" in Italian, will be parting ways in the coming weeks.

Owners have announced plans to close the store after six years in business at 12 E. Main St.

"We have truly been honored to be a small part of your lives and a part of this great community," owner John Sterlin said in a prepared statement.

Along with his mother, lifelong Walla Walla resident Judy Rostollan, and his partner, Whitman College alumnus Vince Harris, he expressed gratitude to customers who've supported the shop. In their collective announcement, they said rising operational costs and decreasing sales have been a fateful combination in a difficult economy.

Loyal customers will still be able to shop with Romanza online through the operation's Seattle shop. The business started there in the late 1990s. Inspired by a gift shop his mother owned in Walla Walla, The Painter's Cottage, Sterlin began Romanza. After the closure of The Painter's Cottage in 2005, Rostollan partnered with Sterlin and Harris to expand the Seattle shop to Walla Walla.

The store opened in the Siel Building in the summer of 2006. Operators took on a major renovation, removing false walls and suspended ceilings to unveil rich architectural detail from the building's 1886 roots. One of the largest and most pristine pressed-tin ceilings in town was discovered in the process.

The revamp also included a Tuscan-hued paint job and installation of Tiffany chandeliers, a signature feature of the Romanza stores.

Store fixtures and displays will be liquidated, along with inventory, starting Friday.

All products will be discounted. The liquidation will continue over the coming weeks until most items are sold, including lighting and storage shelving. Any remaining inventory/fixtures will be transferred to the Seattle location on Northwest Market Street. To follow the business online, visit romanzagifts.com.

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