State closes Gardnerville store; commissioners deliver letter to Sisolak asking to re-open county
Editor’s Note: Neither the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office nor Douglas County initiated or conducted an investigation to shut down Cheshire Antiques located in Gardnerville. The investigation was conducted by the Attorney General’s Office under the Governor’s current directives.
When the man from the Attorney General’s Office walked into Cheshire Antiques on Tuesday and flashed a badge, Karen Campbell said she thought for a moment she was having a dream.
But it turned out to be a nightmare for the Gardnerville antique store, which had opened for a few days only to be shut down again due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“I saw different stores open in town and thought, ‘they’ll warn us,’” she told The Record-Courier on Thursday. “A couple of days later, somebody came in from the AG’s Office and said he had to close us down. The funny thing was I was wearing a mask, but he wasn’t.”
Campbell said the agent showed identification and left his card.
“I asked ‘what happens if we don’t close,’” she said. “He said ‘we’ll file charges against you and take you to court.’”
On Thursday, Douglas County commissioners drove a letter to Gov. Steve Sisolak up to the Capitol asking that Douglas be permitted to open for business.
While modifying his order to allow nonessential businesses to conduct curbside transactions, that’s not helpful for the antique store, which sells some hefty items, Campbell said.
The same order permitted golf courses and other recreational businesses to open, but extended the stay-at-home directive until May 15.
Officials pointed out that Douglas appears to have flattened the curve with seven active cases and a dozen recoveries, as of Thursday.
Campbell said they thought they were doing the right thing by social distancing and keeping items wiped down.
“There were only two customers in 12,000 feet of store when he came in,” she said. “We’re amazed at the whole thing. But because one person made one complaint that was enough to shut down a whole business.”
Campbell said the store shut down on March 18 when the governor’s order came down, and stayed closed through April 1 and Easter.
“The guidelines were so vague they don’t give you any hope of where or when we’re going to be able to open,” she said. “The big box stores are profiting by selling clothes and shoes, which the little shops are not allowed to sell.”
She said curbside wasn’t that helpful to the antique store, which has consignment items for 50 people, many of them seniors.
“A lot of them are relying on this income,” she said. “We’re not a high-income store. We can’t survive much longer.”
Campbell said her post to Facebook helped show people supported the business.
“It was such an outpouring,” she said. “It helped take some of the sting away.”
The experience left her feeling like she was doing something wrong by operating her business.
“We feel like criminals,” she said. “We were doing everything safely. We’re law-abiding people, we pay our taxes.”
In a statement to The Record-Courier, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office said they are enforcing the governor’s directive.
“Pursuant to the Governor’s Directive that all nonessential businesses remain closed throughout the State of Emergency, our office is working with other local law enforcement agencies to ensure that businesses remain compliant and prioritize the health and safety of their employees as well as members of the public,” the statement said.