Sibley’s West owners closing iconic store, moving on - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Sibley’s West owners closing iconic store, moving on

April 29th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Sibley’s West owners closing iconic store, moving on


The owners of a downtown Chandler landmark shop are calling it quits.

John and Michelle Wolfe are closing Sibley’s West The Chandler and Arizona Gift Shop, which they opened in 2010.

“Michelle and I have a lot of travel planned for this summer and, fingers crossed, an international trip in 2022,” John told the SanTan Sun News.

Longtime residents, the Wolfes thought downtown Chandler needed some additional retail outlets to complement its selection of restaurants and vibrant nightlife.

They had just obtained masters degrees at Arizona State University and, according to Michelle, wanted something that sold local goods to support local business.

“The idea of a gift shop had some potential,” they explain on their website. “Having visited many shops in Phoenix, including ones in the airport, the Wolfes were disappointed to find so many items and souvenirs made overseas.”

But at some shops and local festivals, they found attractive gifts produced by Arizona craftsmen and artists and so they began identifying small and large manufacturers that call Arizona home, coming across firms like Original Dirt Shirts, Armadilla Wax Works and Cheri’s Desert Harvest.

“Embracing a mantra of ‘From Arizona,’” the Wolfes explained, they found a spot in downtown Chandler and opened their shop in December 2010.

The store is named after a Rochester, New York, department store that John’s great-grandfather, Rufus Sibley, started in 1868. His son, John, took over following Rufus’ death in 1928 and ran the company for 30 years.

“Sibley’s was an institution in the community, combining fine service with fair pricing,” the Wolfes noted.

It was purchased by Associated Dry Goods and later became part of the May Co. Its name was changed in 1990 to Kaufmann’s, the name of a Pennsylvania family that also ran several department stores in the Pittsburgh area.

The Wolfes decided to resurrect the name on a smaller scale to celebrate John’s heritage.

The couple admit on their blog that they have had “a ton of successes and a few challenges” over the years.

One of the most notable challenges, obviously, occurred about this time last year when the governor ordered all non-essential businesses closed for a month to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The Wolfes cautiously reopened when the governor loosened restrictions, limiting the number of customers who could browse amid a bounty of unique artwork, gift items and local foods.

“Although we anticipated retiring in the fall of 2021 at the end of our lease, we are making an early exit so the incoming business has the summer to build out the space for a fall opening,” the Wolfes said.

The new tenant is no stranger to Chandler.

It will be Ocotillo-based d’Vine Gourmet, d’Vine Gourmet, which was started by Denise McCreery in Tucson in 2003 and is dedicated to “a love of food and wine and a desire to share our culinary creations with others.”

The store prides itself on showcasing “the unique flavors of our great state in a refined, ‘foodie’ friendly way.” And carries a varied and award-winning line of jams, mustards, candies, snacks and spices.

“We are self-proclaimed localvores and procure our raw materials and supplies locally as often as possible,” it says on its website, noting it also sells fresh gourmet gifts and gift baskets.

The Wolfes say they are “grateful to have met so many great people at Sibley’s West – our talented team members, hundreds of Arizona artists and business people, and, of course, our loyal guests, who made the store successful.”

They anticipate a “retirement sale” and suggest bargain hunters keep checking for details.