Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Would you wear these?

While touring the new Tower District location of Bebe O’s Boutique (in the former dojo, more on that here), I stopped in my tracks when I saw these babies. See the big furry things on the boots at left? They’re not boots, but leg warmers slipped on over a pair of boots. This is apparently a thing. It’s quite the fashion statement, that’s for sure. Would you wear them? Are they crazy cool or just Bigfootesque?

Attention shoe lovers: New place to shop

Chris Meat Market, El Cochinito, Buffalo Ranch 084Shoes of all kinds — from leopard-print platforms to Air Jordans — are for sale at the newly opened WSS. Shoes. Style. Selection. The Los Angeles-based shoe store opened its first location last week at Kings Canyon Road and Chestnut Avenue and is planning up to four more in the Fresno area. The specific sites are still in the works, but one may be coming to Blackstone and Shaw avenues. The Kings Canyon one is the company’s first store outside of Southern California or Bakersfield.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The retailer doesn’t call itself a discount store, but prices are pretty affordable. We’re talking knee-high boots for $24.99 and flats are two for $35.
  • The store sells men’s, women’s and children’s shoes of all kinds, including the new releases of Jordan and Nike sneakers that young men line up for. Seriously, at 12,000 square feet, the store is huge.
  • It also sells clothing, from women’s jackets to Hello Kitty backpacks.

New place to shop: Passions opens 3rd store

Bullard and West 074Passions Boutique has opened its third location, this one at Bullard and West avenues in the same shopping center as The Manhattan Steakhouse & Bar. The store sells women’s clothing, jewelry and purses, and caters to women of all ages. The store gets many mother/daughter/grandmother combos coming in together to shop because of its variety, manager Ruby Tello noted. Passions also carries plus size clothing, including plus-size  LA Idol jeans with blinged up pockets.

Passions opened its first boutique nine years ago downtown, at 2027 Tulare St., near Fulton Mall. It has another, 2-year-old store at 1085 E. Herndon Ave., near First Street. Tello said customers repeatedly requested a new store in northwest Fresno.

Sprouts grocery opens Wednesday

Sprouts 126Sprouts Farmers Market opens its first store in Fresno at 7 a.m. Wednesday with all kinds of hoopla. The store is in the former Sports Authority store on Blackstone Avenue, in the same shopping center as Bed Bath & Beyond. Here’s what you need to know about Sprouts.

  • It has an emphasis on healthy eating, which means it carries lots of produce, many organic items, along with gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free and [insert dietary restriction here]-free items. There’s 8,000+ items in the vitamin and health section. Many people compare it to a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s. (Ironically, the candy section is front and center as you walk into the store.)
  • Sprouts also bills itself as an affordable grocer. I ran into NerdMom, a local blogger who has four kids and buys a lot of gluten-free food. She tells me that the store’s prices on things like gluten-free waffles and other “Whole Foods type” stuff are lower than many other retailers. Some other products, not so much. The store sells lots of Sprouts-branded packaged foods, and the company runs its own produce distribution system — buying from farmers instead of a distributor — which means it can keep prices low on many items.
  • Bargain hunters, you’ll like this trick. The specials in the store’s ads start on Wednesdays. But each Wednesday’s deals overlap, so you can get the deals in last week’s circular, along with the sales in next week’s circular, on Wednesdays.

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Abercrombie CEO: No large women allowed


Photo: Abercrombie & Fitch

The CEO of teen clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t want large women wearing his clothes. That’s why the store doesn’t carry anything larger than a size 10, or any  extra-large sizes — at least that’s what Robin Lewis, co-author of “The New Rules of Retail” said in a recent interview with Business Insider about CEO Mike Jeffries.

From the interview: “He doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,” Lewis told Business Insider. “He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.’”

What, have the mean girls from high school morphed into a man now running an international clothing company? That’s seems like an excellent way to alienate customers (as if it isn’t off putting enough walking into the Fashion Fair Abercrombie’s dark entrance flanked by half naked boys that my 30-something self shouldn’t even be looking at).

The retailer offers XL and XXL sizes of men’s clothing mind you, but Lewis says that’s because he likely wants to appeal to beefy athletes. Apparently the CEO has never heard of a female athlete. Nor an ugly thin person.

So what do you think, shoppers? Will this make you stop shopping there? Any nuggets of truth to this way of doing business?


New place to shop: The Vintage Market at 601

grand openingThe Vintage Market at 601 will hold an open house/grand opening with discounts and refreshments from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.

The 6-month old shop in the Fig Garden neighborhood is part antique and home decor store, part art gallery. Seven vendors, including four local artists, sell their wares at the shop. They range from little ceramic bird knickknacks for under $10 to an ornately carved wooden trunk for $795. The artists sell original art, such as the giant portraits by Paul Parichan of Sanger.

The large store is arranged in rooms, from the “man room” with its masculine furnishings to a small bathroom-themed room featuring a collection of vintage linens. Even if you’re not in a position to buy, the shop is visual feast with plenty to look at. Keep scrolling for some pictures of what you’ll find at the shop.

Owner Jacquelyn Shore and another partner offer in-home design services, often working with pieces a customer already has, for $125 an hour. (If you remember the Impatience’s Collectique store in Clovis, that was Shore’s previous business.) You can read more about the store here.

There will be food and drinks — “some of which are adult,” Shore says — at the open house. The business is located at 601 W. Shaw Avenue, across the street and a little east of Fig Garden Village. Details: (559) 226-1899.

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KwirkWorld is selling clothing

kwirkKwirkWorld, Fresno’s favorite seller of shot glasses and bacon-flavored candy necklaces, is selling clothing.

You can still buy “Chugopoly,” but much of the River Park store is now devoted to tops and dresses. Owner Kirk Psenner said the wacky stuff sells great during the holidays. But during the rest of the year? Not so much. To keep money coming in, a big portion of the floor space has been turned over to clothing that the owner says is affordable and cute. Think ModCloth-style clothing and vintage-inspired pieces. He chose clothing that’s less teeny bopperish and more geared toward women in their 20s through 40s.

Tops run in the $20 to $30+ range and dresses from $30 to $40ish. T-shirts and baseball caps are available for the fellas. Keep scrolling to see photos of the clothing.

But fear not, fans of stick-on hipster mustaches, the novelty items will take over the store again for the holidays. And there’s about to be a lot more KwirkWorld to shop at. A new smaller KwirkWorld store just opened at Sierra Vista Mall next to the movie theater. And another store is scheduled to open in the Campus Pointe shopping center at Fresno State once it’s built next year. The owner will also open a Franco’s 5 & 10, an old-school candy and toy store.

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Bargain hunters, start your engines

photo(43)It’s spring, which means yard sales, block sales and other places to search for treasure are filling up the Saturdays of those of us who enjoy bargain hunting.

There seems to be a plethora of places to shop this weekend in central Fresno, so I thought I’d compile some here. I know there are many more out there, so feel free to add any you know about in the comments section.

  • The Cambridge Avenue block sale is Saturday, promising lots of furniture, clothing and other stuff. It’s one of the first of many Saturday block sales in the Fresno High area (with yard sales happening generally between Van Ness and Harrison avenues).
  • In conjunction with that block sale, the First Congregational Church (the “big red church”) is holding its annual yard sale and bake sale from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The church is at 2131 N Van Ness Blvd. in Fresno.
  • Signs for the Old Fig Community Yard Sale have dotted Fig Garden for weeks. The event appears to be a collection of yard sales across the neighborhood, not in one particular location. It runs from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Twee boutique trailer makes its debut

tweelogoTwee boutique debuted its new travel trailer Wednesday at the Market on Kern. Twee, which you may remember, sold gift items like Fresno T-shirts, handmade jewelry and other gifts from its downtown store until it closed earlier this year. But owner Melanie Davis Unguez is back with her Twee trailer.

The 1966 Aristocrat travel trailer carries Twee’s merchandise now, with a display set up outside the trailer. Customers are invited to shop the merchandise inside the trailer too. The trailer’s exterior will soon be decked out with a Twee sign and some more color (keep scrolling to see some pics).

Twee will be at the farmers market every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Engelmann Cellars Spring Wine Journey April 13 and 14, and will do private parties.

The retail trailer concept is taking off in other cities, Unguez says. “Following the tails of the food truck movement, retail trucks got started,” she says. The trailer allows Unguez to go where the customers are and gives her more time to make merchandise she sells.

She’s also selling her popular Fresno merchandise through her website, which is especially popular with Fresno natives living out of town.

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New stores offer blingy, glitzy jewelry

If you’re not sick of shopping yet, there are a few new boutiques that opened recently that you might want to check out.

First, there’s Julia, a jewelry and accessories store that opened in River Park two weeks ago, next to Ann Taylor LOFT. This store was opened by the same people who run Julia Vogue, the jewelry and accessories shop across Blackstone Avenue.

As part of the change, the owners decided that Julia Vogue would carry mostly less-expensive costume jewelry and the new Julia in River Park would focus on designer jewelry.

The difference? Designer jewelry is a little higher-end than costume jewelry, and is often sterling
silver or gold plated, the owners say. The shop features fresh-water pearls and wearable works of art like the Jeff Lieb piece at left. There’s blingy Jimmy Crystal watches, chunky beaded cuff bracelets and blingy purses. Many items cost from $35 to $75.

New plant potting shop opens in Tower

Janet Moos and Jason Kabeary run The Succulent Shack

An unusual shop has opened in the Tower District: A potting bar. No, it’s got nothing to do with marijuana, say the owners. The Succulent Shack focuses on potting plants, specifically small, fleshy succulents.

In the former Twee location at 1302 Wishon Ave., the business lets customers pick out a plant, pick out a pot and do the potting themselves, adding glass or stone top dressing.

There’s pots for sale by local artists and ones the owners make themselves. They also sell the finished product. Their “pot-a-sauruses” — a plastic dinosaurs painted and hollowed out to hold plants — are so popular they sold out.

They sell other items, like the Dirty Bird Birdhouses, birdhouses made from gourds grown by a Tulare County gourd farm. The Succulent Shack hosts potting parties for kids and adults too. Most plants cost $4.50 or less, depending on size, with pots ranging from $1.50 to $25 and potting fees ranging from $1.75 to $3.75.

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Black Friday: Mindless greed or harmless fun?

Photo by Bee photographer Eric Zamora

As the Bee’s retail reporter, I cover Black Friday, the traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season, every year. At about 12:30 a.m. Friday, I found myself at Fashion Fair mall, stuck in a mob of people outside Victoria’s Secret.

The crowd had completely filled up the mall corridor and come to a standstill. Hundreds of people were trying to get inside the store, which was letting only a few people in at a time. It was hot, people were breathing on me and a feeling of claustrophobia was starting to climb up my throat. I heard screaming. The forearm of the woman behind me was pressing into my back even though I’d already loudly told her to stop pushing me. I reached behind me and squeezed her arm because it seemed like the only thing to do at the time that might get her to stop.

I’d find out later that people were getting pushed and smashed up against the glass of Victoria’s Secret. All this for what? A $25 hoodie? Don’t these people know you can get a hoodie at Target for $12 any day of the year? Suddenly I came to a crystal clear conclusion: I hate this. I want to be as far away from here as possible.

But as miserable as that experience was, it’s hard to demonize Black Friday as a whole. There’s another side to the night that’s just plain fun. Earlier in the evening, people were friendly and quick to laugh as I hopped from store to store. Whenever I asked someone who spent hours waiting to get sinside a store how they passed the time, they all said the same thing: Making new friends. People who were once strangers were swapping stories, jokes and shopping strategies. The woman who ate her Thanksgiving dinner on the sidewalk outside Target befriended a cute little 10-year-old boy and the two of them laughed their way through the hours. Mothers and daughters in town for the holiday spent hours catching up.

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Blow-dry only salon to open in Fresno

Fresno is getting a blow-dry bar.

For $35, women can get their hair washed, blow-dried and styled by a professional at a different kind of a salon in River Park. There’s no cutting or coloring involved, simply styling for a special occasion or a pick-me-up.

Blown Away is still under construction near RaceRoom and GNC, with plans to open in early December. Genelle Taylor, one of the big wigs at Fresno State’s Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is starting the business.

Blow-dry bars are popping up nationwide as women indulge in little luxuries, with a chain in Los Angeles opening its 10th location recently. And since I’m betting some of you are still baffled by this concept, here’s Taylor’s explanation of the popularity of blow-dry bars.

As women, we always are looking for the fun, affordable luxuries in life, and everyone is always saying to their hairstylists, ‘I wish you could come do my hair every day.’ Just like we get manicures and pedicures, it’s just the next big thing.

What do you think, Fresno? Will you go?

Talking shops: Three new boutiques open

Stella Laguna Beach has moved into a new, bigger location in River Park. The locally owned women’s clothing store now looks like a New York City boutique stocked with lots of edgy, trendy clothing — think leopard print, studded jackets, leather-inspired dresses and lots of boots.

See the sultry model on the wall? That’s Lauren Cameron, who doubles as a sales clerk at Khloe California across the street. That store, which will feature a more laid-back vibe, will open in Stella’s old location Nov. 15.

  • Vintage on Fourth has opened in a little spot on Fourth Street between Clovis and Pollasky avenues in Clovis. The shops sells home decor, repurposing vintage items into something new.

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Talking shops: New clothing, horse store

Equestrian Dreamz opened in Clovis, carrying clothing and gear for horse riders, and collectible miniature horses.

As the Bee’s retail reporter, it’s my mission to let you know about all the cool new stores opening, you know, so you can be the center of attention at the water cooler with your knowledge of what’s coming.
So here’s a collection of new and soon-to-open stores.

Heads up, horse lovers. Equestrian Dreamz has opened in Clovis. Much of the store is dedicated to die-hard riders and competitors, selling clothing for show jumping and tack like bridles. But there’s something for people who don’t ride too, including the collectible model horses and accessories by Breyer.

Read reporter Tim Sheehan’s Word on the Street item, and learn why it’s spelled with a z here.

Stella Laguna Beach is expanding its River Park store. The locally owned retailer will move across the way into the space Amenities used to be in, tripling its size. It’s scheduled to open Nov. 2. The space it’s leaving will eventually become a Khloe California, another clothing store owned by the same woman.

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Your first look at Fresno’s DSW, opening Thursday


Shoe lovers, rejoice!

DSW, or Designer Shoe Warehouse, will open its Fresno store to shoppers tomorrow (Thursday, Sept. 13) from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The store, at the Villaggio Shopping Center (official address is 7923 Blackstone Ave.), is 18,000 square feet and has 24,000 pairs of shoes. It is DSW’s first store in Fresno. It will open another Central Valley store in Modesto in October.
What makes DSW special? DSW’s West Regional Manager Jim Mires says: “The convenience of our stores. The ways things are laid out, from heels to men’s. It’s a great environment to shop in.”

DSW is known for its selection and discount prices (I noticed a range of $50-$140) on designer shoes. During a tour of the store earlier today, I spotted a wide variety of style — boots, booties, flats, pumps, platforms, wedges — from designers such as Michael Kors, Guess, Jessica Simpson, Via Spiga, Steve Madden, Crown Vintage, Pink & Pepper, Converse, Vans, New Balance, Brooks and Nike.

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