Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Kwirkworld closing, Hobby Lobby may be coming, more food and shopping news

One of Fresno’s quirkiest and most-loved stores is closing, but there’s news of a lots of openings in the works too. Here’s a rundown on what’s happening the shopping and eating world in Fresno and Clovis.

Closing: Kwirkworld. The River Park store known for novelties such as stick-on hipster mustaches and socks that say “bacon” is closing. Owner Kirk Psenner is returning to selling real estate. He said Wednesday: “When I look at the economic picture, it’s the difference between just skating by and going back to my passion that I was hugely successful at.” You can see the full story here and read the announcement Kwirkworld posted on its Facebook page here. The store will close sometime in March and is already having a sale.

Possibly opening: Hobby Lobby. The craft retailer that makes headlines for other things confirmed it is looking to open in Fresno. “We are actively looking for a location in Fresno but nothing has been signed as of yet,” says spokesman Vince Parker of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.

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Tassels in Fig Garden Village closing

Tassels, the locally owned store in Fig Garden Village selling all kinds of elegant gifts and home decor, is closing. The store’s lease is up and the women who own the store say they decided not to renew it. They’ll be starting a big sale soon and closing when the merchandise is gone, but expect to be open through much of January. 

“We have a heavy heart,” says co-owner Suzanne Yengoyan. “Our lease was up at the end of December and after just several years of contemplating what we should do, felt it was best to move on.” The location was a good one for the holidays, but a little removed from the heart of the center for the rest of the year, she says. The space is up for rent.

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Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


You could stay home and watch TV. Or …

1. Walking with Dinosaurs
Because no one’s built Jurassic Park yet.

2. Comedy with a Teaze(r).
Or, comedy at Club One.

3. The Zoo
Or, at least Zoo Lights.

4. Tuba Christmas
This is self explanatory, really.

5. “In and Out of the Shadows
Fresno poet Gary Soto is also a playwright. Fresno City College stages his musical.

And a bonus five for live-music events. Because I can:

1. Molotov
2. Sponge
3. Dance Gavin Dance
4. Fab Four
5. Jurassic Christmas

For a full (if not complete) concert list, be sure to check out The Beehive’s weekly BANDGEEK post.

For holiday-specific ideas, check out this week’s 7 Magazine cover story.

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


Assuming you slept off the food coma …

1. Record Store Day
The Black Friday Edition. Because “The Big Lebowski” soundtrack (white-Russian colored edition) is too good to pass up.

2. Small Business Saturday
For those who want to be good little consumers without all the Black-Friday guilt.

3. Breathe Carolina
Electro-rock/EMC crossover band from back in the days of MySpace.

4. The Nutcracker
‘Tis the season.

5. 40 Watt Hype
This Dutch guy thinks you should go. At least, I think that’s what’s happening.

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?

It’s a good weekend to shop in Fresno

It’s a good weekend to kick off your holiday shopping. (Yes, I know, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but some people have been shopping for months.) Or, you could just buy yourself something. Anyway, there’s a whole bunch of shopping-related events this weekend, many of them featuring things you can’t find at chain retailers and one kick-off to fall fashion. Here’s what’s happening.

Thursday: Macy’s is hosting a fall fashion “shopping party” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Fashion Fair store. The event will feature a fashion show, food, music and more. The event is free, but you need to get tickets here.

Intimate Cups IV is an art exhibit at Clay Mix, a ceramic gallery and studio, featuring cups created by artists. And you can buy the cups. You’re not going to a find a mug with an artsy little bunny like that on it at Target. The event  is part of the monthly Art Hop and runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at 1003 N. Abby St.

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What do you want to open in Fig Garden Village?

Coldwater Creek in Fig Garden Village is officially a goner. The retailer closed all its stores after filing for bankruptcy and the going-out-business sale is over. That leaves a large and somewhat prominent space open in the shopping center for a new business to move into. The store sits on a corner deep in the shopping center between Banana Republic and Heart & Sole comfort shoes. There’s a for-rent sign in the window.

So, here’s where you come in. I’m curious about what you guys would like to see go into that space. Any particular retailer you’d get excited about seeing in there? Fig Garden doesn’t seem to be afraid to convert retail spaces to restaurants (as evidenced by the newly opened Jack’s Urban Eats) so feel free to suggest restaurants too.

New place to shop: Revival 23

Pretty. That’s the best word to describe the newly opened Revival 23 in Old Town Clovis. The little shop is at 453 Pollasky Ave., inside the Dewitt building and across the breezeway from Lululemon. Everything in here is pretty: flowy, feminine tops hanging on rustic pallets, colorful refinished furniture, vintage wall decor and bottles of bubble bath displayed on shelves that are painted pink.

The shop carries a little bit of everything, including clothing, decor and lots of jewelry. Chunky statement necklaces – usually priced between $18 and $24 — are popular, along with pendants on long thin necklaces. Revival 23 carries a line  of candles, hand cream and bubble bath called Lollia. It’s a line that’s also carried at Anthropologie (though Revival 23 appears to have more of it), and that’s fitting because the store has an Anthropologie feel.

But unlike that retailer, Revival 23 carries vintage and repurposed furniture, including an old farmhouse table and repainted dressers dolled up with new knobs that look like little clocks. There’s picture frames that have been turned into chalkboards and signs that say “coffee” and “home” spelled out in old hinges, handles and other parts.

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New place to shop: The Mall @ Hidden Treasures

photo (92)What started as a smallish thrift shop on Blackstone Avenue has exploded into a 10,000-square-foot mall with 40 vendors selling all kinds of used goodies. The Mall @ Hidden Treasures is at 1649 N. Blackstone Ave., just north of McKinley on the west side of Blackstone. There’s a big range of items here: vintage, antique, clothing for kids and adults (including Iron Maiden and other rock T-shirts), Star Wars collectibles, furniture, home decor, comic books, hand-painted signs, dishes, jewelry, etc. And like the Once Upon a Time Shop I wrote about recently, the Mall @ Hidden Treasures has also become a home for people selling upcycled and repainted furniture. A separate business you can access from Hidden Treasures, Picker’s Paradise, buys, sells and trades video games, along with DVDs and Hot Wheels cars.

It might seem like a strange place for such a big mall, but the owners didn’t intend for their business to turn out this way. They opened a thrift shop about four months ago in the space where Open Door Ministries, a church, had operated the previous thrift shop. But they got lots of interest from people wanting to sell and eventually ended up renting out their storage space in back and taking over space the church left behind when it moved out, including its sanctuary, pastor’s office and a nursery that still has Noah’s Ark painted on the wall.

Owners Cara and Richard Howard encourage their vendors to keep prices low. The business is open seven days a week. Give yourself time if you go, because it will take a while to get through this big store.

What you need to know about H&M in Fresno

photo (89)An eye-popping 1,100 people flocked to the grand opening of Fresno’s first H&M clothing store. Getting an H&M store here — in the former Borders space in River Park — is a huge deal to a lot of people, particularly shoppers in their teens and 20s. You can see a video of the opening frenzy below. But here’s what you need to know about the store with one of the craziest openings I’ve ever covered.

What’s the clothing like? The store carries men’s and women’s clothing, including a large selection of menswear such as dress shirts and shorts. It carries women’s plus sizes from 14 to 22, but only had one large rack devoted to it Thursday. The “H&M Mama” (maternity) section was bigger. The kid’s section is sizeable and the store also sells accessories, lingerie and fitness clothing.

Shoppers described the styles as similar to Forever 21 and Love Culture (both in Fashion Fair mall), but more appropriate for work. The styles definitely skew young. Some said H&M clothes were less expensive than Forever 21 and higher quality. Prices ranged from $7 maxi dresses to $29.95 orange-and-white striped men’s dress shirts.

Why the big deal? This is the only H&M store between Modesto and Santa Barbara. Shoppers have been seeking out H&M in other cities when traveling out of town for years. The retailer is the epitome of “fast fashion” which means getting cutting-edge runway looks onto store racks quickly.

But isn’t Fresno just in love with chain stores? Perhaps. But there’s more going on here that’s inspiring 1,100 people to line up beginning 

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Good shopping this weekend

junkdaysOne of the biggest block sales of the season is this weekend, the Terrace Avenue sale in the Fresno High neighborhood. And in a twist, the Brown Avenue sale is also this weekend, allowing you to hit up two in one day. If you’re not familiar with these  block sales, the neighborhood holds a slew of them on Saturdays in May. Go to Palm Avenue and turn onto either street for yard sales full of furniture, clothing, jewelry and food vendors. Be prepared for crowds. It gets crazy. It starts early and winds down after lunch.

Glorious Junk Days is Sunday in Old Town Clovis. Actually only one day, this event is a giant catch-all for all kinds of cool stuff: antiques, vintage items, architectural salvage — as in, old doors that can be made into headboards — collectibles and handmade items. It’s kinda like a 3-D Pinterest: Lots of the projects you see on Pinterest are there, but someone else has already made them for you. Glorious Junk Days runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Pollasky Avenue is blocked off near Fifth Street.

Fresno H&M announces opening date, details

hmIt’s official. H&M has announced an opening date: Thursday, May 29. Readers have been bugging me for weeks about when exactly the H&M in River Park will open and if it will carry plus sizes. Today, the company answered many of your questions.

The store will open at noon. Expect big crowds (no overnight camping out allowed though). Details here: H&M announces opening date for Fresno’s River Park store. That’s a New York store at right, by the way. Ours will look much different and has a tower visible from Highway 41.

LUSH and ULTA cosmetics stores open

photo(71)Cosmetics store LUSH opened today in the outdoor portion of Fashion Fair mall. This retailer appears to target people who care about the ingredients that go into their soap, skin and hair products. Its products are not tested on animals and more than 80% are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. LUSH products have as little packaging as possible and customers can “go naked” — meaning buy something like a “bath bomb” with no packaging at all.

ULTA Beauty is holding a grand opening this weekend for its third location in the Fresno area (the others are at the Clovis Crossing shopping center and Villaggio on north Blackstone). This one is at the Marketplace at El Paseo and has been open about a week. The store sells cosmetics and perfume, along with other skin and hair products. It has a full-service hair salon.

The grand opening festivities include free makeovers and free gift certificates for the first 100 people through the doors each day until Sunday.

What to do this weekend? Shop!


(click to enlarge)

Here’s something to look forward to if you’ve got the not-quite-Friday doldrums. This weekend is a great time to shop. Whether it’s antiques, clothing, or handmade stuff, there’s several opportunities to do a little retail therapy.

The Handmade Parade is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District building. It’s a sale featuring all things handmade, including blinged-out hats, wine glass holders and other projects. You can see CBS 47′s piece on the event here. (It includes Zara Arboleda stabbing a Peep, which I find strangely amusing.) Admission is $2 and the show benefits Central Valley Veterans.

The Spring Antiques and Collectibles Fair is Sunday in Old Town Clovis. Pollasky Avenue is blocked off from Bullard Avenue to Third Street with 90 vendors selling antiques, including jewelry, furniture, glassware and collectibles. They’ll be food, furniture-painting demonstrations and antique appraisals. It runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Will a central Fresno Walmart change your shopping habits?

photo(62)In case you missed it, Walmart has announced it will open a supercenter smack dab in the middle of town — in the former Mervyns at Blackstone and Ashlan that’s been empty for five years. You can read the full story, but basically Walmart will open a store that’s a tad smaller than typical supercenters, and includes a full grocery store, clothing, toys and electronics — but no auto center. (Much to the relief of the GoodGuys Tire just steps away, I’m sure.) Work has already started. It will create 250 jobs and open this summer.

The news inspired a flood of comments on The Fresno Bee Facebook page and the story, from people saying it will chase away prostitutes and homeless in the area to comments from people who boycott Walmart. Others said they’d really prefer an Ikea there.

The one thing that’s for sure is that a Walmart there will change things. Will it change your shopping habits? Having such a store there is likely to draw some customers away from the nearby Save Mart, Vons and the Grocery Outlet right across the street. It might mean competition for the Target at Blackstone and Bullard avenues, too. Will it change your habits? Will you shop there?

Just how excited is Fresno about H&M coming to town?

After months of rumors, River Park today confirmed that trendy clothing retailer H&M is coming to Fresno. It will open in late summer or early fall, in the former Borders spot that has been empty since 2011. H&M is a global company known for quickly getting runway looks to the masses at affordable prices. Just how excited are people in Fresno about this store? Very, very, very excited, judging from the response on social media this morning. Take a look.

My personal favorite tweet of the morning:


Check out the number of shares and likes from the Bee Facebook page in the first two hours:

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QnA with Devoya Mayo of the Fresno Handmade Holiday Bazaar

tumblr_mwr9lvovj31qehjf6o1_1280The Fresno Handmade Holiday Bazaar happens 11 a.m. Saturday at Fulton 55.

The annual event — put together by the Soulflower Group– is a spot check of the Fresno craft- and hand-made scene, with 28 crafters and artist selling everything from steampunk jewelry to handmade candles and designer nail polish. So, it’s the perfect spot to pick up some last-minute gifts.

I emailed Ms. Soulflower herself, Devoya Mayo, to find out more.

Explain the event in three lines or less.

The Soulflower Group curates a D.I.Y extravaganza by hosting 28 local crafty folks at Fulton 55 for an afternoon of crafts, music, food, prizes and cocktails.

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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.

Black Friday, Buy Nothing or something in between?

Black Friday was a bit off, sales wise, this year. That’s only because retailers changed up the game and decided to open a day(ish) earlier, leaving the country’s two favorite past times (eating and shopping) to battle it out in what will now be known as Brown Thursday (can’t confirm is that’s an official title). Combining the two days, sales were up, slightly year over year.

Of course, not everyone is so taken with the idea of mass consumerism, and some chose to abstain from the whole ordeal. In a recent column, I wrote about Buy Nothing Day (aka Occupy Christmas) a grass-roots day of protest against … well all the craziness we saw on the nightly news this weekend. Camping out in front of Target, for example.

Feedback on the column was mostly positive, mostly from people who think the current state of American consumerism, with its corporate box stores and HUGE SAVINGS, is unsustainable. Or, at the very least creating bad cycles (See: Walmart’s canned food drive for its own employees).

And even with all of this year’s hubbub, there are signs that habits may be changing. Websites like Etsy and Bandcamp, for example, and the success of crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter prove that people are looking for new ways to engage their consumerism, even as the old ways are breaking down. Trend analyst Eric Garland’s piece on the fiscal troubles of Guitar Center seems to agree.

So the question goes to you: Did you shop Black Friday, or buy nothing? Or, do you just not care either way? Is the resurgence of the mom-and-pop shop on the horizon?

Saying goodbye to Urban Ornaments

Sad news for Old Town Clovis shoppers. Clothing store Urban Ornaments is closing. Business owner Teresa Darrow (who has always been a helpful source and genuinely nice person to this reporter) said the following on the store’s Facebook page:


Go say goodbye and hit up her sale if you want. And even though this is sad news, it’s nice to see there’s 57 comments on that post wishing her well.

BevMo! and Chick-fil-A coming to Clovis

bevmo2Get your drink on, Clovis. BevMo! is coming. The big seller of beer, wine, spirits and everything else you need to have a party is coming to the Clovis Crossing Regional Shopping Center at Herndon and Clovis avenues, confirms Clovis Council Member Nathan Magsig.

And Chick-fil-A is coming to the same corner too, so you can get some chicken to go with your beer.

Both places are several months away from opening. BevMo! will open somewhere between Petco and Walmart (it’s not clear yet if that building under construction right now will house BevMo! or if it will go in a future building). Chick-fil-A will be built closer to Herndon Ave., between McDonald’s and Carl’s Jr. Construction hasn’t started yet on that (that’s the Denny’s that’s being built right now).

The BevMo! is kinda a big deal because until now it just had the one store in Fresno on North Blackstone. A lot of these big retailers like to plunk down one store in Fresno, say they’ve got the Fresno/Clovis market covered and if you think it’s too far to drive from Clovis, well, too bad, so sad. Apparently BevMo! wants your business, Clovis.

In addition to what’s already there, the center will also be getting a kebob restaurant, a Korean barbecue restaurant called Shila, Sally Beauty Supply, Pacific Dental, a nail salon, Wingstop, Kay Jewelers, Yum Yum Yogurt, Jamba Juice, Kirkland’s and a Kay Jewelers.

This N That “thriftique” opens second store

This & That 027This N That Too — part boutique and part thrift shop — has opened in that funky brick stand-alone building on Olive Avenue near Palm.

The store carries a mix of clothing and accessories and furniture. There’s repainted tables and chairs, colorful sundresses and all kinds of decor items. A local man makes garden art from old rakes and shovels in the shape of peacocks and other animals. Co-owner Kirk Gallenkamp makes water fountains out of old sinks and planters. His wife and co-owner Kelly Gallenkamp offers in-home decorating services for free. The store sells all second-hand or handmade items, but is a step up from your typical thrift shop.

This N  is second location for the owners, who opened This N That Thriftique at 842 N. Fulton St., also in the Tower District, in January. (And the new location on Olive is in the same space that Urban Up-Cycle left when it moved down the street to 564 E. Olive.) Customers of the This N That stores don’t overlap, the Gallenkamps say, so they don’t mind having two locations so close together. The family — the couple and their three teen kids who work at the stores — plans to move into the little house attached to the Olive Avenue store.

They plan to continue the “mimosa Sundays” and wine-tasting nights at the new store. The grand opening is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. July 13, and will features sales and appetizers. Keep scrolling for some additional pictures of what they sell.

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Eclectic Portobello Road store opens

RETAILTHERAPYPortobello Road is the kind of place flea market lovers and anyone willing to hunt down a hidden gem will want to check out. The newly opened store is an eclectic mix of home decor and gifts, with an emphasis on goods made by local people.

The store sells lazy Susans made from old wine barrels by this local guy, Tom Scheidt. Someone else makes crosses from salvaged material, like old fence posts and picture frames. And owner Stacey Siroonian sells necklaces she makes from religious medals. There are new items too, such as robes and candles, along with refinished desks and interesting old stuff, such as the European demijohn — a giant glass container used in wine making.

Large throw pillows made from European grain sacks and vintage table clothes are popular (that’s them in the photo). Siroonian sells them in the store and takes custom orders. She designs and stencils the pillows and hires a seamstress to sew them. The pillows range from $150 to $270 (the rare grain sacks cost $75 alone), but the store has many low-cost items such as $10 key chains made from old spoons and forks.

The store is at 385 W. Bedford Ave. and is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and by appointment (call 559/352-8907). The limited hours stem from the fact that Siroonian is a mom and running the store is a hobby on steroids for her. She also sells online (see more of her stuff here) and via Craigslist. She used to run the business out of her home, but after thieves stole $1,800 worth of product delivered to her doorstep, she decided to take over a former office building. It gives her more room than she’d have with a store at, say River Park, but also can also make it a little tricky to find because it’s not in a retail area (meaning you may want to MapQuest or plug that address into the GPS).

Keep scrolling to see a few more photos of what the store sells.

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New place to shop: Lola clothing store open in River Park

Lola and T and T consignment 002Lola, a low-priced version of the Ooh La La boutique, has opened in River Park.

Lola carries the same young, trendy, colorful clothing as the three Ooh La La boutiques around town, but nothing at Lola costs more than $30. (River Park doesn’t like to use terms like “discount” in its store names, apparently, so Lola is called an “everyday value.”) The store carries bright pink-and-white dyed cut off shorts for $24.98, gray maxi dresses for $29.98 and camisoles for $4.98.

The store owners expected their main customers — the young women who tend to hang around River Park — to gravitate to the store. (Who else can wear those shirts with the skin-baring cut-outs in the back?) But women of all ages have been shopping the store since it opened. (And I can see why. Maxi dresses and sleeveless tops can be worn by almost anyone.)

The store opened May 31, moving into the former Ooh La La location in front of Macy’s. Ooh La La, meanwhile, has moved to a space double its original size over by Ann Taylor LOFT.

Pick up a piece of Cedar Lanes history at the Old Town Flea Market

My Capture

Tim Schulz, owner/founder of ReVive Industries, will be taking orders for furniture made from wood from Cedar Lanes at the Old Town Flea Market. Photo: Mark Crosse, The Fresno Bee.

The first-ever Old Town Flea Market debuts in Clovis this weekend. The flea market will feature antique or vintage, handmade or repurposed items. It’s not a swap meet, note the organizers, who are the owners of the Vintage on Fourth shop and 5th Street Antiques in Old Town Clovis. You can read more about the event in this week’s Retail Therapy column.

One vendor sure to get lots of traffic at the flea market: ReVive Industries. They’re the folks who rescued wood from bowling lanes at Cedar Lanes before it was demolished. The husband-and-wife team will be taking orders at the flea market to have the wood made into furniture, cutting boards, frames, even pens made from the wood. How cool would it be for a longtime Cedar Lanes bowler to have a coffee table made from a lane in his living room? The ReVive folks can do “anything as small as a pen to as large as a dining room table,” says Allyson Schulz, who runs the  business with her husband Timothy.

They’re just two people (one with a day job and the other with an all-the-time job of staying home with several small kiddos) so they don’t have any of the furniture made yet, but they’ll be taking orders. The couple make furniture from other reclaimed materials as well.

You can find them at the flea market this coming Saturday and Sunday,  at the Clovis Rodeo Grounds. Admission is $5 and the market runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.