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Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

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?

What you need to know about the new Walmart Neighborhood Market

Walmart Neighborhood Market 051Walmart’s new grocery store format opened its latest location in Clovis Wednesday. The Walmart Neighborhood Market is at Fowler and Shaw avenues. It’s not the first (the one at Willow and Herndon has been open a few months). But they’re still new to a lot of people and we’re probably going to see more of these stores (including one slated for the old Cedar Lanes spot in Fresno) so I figured I’d take a little tour. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The most important thing: It’s a grocery store, not a regular Walmart. There are no electronics and no clothing, despite the fact that people come in every day looking for those things. This one is about one-third the size of a Walmart Supercenter. It’s in a former Albertsons.
  • You can find just about every food you find in a regular grocery store, including organic produce, fresh-baked bread, pet supplies, household goods, cosmetics. It also has a pharmacy.
  • It has both self check-out and regular check-out stands. Six of each.
  • It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Walmart Neighborhood Market 047Check out the little boxes at left. Those are in the cosmetics section and hook onto your cart, apparently so you don’t squish your blush brush. (Or so little Billy doesn’t grab your nail polish and launch it across the store?)

So, what do you think, blog readers? Will you shop at a Walmart Neighborhood Market?

New places to shop: HomeGoods, Ulta, Petco open in Clovis

photo(54)Clovis residents, you don’t have to drive to River Park anymore to go to stores like HomeGoods and Ulta. The first wave of retailers has opened at the Clovis Crossing Regional Shopping Center at Herndon and Clovis avenues.

HomeGoods opened last weekend and was slammed Sunday. Even Monday afternoon when I stopped by (don’t you love that checking out HomeGoods is part of my job?) the place was pretty busy with people checking out the décor, bedding and furniture.

Ulta Beauty is open, even though its publicized opening date isn’t until Friday. Someone was already getting a hair cut in the salon in the back of the store. And Petco is open too.

The rest of the stores will open in coming weeks, including Maurices, a women’s clothing store owned by the same company as DressBarn. It’s the first Maurices in the Fresno/Clovis market, though there’s several of them in Tulare County. Also soon to open are the Walmart Supercenter, the Habit Burger Grill, DressBarn, Famous Footwear, Anna’s Linens, Sleep Train, the Vitamin Shoppe, Great Clips, Old Navy, Yum Yum Yogurt, T-Mobile and a Subway.

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Retailers come, retailers go

Openings and closings in the retail world seem to be the new normal these days. Here’s an update of who’s coming and who’s going.

Likely on the way out: Fresh & Easy.
The British parent of the mini grocer announced last week it just wasn’t making enough money to make shareholders happy. The retailer is considering pulling out of the U.S. and selling its stores. Signs of the retailer’s struggle were evident in the Valley, with several stores built but never opened.

What this means for the eight Fresh & Easy stores in the central San Joaquin Valley is still up in the air. You can read more about why it’s failing here.

Coming soon: Walmart Neighborhood Market.
Walmart has been opening its own version of a small grocery for a while now and one is coming to Fresno. The 40,000-square-foot store is under construction at the southwest corner of Willow and Herndon avenues, and another is slated for Demaree Street and Goshen Avenue in Visalia.

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The Beehive Asks: Are you fighting hunger with Walmart again?

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Let’s go back to December 2010: Walmart and its “Fighting Hunger Together” contest had taken over the local Internets. Throngs of us were obsessed with winning one million of Walmart’s dollars to feed our hungry through a confusing Facebook contest that counted our “likes.” We tried and tried, but came in second to Salt Lake City and got not a million, but $100,000.

This week, “Fighting Hunger Together” returned for year two. Fresno, once again, is in the running for a million dollars from Walmart and its crazy-clicking contest. Voting runs until April 30 and Fresno is sitting at No. 2 on the leaderboard, but rapidly moving up. It was much further back just a few days ago.

It seems like Walmart tried to clarify some of those confusing rules this time around — you can vote once a day, for instance.

The question here: Are you playing another round of Walmart’s game? I know a few folks whose reaction was “oh no, not again.” Buuuuuut, it is a worthwhile cause in a city where one in four people might go hungry on any given day.

So what do you think? In? Out? Hungry for Walmart’s dough? Had enough?

2011 Rewind: Favorite controversy?

What got you all worked up in 2011?

We’re ending our 2011 Rewind on a note that Beehive readers love. Controversy, we live for it. So which was your favorite of 2011? It could be something that caused a fuss locally or it could be Kardashian related on the national scale. Either way, go for it. Check out our picks and leave your own in the comments.

While you’re mining your mind, feel free to look back at our preview 2011 Rewind posts: favorite local event, favorite release and favorite local discovery.

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Fres-Know: Our Fuse is lit. Is yours?

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GO TO THIS: Lineup announced for this year’s Fuse Fest. [The Fresnan]

LOOK: Swede Fest 8 poster is dope. Oh, start your Swedes too. [Dumb Drum]

NEWS: We finally got $100K from Walmart. [The Bee]

KNOW THIS: List of 9/11 events in the Valley. [The Bee]

BLOGGINGS: Worst Flier of the Week … politics version? [Daily Dues]

BLOGGINGS: Is Fresno ready for an adults-only movie theater? [CBS 47]

LAW & ORDER: Fistacuffs outside Fresno State-Cal game. [SF Appeal]

YUM: Start drooling over these weekend food events. [Taste Fresno]

BLOGGINGS: Fresno Burger Wars continue: Five Guys vs. In-N-Out. [Fresno Bites]

NEWS: Chaffee Zoo breaks ground on Sea Lion exhibit. [The Bee]

Google Fiber goes to … Kansas City

After lots of campaigning and months of waiting, Google has announced the first city to get its ultra-high-speed Google Fiber internet service. As hard as we tried, it wasn’t Fresno. Kansas City, population 145,000, got the nod from Google.

Wrote Google, on its blog:

In selecting a city, our goal was to find a location where we could build efficiently, make an impact on the community and develop relationships with local government and community organizations. We’ve found this in Kansas City. We’ll be working closely with local organizations including the Kauffman Foundation, KCNext and the University of Kansas Medical Center to help develop the gigabit applications of the future.

Here’s the video announcement:

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Walmart’s Fighting Hunger PR stunt becomes a PR mess

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It was only fitting that when Walmart announced the winner of the Fighting Hunger Together contest on Wednesday afternoon, a big headline anointed Memphis as the winner while the blurb beneath it explained why Salt Lake City won.

As we all know now, Salt Lake City really did win the million dollar prize. The Memphis thing was just a glitch on the Walmart site. But it was a glitch that was emblematic of the contest as a whole. It displayed something that many of us who spent last week feverishly clicking away already knew — the way Walmart handled this contest was one big ol’ mess.

This is not a “boo hoo, we didn’t win” post. It’s not sour grapes. As messy as the contest was, I’m still quite thankful for two outcomes: (1) That Walmart is giving us $100,000. It will certainly help our community. (2) That our community rallied behind this contest and came together to make Fresno a better place in the process. But that doesn’t mean Walmart should get a pass for the way it handled this.

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Fresno gets second in Walmart’s hunger campaign

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This just in from Walmart: Fresno has finished second in the Fighting Hunger Together online contest and will receive $100,000 to feed its hungry.

The much-talked about campaign ended last Friday with a flurry of votes as Fresno and eventual million-dollar winner Salt Lake City, were neck and neck in the final days. Amid allegations that both cities were cheating, Walmart spent the last five days tallying the final number of votes. When all was counted, Fresno remained one million behind Salt Lake City, as it was when voting closed. Looks like nobody’s votes got disqualified, as some were expecting.

Bakersfield ended up getting $100,000 too, for finishing sixth.

With or without Walmart, you can still help Fresno’s local campaign to feed its hungry by donating at fightinghungerfresno.org.

So … thoughts? (Btw, did anybody see the first update where it said Memphis won?)

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Let’s keep fighting hunger, with or without Walmart

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It’s lunch time and you’re probably thinking about quenching your own hunger. But how about helping the hungry in our community? Today, there’s a food drive for Community Food Bank happening until 7 p.m. at the CBS 47 studios, on First just south of Shaw.

It’s inspired by the clicking frenzy that was the last week’s Fighting Hunger campaign. While we await word from Walmart on which city gets the $1 million — the announcement is supposed to come Wednesday — Fresno hunger fighters have taken matters into their own hands.

Today’s food drive was organized by volunteers, chiefly Debbie Zamora of Sanger. She told The Bee: “I didn’t want that positive energy to turn negative. I realized we can help ourselves.”

If online donating is more your speed, the Fresno Regional Foundation has set up its own online campaign at fightinghungerfresno.org. Its goal is to get 100,000 people to donate $10. You can read more about both efforts in this story from today’s Bee.

Take these as tangible signs that the Walmart contest — no matter your opinion on it — gave us the positive upshot of uniting the community and invigorating them to care more about fighting hunger in our community. Well done, Fresno!

The Beehive Asks: What are your thoughts on the Walmart hunger battle?

By now you’ve surely heard the news that Fresno got fewer votes than Salt Lake City in Walmart’s Facebook hunger thing. Now all we’re waiting for is the “official tally” to be announced. Whether that means scores of votes will be disqualified because of “cheating” — and, really, the definition of that term in regards to this contest is pretty wishy-washy — is anyone’s guess.

Now that the momentary frenzy has come to a halt, some questions come to mind:

  • Are you ticked off we came in second?
  • Will Fresno ultimately be declared the winner, or is there a chance some other city might come from behind if only unique users are counted?
  • Do you think that Salt Lake City “cheated” — or at least cheated more than we did?
  • Should Walmart have devised a better system that would have kept people from rolling up vote totals by artifical means?
  • Was this a worthwhile cause or just a brilliant marketing scheme that resulted in a huge free media blitz for Walmart?
  • Was anyone else struck by the idea that this whole experience started to resemble the mentality and mechanics of a massive communal video game — complete with mad clicking of “likes,” a constantly updated score, battlefield camaraderie with like-minded players, the frenzy of an impending deadline?
  • If the scores stand and Fresno gets $100,000 instead of $1 million, will you be mad at Walmart?

Tell us what you think about these questions or other issues related to the contest in the comments.

Of Wal-Mart, tattoos and Travis Sheridan’s soon-to-be ornamented calf

UPDATE ABOVE: Here’s Travis Sheridan getting his tattoo! (Video by Eric Paul Zamora/The Fresno Bee) And if you look on the jump of this post, you can see an image of the finished artwork in all its glory.

ORIGINAL POST: All day Wednesday, glancing now and then at my Facebook page, I had an image of Travis Sheridan working himself into a lather as he sat in front of his keyboard pounding out mesages of inspiration to the Fresno folks competing for Wal-Mart’s $1 million food prize. Sheridan reminded me of a cross between a carnival barker, precinct captain and soothing psycotherapist as he entreated folks to come together as a community and take advantage of a mega-corporation’s brilliant marketing scheme. (Hey, it’s a million bucks for our community, right? Go ahead and play the game!)

Sheridan wasn’t beyond a stunt of his own to win the prize. As Beehive commenter Heather P. writes:

As a commitment to Fresno’s pulling together for this win, Travis Sheridan promised that if Fresno got to 500,000 likes by midnight, Wednesday he’d get a tattoo of the Fresno Flag on his calf. Fresno reached that goal by 6 p.m. His appointment is at Tower Tattoo, Thursday morning at 11 a.m.

Sheridan got his “likes,” and now he’ll forever be emblazoned with his love of Fresno. I can’t wait to see the photos from the tattoo session (and, hopefully, video).

In the meantime, Fresno has topped a million votes in the online contest. But No. 2 Salt Lake City is still lurking close behind at about 831,000 as of 9:30 a.m.

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Fresno, it’s time to rally our hunger-fightin’ troops again

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UPDATE: John Arnold, the Grand Rapids guy who said it would be “humiliating” to lose to Fresno, responded to what I wrote in this post via e-mail. Read it at the bottom of this post.

ORIGINAL POST, 12/13: Fresno still sits atop the voting for Walmart’s Fighting Hunger campaign — but it’s time to rally because No. 2 is gaining on us.

One city — determined by the most community support — will be given $1 million to feed its hungry. Five other cities will get $100K from Walmart. Voting runs until Dec. 31.

Two weeks ago, Fresno sprung to a huge lead over No. 2 Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI. In the middle of last week, we were still up by as much as 6,000 votes.

This weekend, the gap closed to just about 2,500. There’s still a lot of time left, so it’s time to rally again. Tell your Facebook and Twitter friends, your e-mail list — even your MySpace peeps, if you’re still using that.

If you need some bulletin-board material to motivate you, Grand Rapid has given us some.

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Fighting hunger and making Fresno better through your online votes

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Since we last talked about Fresno being in Walmart’s Fighting Hunger contest we’ve roared into first place. There are still 29 days worth of voting to go, but if the contest ended today, we’d get $1 million to feed the hungry in our community.

The last day has been HUGE for Fresno. We were at No. 6 with 770 “likes” yesterday morning. At the time I’m writing this, we have 4,279 behind Fresno, more than a thousand ahead of the No. 2 city.

I’ve seen people spreading this like crazy on Facebook. So many props to the local community for getting behind this — even if some of you don’t usually like Walmart.

Now, the tricky part is going to be keeping up this momentum for the next month. Keep telling your Facebook friends. Fresno’s food hardship rate (24.1%) is much higher than the national average (9.2%), so this will be much-needed help for people in our city.

To vote, make sure you’re logged into Facebook, then go here and hit “like.”

YOUR VOTES ARE ALSO NEEDED FOR …
Once you’ve thrown your support behind the Fighting Hunger campaign, you can help some other local projects. A few Fresno folks are currently in the running for funding from Pepsi’s Refresh Project — which gives money to projects that “refresh” their communities.

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Fres-Know: We’re thankful for your clicks

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VOTE: Help Fresno vie for $1 million to feed our hungry from Walmart. [Walmart]

DID THEY JUST SAY FRESNO: The Cougar Convention made The Today Show [NBC]

DRINK THIS: A Turkey Day treat — the Cranberry Sauce Cocktail [Fashionably Bombed]

GOOD READ: Going meatless of Thanksgiving [Taste Fresno]

KNOW THIS: Black Thursday is the new Black Friday. [The Bee]

NEWS: New stores at the local malls. [The Bee]

WATCH THIS: Part 1 of doc about ’80s punk band Capitol Punishment [Fresno Famous]

GOOD READ(S): George Hostetter has been a city blogging machine lately. [City Beat]

LEBOWSKI ALERT: A Big Lebowski Night planned at Rodeo Lanes [Fresno Famous]

BLOGGINGS: It all changes as you get older — even video game tastes [Dumb Drum]

NOMINATE: Nominations are open for this year’s 40 Under 40. [Business Street]

NSFW BLOGGINGS: Local sex blogger answers: “Do girls like porn?” [Tits & Giggles]