Let’s just pull Save Marts off the board. Don’t get me wrong; they are workhorses. I’m thankful for them. It’s where I do the bulk of my shopping. But I am not aware that any of them are “great” stores.
Yes, you can drop the Wincos and Pack-n-Save and anything with “bargin” or “outlet” or “dollar” in the title. They are trash, but can serve a purpose for a neighborhood so I will at least give them props for being in areas where nobody will go.
And no, Costco is not an everyday grocery store. It’s a nightmare.
Vons? Well, I do like Vons and as a former employee, I am partial to them. But fuck them since they completely left the western side of Fresno. (I miss the Blackstone, First & Tulare and Marks & Shaw Vons greatly)
Every city seems to have a Whole Foods, a Trader Joe’s and a Sprouts. I am not going to count those since they are out-of-the-region chains. I haven’t even been to the new Trader Joe’s (wrong side of 41 for me now, bro). Drop them.
We are whittling it down here now.
The Tower Market? No. It serves the neighborhood, props for that, but nah.
The Vallarta on Clinton & 99? Maybe. I have not been in there, I am embarrassed to say. So I cannot accurately give it a call either way. For the sake of finishing this post and using firsthand feedback, I am going to say that it is good but not great.
Unless I am missing something, we are left with The Market at Herndon & West. Is The Market a GREAT grocery store? …
[rubs forehead and thinks]
It’s… you know, it’s… well it’s GOOD. Good but not great. So I guess Fresno does not have a great grocery store. Case closed.
It’s been, like, two weeks, Whole Foods Fresno. Two freaking weeks I had to walk around to your main entrance instead of walking through this now dysfunctional door.
That extra walking? Not planned!
Like, 20 seconds each way. Since I have had to do it twice, that adds up to 80,000 seconds. Stop making me walk. I already couldn’t park in MY SPOT in the parking lot and now I have to do extra walking. Torture.
Maybe you can search on Amazon for “sliding door parts, retail” or something…. oh wait, would you like to change that door to a Barn Door style? They love that shit on the home-flipping shows:
Question: Does Whole Foods have to pay for Amazon Prime to get free shipping or is that a company discount thing?
How about just searching for a local door guy. Let’s look together:
We have a few possibilities but we may need to find a specialist. These seem like glass dudes. Well, I guess we’re both screwed.
I dunno, man, since Amazon bought Whole Foods, been pretty bad. Rinky dink. Next thing you know you’re going to run out of ranch dressing.
Here are some of my favorite spots in Fresno that are no longer around. Basically, the 80s for an NW Fresno kid.
Hopefully, it sparks your own memories, wherever the hell ya grew up.
Blackbeards would be number one on my list except it is somehow still there. Intact. Almost unchanged. Which is awesome and sad at the same time.
MALIBU GRAND PRIX FRESNO
In the same place the Costco parking lot is now, behind the shopping center at the NE corner of Blackstone & Herndon, was Malibu Grand Prix. Letting kids race little Indy-style cars seems like a bad idea, but I never heard of anyone getting seriously hurt at it.
I think I spent more time in the arcade playing Tempest than on the race track. It was always a bit intimidating to me to drive those things … There. I said it. The Malibu cars, made for children, intimidated me. Didn’t know I’d be working out childhood issues today.
“I really could get into this!” is not something I ever said though. For the record.
WOODWARD PARK DRIVE IN
We no longer have a drive-in movie theater in Fresno and it sucks. The last one we had was Woodward, which is now a Home Depot and a Costco – definitely not an upgrade.
I can still remember going to the concession stand in the center, stealing looks at the other movies playing that I was too young to watch, enjoying the perfect Fresno Summer Nights and only half paying attention to the movie we came to see.
Madera still has one in operation, if you want to try and experience that again.
VIDEO GAME CAGE AT BLACKSTONE TOYS R US
This used to be the only place (that I can remember) you could get any game you wanted. Saving up money to get the latest hot game, only to find they were sold out of it, was always a bummer.
Bringing up the paper tag that represented the game, taking it to the cage and having them hand over the actual game, is one of the more satisfying things from childhood I recall. Is that sad?
TOWER RECORDS IN THE KMART SHOPPING CENTER
I got this picture from former Tower Records (OG location) worker, Dale Stewart of Capitol Punishment fame.
Records to the left. Tapes to the right. CDs eventually taking over. Record displays in the center. 45s of the Top Twenty Songs. These are the memories.
FESTIVAL GAME PALACE
It was not easy to try and make a $5 bill last for an afternoon, but I managed somehow. Shout out to Paperboy and the manual hockey game by the snack bar.
Dear God I could watch this all day:
THE GRAPE TRAY
It was next to the original Fresno Cost Plus at the NW corner of Shaw & Fresno. A sandwich shop, deli, and wine store. The reason I remember is it had a unique upstairs eating area unlike any in Fresno. I guess there is something about sitting and looking out over the shop from up high while having a salami & swiss.
The Grape Tray is still around. But it’s now at Palm & Bullard in the Opus One shopping center. And it’s just a wine shop. No cool upstairs or sandwiches. Boring.
I think it’s even in the spot that used to have a tiny record shop I would stop into after school and rarely buy something, much to the owner’s chagrin – wish I could remember the name of it.
FIG GARDEN LIQUOR (Original)
I know it’s still there but when I was a kid, Tom Seaver’s Father-In-Law owned it. He had the best (non-card shop) baseball card selection in town. He would even hand out autographed pictures of Tom Seaver to those of us that seemed like they cared. I got one or two over the years.
ARTHUR’S TOYS ON BLACKSTONE
The place to be even after Toys R Us opened. No other place could I look at custom electric cars to add to my track. It’s now Whitie’s Pets and went in there recently and was able to conjure a tiny bit of the vibe.
This is not me but I had the exact setup. Now I feel like going out and buying one:
The hobby shop place in Fig Garden Village that sold model airplanes and cars, Bob’s Village Hobby. (Read about owner, Bob Hansen, here). My memories of the place are faint, but it definitely inspired me to hang my model planes from my bedroom ceiling.
The Fig Garden Movie Theater. I so much wish it was still there. If you are too young to remember, it was located roughly where the Deli Delicious and noodle place is, in the back NE corner of Fig Garden Village.
Festival Cinemas. Saw all the important 80s movies there. Empire Strikes Back. Raiders of the Lost Ark. The greats.
I could go on for a while, as I’m sure you could too. Often I wonder what my kid will one day fondly remember about Fresno? It definitely won’t be a Drive-In.
Part of the RETAIL APOCALYPSE, just shitty landlords or both. This place is dead. And no, Halloween Superstore does not count!
There is not one tenant at the back of West & Shaw, now that Nina’s Bakery has moved (Remember when it was a Pioneer Chicken? No? Ok. I guess I am old then).
I know nothing of the landowner other than they are not into their property.
They seem content with their tenants closer to Shaw Avenue (Starbucks, Taco Bell, Broilers and Colorado Grill). Not giving two shits about how the property looks or what a blight it is to the neighborhood.
I have not seen one improvement to that building since the long-closed Chinese buffet place was put in. And just look at the lovely landscape:
It feels like we should be ripping the whole thing out and putting up a condo building, instead of another retailer that will move out in a year. This feels like the trend we should head for in Fresno. If the lot can not maintain a business, make it a residence. Infill it.
A park would be nice too but we know that ain’t happening.
Developers whine about Fresno’s Master Plan and how they want seemingly endless amounts of land to keep building track suburban houses. Yet, roaming around Fresno as I do for my Day Job, I see SO MUCH land being underused, misused, or not used at all, it makes me want to FREAKING FRESNO THE FUCK OUT!
So I started Dead Lot, a first in a hopeful series of post, in the faintest of hopes that it will spark something somewhere to improve Fresno’s lame negative space. Fresno has a lot of negative space.
Hell, I hear that Save Mart fixed their PA after my post, let’s see what other weird things we can get accomplished here.
Since Amazon bought Whole Foods, people are a little worried about Amazon taking over all the things. I would be worried too except Wal Mart already did it, so let’s stop freaking out. Maybe focus on stopping Wal Mart and not worry so much about Whole Foods until they are dealt with.
Anywayyyy, the Fresno Whole Foods, located in Fig Garden Village, may not have a top ranking parking lot, but it is an interesting one.
I know what you’re thinking “Holy shit, this asshole is going to do another parking related post. What the hell is this site and why am I still here!?”
LOOK, BRO! People like this stuff. It’s like, everyday life and crap. It’s fun.
PARKING LOT BREAK DOWN
I’ll get to my favorite parking spot in a second. But first, the worst place to park? The Main Lot. You could also call this the Western Lot:
Oh sure, it looks benign now. But it’s tight and super annoying. You know how many Prius you have to avoid in this area? Look, I can see one in that picture already. I never park in this area.
As an extension to this lot, there is the area next to Habit Burger’s patio. I do sometimes park here, but only when going to Habit and not when I am just shopping at Whole Foods.
I’m not sure I would walk THIS far (even though I am a big advocate of walking instead of driving around searching for the closest spot), but if you’re feeling adventurous and really don’t want to park next to anyone, get out to the North side as it gets closer to the Wassabbi’s parking. No drama out here (except for a dude that can’t park straight):
This one has chargers. And hey, there is even a car getting charged up as we speak. Way to save some air, dude:
While not all of us can park in those particular stalls, I do like that lot to park in. The area closer to the apartments is a good one because it’s not busy.
Maybe you heard that Uncle Harry’s Fig Garden Village location has closed. Not because the location wasn’t doing well or because Uncle Harry’s didn’t want to renew their lease. They did.
But the owners of Fig Garden, based in New York, wanted them out in favor of some national high-end paper store (wedding invites and such). Uncle Harry’s was not shy in posting about this in their window:
This Is Not The First Time
A very similar thing happened to the Ripe Tomato (you remember that place?) when Pieology wanted their spot, their local ass was encouraged to leave by the owners.
This has got some people fired up about these big city folk chipping away at the local charm of Fig Garden Village. I’m not real happy with it either.
But I am not at a point where I will protest by not shopping or eating at Fig Garden. Not yet. Hell, Jack’s Urban Eats just got taps, bro!! How can I give up on it now?!