A taste of Asia in Fresno

April 13, 2009 

Asia Supermarket at Chestnut and Tulare avenues in southeast Fresno has expanded and remodeled, adding a fresh meat department, deli, expanded fruit and produce offerings and more room for more clothing and household items.

"We're like a Super Wal-Mart," co-owner Juele Hinds said of the 25,000-square-foot store that her family opened in 1995.

The remodeling, which took about 10 months and was celebrated by the owners with festivities over the weekend, was intended to draw in more customers.

After its 10-month remodeling project, Asia Supermarket in Fresno now sells fresh seafood and meat; offers more frozen fruit from Thailand, Vietnam and Laos; and has a deli that on Friday had a special: steamed fish in banana leaves.

As a result, Asia Supermarket now sells fresh meat and seafood; offers more frozen fruit from Thailand, Vietnam and Laos; and has a deli that on Friday had a special: steamed fish in banana leaves.

Half the store is a supermarket and half stocks clothes, brightly colored fabric and Hmong costumes, shoes, purses, housewares and cooking supplies. Photos of Southeast Asia, shot by Hinds' father, line the walls.

Alive with discounts

Everyone wants to save a buck or two during this recession, which is why Scott Johnson and Adam Lopez believe they can continue to expand their venture.

The two men operate FresnoLive, an online events hub that also offers a discount card that people can use to get savings at participating restaurants and businesses. The cards cost $10 per year at www.fresnolive.com.

The discounts vary according to the type of business. Restaurants, for example, offer discounts ranging from 10% off the ticket price to buy-one-get-one free deals.

Johnson, a recent graduate of the entrepreneurship program at California State University, Fresno, said the number of people with cards and the number of participating merchants has expanded quickly.

They have sold about 5,000 cards through the Web site or through booths at Big Hat Days in Clovis and other events. The number of participating merchants has soared from about 70 to 150 in about a year, he said.

And co-founder Lopez thinks the recession provides a fertile environment for more growth. "People don't stop going out," he said. "They just go out less and look for discounts. It is working in our favor."

The entrepreneurs say the FresnoLive card is perfect for school and organization fundraisers because the cards cost less than a standard entertainment book. The groups make $5 off the sale of each card.

Meanwhile, the two men have improved the fresnolive.com Web site, adding an event calendar, sending out e-mail blasts to cardholders and soon adding videos and profiles of participating businesses.

They eventually hope to build the business enough to quit their night jobs as restaurant servers.

Another purpose

The owners of a new thrift shop in the Tower District hope to raise enough money to open a drug rehabilitation program and men's home.

Urban Thrift and Variety opened on Wishon Avenue, just north of Olive Avenue, late last month.

Owners Alma and Shawn Seward are members of Free Light of the World church in West Fresno, which has made helping people facing addiction a priority. The couple are forming a nonprofit organization to accomplish their goal.

The 1,100-square-foot shop sells clothing and furniture and will pick up donations at no charge.

Urban Thrift moved into the space previously occupied by Hope's Hideaway Antiques & Collectibles, which opened last summer. That shop moved a few doors down two months ago into a space twice the size.

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