Starbucks may seem omnipresent, but the Seattle-based company has thus far ignored the Fresno County town of Selma -- the largest Valley community in which the caffeinated titan has not opened a store.
That's an opportunity for independents to serve a local cup of Joe.
For more than five years, Julie Kestly's Heavenly Grounds offered coffee drinks, pastries and sandwiches in downtown Selma. After losing the lease on her Second Street location this fall, she reopened last month about a mile away, near the Selma 6 Cinema on Cinema Way.
In the meantime, Fowler resident Jeff Jackson is getting ready to try his hand with a shop, Jackson's Java & Cafe, in the former Heavenly Grounds site.
Kestly, 47, hopes to attract a premovie crowd from the nearby six-screen theater by staying open until 7 p.m. on Thursdays, when the theater offers family specials, and Fridays.
The downtown space vacated by Kestly was an opportunity Jackson, 51, felt he couldn't pass up.
Jackson, an 18-year veteran of the building materials industry, has been working evenings and weekends to open Jackson's Java & Cafe around Thanksgiving.
"People are coming in as we're painting to say they can't wait for us to open," he said. "Downtown is perfect. There's no other sandwich shops here."
Jackson said he will offer coffee drinks and pastries but expects lunchtime sandwiches and salads to be his shop's bread and butter.
Selma also has a drive-through coffee kiosk, Java Lava, perched in the parking lot of a north Selma shopping center.
A dog's life
A high-intensity job in sales and an illness aggravated by stress led one local salesman to switch careers.
Jerry Dinsdale started the Aussie Pet Mobile this fall.
Before that, he spent more than 20 years in sales, much of it in the health-care industry. About a year ago he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, an inflammation of the digestive tract that is aggravated by stress. His doctor ordered him to reduce stress, and Dinsdale decided to make the change.
Dinsdale operates the mobile pet-grooming business from a converted Mercedes Sprinter van in Fresno, Clovis, Madera, Kerman and Sanger. Solar panels on the roof help power batteries that the business runs on.
The business competes with other independent mobile grooming companies like the Roaming Groomer and Cruzin' for a Groomin'. Dinsdale said his is different because it's a franchise with the support of an Australian company behind it.
All in the family
The four adult children of prominent developer Ed Kashian have formed a property-management company to handle some of his commercial holdings, plus others.
Jennifer Schuh, Jeremy Strauss, John Kashian and Robert Kashian operate K4 Management. Schuh is the president. She has worked in various capacities in her father's development business, including property management, for 15 years.
The move allows Ed Kashian to focus more time on development. He helped develop the River Park project, is developing Campus Pointe at California State University, Fresno, and is the developer of the Fancher Creek project near Tulare and Clovis avenues.
Ed Kashian becomes a client of K4, which also is seeking outside business. It recently was hired to manage a portion of Granite Park, a troubled retail and entertainment complex in Fresno.
Schuh said the recession presents opportunities for the startup business. K4 can hook up with banks and lenders to manage properties they take back, and can work with businesses that are downsizing and outsourcing management functions.