Retail Therapy: New Fresno shop focuses on local, handmade goods

The Fresno BeeJune 29, 2013 

Eclectic baubles and flea market-style finds pack every corner of the new Portobello Road store.

The store opened last month in north Fresno, tucked away in a commercial area at 385 W. Bedford Ave., off Ingram and Alluvial avenues, near Bargain Party.

The store mainly sells gifts and home decor, with an emphasis on locally made items.

Owner Stacey Siroonian makes necklaces out of old religious medals. Winemaker Tom Scheidt turns old wine barrels into lazy Susans. And local Donny Shouse makes crosses from salvaged materials such as fence posts and old picture frames.

There's new stuff — from candles to bathrobes — along with funky old things, such as a giant glass bottle once used in winemaking in Europe.

Siroonian's large throw pillows are popular, too. She has them sewn from old European grain sacks and vintage tablecloths and stencils them herself. She takes custom orders to match a bedroom or living room. The pillows start at $150 (the grain sacks alone cost $75) but the store carries many other lower-cost items, including $10 journals and $10 key chains made from old spoons and forks.

The store's products have the feel of projects seen on Pinterest or at online seller Etsy, but Siroonian says she strives to do things you can't find elsewhere.

She's been selling online since October at her website, Portobellordonline.com, to customers across the country. She used to run the business out of her home. But when thieves stole $1,800 worth of merchandise that had been delivered to her door, she decided it was time for a change.

She has so much stuff that she sought out something that was more akin to a warehouse than a shop in a place like River Park. The converted office building she took over is a little tricky to find, but that hasn't scared off customers yet.

And being a mom whose business is also a hobby, she has limited hours, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Customers can also visit the store by appointment. Call (559) 439-9500.

Urban Ornaments

The owner of Urban Ornaments is taking her store on the road by selling clothing and accessories at offices during lunch breaks.

The owner of the Old Town Clovis store at 608 Fifth St. will bring a rack or two of clothing and jewelry to an office on Mondays or Tuesdays. You just have to make sure your boss gives the OK.

The concept isn't new. It's the way Teresa Darrow started the business before she had a storefront. And the owner of Eye Candy Mobile Boutique started selling at office conference rooms before she got her boutique on wheels.

It's a way for busy people to shop and makes up for the tendency of customers to hide in air-conditioned places in the hot summer months, she says.

 

The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6431, bclough@fresnobee.com or @BethanyClough on Twitter. Read her blog on fresnobeehive.com.

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