Word on the Street: Hanford's Central Valley Wowballs roll in the fun

Fresno Bee staffJuly 7, 2013 

An employee of Central Valley Wowballs adjusts the position of a ball at this year's Kings Fair on Friday.The business is now coming to the Old Town Clovis Farmers Market.

ERIC PAUL ZAMORA — THE FRESNO BEE Buy Photo

They're like hamster balls for humans.

Central Valley Wowballs of Hanford is bringing its unusual form of entertainment to the Old Town Clovis Farmers Markets on Friday evenings: giant plastic balls that people climb inside of and run across pools of water.

The company's unique product involves renting four minutes inside the 61/2-foot ball — they pump fresh air inside once you're in — and letting customers run around a 25-foot by 25-foot pool in 30 inches of water.

The business also rents out what owner Ed Hirschel calls "human bumper cars" — 51/2-foot balls that customers strap around themselves like a backpack. The balls cover everything but the legs, and customers "just get in and knock the tar out of each other," he says. A padded floor and bumpers contain the customers.

"Our motto is, 'We don't believe in bounce houses because they're boring,' " Hirschel says. "We try to do things that nobody has."

That includes the 45-foot-tall inflatable Zorb ramp. Customers strap themselves into a smaller ball inside a 15-foot inflatable ball and tumble head over heels down the ramp into an inflatable wall.

Out-of-state companies have brought a similar product to Big Hat Days, but Central Valley Wowballs rents its services for events and private parties across the Valley. Costs start at $200 per hour, but the company has a summertime special of $500 per day.

You can find them at the Coalinga Farmers Market on Wednesdays and the Thursday Night Market Place in Hanford. They started at the Clovis farmers market last month.

Hirschel left a 17-year career as a finance director in the automotive field to start Central Valley Wowballs. He said his daughters were growing up too fast and he wanted to spend more time with them.

"This is the only job I've had in all my life (where) it's hours of people having fun," he said.

Details: Cvwowballs.com.

Taking tea downtown

Raizana, a Fresno-based purveyor of herbal tea blends, is adding a brick-and-mortar retail shop to its wholesale, online and phone-order business.

Owners Sol and Pablo Orozco are aiming for mid-July to open their new store at 2011 Tuolumne St., in the former Twee boutique space in the Warnors Center for the Performing Arts complex, in downtown Fresno.

Sol Orozco said she and her husband sought a physical space for Raizana (www.raizana.com, (877) 832-2596) because demand for their products has outgrown what they've been able to accomplish blending small batches of teas at Café Corazon, a coffee roasting company in Fresno's Tower District. In the past, the Orozcos could get by purchasing their herbs in 3- to 4-pound batches, but now Sol Orozco said she needs to buy in 25- to 50-pound batches.

The new store will not only serve walk-in customers but also be a processing center for online and wholesale orders. Prepared cups of tea won't be sold, but samples will be available for customers.

The couple are repainting and putting in sinks and other fixtures to get the 800-square-foot space ready to open. Sol Orozco said she thinks it will be worth it for the business and for downtown.

"We like the idea of downtown," she said. "We want to support the community in some way, so we're putting our business here and letting people see that downtown is a safe place."

Wells Fargo moves

The Wells Fargo branch just north of Fig Garden Village is going to close up shop and move into the shopping center by the end of this month.

The bank's lease on the Palm Avenue building is up, said Wells Fargo spokeswoman Julie Campbell. A 4,000-square-foot Fig Garden location on the corner of Palm and Shaw avenues was chosen as a new location, Campbell said.

The move will put the bank on the other side of men's clothing store Patrick James, women's store Stephan Cori and Orloff Jewelers.

The new branch is expected to open July 22.

 

Bethany Clough, Tim Sheehan and BoNhia Lee contributed to Word on the Street. It was compiled by Clough. The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6431, bclough@fresnobee.com or @BethanyClough on Twitter.

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