It isn't everyday you see a sign for live bait hanging in a shop in downtown Fresno.
But now, thanks to Bruce Marion, you can buy jumbo-sized minnows and a lot more at his recently opened The Boat Shoppe.
Marion's downtown business at 2125 Ventura Ave. sells live bait along with servicing boats. He also sells boat motors, light-gauge aluminum boats and fishing accessories such as locally made lures for trout. There is even a 1,200-gallon propane tank for refilling tanks.
An avid outdoorsman, Marion spent many years working in retail but wanted to pursue his real passion of opening a boat shop and fishing supply store.
"I have been racing sailboats and fishing all my life," Marion said. "And I had the opportunity to open this shop, so I took it."
The shop, a former gas station, already is attracting customers from the west side of town to the north side.
He even filled a customer's request for a pungent catfish bait.
"They could only get it on the East Coast and now we will have it," Marion said. "People are really happy we are here."
Christine Bohrman has turned her love of cats and her passion for creating handmade crafts into a business.
Bohrman of Fresno started elemental cat in August, a custom cat furniture business that specializes in wooden litter boxes, feeders, cat scratchers and sleeping boxes.
She also makes popular catnip pouches filled with the herb mixed with split peas that makes cats go crazy. The peas allow the pouch to be warmed in the microwave, which helps spread the aroma of the catnip, Bohrman said.
The self-taught woodworker and seamstress said she always has loved going to craft fairs and home shows to see what people make.
"I really like homemade items, but I didn't see things for cats," Bohrman said.
That's when she decided to make small furniture of her own for her feline friends.
Bohrman watched YouTube videos on woodworking and crafting to create small tables with cat bowls for feeders and enclosed wooden litter boxes that can be personalized with paint color and names.
She is thinking about expanding the business to include dogs. You can find Bohrman at local craft shows or at facebook.com/elementalcat.
A Fresno mortgage brokerage, 1st Continental Mortgage/Starrr Inc., has merged with a nine-state company that plans to expand services and add more staff to its new Fresno branch.
All Western Mortgage, headquartered in Las Vegas, celebrated the merger with a ceremony Thursday that was attended by Fresno City Council president Steve Brandau and City Council Member Blong Xiong. All Western president Christopher Biaggi and vice president Karl Holt were in Fresno for the ceremony.
Pradeep Bali, who was the senior operations manager for 1st Continental, remains as the branch manager for All Western.
Bali said the merger eventually will boost the Fresno branch staff from 12 employees to 17 or more as the company adds mortgage processors and loan officers.
Bali added that while 1st Continental in Fresno only brokered mortgages, All Western is both a nationwide brokerage and a mortgage lender with an ability to provide lower loan rates for borrowers.
All Western has more than a dozen offices in nine states and is licensed in 19 states.
Bee business reporters Robert Rodriguez, BoNhia Lee and Tim Sheehan contributed to Word on the Street. It was compiled by Rodriguez. The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6327, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FresnoBeeBob on Twitter.