The Old Town Clovis antiques shop that was destroyed in a fire last year is being rebuilt — with a nod to the past, of course.
The new Country Rose Antiques on Fifth Street is more than halfway built. Enough bricks were saved from the rubble of the original 100-year-old building to create the facade on the front and side walls of the building.
"It's just turning out beautiful," said Sandi Schulte, the owner at the time of the fire. "The fact that it was the brick that was on the building has really appealed to everyone."
Plans call for the store to open by early September. It will be called Country Rose II Antiques & Accents.
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About two dozen antiques dealers have already signed up to sell their wares there — most of them the same sellers who were there before.
Sandi and her husband, Ken, owned the building and the business when it caught fire in February 2013 because of an unknown electrical problem. The couple had been considering backing off their involvement in the business, and the fire, though heartbreaking, made the decision for them, she says.
The couple sold the property to their nephew, Ron Toomajian. He's a general contractor who is overseeing the construction of the new place and owns the building. He's been known to sell a few model trains at the old Country Rose as a hobby.
He will lease the building to another couple that sold antiques in the store, Bob and Linda Mastin. They will run Country Rose, with the Schultes staying on as advisers. The Schultes will also to sell their old furniture and antique dishes and farm tools in the store.
Wet Seal +
Visalia is home to the second Wet Seal store in the nation carrying only plus sizes. Wet Seal + opened late last month at 4021 S. Mooney Blvd. in the Packwood Creek shopping center. It carries sizes 14 to 24 and 1X to 3X.
The first Wet Seal + opened in Clovis last year.
Visalia's original Wet Seal store carrying regular sizes is still open in Visalia Mall.
A new clothing boutique has opened in the former Tom's Trains store at 1476 N. Van Ness Ave. But the most eye-catching thing about Viral Boutique is the mural on the side of its building.
When boutique owner Omar Yanez and his family opened the store selling dresses, jeans and jewelry about three weeks ago, he wanted to do something about the long empty wall that faced a dirt lot. It was a patchwork of different bland colors from efforts to cover up graffiti.
He put out a call to artists on Craigslist.com to come paint the wall. A handful responded, painting the wall in brightly colored images with a distinctively urban feel. The artists did not want their names used in this column.
You can find out more about the boutique and see photos of its merchandise on its Facebook page, @viralboutique on Twitter and at viralboutique on Instagram.
Downtown thrift shops
Shoppers hitting up thrift shop row downtown just got a new place to shop — with a side of downtown revitalization.
Team AMVETS opened a thrift shop in the big white building at 758 Broadway St., at the corner of Inyo Street. It's technically two blocks away from the row of thrift shops on Van Ness Avenue that includes American Vintage Thrift, Emerald Thrift and the D.A.V. Thrift Store. But it's within walking distance for bargain hunters who want to make an afternoon out of thrift shopping.
In addition to men's, women's and children's clothing, the shop sells lots of office furniture, couches, books, vinyl records and movies.
But there's a cool backstory here.
The veterans organization had a thrift store years ago in that same building, which it owns. The building had problems though, and the store couldn't continue in the space without fixing it up, so AMVETS moved its thrift store to Shields and Cedar avenues, a store that's still open, said spokesman Doug Weber.
In the meantime, AMVETS started its Welcome Home program, helping furnish the homes of formerly homeless veterans who got housing through the Veterans Affairs Department. Many vets had a roof over their heads, but were sleeping on the floor, he said. So AMVETS got them new beds, and passed along donated furniture, "so they can actually feel like they're home," Weber said.
As part of this, AMVETS needed a place to store the furniture and the delivery truck. They decided to fix up the building, pouring several hundred thousand dollars into digging up and replacing concrete floors, and redoing the entire electrical and air-conditioning system.
"We felt it was a good investment," Weber said. "We were impressed with the city wanting to revitalize downtown."
And the previous thrift shop was successful at that location. So once the building — which at around 12,000 square feet is huge — was fixed up, AMVETS decided to reopen a thrift shop in the portion that the Welcome Home program wasn't using.
"It made so much sense when you look at everything going on," he said.
Tsu Tsu Boutique has closed its Tower District store, but the newly opened location at 438 Pollasky Ave. in Old Town Clovis will remain open.
The owner decided to close the Olive Avenue store after becoming pregnant with twins.