Trader Joe’s got Fresno talking when it confirmed it would move its Fresno store north, but that’s not the only change happening on the retail scene.
There’s news about a new store coming and updates on ones that are sitting empty.
But first, more about the bomb that Trader Joe’s dropped when it confirmed earlier this week that it will close its Blackstone Avenue store and reopen it farther north. The new store is scheduled to open in Park Crossing, the new development under construction at Friant Road and Fresno Street, which is already home to Sportman’s Warehouse and several restaurants.
Construction on the new Trader Joe’s hasn’t started yet. The move will happen in the second half of 2017 and the Blackstone location will stay open until the night before the new one opens.
We actually don’t disclose the details of our decision-making process.
Alison Mochizuki, Trader Joe’s
If you’re a Trader Joe’s fan, you either love this news or hate it.
When we posted a story about the move on the Fresno Bee’s Facebook, dozens of miffed readers responded, chastising the company for moving north.
It’s yet another business leaving central Fresno and, many noted, the other Trader Joe’s store in Clovis, near Willow and Nees avenues, is also in the northern part of that city.
Some, including Tower District residents, said the new location was simply too far away and they wouldn’t go there. (According to Google Maps, the new store is 3.3 miles or 7 minutes away from the existing location.)
Fresno is slowly becoming a food desert.
Fresno resident Robyn Herron-Reaves emailed the store with her complaint and said on the Bee’s Facebook page that she’ll probably go to Sprouts if she has to drive north: “Frankly, I’m a Tower resident and people have said for years Trader’s would do great down here. The reality is they’re just another money hungry business willing to lose loyal customers for the almighty dollar. Not cool!”
Many echoed her concerns.
A Change.org petition to keep Trader Joe’s in central Fresno had more than 200 signatures Friday morning.
But Trader Joe’s also has a loyal following unlike any other grocery store in our area. Customers are passionate about the store and often rave about its unique offerings like dill pickle popcorn and its cookie butter spread.
Those people will probably follow Trader Joe’s anywhere. Some Visalia residents make the 45-minute drive to Fresno to go to the store. (That city has been begging for a Trader Joe’s for years, with more than 4,300 people liking the Bring Trader Joe’s to Visalia Facebook page.)
And of course, people who live near the new location celebrated the store moving closer.
“That will be awesome. The old one is too far from me,” said Fresnan Julianna McCoy. “I live close to new one!”
Trader Joe’s spokeswoman declined to say why exactly the store is moving. But the new store will be 3,000 square feet bigger than the existing one.
Customers also point out the existing store is always busy and the parking lot is source of frustration. The small parking lot requires drivers to take hard turns and is studded with random poles drivers must avoid. It was ranked No. 3 on blogger The Fresnan’s “5 Most Annoying Parking Lots In Fresno” post.
Clovis is getting its first Tilly’s clothing store at the Clovis Crossing Regional Shopping Center at Herndon and Clovis Avenues.
The store, scheduled to open May 17, is taking over the spot that used to house Anna’s Linens, which went bankrupt and closed all its stores last year.
Tilly’s is a casual brand carrying clothes and sandals for young men and women and has boys and girls departments. The store is a mix of motocross, skate and surf-inspired clothing. It sells floral dresses, loose tank tops and bikinis for women. For men, it sells colorful socks with flamingos and pizza on them, along with hats and shirts that say “California” and feature the bear from the state flag.
Tilly’s also has stores at Fashion Fair, River Park and the Marketplace at El Paseo near Highway 99 and Herndon Avenue.
Late last year, after the Vons at First Street and Nees Avenue closed, a Smart & Final executive told The Bee they planned to open a Smart & Final Extra! there (much like they did at the former Save Mart at Clinton and Blackstone avenues).
But the Nees store is still empty eight months later. What gives?
It doesn’t look good. The “for rent” sign is still up and neither Vons nor Smart & Final is saying much.
Smart & Final had this statement: “Smart & Final is continuing to expand operations throughout the State of California, however, there are no definitive plans that we can address in Fresno at this time.”
And a Vons spokeswoman had this to say about the property: “There’s no new developments at this time.”
Back in 2012 Walmart bought the big empty former Camp America building on West Shaw Avenue, near Brawley Avenue. Long-range plans called for the nearby Walmart across the street to move to the empty building, which is an extra 81,000 square feet bigger than the currently location.
The building has sat idle since then, until a few workers showed up in recent weeks, which got some people buzzing about the move finally happening.
Not so fast. Walmart spokeswoman Delia Garcia said the company still plans to move a new store there, but the renovations haven’t started. The workers were removing asbestos and other minor work.
There is no time line as for when the store would move or renovations would start, she says.