The former artistic director of the Fresno Grand Opera, who was once a professional dancer, is the new owner of Sunnyside Department Store.
Joseph Bascetta bought the dancewear portion of the 66-year-old southeast Fresno business and will move it to the mezzanine of Chesterfield’s Antiques & Consignments, near the corner of Blackstone and Shaw avenues.
The store, which opens Wednesday, Oct. 5, will be called Sunny Side Dancewear, specializing in dance shoes, apparel, ballet, ballroom, jazz, folklorico, tap and more.
“It’s an interesting new venture for me in a different time in my life,” Bascetta said. “From starting out as a dancer, then going to being an opera stage director, then coming back to the dance world to have a retail store. It seemed like it was a natural progression.”
The southeast Fresno store on Butler Avenue was owned for the past 28 years by Erna Bonetto. It closed Sept. 30.
Sunny Side Dancewear Location: The mezzanine of Chesterfield’s Antiques, 5092 N. Blackstone Ave., Fresno Phone: 559-237-1505 Email: email@example.com Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; by appointment Sundays
Bonetto is retiring at 78 and after more than a half-century working at the store that her mother-in-law, Mable Bonetto, started in 1950.
“Right now, my time is (with) grandchildren,” Bonetto said.
But the red-haired native of Germany and her one employee will still be familiar faces at the new location as they help Bascetta learn the ins and outs of the business. Bascetta is enthusiastic and eager, Bonetto said. He knows a lot of people and is introducing himself and promoting the business to dance studios, which is good, she said.
“I wish him good luck. I know Fresno needs a dance store,” Bonetto said.
Grandma B, the nickname young customers have given Bonetto, has outfitted generations of dancers over the years. Her store – which also sold children’s clothes and household trinkets – has been one of the few businesses serving dancers, making a name for itself as the go-to shop for dance shoes.
Bonetto and Bascetta started talking about the sale of the business some time ago when she mentioned to Bascetta, who is her neighbor, that she was thinking of retiring. Bonetto is also Bascetta’s landlord. She owns the house he lives in.
He asked her to consider selling the business to him when she was ready. He has a dance background – ballet and theater.
“We kind of feel this was meant to be,” Bascetta said. “If I hadn’t moved there, I wouldn’t have met her. She wouldn’t have told me about it. It seems like a good fit.”
I wish him good luck. I know Fresno needs a dance store.
Erna Bonetto, former longtime owner of Sunnyside Department Store
And there may not be a better time. The world of dance is changing, gaining more popularity with television shows such as “So You Think You Can Dance,” Bascetta said. Young people on television are bringing dance to the forefront and it’s captivating people who have never watched before, he said.
Bascetta is renting the small second-floor space from the owners of Chesterfield’s who are longtime friends. The store location has changed, but the products won’t, Bascetta said.
Dancers will still find shoes, skirts, tights, leggings, leotards and more.
“I hope that I can follow in (Bonetto’s) footsteps and I can make her proud to continue the dance supply world for all these wonderful artists, young kids, professionals and semiprofessionals who are here in Fresno and the outlying areas,” Bascetta said.
“We want to be here to support all of them.”
Sunny Side Dancewear
Location: The mezzanine of Chesterfield’s Antiques, 5092 N. Blackstone Ave., Fresno
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, by appointment Sundays