Wax lips, Pepsi in glass bottles and a reproduction of a 1957 Chevy aren’t things you normally find in a convenience store, but you’ll find them at this one.
Newly opened Retro Junction at the northeast corner of Cedar and Herndon avenues in Fresno is still a convenience store at a gas station. But the old-time candy, soda in glass bottles and deli are a little something new and different. So is the new Starbucks next door that opened earlier this summer.
A grand opening is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, with a car show, local vendors and food.
There used to be an oil change business on the property, but the owners – several members of the family behind Fresno-based Producers Dairy – had it torn down and a new building constructed on the same site.
Now when customers walk into the 24-hour Retro Junction, they see old-school candy displays: Razzles, Pixy Stix, Gold Mine Nugget Bubble Gum and candy cigarettes. (The packaging doesn’t call them cigarettes anymore, just bubble gum.)
A few sodas come in glass bottles, including Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Fanta, Orange Crush, Cock’n Bull ginger beer and a sarsaparilla soda. Some sold from a vintage-style ice box with a bottle opener on it.
On the wall is a picture of “Hoppy” – Hopalong Cassidy played by William Boyd – the Producers spokesman who pitched “Hoppy’s favorite” milk. And soon to be hung up is a picture of local radio host and commercial pitchman Al Radka, who many Fresnans remember advertising for the Old Fresno Hofbrau and Oberti Olives.
A deli serves sandwiches, hamburgers, milkshakes and more, which you can eat at 1950s style tables inside and out.
And then there’s the reproduction of a ‘57 Chevy at the deli counter that John Shehadey, co-owner of the store.
“That’s the year I got out of high school and that’s the car I almost got,” he says. Instead, “I waited two years and got a Corvette.”
The Shehadey family – dad John and sons Steve and Jim – own more than 20 convenience stores in Fresno, mostly Shop N Go stores. Steve still runs the dairy farm.
How do you go from milking cows to opening a retro convenience store?
Says the elder Shehadey: “Somebody owed my dad some money and he didn’t get paid, so we ended up with gas station.” The convenience store business took off from there.
The family also owns Red Triangle Oil, a company that specializes in propane. They also bought the gasoline distribution business California-Fresno Oil Co. formerly owned by the man behind the Bad Bud’s gas stations. The deal came with three gas stations, including the Bad Bud’s kitty corner from Retro Junction. The Bud in Bad Bud’s is now retired and pursuing his dream of sailing all over the place.
The Lumber Liquidators near Highway 99 and North Avenue has moved north into the heart of Fresno. It’s now 5091 N. Fresno St. in the Gallery Plaza shopping center.
The store is the company’s new design that looks less like a warehouse and more like a showroom. It allows the company to show off popular trends, such as gray flooring, distressed hardwood and water-resistant vinyl planks.