Sometimes it’s not the big-box stores, but that out-of-the-way little place where you find the perfect thing for your home.
Kiss a Frog Boutique & Studio is Fresno’s newest place to hunt for everything from furniture to wedding rentals.
The store opened Aug. 1 and is open only on Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m. at 320 W. Bedford Ave. No. 104. It’s in a commercial area you can get to by going north on Ingram Avenue from Walmart and taking a right on Bedford.
But to call it a store is a bit misleading because there’s a lot more going on here, including a furniture-painting studio that sells paint, a roomful of wedding decor that can be rented, floral design classes and a couple of enthusiastic decor specialists.
And, you can just shop there.
The store has several rooms with different themes that are changed weekly. For example, when I visited, a “man space” with Southern Comfort signs and manly clocks and lamps occupied one room. A mid-century modern room was on the way.
This isn’t a thrift store. It’s a home design store.
Ana Bruny Paulson
Other rooms hold upcycled furniture that co-owner Ana Bruny Paulson has painted, including dressers and desks. There are also handmade items sold on consignment, such as a wooden bench made from an old headboard. And lots of decor, ranging from old Mason jars to owl figurines.
Bruny Paulson has run her studio, Wet Paint Revival, for years and now it’s based at Kiss a Frog. She teaches furniture painting classes and can be hired to paint furniture customers already own. The studio also sells Madame Butterfly Chalky Paint.
In the wedding room, there are piles of silk flowers that can be rented. That room also holds vintage trunks, doors and mirrors that can be rented, along with chandeliers and decorated Mason jars that can be used as table centerpieces.
Co-owner Keynan Ammons is a former jewelry designer who used to run a floral business doing table centerpieces and other work for special events. He’ll be leading floral design classes.
Ammons is also the one who scours estate sales all over California to find items to sell in the store. Often, unique or vintage pieces can be sold as is. Other times, Bruny Paulson transforms them with a coat of paint.
That transformation is what inspired the name Kiss a Frog.
“That’s what we do,” she says. “We take a piece of undesirable furniture and transform it into a prince.”
You can see what’s for sale by following Kiss a Frog’s Facebook page and Instagram account.
The Active Fresno store in Fig Garden Village is open – and you can shop there even if you’ve never set foot on a skateboard.
The store is part of the Southern California-based Active Ride Shop company, with roots firmly in the skateboarding community.
That may make it seem like a store for bros and skateboarders, but there’s a lot more going on here. In addition to the skateboards and men’s department, it has women’s and children’s clothing, too.
The Fresno store is the first Active Ride Shop north of Bakersfield.
So you’ll find maxi dresses, hot pink bikinis and floral tank tops for women.
The kids department has tiny plaid button-down shirts. According to store manager JP Gentry, it’s the only store in the county that carries the Volcom brand for toddlers. And, “it’s crushing,” he says, pointing to a pair of popular miniature khaki shorts.
The skate-surf-snowboard brand Volcom has a store within a store at Active Fresno, featuring its T-shirts, hats and more.
Gentry says many brands have roots in the surf or skate culture then “moved into their own.” That’s why, for instance, the broader men’s section includes plaid shirts, standard blue button-down shirts and a large selection of jeans.
On the other end of the spectrum is the hardcore skater stuff, like skate shoes and T-shirts with all kinds of brands important to skaters.
The store sells skateboards, too. It will build them for customers who choose from all kinds of wheels and decks with everything from a panda to giant goldfish on them.
And then there’s the socks. It’s not just women who are into colorful socks anymore. Socks with stars, bandana patterns and even floral designs – all for the fellas.
Active Fresno holds sock fundraisers in which schools sell the brand’s socks in school colors and keep $2 per pair.
Active Fresno is the first of the company’s stores in the central San Joaquin Valley. And knowing that it’s competing with other more well-known shops in town, Active is trying to ingratiate itself.
So there’s the skateboard deck by the brand Chocolate that says “Fresno” on it, socks with the word Fresno and an image of a downtown mural behind the cash register.
Express Factory Outlet
The clothing and accessories store targets men and women ages 20-30 and carries trendy outfits for work and the weekends. It has more than 600 stores worldwide.
The 7,000-square-foot store is next to Styles For Less.
Everything will be 40% off during the Aug. 20 grand opening.