Bethany Clough

Retail Therapy: Hidden treasure at 2 new out-of-the way Fresno stores

Stephanie Pearl and her wife run Lot 96 Curiosities, at Van Ness Avenue and Elizabeth Street. It’s only open on weekends.
Stephanie Pearl and her wife run Lot 96 Curiosities, at Van Ness Avenue and Elizabeth Street. It’s only open on weekends.

They may be a little hidden, but two new boutiques in Fresno are packed with eclectic and pretty goods, many of them made by local artisans.

The two small stores are at opposite ends of town – one south of the Tower District and one in River Park – but I will tell you how to get there and more about them.

Lot 96 Curiosities is at 1015 N. Van Ness Avenue – though its door technically faces Elizabeth Street – in the building with the Saylor Realty sign. It’s two blocks south of Olive Avenue. Look for the signs on both Van Ness and Wishon avenues pointing to the store, which is only open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and from noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.

Curiosities is exactly the right word to describe the collection of vintage, handmade and salvage items ranging from battered old doorknobs to furniture handcrafted by local women – along with the occasional wacky item like a tiny dress form used to make doll clothes.

You may have run into the women behind Lot 96 – married couple Stephanie Pearl and Erica Lane – at their booth at the downtown vintage pop-up sales on Tuolumne Street.

Pearl is also a painter who periodically displays her work at Fig Tree Gallery, and she and a partner used to run the former P Street Studios.

You can tell that Lot 96 is a creative outlet for Pearl, who has an administrative day job. Lane handles the business side of Lot 96.

“It started because I love to shop and I love vintage,” Pearl says. “Erica finally said, ‘You know, you just can’t keep bringing stuff home.’”

That’s what inspired the booth at the pop-up sales and then the shop that opened in early December – after they ripped out the pink carpet and knocked down a wall.

Three storage units worth of products are for sale: Tiny fox figurines, handmade leather bracelets made with vintage brooches, a collection of weathered wooden spoons and vintage purses.

Many things are handmade by locals too, such as the table made from a wooden beam and scrap iron from Subrina✔ Lorenzo’s Just Like Uptown. Cake stands from Urban Stuff are made from existing objects like plates and candlesticks or wooden table legs. Fresnan Jason Plemons makes digital photo collages that are transferred onto aluminum.

Details: (559) 709-7242.

Three Graces

You may be wondering how hidden a store can be if it’s in River Park, but let me explain. Three Graces is in the front of the parking structure that the shopping center recently enclosed to create new spaces for small businesses. It’s at 176 E. Via del Parque across the street from Me-n-Ed’s Coney Island Grill.

“There’s a lot of people that know about it, but there’s still a lot of people that don’t,” says owner Jennifer Olivas.

The store has 680 feet of sales floor (plus a little more back room space), but it doesn’t feel small. It’s well stocked with jewelry, home decor, locally made items and gifts that teem with inspiration.

“I just like things that tell a story,” Olivas says. “Things that are uplifting and make you happy and feel that anything is possible.”

The store opened in late October with Mason jars with the words “Grateful” and “Love” printed on them. “Blessing bracelets” have tiny medals that serve as reminders to the wearer: breathe, have serenity, etc.

And many items are locally made.

Old windows refurbished with sayings painted on them like “Now I lay me down to sleep” are made by Etsy seller Kyligraphy based in Hanford.

Amber House Soaps from Clovis makes soap that looks good enough to eat – but please don’t – with ingredients like poppy seeds, oatmeal and lavender.

Three Graces also carries Make Pie Not War jewelry that’s made in Fresno.

“I’m just so incredibly proud of our local talent,” Olivas says. “You don’t even have to go trade shows to find stuff.”

Olivas, who was born and raised in Fresno, moved back from Los Angeles to open the store. She had a side business making jewelry and selling at festivals with her sister. You’ll find a few of those items in the store.

The name Three Graces stems from Greek mythology, and were enchanting goddesses that represented beauty, grace and charm.

Three Graces is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. Details: See its Facebook page or call (559) 578-2860.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough