By Dave Fountinelle | firstname.lastname@example.org
SIFU Skate Shop
707 N Fulton St, Fresno
facebook.com/SIFUSKATE | IG: @sifuskateshop
“A skate shop by skaters for skaters!” is the tagline for SIFU Skate Shop. That genuine passion for skating shared by true enthusiasts separates SIFU from the competition. “We are all skaters ourselves,” co-owner Ray Bartlett says. “We understand our customer’s needs because they’re our needs too.”
Bartlett has been skating for over 20 years. Growing up in the scene, he was always disappointed with the lack of “core” skate shops in Fresno – places that catered specifically to skaters, focusing primarily on skateboards and accessories. “All we really had in Fresno were mall shops and corporate chains,” Bartlett explains. “There wasn’t a place that just sold boards and parts, with people behind the counter who actually skated and understood the scene.”
SIFU opened its doors in 2015 to fill that unmet need for a skater-owned, skater-focused shop. For the last six years, they have provided high-quality boards and accessories to the Fresno skate community. SIFU is a true “core” skate shop, with a pinpoint focus on decks, trucks, wheels, and everything a skater needs to keep that skate sesh going. SIFU features a selection of decks from Santa Cruz, Creature, Real, Antihero, and local brands such as Pizza and Bus. SIFU also carries shoes, hats, and clothing from various companies, including local favorites, Lurk Hard.
For holiday shoppers, SIFU is offering a variety of deals from now through Christmas Eve. All hats and clothing are 25% off, boards and accessories are 20% off, and their various shoe brands are also on sale.
SIFU is open Tuesday through Saturday, 1 pm-7 pm, and will be open until 5 pm on Christmas Eve.
Blue Shell Gaming and Collectibles
2150 Minnewawa, Clovis | (559) 460-7440
1731 Bullard Ave, Fresno | (559) 777-9028
1501 Howard Rd, Madera | (559) 395-4114
facebook.com/blueshellgaming | IG: @officialblueshellgaming
Kiara Gonzales says one of her favorite things about working at her father’s business is watching parents introduce their kids to the games they loved growing up. “My dad always had a love for gaming and has been an entrepreneur his whole life,” she says. “He and his friends realized a lot of other people had an interest in retro games too, and they saw a perfect opportunity to open a business and fill that need.”
The popularity of retro video games has exploded in recent years. To meet that demand, the market has been flooded with various emulator devices, which offer dozens to hundreds of popular 8-64 bit retro titles pre-loaded in a simple plug-and-play console. While emulator devices are cheap and easy to set up and use, the sound and graphics on many of them are often sub-par. Also, despite boasting as many as 600 games on some units, retro fans have been disappointed by the lack of A-list titles available due to licensing issues. Hunting for hidden gems in thrift shops or negotiating through various collector sites online are the most common ways for retro gamers to find their favorite titles. Blue Shell Gaming wants to make it easy for customers to find everything they’re looking for under one roof.
In addition to boasting the most extensive selection and widest variety of retro games and gaming consoles in the Central Valley, Blue Shell Gaming also offers repair and restoration services. Customers can bring in their old gaming consoles collecting dust in the attic, and Blue Shell will return them to like-new condition, ready to provide hours of fun and nostalgia.
Playstation 2 systems are among the most popular items Blue Shell Gaming sells due to their backward compatibility with original Playstation games. Nintendo 64 units are also big sellers with fans of popular titles such as Super Mario 64 and Goldeneye 007. But it’s the Pokemon games for the GameBoy and DS hand-held systems that are currently the hottest products in demand this holiday season.
Blue Shell Gaming will be announcing some big holiday sales in the next few weeks on their Facebook page. They are open 10 am-6 pm Monday through Saturday and 12 pm-6 pm on Sunday.
Crazy Squirrel Games & Toys
7711 N First St, Fresno
facebook.com/crazysquirrelgamestore | IG: @crazysquirrelgamestore
Crazy Squirrel Games & Toys recently celebrated their 11th anniversary bringing the best premiere board games, tabletops, and card games to the Valley. Like most small businesses, the shutdown in 2020 was a huge financial blow. The impact was particularly devastating for Crazy Squirrel, however, because one of the standout features of their business has been hosting in-store gaming sessions, something that is still limited due to ongoing restrictions on capacity.
“We used to host multiple D&D sessions every day, for example,” store employee Nick explains. “Now, we only do a couple of sessions a week. But things are slowly returning to normal, and that’s definitely something to look forward to and get excited about.”
In addition to hosting gaming sessions, Crazy Squirrel carries one of the Valley’s largest selections of board games, tabletop RPGs, and card games. Pokemon is, of course, the most popular title in the store. Still, they also feature Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars, Warhammer, Magic the Gathering, Digimon, Yugioh, and scores of board games from Triple-A and independent companies. They also carry all the gaming peripherals, including dice, table mats, and supplies, to help customers host their own gaming sessions at home.
Crazy Squirrel Games & Toys is open 11 am to 7 pm, Monday through Saturday, and 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday.
Ammons Design and Home Decor
3087 W Bullard Ave, Fresno
facebook.com/Ammons-Design-and-Home-Decor | IG: @ammonshomedecor
Keynan Ammons opened his business in 2019, two months before the COVID pandemic shutdowns started. Fortunately for him, those two months included the holiday shopping seasons, and his fledgling business got enough positive word of mouth to sustain him. At the same time, he quickly worked to adapt to the restrictions on retailers. One of those adaptations was offering interior design consulting. It was such a popular feature that it’s now one of the many services Ammons offers, along with selling some of the most beautiful and stylish vintage and hand-made furniture and accessories in the Valley.
“As challenging as the pandemic has been, in a lot of ways it’s also been a blessing for the business,” Ammons says. “I wouldn’t have ever started offering interior design or in-home consulting services if the shutdown hadn’t happened, and now it’s a huge part of the business and one of the most in-demand things I do.”
In fact, Ammons recently completed a full-spectrum design job for a Woodward Park property, including flooring, paint, and furnishings. It’s the biggest job he’s completed so far and something he would have never even considered if the pandemic hadn’t interrupted his storefront business.
Ammons’s lifelong love of style and interior design led him to start his own business. “My parents were both artists,” he explains. “I grew up surrounded by art and creativity, and I found myself drawn towards furniture, home decor, and interior design.”
After completing a significant design project for a friend, they encouraged him to turn his passion into a business. Ammons’s overwhelming support from his friends gave him the confidence to take a chance, and the results have exceeded his expectations. Since opening in 2019, Ammons Design and Decor has grown so much that Ammons expanded into the space next door previously occupied by a gym that closed due to the pandemic.
Ammons Design and Home Decor feature an eclectic assortment of vintage, unique, and bespoke furnishings, as well as custom chandeliers. Many of the pieces were designed and created by Ammons himself.
“About 40% of the products in the store are my own designs,” Ammons says.
The most popular style with customers this season is “romantic industrial,” which combines “industrial” elements such as weathered wood, exposed brick, concrete, metal, and useful fixtures with “romantic” features that include natural fabrics, soft pastel colors, flowers, and houseplants. Ammons offers a variety of other popular styles as well.
Ammons says that it’s his genuine interest in making sure his customers get exactly what they’re looking for that sets him apart from the competition. “For me, this has never been about making the sale and all about making my customers happy,” he explains cheerfully. “The best designers listen to their clients and help them discover the style of the pieces that bring the most peace, comfort, and joy.”
Ammons takes the time to talk to his customers, listen to what they like and the feeling they want their space to convey, and always makes sure they’re happy with the finished product.
The holidays are the busiest time of year for Ammons, and he helps customers get into the spirit with both holiday pricing deals and unique services. Ammons offers custom tree and wreath decorating; customers can bring in their tree or wreath or choose one of his designs in store. He will also provide in-home holiday interior design consulting by appointment. Ammons is currently offering 15% off all Christmas inventory until Christmas Day.
Ammons Design and Home Decor is open from 12 pm to 6 pm through the holidays.
JD’s Boutique & Thrift
4838 N Blackstone Ave, Fresno
Owner Janet “JD” Vilhauer quit her job as a bookkeeper and opened JD’s Boutique & Thrift, selling a variety of new and used furniture, including dining sets, sectionals, bathroom vanities, and more. Many of the new pieces she sells are “scratch and dent” pieces from high-end retailer Wayfair, offered at a significantly reduced price often due to minor flaws or damage sustained after leaving the warehouse.
Beyond home furnishings and decor, JD’s also carries a large selection of clothing, purses, shoes, and accessories. Many clothing items and shoes are priced at $5 or less, so there’s sure to be something there to fit any gift-buying budget. In addition, holiday decor is very popular at JD’s, and they carry a large assortment to suit any application.
JD’s Boutique & Thrift is open Monday through Friday, 12 pm to 6 pm, and Sunday, 10 am to 2 pm, or by appointment.
Clay Hand Studios
660 Van Ness Ave, Fresno
Clay Hand Studios is a ceramics-focused art gallery and a working studio space. A fellowship of artists working together to create an environment of creativity and expression. Clay Hand offers classes and workshops taught by Ren Lee. They also provide a three-tiered membership program for those who wish to take their art to the next level and join the Clay Hand community. Both the gallery and the gift shop are open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm.
816 E Olive Ave, Fresno
One of the oldest jewelry-making methods is lost wax casting. It is a process that dates back to the 3rd century BC and has been lost and rediscovered many times throughout history. Jeweler Robert Spickard has been using the lost wax process to create beautiful, unique pendants, earrings, buckles, clasps, and tacks from sterling silver and solid bronze since he was 16. He is preserving this ancient process and showcasing his skill and talent at his Tower District location and online on his Etsy store. Spickard uses only real gemstones in his pieces as well. His work is high quality and meticulously finished. Spickard casts original designs and historic reproduction pieces as well.
The Olive Ave store is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 12 pm to 4 pm, and all of his pieces are available on his Etsy store.
1959 N Willow Ave, Clovis
facebook.com/enzostable | IG: @enzos.table
In 1946, Pat Ricchiuti returned home from World War II and decided to open a small roadside stand called Bella Frutta to sell freshly harvested vegetables and fruit locally grown on the family farm. Over the years, Bella Frutta has become a popular, local retail favorite with a wide variety of goods, including fresh and dried fruit, assorted nuts, candies, firewood, and specially created gift boxes and baskets eventually evolving into Enzo’s Table. Their specialty is their locally-famous olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but Enzo’s Table is also well-known for almond butter, biscotti, chocolates, nuts & dried fruit, jams, and more. In addition, Enzo’s Table offers a variety of packages that make a perfect holiday gift.
Enzo’s Table is open seven days a week, 9 am to 5:30 pm, and you can order all of their products online through their website.
Bentley’s Drum Shop
4477 N Blackstone Ave, Fresno
facebook.com/gobentleysdrumshop | IG: @bentleysdrumshop
Owner Dana Bentley has been playing the drums since the 5th grade. In 1992, Dana moved to Fresno and opened Bentley’s Drum Shop to provide the highest quality drums, percussion, and accessories with the passion and knowledge that discerning drummers appreciate. Today, Bentley’s Drum Shop is an award-winning, 5-star drum shop with customers worldwide. In addition to the largest selection of premium drums and percussion in the Valley, Bentley’s sells pro audio and recording equipment, keyboards and synthesizers, guitars, effects, and orchestral instruments. Bentley’s also offers instrument restoration and repair, and they buy and sell used instruments.
Bentley’s Drum Shop is open Monday through Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm, and is closed on Sundays.