By Dave Fountinelle | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s that time of year again – the holiday season is in full swing and that means it’s time to make our lists, check them twice, and wade courageously into the sea of holiday shopping chaos. But what if the madness of Black Friday is not your thing? Perhaps concerns about supply chain problems and shipping delays had you reluctant to shop online for Cyber Monday? What if you want a unique, one-of-a-kind gift that you just can’t find in a big box or online store? When it comes to finding the perfect gift that you just can’t get anywhere else, there’s nothing quite like discovering a hidden gem in one of the many shops and boutiques around Fresno and Clovis. Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity to support local businesses, but in this economy, it’s more important than ever to shop local as much as possible. The Fresno Flyer is officially declaring December “Small Business Month” and we have put together a list of some of the best reasons to #shoplocal for the holidays!
Crazy Squirrel Games & Toys
Crazy Squirrel Games & Toys recently celebrated twelve years of bringing the best premiere board games, tabletops, card games, and accessories to the Valley. Last year, lingering Covid protocols put a halt to the various in-house gaming sessions hosted by Crazy Squirrel. This year, the games are back, and fans of everything from Magic: The Gathering to Warhammer are once again welcome to come together and enjoy their favorite tabletops among old and new friends.
In addition to hosting gaming sessions, Crazy Squirrel carries one of the Valley’s largest selections of board games, tabletop rpgs (Role-playing games), and card games. Pokemon is still a popular title in the store, but 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 from 11:30am to 7pm Monday through Friday, 10am to 5pm on Saturday, and Sunday 11:30am to 5pm. They will be open 10am to 5pm on Christmas Eve.
7711 N First St, Fresno
Ragin’ Records is a name that has been well-known in the Valley for over 30 years. Owner Paul Cruikshank opened the first Ragin’ Records in late 1986 near the corner of Fresno and Belmont. Cruikshank has been a fixture in the local music scene for nearly four decades. Ragin’ Records has always sold albums and demos from local musicians, the walls of the store are plastered with flyers for upcoming gigs. Ragin’s Records has also hosted, organized, and promoted events for dozens of established and up and coming artists and performers. In fact, alternative rock band Weezer played their very first show at the Ragin’ Records Visalia location. The love of music and passion for collecting is what truly separates Ragin’ Records from the competition.
“We’re all big music lovers and avid record collectors,” Cruikshank says. “We understand what our customers want, and we’re fair and honest with people looking to sell their old record collections to us.”
Cruikshank says that he wants his store to be a place where record collectors and music lovers can come in, get comfortable, and take their time poring through the thousands of titles they have out on the floor.
Record collecting has been steadily growing in popularity, to keep up with increased demand, Ragin’ Records recently opened a second location in the River Park Shopping Center. In addition to their impressive collection of new and used vinyl, Ragin’ Records also carries a small selection of books, assorted music collectibles, their famous T-shirts, record bags, and record player slipmats. They also occasionally offer customized record player sets to help get novice vinyl lovers started with a quality, yet affordable system.
Ragin’ Records is open 12pm-7pm Monday through Saturday and 12pm-5pm on Sunday.
1118 N Fulton St, Fresno
192 E Via Del Parque, ste 184 (River Park Shopping Center) Fresno.
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.
An Enzo’s Table speciality is their locally-famous olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but the market is also well-known for almond butter, biscotti, chocolates, nuts & dried fruit, jams, and more. Enzo’s Table offers a variety of packages that make a perfect holiday gift.
Enzo’s Table is open 7 days a week, 9am to 5:30pm, and all of their products can be ordered online through their website.
1959 N Willow Ave, Clovis
Owner Susie Bowen has been putting smiles on the faces of Valley chocolate lovers for over 20 years. She opened Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in 2000, then moved her business in 2018 and renamed it Chocolate Wishes. The reason for the name change is simple:
“We will literally dip anything in chocolate!” Bowen giggles.
In addition to dipping everything from strawberries and pretzels to gummy worms and whatever else customers can wish for in high quality chocolate from local chocolatiers, Chocolate Wishes makes custom gift baskets as well. With prices ranging from $2 to $300 or more, Chocolate Wishes has you covered with the perfect assortment of candies and confections to fit any budget. In fact, Chocolate Wishes was recently awarded “Best of Central California” for both their desserts and gift giving.
But it’s their caramel apples for which Chocolate Wishes is most famous. With 45 different flavors to choose from, you’re bound to find one to please every sweet tooth on your Christmas list. Chocolate Wishes also sells strawberry pizzas, cookies, brookies, cupcakes, and more.
Chocolate Wishes is open 10am to 9pm Monday through Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10am to 10pm, and Sunday 11am to 7pm. They will be open until 6pm on Christmas Eve.
1260 Shaw Ave, #115, Clovis. (next to the Sierra Vista movie theater)
Tower District Records
Nick Navarro has been working in record stores for years. Beginning with Rasputin’s Music on Blackstone and then taking a job at Tower District Records, Navarro was ultimately presented with the opportunity to take over the store when the previous owner retired from the business. In the three years since, Navarro has been providing customers with a unique assortment of new, used, and hard-to-find records, tapes, and merchandise. What makes Tower District Records unique is that it’s actually three stores in one. In addition to the record store, the Echo Ave location also contains “Take it Easy,” a vintage clothing and second hand furniture boutique, as well as “Boomerang Vintage Audio,” a vintage and retro stereo equipment store.
The newest pop releases and classics from rock icons such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Queen are the most popular records Navarro sells. However, they also have an impressive selection of Jazz, R&B and Blues, as well as a large number of classic country artists to choose from.
Tower District Records also hosts regular pop-ups with local businesses such as South of Shaw Beer Company, with a pre-Christmas pop-up planned for December 22nd (follow them on Instagram for details).
Tower District Records is open 12-8pm, 7 days a week, and will be open until 6pm on Christmas Eve.
1930 Echo Ave, Fresno.
Blue Shell Gaming
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 a variety of different 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 quality of sound and graphics on many of them is 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. As a result, hunting for hidden gems in thrift shops or negotiating through a variety of 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.
While classic gaming consoles like the PS2 and Super Nintendo continue to be popular with retro gamers, the PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox Series S are this year’s hot sellers. They also occasionally have Xbox Series X and PS5’s available as well, customers may sign up and receive a notification from the store when a game or console a customer is looking for comes in. But act fast, they’re first come, first served, and always move fast.
Blue Shell’s Madera location will be moving to the Marketplace at El Paseo shopping center on Herndon and 99 by the first of the year, but will be open from 12-7pm Monday through Saturday, and 12-6pm on Sunday until then.
Blue Shell’s Fresno and Clovis locations are open 10am to 8pm Monday through Saturday, and 11am to 6pm on Sundays. They will be open until 6pm on Christmas Eve.
2150 Minnewawa Ave, #C, Clovis.
1501 Howard Rd, Madera.
1731 W. Bullard Ave, #134, Fresno.
Store manager Dominique Peters refers to Legends Comics and Games as “a one-stop shop of nerddom.” Legends celebrates seven years this month of providing customers with the hottest comic book titles, as well as cards, board and video games.
Of course, as the name suggests, comic books are Legends biggest sellers, with the various Spawn series being their most popular. They also carry a large selection of graphic novels and manga.
For holiday shoppers, Legends has board games for 20% off the first week of December. Toys and statues will be 20% off the week after that. They also offer 20% off their hardcover and manga titles, with comics less than $8.00 on sale for $1.
Legends Comics is open Sundays 11am to 5pm, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 11am to 7pm, Wednesdays (comic book day) 9am to 7pm, and Saturdays 10am to 7pm. They will be open on Christmas Eve.
5412 N Blackstone Ave, Fresno.
1752 Clovis Ave, Clovis.
Rare Earth Coffee Roastery
Air roasting is the secret to Rare Earth Coffee Roastery’s “never bitter” taste. It’s a process used by only about 1% of coffee roasters in the world, and it makes a gift of Rare Earth Coffee truly special. Whether in bags, RE cups, or brewed from one of their many kiosks around the Valley, Rare Earth Coffee makes a perfect holiday gift for the coffee lover on your list.
Rare Earth Coffee Roastery is currently offering their Holiday Spice Christmas Coffee along with their popular lattes and mochas. You can order online or pick up from their Park Creek location.
Follow Rare Earth Coffee Roastery on social media for all of their holiday specials.
Rare Earth Coffee Roastery is open 7 days a week, 6am to 8pm, including Christmas Eve.
587 Park Creek Dr, Clovis
Owner Janelli Anguiano opened Yellow in May of 2022 sort of by accident. When she found herself out of work during the Covid shutdown, she started a side hustle doing nails for friends and family. When demand for her work took off, she decided to go to school, learn the business, and eventually opened her own nail salon and boutique.
In addition to Janelli’s nail service, Yellow sells art, women’s clothing, and accessories, which are their most popular items. Yellow has the perfect gifts for the fashionista on your list.
Currently, Yellow’s hours vary as Janelli operates around her gig doing makeup, so she posts weekly updates on the boutique’s Instagram page. Janelli promises a regular schedule will be coming in the new year. For the holidays, Yellow will be open Wednesday to Friday 11am to 6pm, and Saturday 11am to 5pm. Yellow will be open 10am t0 2pm on Christmas Eve.
1560 Fulton St, ste 101, Fresno.
How do you describe a store like Silkroad Gallery? Anime armory? General store of geekdom? Video game swag galleria? Whatever descriptor you choose, Silkroad Gallery is the best place in the Valley to find everything from Anime accessories and plushies to real and replica swords and daggers. The swords and daggers are their biggest sellers, but they have a wide and diverse selection of unique, random gifts for the Inuyasha fan on your list.
Silkroad Gallery is located in the Sierra Vista Mall and will be on the mall’s holiday hours, including Christmas Eve.
Located in the Sierra Vista Mall
1050 Shaw Ave #1111, Clovis.
The Fresno Hock Shoppe
With over 30 years of service in the Central Valley, owner Robbie Van Gronigen still runs and operates The Fresno Hock Shoppe every day. If you’re looking for musical instruments, jewelry, electronics, tools, sporting goods, firearms, or even if you need a little fast cash to do your Christmas shopping, The Fresno Hock Shoppe is your one-stop shoppe to buy and sell everything under the sun.
The Fresno Hock Shoppe is always running sales on all of their items, changing on a weekly basis. So, visit often to take advantage of all their great deals, or order online through their Ebay store.
The Fresno Hock Shoppe is open Monday through Friday 10am to 5:30pm, and Saturday 10am to 2pm, including Christmas Eve.
3235 E Belmont Ave, Fresno.
Fresno Skateboard Salvage
During the holidays, sometimes the best gift is the gift of charity. For a little over eight years, Fresno Skateboard Salvage has been giving the gift of free skateboards, accessories, pads, and shoes to needy kids all over the Central Valley.
Started as a labor of love by long-time skater Rodney Rodriguez, Fresno Skateboard Salvage has given away over 3,000 boards to boys and girls from disadvantaged communities as a way to encourage and inspire them to find safe and positive alternatives to the cycles of crime and violence that plague their neighborhoods – the same way that skating helped Rodney escape the negative environment of his youth.
One way Fresno Skateboard Salvage makes this possible is by hosting regular auctions of art made from repurposed old skateboards. Rodney personally delivers stacks of old boards, stripped of their grip tape and sanded down, to penitentiaries, detention centers, and community artist groups around the Valley. There, talented inmates and aspiring artists transform these boards into canvasses for some truly amazing and one-of-a-kind works of art.
If you’re looking for the gift of original artwork that benefits a good cause, follow Fresno Skateboard Salvage on their socials for information about their next upcoming auction. You can also support them with a personal donation, and by buying some of the branded merchandise from their webstore.
If you’re looking for the perfect, one-of-a-kind gift for that special someone, there’s nothing quite like hand-crafted, artisan jewelry. 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 and unique pendants, earrings, buckles, clasps, and tacks from sterling silver and solid bronze since he was 16 years old. Preserving this ancient process and showcasing his skill and talent both 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, 12pm to 4pm, and all of his pieces are available on his Etsy store.
816 E Olive Ave, Fresno
Valley is a new men’s boutique located in downtown Fresno. While they just opened their brick and mortar store on September 1st, Valley has been providing men’s fashions since 2014 under the Culture Cloths brand. Valley offers a selection of local Fresno based brands, late 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s vintage clothing, toys and a large selection of hype streetwear brands and accessories. Vintage clothing and toys are the biggest sellers, along with local branded clothing and streetwear.
For the holidays, Valley is offering 2 for $20 or 20% off all selected vinyl in stock. They also have books for $5, 10% off their vintage toys, plus various other sales on local-made products between now and Christmas.
Valley will be open Wednesday to Saturday, 12-7pm for the holidays, and will be open 10am to 4pm on Christmas Eve.
1904 Tulare St, Fresno