Category: Commercial

MAGIC TOUCH: $3M ONLINE FRESNO BUSINESS BRINGS ILLUSION TO THE WORLD

Written By David Castellon

Paul Gross is vehement in stating his opinion on magic.

“There is no such thing as real magic. I can’t make you disappear for real,” the 63-year-old said.

That may seem an odd stance, considering the Fresno resident founded and owns Hocus Pocus, among the most prolific online vendors of magic tricks, props and paraphernalia in the country, selling everything from trick playing cards and how-to books to the various swords, escape boxes, restraints and other items used by amateurs to professional magicians.

What Gross doesn’t believe in is actual magic — love potions, spells, totems, the occult, etc. — that some people mistakenly believe his business can supply.

Gross’ stock in trade is illusion, in which the seemingly impossible is done through sleight of hand, mirrors, diversions and hidden compartments that all are explainable, if you know how the tricks work.

Gross believes in that sort of magic strongly, so much so that he has dedicated most of his life to it, first as an amateur turned professional illusionist by his teen years, then going into in the retail side of magic, initially opening a magic shop in Fresno in his late teens and a couple of decades later converting to a mail-order business and then to an online vendor of supplies, props and memorabilia with sales last year totaling about $3 million.

“If it wasn’t for the Internet, this business wouldn’t be where it is,” Gross said, noting that the vast number of YouTube postings and other online sources teaching people how to perform illusions has magnified the public’s interest in buying magic supplies and to see magicians perform, both of which benefit Hocus Pocus.

“We’re in a 30,000-square-foot building whereas we used to be in 500 square feet.”

Even the larger space in a nondescript Fresno industrial building barely has room to contain all of the items for sale.

The back portion of the building is a veritable museum to illusions, because besides selling new supplies and books, magicians, their families and their heirs often sell their old props and supplies to Hocus Pocus or consign the business to sell the items for them.

Need a guillotine or a basket to impale with swords after an assistant shimmies inside of a mock mummy’s tomb or a strait jacket or a big wooden box and saw for sawing a lady in half? Hocus Pocus might have one or more any given week and be able to pack and ship it to you.

Hollywood is a frequent customer, with studios often buying thousands of dollars worth of props and other magic-related goods to use in movies and television shows.

Gross’ magician clientele has included Mark Wilson — a staple of 1960s and 1970s television — Criss Angel and Shin Lim, last year’s America’s Got Talent television show winner. Hocus Pocus also sells the magic supplies Lim endorses.

“We’re open every day of the year, 24 hours a day, and we never close, and we have such a wide base. Thirty five, almost 40 percent of our [orders] go overseas,” Gross said. “We probably have an active member base of maybe 60,000 online members.”

A Fresno native, Gross began his love of magic at the age of 8, when his grandparents took him to a movie theater — back when they put on vaudeville-style acts before matinees — and he saw his first magician.

“He did three tricks, which I still remember to this day — got my grandfather up to help him [with one], and that was it. I got bit,” Gross recalled.

Back then, there were no magic shops in Fresno, so Gross ordered tricks and instructions on performing illusions via mail-order catalogues and later via trips with his parents to a San Francesco magic shop.

“I bought every single trick until I opened my own business,” said Gross, who got skilled enough that between the ages of 12 and 18 he worked paid gigs as a magician between school and working at the furniture store his father ran.

After high school, his father co-signed a $2,500 loan for him to open a magic, gag and novelty shop in 1973 in southeast Fresno, and while it did well, Gross closed it 15 years later because he had to take over running the furniture store his father had opened after he fell ill to cancer.

Nine months later, Gross said, he reopened the magic shop in Clovis, “and we ended up getting out of the furniture business, because it wasn’t my cup of tea,” after four years of running it.

In the years that followed, Gross changed locations and his business model, converting from a walk-in magic and novelty store to adding a side venture as a mail-order magic supplier in the late 1990s.

But that wasn’t a particularly fruitful change, as business by mail order went so badly that “we might have gone out of business after that first year.”

But that changed in 1999 after a friend introduced Gross to his first home computer, and he decided that online ordering and offering an online catalog bigger than what any other magic and novelty suppliers were offering on the Web was the way to go.

Business since then has been good, so much so that Gross stopped operating a walk-in store to sell just online.

“We probably have a thousand people a day visit our site. When we had a retail store, we probably didn’t have that many people visit us in a year.”

But Gross never forgot his brick-and-mortar roots. With no other magic shops in the Fresno area, people often walk into Hocus Pocus looking for tricks or advice from Gross or his son and partner, Max Gross, 26, who has never performed magic professionally but is skilled in many of the tricks the family business sells.

The two also spend a lot of time speaking with customers calling in for advice, “But they don’t always listen to me,” the senior Gross noted.

“It could be a thousand-dollar item, but what good is it going to do me to sell that to you if you’re going to get it and you’re not going to use it?”

https://thebusinessjournal.com/magic-touch-3m-online-fresno-business-brings-illusion-to-the-world/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=a5cecd36c1-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_01_30_09_09&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-a5cecd36c1-78934409&mc_cid=a5cecd36c1&mc_eid=a126ded657

 

$25.4M FRESNO LEASE TOPS 2018 REAL ESTATE DEALS

Published On January 28, 2019 – 1:51 PM
Written By David Castellon

At a cost of more than $24.4 million, you might expect that in the Valley’s most expensive real estate transaction of 2018, you’d get to keep the building.

Not that there’s any building up yet on the 20-acre parcel slated to become Phase 2 of the Marketplace at El Paseo shopping center south of West Herndon Avenue and North Riverside Drive.

Currently there’s Phase 1 of the shopping center, which includes Target, Old Navy, Tillys and Burlington stores. Just to the south, off Riverside Drive, is a former fig grove, now barren, with workers driving heavy equipment along the dirt over the past three weeks to level out the land ahead of planned construction of an expansion to the Marketplace.

Owners of the property have lease agreements to locate businesses on the new site that include Hobby Lobby; Carter’s, Inc.; Wayback Burgers; Que Pasa Mexican Café and the expansion of an undisclosed, locally-based Japanese restaurant.

And talks are underway to also lease space there as an added site for a local brew pub and restaurant, the name of which also hasn’t been disclosed.

But the biggest lease agreement in Phase 2 is with Regal Entertainment Group for a planned 49,950-square-foot, 12-screen movie theater on the site.

But Regal will not build the new Regal Cinema theater. Instead, the developers of the shopping center — Manhattan Beach-based Gryphon Capital and Rich Development Enterprises, LLC, out of Santa Ana — have agreed to build the theater and lease it to Regal for the $24.4 million-plus lease price.

Chris Shane, managing partner for Gryphon, declined to disclose the length of the lease, confirming only that it would last multiple years. Efforts to contact officials representing Regal weren’t successful.

While not an actual property purchase, the lease agreement, which was finalized in July 2018, still was the highest-valued commercial real estate transaction last year in Fresno, Kings, Tulare or Madera counties, according to The Business Journal’s annual list of the Largest Commercial Real Estate Transactions.

Besides being in a prime retail space off busy Highway 99, “It’s a build-to-suit with a very large national tenant. The building is very expensive, therefore the rent adjusts accordingly, Then you have a multi-year lease, so you have a high transaction number,” Lewis Smith, a leasing agent for Fresno’s Retail California, said of the deal he helped broker between the developers and Regal Entertainment, which operate the Regal Cinemas, United Artists Theatres and Edwards chains, which already have four theaters in Fresno and Clovis.

“This has been about three years in the works,” he said of the negotiations.

Work to develop the Marketplace on 75 acres began in 2006 and continued through and after the Great Recession.

Northwest Fresno near the Highway 99 and Herndon intersection was chosen as the site in part because of the growing number of homes being developed in the area, its increasingly upscale demographics and its proximity to the freeway, Shane said.

He added that much of Fresno’s growth is occurring in the northwest part of the city, also making it a good spot to locate the Marketplace.

And along 99 there is no shopping center like it for at least 30 miles north or south, he said, adding that over the five years Phase 1 businesses have been open, operators have reported customers coming from farther distances to shop there.

Plans are to expand Phase 1 beyond its current 400,000 square feet of retail and restaurant spaces, with efforts underway to find tenants for three small retail or restaurant spaces to be built in current parking lot spaces off Herndon Avenue and Riverside Drive.

As for Phase 2, the plan is to build 200,000 square feet of leasable space there, and early on it was decided a movie theater would be included in the mix, said Shane, whose company developed the Trading Post shopping center in Clovis, which includes a Sprouts Farmers Market, Skechers USA and a Ross store.

“Even though we are from Southern California, we know the [Fresno] market very well,” he said. “Northwest Fresno is underserved in terms of quality movie theaters.

“We felt that the competition from the [retail] markets that access 99 didn’t have theaters, either.”

The theater, expected to open in the first quarter of 2020, would allow families to do things at the Marketplace beyond shopping and eating, Shane said.

“We’re going to have a nice mix of retail, restaurants and entertainment that people will drive to from pretty far away,” Smith added.

As for the theater, “It’s just going to be the most state-of-the-art, nicest, most upscale theater in the Valley,” said Smith, citing that it will include gourmet food options, wine and beer sales, reclining seats and high-quality sound and visual systems, and it will be one of at least five prototypes for a new style of movie theaters Regal is developing.

Coming in at No. 2 in the real estate transactions list was the $11.6 million sale of a 191,341 square-foot commercial building at 200 W. Pontiac Way in Clovis.

Rounding out the top 3 was the sale of an 82,000 square-foot commercial building at 1177 Fulton St. in Fresno for $10.68 million.

This is the former Guarantee Savings building purchased by State Center Community College District.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/25-4m-fresno-lease-tops-2018-real-estate-deals/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=26d02d6fa7-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_01_28_09_30&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-26d02d6fa7-78934409&mc_cid=26d02d6fa7&mc_eid=a126ded657

Dentistry company expands in Stockton

 

Central Valley Business Times

January 7,2019

  • Western Dental opens its first pediatric dental office
  • “The new office builds upon our solid base in Stockton”

Western Dental & Orthodontics, one of the nation’s largest oral healthcare and orthodontics companies, is opening its first children’s dentistry offices in Stockton.

The new office, at 616 West Hammer Lane, will serve pediatric patients exclusively. Western Dental also owns and operates five other Western Dental offices in Stockton, which serve patients of all ages.

“Our pediatric dental team is excited to be part of the Stockton community in this beautiful new office with state-of-the-art digital equipment,” says Syed Hyder, managing doctor for the new Stockton office.

The 3,500 square-foot office has been designed with colorful graphics. The pediatric dental services include sealants to help  prevent cavities, fluoride treatments, and a full-service orthodontics department.

“The new Western Dental Kid’s office in Stockton builds upon our solid base in Stockton and expands access to children in the area,” says John Luther, chief dental officer for Western Dental.

Fresno’s first Black Bear Diner is opening soon — and the restaurant is hiring

BY BETHANY CLOUGH

DECEMBER 20, 2018 01:03 PM

Black Bear Diner is taking over the former Marie Callender’s Restaurant & Bakery space on West Shaw Avenue. It is slated to open in February or March of 2019. 

The first Black Bear Diner in Fresno is one step closer to opening.

The owner of the restaurant said Thursday that the location at 3602 W. Shaw Ave. is scheduled to open in February. She has not set an exact date.

The restaurants are hugely popular among diners in the central San Joaquin Valley, who have long wanted to open one in Fresno.

The Fresno Black Bear is owned by Amy Rose, who revealed new details about the restaurant Thursday.

It is taking over the 7,108-square-foot former Marie Callender’s Restaurant & Bakery near West Shaw and Marty avenues. It will seat 226 people.

The diner will have a meeting room with Wi-Fi available for large groups.

Black Bear Diner will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

The location will employ 92 people and has hired some workers, but is looking for more. Available positions include cooks and prep cooks and experienced servers, hosts and bussers. 

Interested applicants can apply online at Indeed.com. Positions range from minimum wage to $16 an hour, according to the website.

This will be Black Bear’s seventh restaurant in the area owned by the Rose family, including Bob Rose, who owns locations in Visalia, Madera, Tulare, Porterville, Hanford and Los Banos. The family had been planning to build a location in Clovis, but decided to open the restaurant in Fresno instead.

The brand has 119 diners in 12 states.

https://www.fresnobee.com/living/food-drink/bethany-clough/article223368015.html


An organic eatery went in where? New restaurant brings healthful food to ag heartland

November 07, 2018 05:37 PM

Updated November 07, 2018 06:36 PM

ALDI SETS GRAND OPENING FOR FIRST VALLEY GROCERY STORE

ALDI prototype stores are in the 22,000 square-foot range. The first Valley location is coming to Porterville.

Published On November 26, 2018 – 2:00 PM
Written By Frank Lopez

Porterville residents will have the first chance to shop at ALDI, a low-cost German grocery store, when the Central Valley’s first location opens Dec. 6.

The grand opening will include an official ribbon-cutting ceremony, a Golden Ticket giveaway worth up to $100 to the first 100 shoppers, a produce-for-a-year sweepstakes and sampling of ALDI exclusive brand products.

The Porterville store is located at 770 S. Jaye St. off Highway 90. ALDI is also planning a Hanford store that could be open by the spring of 2019, according to the Hanford Sentinel. All ALDI building prototypes are designed with a square footage of 22,000 feet.

The Porterville store is part of a $5 billion investment to expand to 2,500 stores nationwide by the end of 2022, along with adding 25,000 new jobs in stores, warehouses and offices. ALDI has been in the grocery retailing industry since 1976 and operates more than 1,800 U.S. stores in 35 states and sees more than 40 million customers each month.

The closest current location is in Bakersfield.

“ALDI stores are designed to make life easier for people. We offer high-quality foods at affordable prices and a streamlined shopping experience unlike anything else,” said Tom Cindel, Moreno Valley Division Group Director of Operations and Logistics for ALDI. “From our award-winning products, to trendy, fresh and healthy options, we’re focused on carrying a selection that has something for everyone.”

The stores are designed to provide customers with a streamlined and easy shopping experience. The focus is on providing the best options at the best prices, making the trendy foods affordable and accessible, and selling random items at times when customers need them most, such as rain boots in the spring, or Dutch ovens around Thanksgiving.

The grand opening will be Dec. 6 at 8:15 a.m.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/aldi-sets-grand-opening-for-first-valley-grocery-store/

Lemoore gets a massive all-in-one entertainment center. Here’s a sneak peek

November 14, 2018 03:18 PM

Tulare Pavillion gets new stores, drawing shoppers

, Visalia Times-DeltaPublished 9:58 a.m. PT Nov. 12, 2018

With the recent openings of Ross Dress for Less and dd’s Discounts, the Tulare Pavilion shopping center is near tenant capacity, recovering from a double-gut punch of having two anchor stores close.

Mervyn’s closed at the shopping center in 2009. Kmart closed in 2016.

Coupled with the openings of Harbor Freight Tools and a Dollar Tree store earlier this year, the vacant spaces are now filled.

“We saw the Mervyn’s building was empty for a long time,” Tulare Council member Carlton Jones said. “It’s nice to see that filled.”

Harbor Freight Tools and the Dollar Tree store moved into the former Mervyn’s building while Ross and dd’s took over Kmart’s former location.

Donnette Silva-Carter, Tulare Chamber of Commerce CEO, said the stores’ openings mean new jobs in Tulare and a boost to the local economy.

“It’s exciting to see activity there,” she said. “We are seeing that parking lot busy.”

Sales tax revenue is how municipalities pay for services such as police, fire, parks, and roads.

Shoppers seem to enjoy visiting the new stores.

On a recent afternoon, Lisa Palomino, a Visalia resident, walked out of Ross with a couple of large plastic bags filled with merchandise. She said likes shopping in Tulare.

“The store is clean. There’s ample parking. The employees were friendly with customers,” she said. “They have good selections in the store.”

Palomino didn’t mind driving to Tulare for her shopping, she said. After dropping off the bags in her car, Palomino walked to dd’s to continue her shopping.

Viridiana Velasquez, a Tulare resident, said she planned on shopping at the two stores. She said it was the stores’ opening that drew her to the shopping center.

And Velasquez household members were planning on additional trips to the Tulare Pavillion shopping center: Her husband was planned to pick up some items at Harbor Freight Tools.

With the opening of Ross and dd’s in Tulare, the clothing stores now have locations in Visalia, Hanford, and Delano.

Velasquez likes having those stores in her hometown, she said.

“We don’t have to go elsewhere to go to those stores,” she said. “We have them here.”

Silva-Carter called on residents to support the recent store openings.

“We ought to stay in our town and shop in our town before shopping elsewhere,” she said. “Stay here first.”

Besides the openings at the Tulare Pavilion, there’s plenty of business activity around Tulare, including the openings of The Habit and Wayback Burgers and the recent opening of a Starbucks in downtown.

Additional businesses are expected to open in Tulare, the result of a recruiting trip to a Southern California conference, Jones also said. Seemingly, business activity comes in waves.

“I hope it’s a wave that lasts a long time,” Silva-Carter said.

https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/2018/11/12/after-landing-four-new-stores-tulare-pavillion-drawing-new-shoppers/1754015002/

Grants help fuel business growth in Fresno

Tuesday, November 13, 2018 06:57PM

At Heartbeat Boxing near Downtown Fresno, there’s no shortage of quick feet, fast punches and passion.

“November was our three-year anniversary, we’re just looking to build out business bigger and stronger,” said Gilbert Ruiz, Heartbeart boxing owner

Owner Gilbert Ruiz is proud of the facility growth at Los Angeles and Van Ness. He’s also had some business help from small business advocates and experts from Access Plus Capital.

“They’ve just been a big coach in starting our business from our business plan to projecting where our business is going to go to secure loans and future loans, because we are growing, we are growing very rapidly.” Ruiz said.

Recently, Access Plus Capital was awarded a Go-Biz grant from the Governor’s office, which gave out $17 million statewide.

Access Plus Capital received more than 100,000. About 70 percent of loans given out are to minority owned businesses.

“It’s going to help us expand our support to businesses, especially on the pre-loan side. We work with businesses at no cost to the businesses to help them with their business plan or marketing or finance. It’s going to allow us to do more support particularly to small businesses in our rural communities,” said Tate Hill, Access Plus Capital senior manager.

Access Plus also received another major national grant from Chase Bank and the Central Valley Community Foundation called Pro Neighborhoods.

The $5 million grant will help support small businesses in a variety of ways, but to support neighborhoods with housing and small business development. About $2.5 million will be lent out and focused in urban areas.

“Impacting low-income neighborhoods and neighborhoods that have been environmentally and economically challenged,” Hill said.

Companies that are interested in the funding and resources can reach out to Access Plus Capital. Officials say programs like this help boost business in the Valley.

PROPOSED NEW VALLEY CHILDREN’S CLINIC, COMMERCIAL CENTER CLEARS HURDLE

The Tulare County Planning Commission has recommended the approval of the Sequoia Gateway Commerce and Business Park near Visalia.

Published On November 16, 2018 – 12:20 PM
Written By David Castellon
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The Tulare County Planning Commission voted Wednesday to recommend county supervisors approve a large shopping, hotel, office and medical complex off Highway 99 near Visalia.

Plans for the Sequoia Gateway Commerce and Business Park off the southeast exit of Caldwell Avenue and Highway 99, just outside the Visalia city limits, would include in its first phase a 60,000-square-foot Valley Children’s Medical Group Specialty Care Center, along with a gas station and convenience store, fast food and retail outlets built on 12.4 acres.

The second phase would include a hotel, additional retail and fast food spaces, restaurants and office space built on 101 acres.

A visitors center also is planned for the site.

Valley Children’s reportedly plans to relocate its Akers Specialty Care Center in Visalia to the new, larger locale, with projections that about 30,000 patients may be seen there over a decade.

A commission representative is tentatively scheduled to present the group’s recommendation during the Dec. 4 Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/proposed-new-valley-childrens-clinic-commercial-center-clears-hurdle/