Ever feel like you have retail envy? The Valley often gets overlooked by big name retailers like H&M, IKEA or Nordstrom.
CBS47 set out to find out what's keeping them away. We spoke to some new businesses that have chosen to open up shop in the Valley to find out why they made that decision.
CBS47's Alexandra Limon also talked to fashion experts, about what it would take to attract more new businesses.
The lack of options in Fresno can be frustrating, especially for sisters Flannery and Katherine Good, who now run a blog about fashion called Fashionably Bombed. “The beauty of blogging is that it doesn’t matter where you are. You can build a fan base and you can build an audience. So we're in Fresno and we're talking about fashion and usually those two things don't go together,” said Flannery.
Though they can blog from Fresno, they can't necessarily shop in Fresno for everything they need. We got a couple of stores coming in when Fashion Fair built a new section of the mall, so that was nice, but as far as the type of stuff that I like to buy, some of the more higher end expensive clothing stores, I haven’t seen those come through,” said Katherine.
Most of the shopping for their photo and video shoots is done online. “I would love to see a Nordstrom or some high end department store would be fabulous and then on the other end, I'd like to see an H&M,” said Flannery.
A clothing store called American Apparel… they have very simple clothes, but they're very chic, a lot of beautiful colors,” said Katherine.
So why are Fresno and the surrounding cities left high and dry when it comes to high end fashion? CBS47 asked Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin about the role cities play. “The city's role is not to directly recruit retailers. Having said that, for example, in our downtown area, which we envision as a commercial and entertainment destination, we're putting all the appropriate policies and infrastructure in place to support that kind of activity,” said Mayor Swearengin.
Then it's up to private developers to recruit new retailers.
While there are some options, here in the Valley, people suffer from what some call retail envy, just wishing there was a bigger variety of clothing and shoe store options.
With the old Gottschalk’s building at Sierra Vistas Mall sitting empty and now Borders Books in River Park, there's been plenty of speculation about which popular retailer could be moving in.
CBS47 reached out to retailers like H&M, IKEA, and Nordstrom to see when they are coming to Fresno. Nordstrom responded by saying in part, "…Fresno isn't large enough to support a full line store. We do have a Nordstrom Rack in Fresno."
Our fashionistas also say it’s not just the lack of stores but also the lack of merchandise. “We're into color and glamour and sparkle, and those are the things that even at the higher end stores like Macy's, we still can't find. Everything seems to be gray and black and brown,” said Flannery.
The Good’s think it may be because retailers don't see Fresno as a glamorous market.
Mayor Swearengin said, “I think we do get overlooked, I think being in the middle of California, sandwiched between some of the largest markets in the world, literally between the Bay Area and L.A., I think it is possible that we just simply get overlooked.
And the Fashionably Bombed sisters say it’s a misconception that Valley residents aren't interested in fashion. People in Fresno are actually shopping online for those types of clothing, so the money is actually leaving the Valley, rather than staying here. And I also know a lot of people who go to L.A. specifically to go shopping,” said Katherine.
We're in California… we're a city of a million people, when you add up all the surrounding areas, said Flannery.
But with Fresno County's unemployment rate at 14.9% in the month of September, that could be holding retailers back.
Fresno isn't the only city with retail and restaurant envy. People feel it all across the Valley, like in Hanford. Michael Lacrue moved to the Valley from Southern California 15 years ago. Since then, he's been on a mission to get In-N-Out Burger to come to Hanford. Michael has them on speed dial and calls them on a bi-weekly basis. He also joined Facebook just so he could be a part of the “Bring In-N-Out to Hanford” page.
The Hanford resident says there’s an overall lack of variety. “Everything really, I mean we have essentially 3 or 4 fast food chains that are running the area and that’s about it,” said Michael.
Residents think In-N-Out would be successful and good for the local economy. “These aren’t the normal fast food type, minimum wage jobs that people expect, these are $10 an hour jobs to start,” said Michael.
But the Valley has caught the attention of some new restaurants and shops. The Yard House is preparing to open its 35th location right here in Fresno. “There’s been several other chains that have come to the Valley and been very successful, so we're very hopeful that we can be one as well,” said Yard House Regional Manager Tim Dolan.
When asked, “Why Fresno?” They said, “Why not Fresno?”
CBS47 got a sneak peak of the restaurant scheduled to open December 4th. According to the Yard House, Fresno fits the criteria for a new location. “A town that has a broad demographic, that has diversity, that has density, and that has a community that can support a restaurant,” said Dolan.
The 10,000 square foot restaurant that will seat 400 isn't the only place that believes they can be successful in the Valley. “The Forever 21 store here in Fresno is one of the biggest Forever 21’s in the country, so yeah, obviously people are going there and they're shopping and they want fun and trendy clothing. Maybe not super expensive but you know they're out spending money on clothes and fashion,” said Flannery.
You can follow the Good sisters on their blog, Fashionably Bombed by clicking the related link. There are also links for Yard House Grill and the Bring In-N-Out to Hanford page.