Sharyn Holland, who lives near Town & Country Village, trilled an "O-o-h" of delight when I told her that Bed Bath & Beyond, Ross Dress for Less and T.J. Maxx are expected to take spaces at the shopping center near Fulton and Marconi avenues.
Then I added that the first two big-box stores would be moving over from Country Club Plaza on Watt Avenue, and Holland's tone turned to a gloomy "That's too bad."
"Country Club is already struggling because of Gottschalks being gone," she said. " You're taking away from Country Club. What's going to be there the Hometown Buffet, Macy's and I don't know. There's like a little Hallmark store and a little perfume store. There's not much there anymore, so Macy's is going to be the only draw. And is that going to hurt Macy's, which is my favorite store?"
Melinda Eppler, executive director of the Fulton Avenue Association, said leases at Town & Country have been signed by the three big-box stores, and she's predicting a fourth tenant that will sell sporting goods or apparel.
Go for it, Stella
The California Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown just gave Stella Carter the OK to pursue her dream.
The 59-year-old Carter has wanted to start a cottage business, cooking food for others, and last week, the governor signed the California Homemade Food Act. Carried by Los Angeles Democrat Mike Gatto in the Assembly, the new measure allows the sale of bread, nuts, cookies, granola, fruit preserves and other foods deemed safe that were prepared in home kitchens.
Carter couldn't believe it and will look into how to get her kitchen certified once regulators create a framework next year.
"I've been cooking for over 25 years in one job or another," Carter said, "and that is something of a passion. I do a lot of cooking and catering for people, so I've always wanted to have my own type of business that I could do in my own time and at my own pace."
Carter prepares food at Raley Field, as a caregiver with Sacramento County's In-Home Care Services, and as a volunteer at her church, Showers of Blessings Church of God in Christ on 48th Avenue.
Many Carters are out there, judging by the experience of Joany Titherington, director of the Oak Park Farmers Market, and Katherina Griley, culinary program director at the Art Institute of California-Sacramento.
"I've had requests from a variety of folks who are trying to start home businesses doing jams, jellies, cakes, cupcakes, some young folks right out of culinary arts school ... who approached me, and I've had to tell them no, that they would have to rent space at a commercial kitchen," Titherington said.
Griley noted: "Students ... want to be able to prepare a week's worth of meals and bring them to a customer's home and drop them off. ... It really allows them to beef up their résumé and explore options without the cost of a commercial kitchen."
She's got her groove back
Carter, the woman whose lifelong passion has been starting her own food prep business, lost her key source of income in 2010 and then lost her apartment. She rented a storage unit and lived out of a 1997 Honda Accord.
"Nobody really knew that I was homeless at that time," she said. "Sometimes, I would go to a friend's house and ask if I could have a shower."
She kept part-time work, but things didn't turn around until she found Women's Empowerment. The nonprofit, based over near Loaves & Fishes, trains homeless women for many jobs. Carter learned customer service, job readiness and food handling.
Carter added work in concessions at Raley Field and at a day care, and she now has an apartment in Elk Grove.
She and other WE graduates with certificates for food handling will be servers Thursday at the 11th Annual Women's Empowerment Gala. Learn more at www. womens-empowerment.org.