George Cummings was serving in Vietnam when his aunt and uncle, Beulah and Elliot Adams, started construction on a building at 1555 Fulton Ave. It would become a Pier 1 store.
"I think that was about 1965," he told me. "Farmland and dirt roads still covered the Pocket and much of West Sac. Nine months after Pier 1 moved in, a fire destroyed the building, and at that time, insurance did not really pay enough to rebuild. It was quite a struggle for B&E and Pier 1, but that effort really paid off over the following 46 years."
Cummings met with me just after learning that Pier 1 won't make it to 50 years at the site. By spring 2013, the store will relocate to Point West Plaza shopping center. Located across from Arden Fair, Point West is home to retailers such as Kohl's and Petco. New owners have been working to rejuvenate the site.
Cummings said the Adams family is seeking a tenant who wants high visibility and great access, minutes from Arden Way and Howe Avenue.
Relles blooms on Sundays
Jim Relles drove up and down the streets of midtown Sacramento on Sundays to see which retailers were open. He quizzed other florists about their operating hours at an industry conference earlier this year.
He couldn't stop thinking back to his late father, Ross Relles Sr., who served customers seven days a week at Relles Florist until he died in 1972.
"I guess we thought we were smarter than him or something," Relles said. "A few years after he passed away, we decided not to open on Sundays."
That was nearly 40 years ago. On Dec. 16, Relles once again opened his midtown location for business on Sundays. He also extended hours there for the other six days of the week.
"You have to sell to people when they want to buy things," he said. "The more (retailers) that are open, the more that it will make it a more vibrant shopping district. That's why I did it."
He's using online promotions and special events to highlight the new hours. One weekend, he donated 1 percent of sales to WEAVE, the nonprofit working to prevent domestic violence.
Relles, who owns the company with his 95-year-old mother, Margaret, described the year 2008 as the new norm. Thirty percent of his revenue disappeared that year, amid a recession. This year, he expects sales to be $1.5 million, up roughly 5 percent from 2008.
Geographica, a real find
Geographica has an address of 3811 J St., but it is not nestled between Starbucks and Koukla Kids, as one might guess.
Rather, it lies around the corner from Koukla Kids. If the bright green door is open, congratulate yourself on finding it and go inside to greet Mark Anderson.
There is a hint of irony in the fact that a store selling maps and globes is so hard to find, but there is none in the fact that Anderson owns it. His wanderlust has led him from Washington to Hawaii, Utah, Alaska and finally California. In the 49th state, he led shipping businesses that ensured freight got to all of Alaska, even those points reachable by only barge or airplane.
He told me he's loved geography since he was a child, and he hopes Geographica will kindle that love in others.
"The first question you ask when you buy a globe is when was it made, and the globe makers don't date them," said Anderson (no relation to this columnist), "but you can tell by when the Soviet Union broke up into all the respective countries or when the Canadians established the province of Nunavut."
Geographica's inventory extends beyond maps and globes to a mix of old, new and recycled merchandise from around the world.
On the walls are intriguing lessons: For instance, U.S. soldiers in Iraq asked relatives in the Southwest to send desert water bags to replace plastic bottles they were issued. Why? The slow evaporation process chills water inside the tight linen weave of the bags.
The store blends art, science, history and home, the proprietor explained.