Adaptation is key

Chico Mall adapts, including addition of Comcast; get ready for more poke; and happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! While I can’t quite stomach the thought of shopping on the actual holiday, I suppose this time of year does get me thinking about gift-giving and, by extension, shopping.

CN&R staff writer Kevin Fuller interviewed Chico Mall General Manager Natasha Shelton for this week’s 15 Minutes feature, and she certainly echoes what I’ve been noticing about the mall lately. I popped in recently to do a little status-check and was pleasantly surprised to see few vacant shops. It was a stark contrast to a little over a decade ago, when I wrote a cover story about the struggling state of retail just leading up to the Great Recession. (Oh, if we’d known then ….)

Let’s reminisce. Back in 2007, the Chico Mall was still home to Gap, Aéropostale, Anchor Blue, Wet Seal. Clearly, it was the place to buy clothing. There was also Radio Shack and Waldenbooks. And, as I wrote: “if it’s a department store you’re looking for, it’s got JC Penney, Sears and Gottschalks”—only the first one remains. Copeland’s Sports had just closed (as had Tower Records downtown). Adjacent to the mall, Kohl’s had just moved in, and Chili’s was under construction in the parking lot. Somehow, Marie Callender’s was still a thing.

And then the recession hit. But somehow the mall survived. We’re in a similar slump now when it comes to retail, so I’m glad to see the place adapting to the changes. For now, I’m optimistic.

Speaking of the mall What got me thinking about the Chico Mall in the first place was a recent visit to Comcast’s office off Eaton Road in an effort to switch my wireless service to Xfinity from Verizon. (I love Verizon, but it’s just so damn expensive!) I learned the local shop isn’t yet equipped with mobile phones on-site, but will be very, very soon—as soon as it moves into its new location in the Chico Mall (across from Men’s Wearhouse) in early December. That’s definitely not a business I’d expect to find in the mall (nor is Chico Honda Motorsports or a Budget/Avis rental office), but it’ll certainly be more convenient. Expect deals, Minions (yes, the little yellow guys) and other shenanigans to ensue.

Poke invasion First we got Halo Hawaiian BBQ & Poke Bar—in the East Avenue Safeway shopping center—and then came the sign for Lucky Poke, across Second Street from sister restaurant Aonami Sustainable Sushi. (Word there is that they’ve been holding training sessions for the cooks. So, it shouldn’t be long now before an official opening.) But that’s not all! Signs for yet a third Hawaiian raw fish salad-themed restaurant just went up in the windows of the old Has Beans at the corner of Fifth and Main streets. This one calls itself LemonShark Poké.

According to the eatery’s website (, it started in Southern California and is planning to open dozens of franchises across the country in short order. Reviews of existing spots are good, which is promising. And the website boasts that they use only the freshest and most sustainable fish (the lemon shark apparently has very discerning tastes).

The Chico location is now hiring. Email for more info.