Comings and goings

Reflections on businesses old and new, and calendar editors, too

When I was a kid, I used to ride my bicycle into downtown Livermore, where I grew up, and hang out at one of three places: the local ice-cream shop, Lorde’s, a small Bay Area chain; a comic book store called Fact, Fiction & Fantasy (now Fantasy Books and Games); and Dom’s Surplus, which sold a lot of military surplus gear (it’s now called Dom’s Outdoor Outfitters and seems to cater to a higher-caliber shopper than 12-year-old me).

But I came up to Chico regularly because my dad was raised in Hamilton City and graduated from Chico State. His parents lived on a farm not far from the Sacramento River, and some of my fondest childhood memories are of spending the holidays and weeks in the summer with my grandmother, who became a widow in her early 60s.

Most of my extended family on my dad’s side, including my many cousins and second cousins, grew up in Chico. When I’d visit, we’d usually head downtown or to the mall (aka North Valley Plaza), which later became the “old mall.” We’d almost always end up at Shubert’s (which is even better than Lorde’s), Jon & Bon’s and shops like Tower Records (and Books) and The Underground.

Chico had a smaller-town vibe than Livermore, plus all of that energy from the college students. My childhood experiences here definitely played a role in me choosing to attend the university and, after graduation, put down roots.

In the last 18 years, Chico’s become my adopted hometown, and in that time I’ve watched a bunch of shops I frequented close down. Both Tower and The Underground succumbed to Internet and big-box competitors. Many, many restaurants and coffee shops (my faves included Oy Vey Bagels and Redwood Forest, Café Max and Moxie’s) have disappeared during my time here.

Fortunately, for every place that closes its doors, others spring up. Chico continues to be an ideal spot to open shop. I was reminded of that this week, as we put the finishing touches on our annual Business Issue. We’ve highlighted a nice little selection of some of Chico’s eclectic businesses. It was fun to write about the people running them, to hear the stories behind their creations. I hope what we share in these pages might inspire other aspiring business owners.

In other news, CN&R recently said farewell to Jace Whatcott. Who? Jace was our calendar editor for just about five weeks, so you may have missed his tenure. He did a fine job, but the great state of Texas beckoned the newlywed with a full-time marketing gig. We wish him well in the home state of George W. Bush.

Fortunately, our former calendar editor, recent Chico State grad Ernesto Rivera, slid right back into his old job. Plus, he’s helping us with some special projects over the next couple of months. Ernesto knows his way around the calendar, so he’s the go-to for all of your arts, community and music events. Drop him a line to welcome him back at