They’re like Mighty Mouse

The hero of the hour seems to be R-Vision, which manufactures recreational vehicles and hopes to take over the old Fleetwood plant at the Chico Municipal Airport. (Fleetwood, you will remember, pulled out of Chico back in February 2001, leaving 345 people jobless, some after 17 years there.)

The city and the economic-development community are stoked, naturally. The Indiana-based company will be looking to hire 40 to 60 people at first and expand that to more than 200 as all three production lines get going, said Craig Swisher, the general manager for the planned Chico plant.

Swisher came out here from Indiana a couple of years ago when R-Vision was looking into coming to Butte County and ended up staying and starting his own family business. When the Fleetwood building opened up, and R-Vision decided to come, Swisher was on board.

“We’re working on finalizing some details with Fleetwood on the lease-purchase of the building,” Swisher said. He said the building is the right size for what they need to do, and Chico’s workforce—including the laid-off Fleetwood employees—is also what R-Vision needs.

Mighty Mouse II—maybe

Grocery wholesaler Fleming Corp., of Texas, has found a buyer for the Food 4 Less stores it wants to unload as it gets out of the retail business. The $165 million deal announced Nov. 13 has 26 of Fleming’s 84 stores, plus two still under construction, being sold to Save Mart. That includes stores in Chico and Red Bluff.

Save Mart is a Modesto-based, privately held chain of about 100 stores that dates back to 1952. It has a history of buying up Central Valley chain stores like Safeways and not remodeling; their appearance seems more retro than modern.

Sally Sanborn, director of marketing for Save Mart, said the Food 4 Less stores will likely be changed into Food Maxx stores, which run under a similar warehouse model. She said Food 4 Less employees will be encouraged to apply for Save Mart jobs. Save Mart human resources people are meeting with workers this week to “calm them down and assure them we are a solid company,” Sanborn said. She said Fleming and Save Mart are working to cover the increased insurance costs for employees who are hired but have to wait 90 days for benefits to kick in. They will get to keep their vacation time, but not their seniority.

Sanborn added that the purchase is a chance for Save Mart, a household name in Central California, to break into a new market area. Previously, the company’s northernmost store was in Galt.

Ready to wear

When I was in college, I didn’t really wear anything that needed to be dry cleaned. But apparently things are different in Chico, or maybe it’s the staff and faculty members who dress so snappily.

At any rate, a dry-cleaning service is now available at Chico State University. An Associated Students survey found that students wanted such a service, and a couple of weeks ago Chico Cleaners established a drop-off and pick-up area on the second floor of the Bookstore, in the Bell Memorial Union. Items come in and go out on Mondays and Thursdays. Prices range from $1.50 for a laundered dress shirt to $4.20 for pants to $9.40 for a two-piece suit.

Tiffany Yost, the A.S. vice president for business and finance, said she doesn’t expect the venture will be a huge moneymaker for A.S. businesses, but that’s not the intent: "It’s more of a convenience."