The gift shop
Pick up some Chico-centric souvenirs
Before you leave this crazy little amusement park called Chico, take some souvenirs for yourself (and your peeps back home) in honor of all the great fun you had while you were here.
Of course, you’re going to pick up a Chico State T-shirt or two from the AS Bookstore (located inside the Bell Memorial Union), and, if you did the Greek thing, you probably already know about Wildcat Sportswear (221 Normal St., behind Normal Street Bar; 342-5876), where owner Jim Davis specializes in in-house-produced, custom-made T-shirts, sweatshirts, etc., sporting the letters of your frat or sorority in just about any kind of fabric imaginable. If you’re a baseball fan, head over to the Chico Outlaws Baseball store (308 Salem St.; 345-3210) for Outlaws T-shirts, ball caps, batting gloves and jerseys.
And, as you know, unlike the mementos you often have to pay an arm and a leg for at some of California’s most famous amusement parks, Chico memorabilia, like so many other things here—grub, rent (well, not gas)—is reasonably priced.
Here’s a must-visit sampling of other cool, affordable, quintessentially “Chico” stores:
We’ll start with Chico’s hippest women’s clothing shop, LuLu’s Fashion Lounge, located downtown (212 Main St.; 343-3545). Though world-famous (thanks in part to the appearance of LuLu’s T-shirts on actresses in both MTV and California DMV videos), LuLu’s offerings exemplify the Chico spirit of coolness-on-the-cheap. As LuLu’s co-owner Colleen Winter (her mother Debra Cannon is her business partner) puts it: “Everything at LuLu’s is cool and affordable—that’s our motto.”
Emblazoned with the store’s name, LuLu’s signature tank tops and T-shirts (in just about a zillion different charming designs and colors) fly off the rack at a mere $14 for tanks and $16 for tees. All jewelry is under $10—you can pick up a pair of earrings for $2 or $3. Sunglasses in all the hottest styles are $5. You can get headbands, bracelets and rings for a buck. Wear a LuLu’s T-shirt into the store, and you get 10 percent off your purchase.
A few doors down from LuLu’s is Made In Chico (232 Main St.; 894-7009), which specializes in a wide range of locally produced food—including TJ Farms salad dressings and vinegars, Maisie Jane’s almonds, Lundberg Farms rice and rice chips and Chico Spice Co. spices—and art.
For $4.99, the yummy Chico Chocolate Bar—in both dark and milk—sports pictures of Chico scenes on its wrapper. Pick up a little piece of local artwork from talented young artist Tatiana Allen’s unique collaged Chico-map light-switch covers ($9) or super cute and funky earrings made from pieces of Chico maps ($14).
Owner Jackie Headley is proud to offer a Made In Chico coffee mug featuring black-and-white photographs of Chico landmarks—the Chico State campus, One-Mile, Senator Theatre, the downtown water towers, and “the hands” in front of the Municipal Building—taken by her son Oliver Hutton. Popular Made In Chico T-shirts go for $14.95.
Walk around the block to Chico Paper Company (345 Broadway; 891-0900), whose walls and shelves are graced by paintings and sculptures by some of Chico’s most prominent artists, such as Chunhong Chang, Peter Jodaitis, Claudia Steel, Jake Early and Weston Thomson.
Pick up a sparkly necklace by Calie Varnell (starting at $20) or a pair of earrings, bracelet or necklace by popular local jewelry artist Marilyn Quinn (starting at $18). “Ninety-seven percent of our jewelry is locally-made,” points out co-owner (and painter) Jana Donoho-Strong. Local high-fire tile artist Jo Anna Richer’s unique brooches are $18. Kathleen Nartuhi’s gorgeous metallic-glazed ceramic teapots, urns and vases start at $35. Pick up a handful of cards by local artists, starting at $2.50, by Tina McAllister, koi painter Christina Aranguren, and dog lover Jean Summerville.
Definitely head over to the south side to Sierra Nevada Brewering Co.'s Gift Shop at (1075 E. 20th St.; 896-2198). Commemorate all those good times at the brewery’s Big Room listening to great music and drinking great beer (and every raging party you ever went to in town where Sierra Nevada was always a fixture) with a colorful, quality Sierra Nevada T-shirt for a mere 10 to 12 bucks. Compared to Disneyland, where you have to drop a minimum of $20 for a T-shirt, a locally tie-dyed Bigfoot or Brown Ale T-shirt (or whatever your brew of choice is) is a steal.
Sales clerk Shawn Dixon likes to point out that Sierra Nevada owner Ken Grossman “tries not to mark things up a whole lot.” Increasingly focused on “sustainable” products, the Gift Shop also carries recycled (and recyclable) cork coasters featuring a picture of the brewery on one side ($4.99 apiece). There’s also delicious mustard in three varieties—Pale Ale, Porter and Stout—at only $2.75 a jar, Sierra Nevada logo pint glasses for just $2(!), and plenty of beer, by the six- and 12-pack, and by the case, in a big refrigerator.