by Tom Sims
Tom Sims covers the Tower District, Downtown Fresno, and Old Town Clovis in his monthly column Strolling the Town.
We feel these are three areas in this Valley that are filled with history, culture and interesting stories. So join us each month as Tom goes Strolling!
When do social conscience, love of community, creativity, and entrepreneurship converge?
The answer is, when business owners like those near the corners of Tuolumne and Fulton in downtown Fresno start to collaborate and look for ways to bring people downtown to experience its charm and potential in great expression of generosity and good business sense.
It happens when old and new coexist in compatible, symbiotic, and life-giving relationships, when one flows from the other so that everything is present in the present and alive with possibility.
It happens when there is a generosity of spirit that wants the best possible outcomes for neighboring businesses without the downsides of competition, but with the synergy of cooperation.
It happens when people like Álvaro Romero team up with people like Pablo and Sol Orazco and start dreaming of ways to breathe new life into vintage values.
When it happens, there is an explosion of excitement and out of the mushroom cloud of their nuclear reaction, fall fresh ideas, flavors, and ways of doing business.
There is no business as usual in the corner of downtown Fresno around the old Warnors Theater.
The collaboration that is creating all of this synergy is Raizana Tea Co. and Misc. Trading Co..
Raizana Teas opened several years ago and has grown exponentially in its tea room where craft and blended teas are created daily and through its in-store and internet sales. Walk into Raizana and you are immediately captured by the aromas and the ambience of real tea being authentically brewed and served with love the old-fashioned way. Not only is it tasty, but it is healthy and designed to promote wellness. Their vintage recipes are as old as family traditions and as new as the evolution of imagination.
In like manner, Álvaro Romero was attracted to the vintage world of old goods that could be reclaimed and reloved. With a strong commitment to community and sustainability, he opened Misc. Trading Co. (Antiques and Vintage) with a specific purpose. He says it this way, “When I opened Misc. my primary goal was to change the way people think about consumption because participating in this economic climate often leaves me feeling powerless.”
He continued that thought in an online post, “Gaining awareness about where things come from and why quality matters has changed my life, and inspires me to share an important dialogue with a larger audience. We’re not just playing dress up at Misc., we’re literally saving the world one rad dress at a time. In the MTC world, fashion is fun, affordable, and most importantly, sustainable. All are welcome to join the party.”
As a result, Álvaro has found ways to broaden the scope of the party and invite the city downtown to a community he loves. He has some formidable and successful allies in that mission.
Pablo and Sol Orazco of Raizana Teas have joined hands with him and have enlisted the support of the Downtown Fresno Partnership for a major community gathering. In fact, it is something they have done before and are planning to do regularly – a sidewalk event for their neighbor businesses and their non-business neighbors who wish to come, trade, and experience downtown.
In fact, Álvaro’s Misc. Trading Co. is having another vintage pop-up sale and book swap today, November 8. It is in partnership with Raizana Teas and is for the benefit of all. It promises to be fun and productive.
Pablo says, “These events are gaining a lot of traction lately as all kinds of vendors sell vintage clothing, handmade jewelry, and home decor. You can also bring some books for others and leave with a few of your own. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 2017 Tuolumne St., right near the Warnors Theatre.”
Pablo Orozco says that a big part of the effort is about driving the traffic downtown and creating awareness.
“We’re adding more vintage, more vendors, more food, plus a craft beer station thanks to Downtown Fresno Partnership.”
There will even be a pizza truck.
“There will be tables for you to leave books you care to donate and your contribution will allow you to take a book or two should you wish. PLEASE bring your gently used books and share the love!”
There will be a tour of the Warner Theater along with wonderful pictures from that great community institution.
If you miss the event today, you can catch it next month because the Orazcos and Romero are planning to make it a regular event.
That being said, any day of the week is an adventure at Misc. Trading Co. Álvaro Romero is no fan of self-promotion or of his own picture, but he is an artist with a curator’s eye for collecting and displaying the best of the past in his store. There is nothing haphazard or unintentional about his merchandising. Everything is placed in its own place as if that space were created for it.
There is nothing ordinary about Raizana either. While ¾ of their space is devoted to productivity, the rest flows from it and into the sensory receptors of their customers and guests.
“Sip to a new you” is their theme. Pablo says, “Raizana Tea Co. makes natural teas and wellness tisanes using unique flavors and high quality ingredients.”
They were inspired by generations of mothers and grandmothers who “soothed our tummy aches and sore throats with warm herbal remedies.”
Some of those remedies, while working, were a little repulsive. They have refined the process and brought appealing flavors and smells to the process of being well. Their teas are healthy, natural, and delightful to the senses.
Herbal remedies are as vintage and time-honored as the fashions and furnishings in the Misc. Trading Co. showroom.
“Raizana” comes from two words in Spanish: “Raiz” means “root” and “Sanar” means “to heal” or “to cure.”
Their values are excellent service, high quality products, caring about their communities, integrity and honesty in relationships, and embracing passion and innovation.
As a result, they can be seen all over town wherever there is an opportunity to serve tea, get the message out, and infect some community with the same enthusiasm for community itself that they embrace.
It is about what is old and what is new, what is vintage and what is innovative, what is good for business and what is good for the community and the planet.
… and it is about time to get your shoes on and get over there.
The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 2017 Tuolumne St., right near the Warnors Theatre.