Birth of the Ashlan Park Shopping Center

Do you remember the Country Boys Market with its wooden floors? Walter Smiths was the place to go for clothes on the Fulton Mall. Penny Candy had great blacklight posters and don't forget Whitie's Pet Store on Blackstone. What vintage retail do you remember growing up in Fresno?
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Lost Fresno Guest
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Birth of the Ashlan Park Shopping Center

Post by Lost Fresno Guest » Fri Aug 13, 2010 6:15 am

I grew up on Hampton Way just off Cedar and Ashlan. We moved into a brand new track home in 1954 with only 2 streets built in the entire area. Hampton Way and Buckingham were islands in a sea of farmlands. The builder had promised that a shopping center would be built near our location, it was one of the reason my parents choose to buy that house.

I remember my folks talking about the shopping center that would be built some day. The years passed and I kept asking when we would have our shopping center. Each time the subject would come up, they would get frustrated that nothing was being done. I started to believe it too but new streets and houses were popping up all around us. Change was afoot, including the brand new Centennial Elementary school just down the street from us.


Finally, after all the waiting and 8 years later – it finally appeared as if by magic. I have no recollection of the actual building process, it was simply done, it was November 10, 1962. I would walk the 2 blocks past Buckingham and around the irrigation canal (now filled in after many a child had drowned) and crossed the “busy” street of Ashlan, well it was wide anyway.

The shopping center’s anchor store was the Triple J Drug Store which was a variety store and coffee shop. It had a garden shop too. Much later it would change hands to the Li'l General and finally in the 80's to the Thrifty Drug Store.

I bought many a comic book there. Walking down the row of stores, there was a breeze way and a few stores that as a kid, I spent many hours at. First was the slot car track called "The Pit Stop". I would watch the giant winding track for hours but I never could afford the slot car of my dreams. Then there was the billiards hall where I learned to shoot pool with my best friend. I also used to have my hair cut at the little barber shop in the same breeze way and a decent Mexican Restaurant was also located there. The thing that always impressed me about the entire shopping center was the huge sign on the corner. Very stylish for the time and so very tall.


At the other end of the shopping center was the other anchor store, a large grocery store of the chain variety. I believe it changed a few times while I was growing up. But Savemart was the one I remember and the one that my Dad went to work for. He was the Produce Department manager there and boy, did he have a short commute from our house on Hampton. Every once in a while he would let me work for him on a Saturday and I would be paid $5.00 by the store manager. For a 10 year old, that’s like making $100 today. Minimum wage was like $1.35 back then.

Back at Tripe J's I remember hitting puberty and would eye the Playboys on the magazine racks. But was too afraid to actually look for fear of the store manager grabbing me. As I grew into my teens the high pressure car wash next to the supermarket was a frequent destination.

By the time I was ready to graduate from McLane High School the ‘ol Ashlan Park Shopping Center seemed to be on the decline. The parking lots were never full and the stores seemed to change names frequently. I remember that all the available retail space had never been fully leased. The Slot Car joint closed as that hobby was no longer popular and Tripe J’s seem to be a shadow of its former self. By the time I graduated from college the place looked pretty shabby when I would come home to visit family. I’m not sure if it even exist today, but I remember when it was brand new and full of wonder.
ashlan-park.jpg (69.76 KiB) Viewed 6904 times

Big J
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Re: Birth of the Ashlan Park Shopping Center

Post by Big J » Wed Aug 18, 2010 9:31 am

It does still exist, and the sign you've got there still stands. The shopping center underwent a little facelift a few years ago - Save Mart is the big grocery anchor now. The old Thrifty drug space remains empty, but there are a few stalwart tenants that have been in place a good 20-30 years now that aren't going anywhere. I live right up the street from the center and enjoy that big sign every time I visit there.

Here's a photo of the sign from recent times...
ashlan.jpg (82.34 KiB) Viewed 6888 times


Re: Birth of the Ashlan Park Shopping Center

Post by Guest » Sun May 19, 2013 11:51 am

I am looking for the name of the restaurant that was in the JJJ shopping center. Steaks, seafood etc. Clubby old school place, I remember it round 76 or so...

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Re: Birth of the Ashlan Park Shopping Center

Post by flwbdw » Wed May 22, 2013 6:53 am

I worked at the Richfield station on the corner of Cedar & Ashlan for a couple of years in the 60s. I remember a "Sizzler type" place in the front of the self serve car wash at Ashlan Park. The name "Korral" or something like that keeps popping into my head, not sure though.


Re: Birth of the Ashlan Park Shopping Center

Post by mikeferrell » Sun Mar 26, 2017 1:22 pm

Hi...enjoyed your recalling Ashlan Park Shopping Center...and your mentioning the Pit Stop Slot Car Racing Center! I was hopelessly addicted to slot car racing in the mid-60s (and now that I'm in my own mid-60s, I'm still addicted to 'em!) The Pit Stop was simply the finest slot car racing center I ever frequented...and I frequented a lot of them back then. There were two tracks downstairs (one of which was under construction for quite a while...helped me learn basic track building skills for my own home layout.) But the magic was really track was a huge, fast, eight lane "figure 8" speedway. The other track was a huge, 6 lane, completely landscaped road course...easily the greatest (and best looking) slot car track I ever raced on. I mean, you literally felt like you and your car(s) were racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race...what a rush!


Re: Birth of the Ashlan Park Shopping Center

Post by Guest » Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:53 pm

I played for the Ashland Park Little League team in about 1966. I was 10 years old. David Ellis (since deceased) was one of my team mates. Great memories. I would race slot cars and some shop in Ashland Park. Our Family moved to Modesto in 1967.

Mary pw

Re: Birth of the Ashlan Park Shopping Center

Post by Mary pw » Sat Feb 16, 2019 8:40 pm

Man, this brought back memories. I worked at Los Charritos as a waitress while I was in high school, they were wonderful people to work for. The only bad part was the patrons of the bar across the breezeway would stumble over when they got hungry, and were often a handful. I saw one drink a whole bottle of hot sauce one night on a dare...good times. My brother hung out at the slot car place, it was pretty popular.

Lost Fresno
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Re: Birth of the Ashlan Park Shopping Center

Post by Lost Fresno » Wed May 08, 2019 12:04 pm

The grand opening date for Ashlan Park was in April, 1963. The development was a bargain at 1.5 million. Recently, I returned to the shopping center to relive old memories. The entire area including this shopping center has unfortunately, been subject to extreme decay.
Click to Enlarge / Fresno Bee - April 28, 1963

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