Historic building becomes mini mall

MADERA -- A historic building in downtown Madera, which housed furniture stores for three generations, has undergone an innovative transformation into what many locals have sought for years: a mall.

"Madera needed a new way of shopping. A lot of people in Madera don't have a place to shop so they go to Fresno or Merced," said Susan Savage, a realtor and owner of the new Madera Mini Mall.

Savage's grandfather, William Brammer, first bought the building in the 1940s, along with a few others downtown, she said. The two-story building on the corner of Yosemite Avenue and E Street was originally built more than 100 years ago as a hotel operated by Capt. Russell Perry Mace, one of Madera's founders.

"I am told that (former) President (Ulysses) Grant stayed here and that he also bought shoes from Brammer's Shoe Store many years ago," said Savage. The shoe store, which was just a block away from the former lodge, and is now a restaurant, was also owned by her grandfather.

"So this is a very historical building," said Savage. "The upstairs has been closed up for many years. It is still divided up like old hotel rooms up there."

Downstairs, on the other hand, has been sectioned into spaces for about 14 vendors and there's still room for three to seven spaces, depending on how much space a merchant needs, she said.

"We thought this way gave people a chance to have small spaces where maybe they couldn't afford to rent a store if they wanted a business. It also spreads the rent out for me as a property owner," Savage said. "Hopefully, this will be kind of a win-win for everybody."

Opened in early May, the Madera Mini Mall has mostly drawn foot traffic.

Mens' and ladies' departments feature name brands such as Nike, Jordan, True Religion jeans and Polo shirts. Baptismal and first communion attire, shoes, soccer equipment and jerseys, cell phone accessories, handbags, CD's and DVD's are some of the items already for sale at the indoor mall.

"We're bringing in people with nice quality merchandise and we're doing a nice variety," Savage said. "We don't want flea market or swap meet merchandise. We just don't want clothing that sells for $5-a-garment kind of thing.

"We're trying to create kind of a mini mall situation here for them. It's not necessarily what you'd find at Macy's, but we're trying to get a quality of clothing in that they're not just buying cheap stuff that they sell at flea markets."

One of the vendors, Margarito Caro, sells soccer uniforms and equipment in Gloria's Sport. He spent a recent afternoon pressing logos on jerseys.

"We do custom orders, put names and logos on jerseys and we can have them ready for the same day," said Caro. "We also have uniforms from national and international teams," he said. Few customers strolled by as he worked. "Everything is just starting so I think business will pick up slowly, but surely," he said.

Madera Mini Mall is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Details: Reg Savage at (559) 696-7332. Those who speak Spanish only are asked to communicate through a translator, Savage said.