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Business Beat: Similar paths to follow very different passions

04/19/2014 4:59 PM

04/19/2014 10:49 PM

One of the many joys of writing this column is meeting people who are chasing their passions.

In the past few days, I’ve gotten to talk with two of them. Ray Hannagan and Nancy Saunders probably don’t share many customers – he recently opened a comic book store in Turlock, and she, along with Linda Mitchell, operates a new yarn shop in Modesto.

But all three have something in common: They have taken a hobby and turned it into a business so they can share their passion with others.

Hannagan has always loved comic books.

“They’re interesting, and they’re imaginative,” he said. “You can lose yourself in a comic book.” He compared them to the movie serials popular in the 1940s.

“It’s like a mini-soap opera,” Hannagan said. “The story line continues on, and you can’t wait for the next one.”

Hannagan, 63, has transformed his 40-year affection for comic books into Sky High Comics and Collectables, which opened earlier this month on Main Street in Turlock.

He said he has received lots of walk-in traffic. “People say, ‘Oh, yay, we finally have a comic book store in Turlock,’ ” he said. Previous local comic book stores closed years ago.

Hannagan stocks a wide variety of comic books and related collectibles for all ages – children to young adults to the young at heart, like himself.

He said he still is learning the ropes and relying on his customers to tell him what they want so he can order it. “It’s my first-ever business, so I am doing a lot of learning,” he said.

Sky High Comics is at 120 W. Main St. Hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays. Call (209) 250-2126.

Over in Modesto, Saunders and Mitchell opened Knitters Square in Roseburg Square on April 3. The space previously housed another yarn shop, the Urban Sheep. When it closed, longtime knitting enthusiasts Saunders and Mitchell decided to take it over and open their own store.

They renovated the space, which is now part shop, part classroom, part social club. Knitters, crocheters and spinners are welcome to come in and practice near the store’s electric fireplace. Classes are offered for everyone, from beginners to advanced crafters.

“People are beginning to pass the word,” said Saunders, who started knitting at age 17 and now spins her own yarn, as well.

About the only downside is that with all the work renovating the store, ordering stock and gearing up to operate, “we haven’t gotten much time to knit,” she said, laughing. “We will, once we get things moving along a little more.”

Knitters Square is at 899 W. Roseburg Ave. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Call (209) 566-9119.

Elsewhere around the business beat:

The Mariposa Event Center opened April 12. The center offers a horse riding arena, more than 5 acres of parking, warm-up area and a 5,000-square-foot barn.

According to a news release, plans for further development include horse and rider shade with misters, a commercial kitchen, bathrooms with showers, a recreation room, overnight stall rentals and outdoor seating.

The grand opening, set for May 21, is a Western and English schooling show. The center is at 2759 Ranchito Drive, La Grange. For more information, visit or email

Computer Tutor Business and Technical Institute is on the move, but not too far. The longtime Modesto business recently shifted into a new facility just across the parking lot from its former spot.

Colton Rowe of Computer Tutor said the larger and newly renovated space, at 4306 Sisk Road, is a “much better fit for our Career Center business.”

For more information, call Computer Tutor at (209) 545-5200.

And finally, a reminder that the Stanislaus County Fair will host a job fair for seasonal employees on Thursday at the fairgrounds, 900 N. Broadway, Turlock. The job fair will take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Available positions include ticket sellers and takers, maintenance staff, office staff, exhibit clerks and security.

For more information, contact Apryl Dejarnett at (209) 668-1333, ext. 310, or, or visit

About This Blog

The Bee's Patty Guerra covers items of note from breaking news and business. @pattyguerra

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