Biz Beat

Business Beat: A new ‘gem’ opens up shop in downtown Modesto

Manager Carol Squires works in the new boutique La Petite Bijoux in downtown Modesto on Thursday morning, Sept. 15, 2016.
Manager Carol Squires works in the new boutique La Petite Bijoux in downtown Modesto on Thursday morning, Sept. 15, 2016.

I met Carol Squires nearly four years ago.

Her eclectic shop, the Funkie Munkie, was included in one of the first Business Beat columns I wrote. (On a side note, when I went to look that up I found I have written more than 200 of these. My gosh, time flies.)

The Funkie Munkie, tucked into an industrial park on Kansas Avenue, since has closed. Squires had to take some time off to care for a sick friend and handle other obligations.

But she called me recently to let me know she’s back, and she’s right here in downtown Modesto. She is managing a new spot, La Petite Bijoux, on K Street. La Petite Bijoux is French for “The Little Gem,” and that’s what Squires believes she has in the shop, located in a former barber shop next to The Brighter Side restaurant, a downtown gem of its own.

The store, which opens in the coming week, is chock-full of the sweet, romantic decor, jewelry and furniture I remembered from the Funkie Munkie. It also carries a variety of jams, jellies, fruit butters and pie fillings by local canner Cheree Hill, and handmade purses and dresses by local artist Joanne Miller.

“Anything that strikes our feminine fancy,” Squires said. She also plans to bring in a variety of gift items.

Squires said she also will work with people to help them tailor their homes and businesses. I remembered from our earlier meeting her theory: “You don’t have to spend a lot of money,” she said.

She was happy to land in downtown Modesto, an area she thinks is ripe for resurgence. And the site allows for both walking and drive-by traffic, something that was harder to come by in the industrial park on Kansas Avenue.

“We have a lot of great places downtown,” she said. The location is also walking distance from city and county offices, so customers can stop by on their lunch hours.

It’s always nice to see economic development downtown; with any luck, we soon will see more. I am working to confirm a couple of other things I have heard will be happening around here. Once I do, I’ll let you know.

Find La Petite Bijoux at 1123 K St., Modesto. The store will be open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 209-380-1082.

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

I wrote this past week about retailers gearing up to hire for the holidays. They aren’t the only ones already thinking about what’s going under the Christmas tree.

According to a story from The Bee’s Washington, D.C., bureau, not only do almost half of all parents start holiday shopping before the Labor Day weekend, they plan to spend an average of $495 on each of their children. That’s up nearly $100 from last year, according to the survey on which the story was based. In all, people plan to spend an average of $1,175 on the holidays. Millennials will spend even more, an average of $1,427.

That seems like a lot, but I think it covers everything from toys to Christmas lights to cookies for Santa. I wonder what his holiday bill is?

And finally, later this month, The Modesto Bee will honor the winners of its first Excellence in Business awards.

Some of the best and brightest individuals and their companies earned these awards. They will be honored Sept. 28 at an 11:30 a.m. luncheon at the DoubleTree by Hilton in downtown Modesto. Tickets are $25 and are available at until Sept. 27. For more information, contact Deanna Whitmore at 209-578-2209 or

It should be a fun event. I will be there; if you come, I hope you’ll stop by and say “Hi.”