Biz Beat

A lovely cottage, open just twice a month, and hunks to get your junk

The little building just east of Roseburg Square in Modesto has been home to a number of businesses over the years: a hat store, a coffee house, a photography studio.

But its new owners have opened a shop that seems just perfect for the site.

John and Deborah Mattos bought the building — which also houses Alan’s Clock & Watch Repair — in October. Since then, they have been updating it inside and out, and they recently opened Urban Cottage there. The store is a mix of antiques and refurbished pieces, as well as some new items and crafts.

And it’s open only two weekends a month, the second and fourth Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Their hope is that every time people come in to Urban Cottage, they find something new and unusual. They have some experience with antiques, operating as vendors for eight years in downtown Modesto’s longtime Antique Emporium.

The limited hours also give the Mattoses time to collect and refurbish their goods. The back garden area recently opened and will offer plants as well as furnishings — there’s a definite wine theme that could really fit in anywhere.

“Doesn’t this seem like a great place to sit and have a glass of wine?” Deborah Mattos said. Indeed, the couple is looking into having one of the popular “wine and paint” classes in the back of the shop.

Of the site and the neighborhood, “We absolutely love it,” John Mattos said. He compared the area around Roseburg and Orangeburg to Turlock’s downtown — a centralized neighborhood of specialty shops and restaurants. And he said the location right off the Virginia Corridor is perfect — “We get a lot of people walking over from the trail, particularly on the weekends.”

Deborah Mattos described the inventory as “eclectic and unusual.” She pointed out a small chest of drawers made from old wooden cheese boxes, as well as new ruffled outfits for little girls. I had my eye on some bracelets she said were made out of Congolese beads.

“We didn’t want a stagnant store,” said Deborah Mattos. “We wanted to make it a place we would enjoy being.”

Find Urban Cottage at 917 W. Roseburg Ave., Modesto. Call 209-491-2711.

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

I get a lot of emails, many of them spam. But when something called “College Hunks Hauling Junk” lands in your inbox, you’re likely to take a look.

Turns out, “College Hunks” is a national business that does just what it sounds like, and it’s looking to expand into the Modesto area.

Co-founder Nick Friedman said the business was founded a little over 10 years ago in Washington, D.C. He and his friends were the “hunks” of the name.

“We weren’t very modest at the time,” he said. “We thought it’d be a funny way to make the phone ring.”

He also wanted to project the idea of a “clean-cut, collegiate individual” coming to get the stuff you no longer want. Since then, they have grown up and so has the business. More than 100 franchises of Hunks now also move furniture and the like, and the name is an acronym for “Honest, Uniformed, Nice, Knowledgeable.”

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