Biz Beat

The big blue awning is leaving downtown; Warden’s is moving to north Modesto

Warden’s Office Furniture on J Street in Modesto, Calif., Wednesday, August 15, 2018.
Warden’s Office Furniture on J Street in Modesto, Calif., Wednesday, August 15, 2018.

After more than 40 years anchoring a corner of J Street with its signature blue awning, Warden’s will move its office furnishings and supply business out of downtown Modesto.

The company will consolidate its J street showroom and Ninth Street outlet center to a new facility being built in northwest Modesto. A groundbreaking for the new 30,700-square-foot center was held Monday at the site on Technology Drive, just off Kiernan Avenue.

The facility is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2019, at which time the company will vacate both its downtown and Ninth Street sites, said Warden’s Office Products Center President Joe Cunningham.

“It’s a big deal in our company’s history,” he said. “We think (the new center) will work and work very well for us.”

Warden’s began in a small space on Burney Street in 1965 and stayed there for close to two years before moving to a larger site on Needham Avenue. Then, in 1974, the company expanded even further to its current space at J and 14th streets. They’ve since increased the size of their J Street headquarters to its present 15,000-square-foot footprint. The 41,000-square-foot outlet center, at the corner of Ninth Street and Coldwell Avenue, was opened in 1994.

Cunningham said the new facility will reduce the company’s overhead while offering its customers a one-stop shop for its furnishings showroom, corporate and administrative offices, and warehouse and logistics operations. All 37 of the company’s employees will move to the new center once it opens.

The company decided to build its own facility from the ground up after searching for two years for an existing location that could combine the two operations. But most of the sites it found, Cunningham said, were too small or too large or could not accommodate delivery and installation services.

So in the past year, they made the decision to design their own to fit their precise needs. The company owns the land and the building at the new site, unlike its previous locations, which were all long-term leases. The new facility is being designed and built by the Modesto firms API and Simile Construction.

Warden’s was founded by namesake Jerry Warden while he was a business major at California State University, Stanislaus. He started out with a $5,000 loan from his parents, and the company eventually grew to be the largest independently owned office products dealer in the Central Valley.

Over the years, the company has opened various other locations and operations in different parts of town, but the J Street location has remained a constant. Once the consolidation is complete, it will leave a large hole in a prime downtown spot that will be ripe for new opportunities. But, fear not, the new Warden’s center will be clad in the company’s trademark blue.

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Elsewhere on the Business Beat:

The Society for DisABILITIES is closing its Scenic Drive thrift store at the end of August.

The nonprofit provides educational and recreational programs, workforce development and training services, and other resources and referrals to children and adults with special needs in Stanislaus County. It currently operates two thrift stores in town to help raise funds, one at the corner of Scenic and Bodem and another at its headquarters at 1129 Eighth St. The Eighth Street location will remain open and consolidate the Scenic Avenue inventory in its shop.

The closing sale started Wednesday with all items at its 700 Scenic Drive shop selling for $1, except for furniture and fixtures, which will sell for under $25. For more information, call 209-524-3536 or visit

Marijke Rowland: 209-578-2284, @marijkerowland

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