Those big empty Orchard Supply Hardware, Toys R Us and Babies R Us buildings dotting Stanislaus County might not be empty much longer.
In April it was announced the owners of Strand Ace Hardware in Escalon were going to take over the former OSH site on Oakdale Road. Work continues on that site, with a planned opening at the end of June. Now another new Ace Hardware is slated to take over the former OSH site on Geer Road in Turlock. A banner went up on the building last month with a planned late summer opening.
Modesto’s second former Orchard site, on Sisk Road, was sold earlier this year to Mad Monk Holdings, LLC, whose Berkeley-based owner also operates Rasputin Music & Movies. The next-door Toys R Us building was sold as well earlier this year, to the Miami-based commercial real estate investment firm Corbin Holdings.
A little further north on Sisk Road, the former Babies R Us site remains vacant, but plans are still moving forward for Rasputin Music & Movies, which currently has a shop on Dale Road, to relocate to the space. The new store will be a combined Rasputin and an Anastasia New & Vintage Clothing store, both associated with Mad Monk Holdings, LLC.
Strand Ace Vice President Dirk Swanson, whose family has run the Escalon hardware store since 1975, said they hope to open in about three weeks, with a grand opening celebration planned for the last week of June. Staff has been working at the site daily — rearranging, organizing and stocking inventory. The 44,000-square-foot building is a significant step up from the company’s existing 28,000-square-foot store, which will remain open when the new one debuts.
Swanson said the company has been hiring the 50 to 60 positions needed to staff the new store. There are still a number of positions available and job-seekers should go to the Strand Ace website to apply. They’ve already hired a handful of former OSH employees for the new Modesto store as well.
In Turlock, the OSH on Geer Road near California State University, Stanislaus, closed last year when the largely West Coast brand was dissolved by its parent company, Lowe’s. In all, five Orchard Supply stores in the region were shuttered: two in Modesto and one each in Turlock, Manteca and Sonora.
The space, in the same complex as a Michael’s and Big Lots, has been stripped down to the studs inside. A spokesman for Mentzer PR Group, which is representing Ace Hardware, said a soft opening is planned for late summer. The new store will be owned and operated by a a subsidiary of Ace Hardware Corporation.
The Illinois-based hardware company has more than 5,200 hardware stores in about 70 countries. Ace stores have been filling empty Orchard Supply buildings up and down California, including recent stores in Fresno and Thousand Oaks.
The other former OSH building in Modesto on Sisk Road remains empty and boarded up. According to county property records, the building was purchased by Mad Monk Holdings in February. The holding company is run by Berkeley entrepreneur Ken Sarachan, who operates the new and used music/movies chain Rasputin and new and used clothing store Anastasia. He also owns several buildings along Berkeley’s famed Telegraph Avenue.
Sarachan purchased both the old Babies R Us space and OSH store on Sisk Road this year. In February it was announced that the Modesto Rasputin store, which has been located two doors down from Trader Joe’s on Dale Road since it opened 2014, would move to the empty Babies R Us site. The new space will be a merged Rasputin and Anastasia store. At the time representatives had hoped to make the move this spring, but the company has gone through restructuring since. Rasputin stores in Stockton, Fairfield and Newark have closed.
Modesto store manager Ryan Hewitt said while the move to the new space is still planned, there is no set date yet. He said staff have been clearing out the old Babies R Us store, which was owned by now-defunct parent company Toys R Us, and still had fixtures and other furniture inside. They plan to hire more employees to staff the new site, and are looking for clothing buyers in particular. Interested parties should email email@example.com.
Hewitt said the company has not announced what it plans to do with the Sisk Road Orchard Supply site yet. But for the time being, it has been used to store items from the closed Rasputin locations and other sites.
Next door to the old Orchard Supply on Sisk Road, the Toys R Us building also remains vacant. But it too was purchased earlier this year by an outside buyer.
Corbin Holdings picked up the property in late December 2018. The privately held Miami real estate investment firm has purchased a string of old Toys R Us/Babies R Us buildings in California, Iowa, Connecticut, Virginia, Florida and Louisiana. The company website touts the purchase of the approximately 46,000 square-foot building in Modesto just of Highway 99 for its high-traffic location between Vintage Faire Mall and the nearby Walmart and Kohl’s stores.