Biz Beat

70 years in, Modesto’s Crescent Work & Outdoor still serves up surprises

It’s pretty nice when you can have a relationship with someone for 70 years and still get surprised.

But that’s what happens when customers walk into Crescent Work & Outdoor, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary in business this year. I can personally attest to that, because when photo director Joan Lee and I walked in this week, she immediately spotted a lacy pink tank top and said, “I didn’t know they had stuff like this here!”

Owners and siblings Craig and Tiffani Stott said that’s the key to their business success: responding to the customer in a nimble way that a big-box store can’t. They also joke that their grandfather, Hardy Clark, wouldn’t recognize the business he started in 1946.

Back then, Crescent was known as a military surplus store – with World War II just over, there was a lot of stuff to sell, including gears and ammo cans.

“Anything with motor oil on it,” Craig Stott joked. But the store has evolved over the years, and though I did spot some military thermals, Crescent also sells everything from pool floats to tactical uniforms.

“We will always have some military,” Tiffani Stott said.

Hardy Clark wasn’t a fan of selling clothes – he called them rags, his grandchildren said. Now, however, clothes account for about a third of Crescent’s sales. And that includes everything from those lacy tank tops to utility work wear to the 5.11 Tactical line, which takes up a whole room of the store.

The evolution continues. Ten years ago, the Stotts opened up a second store in Stockton. And Crescent now takes a mobile store to police academies, prisons and the like to be where their customers are.

Not too long ago, Tiffani Stott was kayaking at Woodward Reservoir when she noticed people going up to the desk and looking for ice, snacks, sunscreen. She called her brother – on his one day off, no less – and said, “I think I want to become a vendor for (Stanislaus) County.”

Within weeks, she made that happen. Each summer weekend, Crescent sets up a booth at Woodward Reservoir, selling everything from rafts and hats to snacks. Several employees, including the Stotts, got licenses to make food.

“We’ll be making smoothies and frappés,” Craig Stott said. So, I asked him, would Grandpa Hardy have been the kind to enjoy a smoothie?

“If it made him money, he’d have loved it.”

Find Crescent Work & Outdoor at 801 Eighth St., Modesto. Call 209-529-3490.

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

In honor of Military Appreciation Month, Modesto’s Postal Connections is hosting a monthlong, communitywide donation drive to gather much-needed items for military members serving overseas. Folks are invited to contribute healthy snacks such as jerky and granola bars, drink mix packets and toiletries to the effort.

The donations will be used to create a large care package for men and women stationed at the Combat Support Hospital in Germany, according to a press release.

In Modesto, customers can drop off donations at both Postal Connections locations, 1700 McHenry Ave. and 3430 Tully Road.

And finally, it’s Mother’s Day! I hope all the moms out there, particularly the Turlock reader who is my favorite, have a great day. I got a lot of emails and social media notifications from some local restaurants and boutiques with specials for the occasion. If you haven’t found just the right thing, you still have time.

As for my own mom, the gift I am giving her this year also goes to all of you. Starting this week, she – and you – will have the opportunity to read me twice a week. We are expanding the Business Beat column. Look for me online on Tuesdays and in print on Wednesdays, and I will still be right here on Sundays.

Mom, I really hope this is a gift you don’t try to return.