Gabriel Dillard

published on December 22, 2023 - 2:34 PM
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I love going through old newspapers. From the events they cover, the styles writers use and even the advertising, it’s a real time capsule.

Going through the archives is a time-honored tradition in The Business Journal newsroom, especially around the holidays when news is slow to come by. Here are some highlights from the December editions of The Business Journal from 1993 — 30 years ago.


Gunshot at VMC

Local hospitals were putting more money and attention toward security, an issue in the local spotlight following a shooting at Valley Medical Center in Southeast Fresno. A VMC patient managed to bring a gun into the hospital and fire off a shot. The bullet hit the ceiling and no one was injured.

Plans called for hiring more security staff and boosting video surveillance. Community Hospitals, Saint Agnes and Valley Children’s also were in the process of upgrading security measures.

Retail’s charged environment

Local retailers were hoping for a green Christmas, and retail sales reports for the Thanksgiving weekend offered plenty of hope. Credit card purchases were beginning to take hold that year, up substantially from only $300 of the $10,000 in sales for Christmas Eve in 1992 at Coach House Gifts at Manchester center.

Gottschalks Chairman Joe Levy also said credit card purchases had increased, with the department store chain opening 15,000 accounts in the last three weeks.

The Fresno Sears store said sales were up 30% over the prior year.

Tree lots abound

Christmas tree lots were turning into family entertainment spots. Hillcrest Farms in Reedley began offering train rides, refreshments, play areas and children’s stories. 

This was in addition to offering choose-and-cut trees for sale, about 2,000 back in 1993. But they weren’t the only ones. There was Trickett’s Tree Farm along Highway 41 between Easton and Carruthers, with about 1,200 live trees for sale. Also there was Richgreen Christmas Trees near Jensen and Brawley, with about 2,000 trees.

Lastly, there was Santa’s Tree Farm at 725 Peach Ave., with a whopping 10,000 live trees.

Cutting down your own tree cost about $25 back then.

Match made in property management heaven

Two of the area’s largest property management firms were set to close a merger in the New Year. Manco Abbott acquired Turnco Real Estate Services. The combined companies will have Hal Kissler retaining his title of Manco Abbott president with Turnco President Michael Goldfarb joining as vice president.

Presidential firepower

The Fresno Trade Club was expecting to sell out its planned May 7 inaugural event that would feature appearances by former Presidents George Bush and Gerald Ford, astronaut Alan Shepherd, former Bierut hostage Thomas Sutherland, advice columnist Abigal Van Buren and sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

The event scheduled for the Fresno Convention Center also tried to book former President Jimmy Carter and then First Lady Hillary Clinton.

Immigration nearly decimates Ruiz Foods

Fred Ruiz, chairman of Ruiz Food Products in Dinuba, was seeking help from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service for a program to screen workers’ documents used in hiring. This comes after a surprise probe resulted in the dismissal of 213 of the company’s 1,248 employees due to suspicion of counterfeit documents. Of those, 13 were deported.

The company had little trouble finding qualified workers to replace those removed. More than 600 people applied to join Ruiz Foods after the INS review.

Oil takes a dump

California oil prices plummeted to their lowest levels since 1988. The price of $8.75 for a barrel of crude prompted many local companies to halt production, shut in wells and permanently lay off more workers.

Of course, everyone knows Dr. Jackie Ryle:

jackie ryle

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