Stockton: a true multipurpose city

I’ve been a frequent visitor to Stockton in recent months and I’ve found that this sometimes neglected gem of California’s Central Valley has a lot to offer if you’re looking for a true multipurpose retail experience.

Remember when “Food & Liquor” stores were new on the scene? Everybody shook their heads in wonderment and said “Gol, what a concept. Food. Liquor. Food and liquor. That’s, like, two thirds of your basic daily nutritional requirements, right?”

Businesses in Stockton, however, have kicked the 21st century into high gear by going the old “Food & Liquor” stores one better.

Just about anywhere you drive in Stockton, you’ll find retail businesses improving their commercial appeal by combining a variety of unlikely services and-or products for maximum appeal to people in the market for, er, lots of unrelated stuff.

I first noticed this somewhat unusual approach to marketing as I drove into town one morning and saw a restaurant advertising “Cocktails. Lunches. Dinners. Tattoos.”

Hey, it doesn’t get any better than this, amigos.

Pop in for a two-cocktail lunch, wolf down a pastrami sandwich and get a tattoo of a flaming skull with a rose in its teeth on your left hip while you’re waiting for dessert.

Maaaaan, talk about a power lunch…

A few days later, I was driving through greater downtown Stockton when I saw yet another multipurpose retail outlet offering happy hour handymen “Liquors – Hardware.”

This, my friends, is what home improvement is really all about.

Oh, sure, you can crawl under your house with a pipe wrench and a prayer in an attempt to fix some leaky plumbing, but that job’ll go a lot easier if you fortify yourself with a couple of brewskis before you enter the spider-infested darkness.

Face it, pal, once you get down there you probably won’t have the slightest idea of what you’re doing anyway, so you might as well do it in a relaxed state of mind.

And if you’re doing some much-needed roof repair, it goes without saying that you need the right tools and the right liquor.

Never, for example, try to reshingle your leaky roof while consuming Yukon Jack or Wild Turkey.

Stick with a well-chilled light beer or an insouciant little chardonnay.

Really. You’re hearing from the voice of experience here, fellow home-improvement fanatics.

Perhaps the most eye-catching multipurpose Stockton business I ran across, however, was the California Street Adult Video and Valentine Headquarters.

Is this a great combination or what?

I guess it’s no big secret that the fastest way to your girlfriend’s heart is presenting her with a colorfully wrapped adult video.

Next to tools, cocktails and tattoos, it’s hard to beat “Debbie Does Dallas” for thoughtful seasonal gift giving.

And this time when your sweetheart says, “Oooooooh, you shouldn’t have!” chances are she really means it…

Originally published March 2, 2003