WHAT: Blue Diamond Almonds Growers Store
WHERE: 4800 Sisk Road, Salida
WHEN: Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
TO GET THERE: Take Highway 99 to the State Route 219 (Kiernan Ave.) exit. Head east and proceed to the light at Sisk Road. Turn right and continue straight until you see the shop on the left side of the street. Parking is free.
MORE INFO: Call (209) 545-3222 or visit www.bluediamond.com.
SALIDA – This will be Carol Anderson’s 25th year at the Blue Diamond Almonds company store in Salida.
That’s 25 years of watching gift baskets fly off the shelves. It’s 25 Christmases seeing the same customers come in and pick up gifts they’ll ship to family members throughout the country. And it’s 25 years of developing close relationships with those that make the popular gift shop a regular part of their shopping cycle.
Each one, she says, has been better than the last.
While it’s by far the most hectic time of the year for the small shop – only five people handle traffic that at times backs up in the small aisles – Anderson says that the atmosphere is always lively and festive when the holidays come around.
“Everybody is just happy this time of year. I like joking with the customers and seeing the smiles,” Anderson said. “We get a lot of repeat customers as well as a lot of new people that are blown away by the variety that we have here.
“I love it when they see everything. It’s the people that make this so great.”
And the people show their thanks with their pocketbooks.
An entire room in the back of the gift shop contains nothing but ornately wrapped bags of varying sizes – each containing an assortment of the flavored and candied almonds that attract the customers to the Salida-based outlet in the first place.
All through the month of December hundreds of cans of flavored almonds – more than 22 are available in the store, not counting the candied varieties – will slide across the counter. Steady streams of customers come through the door regardless of the hour.
It isn’t uncommon, Anderson said, for people to purchase gift baskets as well as individual items that they put together on their own – creating perfect concoctions for friends, families and even entire offices, depending on the size of the gift.
Throwing in top-flight customer service doesn’t hurt either.
“Over the course of 25 years I’ve made such lasting friendships with some of the people that come in,” Anderson said. “People will come in and give me hugs or meet me out on the street to give me a kiss. The customers are wonderful and it only gets better this time of year.”
Blue Diamond Almonds is located at 4800 Sisk Road in Modesto. To get there, take Highway 99 South and get off at the State Route 219 (Kiernan Ave.) exit. Turn left and proceed to the light at Sisk Road. Turn right and continue straight until you see the shop on the left side of the street. Parking is free.
The gift shop is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For additional information visit www.bluediamond.com or call (209) 545-3222.
— JASON CAMPBELL
209 staff reporter