It all started with custom framing and over the decades, has mushroomed into Oakhurst Giftworks simply because there was extra space to fill.
Over the July 4th weekend in 1982, the shop moved into the newly rebuilt Raintree building on Road 426 after a fire destroyed the original two-story structure at that same location.
“In the beginning, the frame shop took up most of the space of that first suite, but there was some space left over so I began taking in handcrafted items from different locals, and it kind of blew up into this,” Graham said with her arms outstretched as she quickly surveyed the 6,000 square feet of gifts and antiques.
Initially, the second suite of the building was rented out to antique dealers, the third was occupied by Radio Shack, and the fourth occupant was Kathy Rainey’s Mode O Day Clothing.
As the years went by, Radio Shack moved to Highway 49, and Graham’s husband of 40 years, Randy, along with life-long friends Don Cram and Jim Perry removed walls for business expansion. Once the clothing shop closed, the framing business moved into the fourth suite, until relocating to its final location near the Sierra Star, where Randy continues to offer custom framing.
And so, for the last 20 years, Oakhurst Giftworks, now with three part-time employees, has occupied the entire building.
Hannah Noonkester has worked there a year. “I like the atmosphere and helping the customers who come in. It’s really fun, especially at Christmas.”
“It’s such a great shop with so much cool stuff,” said Beverly Sterrett, who stopped in for the first time while vacationing from Florida. “I especially love the antiques and all the possible souvenirs ... but I can only take so much back with me.”
The Welcome to Oakhurst banner dotted with California poppies strung across the store front is an attraction for tourists who stop to shop and take photos under the colorful sign.
The Graham’s oldest child, Annie, born in 1983, spent the first year of life in a small nursery set up in the back of the frame shop. Annie now works for the college system in Clovis, and her younger brother, Casey, born in 1986, is a salesman for JD Foods. Sue is also the grandmother to Bettie Sue, born last November.
“I’m working on a second generation,” Graham said. “Children who grew up here are now second generation shoppers. Parents come in saying they used to play in the same play pen we have in the shop, and I think, ‘holy smokes. How can you be that old when I haven’t aged?’”
Graham is past president of Soroptimist, is a member of Kiwanis International, supporter of HOW, a member of LaSierra Guild of Valley Children’s, and frequently joins committees to bring events to the area.
“Giftworks and Frameworks are an integral part of the fabric of Oakhurst businesses,” Graham continued. “Randy and I both believe in serving our community.”
Graham would be hard pressed to pick a favorite area in the shop, given all the items thoughtfully and carefully displayed.
“Whatever catches our eye, in it comes,” she said. “Fishing gifts, locally made knives and barbecue tools, just a few of the things for guys ... soaps, lotions, fairy dust, scarves and accessories ... candles and scents for every room ... scrapbooking items ... kitcheny kitsch ... chimes and fairy cuties for the garden. Plus six dealers bring in a wide variety of eclectic collectibles and antiques. We thank all our customers and friends for their loyal support. The best thing about being in business in Oakhurst is the customers ... and we thank you all.”
Oakhurst Giftworks is located at 49027 Road 426, in Oakhurst (559) 683-7845.