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Friday Night Wine Downs

12 Oct

Photo: Caitlin Ryan


The wine is poured, the food is on the table and the children are playing in the backyard. The work week is over and the residents of Fern Drive are ready to Wine Down.

What was once a street full of strangers and passing acquaintances became a tight-knit neighborhood after K.D. Molnar introduced the idea of starting monthly Friday Night Wine Downs and last weekend, Fern Drive residents celebrated their 20th event.

“I thought, what do we all have in common? Everybody likes wine, right? Who doesn’t like to wind down after a long week?,” said Molnar, who was nicknamed Julie McCoy, after the cruise director from the Love Boat television series, for her ability to bring the neighborhood together.

“It started out with a bang and it’s been going ever since. I think the thing that is so special about it is that it’s a family thing. It’s not get a babysitter, it’s not we all have to get in the car and get all fancied up. Everyone walks down the street,” said Molnar.

The Wine Down idea evolved out of Molnar’s family’s annual Donut Day, where friends and families met at her parent’s home to socialize and eat. When Molnar moved to Fern Drive, she knew it was the place she would live in for the rest of her life and wanted to find a way to get to know her neighbors. She decided to host her own Donut Day.

“I’m a graphic designer so I printed out post cards and told my story of why we’re doing this Donut Day and I’m sure people were like what is she trying to sell? Insurance or Tupperware or Amway? Why is she offering us free donuts on a Sunday?” said Molnar.

But several neighbors did show up and by the time Molnar came up with the Wine Down idea, she had ten families to send invites to.

“Whenever I tell anyone about it they’re like, ‘oh, I want to live in your neighborhood! I want to wine down!’ And I tell them: start one! You just have to get a group of people together that are willing to come together once a month.”

There is also a ‘wine fairy’ amongst the group, whose identity is unknown, that drops off personalized, hand-painted Lolita wine glasses on unsuspecting neighbor’s doors. Eight women have received the glasses, which have different sayings painted on them, such as ‘social butterfly’, ‘aged to perfection’, and ‘it’s five-o’clock somewhere.’

Many of the families on Fern Drive credit their friendships to the wine down gatherings and have become a source of support for each other. The moms arrange play-dates, or ‘mom swaps’, where they take turns watching each other’s kids, and some have started walking groups. Some families vacation together and others do business with one another. And when one of the neighbors announced he was battling throat cancer, everyone rallied together to help his family in anyway they could.

Molnar insists that anyone can turn their street into a community if they find something to bring everyone together, whether it be a Wine Down, a book club or a Bunco Night. She encourages anyone interested in starting their own Wine Down to email her at for guidance.

Originally published at  Fullerton Stories


The Thackers Call It A Day

30 Sep

Photo: Alexandra Andersen

For thirty-three years the Thackers have been framing Fullerton’s art, but their mom-and-pop style of customer service has become an art-form in itself. 

They don’t require deposits, they’ve only thought about getting a website, and they rely on word of mouth to fill their framing shop with customers.

And they don’t call them customers.

“We call them patrons because they have supported us all these years. Artists exist because of the patrons that believed in them,” said Jim Thacker.

Ann Thacker studied and taught art, and Jim Thacker had a background in retail merchandising and business. So in 1978, when the a framing and art supply store in the French Village Shopping Center of Downtown Fullerton was for sale, the couple eagerly went into business.

Three years later, they moved their location to 118 E. Amerige and added a small art gallery. But just a year after the shop opened its doors, a drunk driver crashed into their store-front windows, dragging a fire-hydrant with him, and the shop flooded.

“We were calling our neighbors, our church friends, and we were asking everyone to help us take things outside because of the water. But, we were open for business the next day,” said Ann. “That’s what happens when you have a family-owned business.”

The shop became the Village Art Center Custom Picture Framing and Art Gallery in 1993 when the Thackers moved to their third and final location at 529 Harbor Blvd. 

Photo: Alexandra Andersen

Through their decades of business in Fullerton, the Thackers have established a strong presence in the community. They created lasting accounts through relationships with Fullerton College, Biola University, and Beckman Instruments, among others and were involved in the Night in Fullerton event for 12 years.

Their gallery features local artists and has been a stop on the Downtown Fullerton Art Walk since it started last year. However, after much deliberation, the Thackers have decided it’s time to hand over the keys of the Village Art Center to a new owner and prepare for retirement.

“We’re so glad to be able to see the business continue. It would be so sad to lock it up and have the Village Art Center disappear because it’s such a part of Fullerton,” said Jim.

“We’re going to miss the customers because they’re like family to us. We’ve been talking about it for a while though and they’ll come in and say, ‘Oh, you’re still here?’” said Ann.

Alex Ahn, who formerly owned the A J Frame and Art Gallery in Anaheim Hills, has been in business for 10 years and will take over the Village Art Center.

“We know Alex will put his thumbprint on it and he’ll fill another niche. He’s followed trends because the business has become very mechanized but we’re craftsman, and we’re doing it the way it’s always been done,” said Jim.

The Thackers plan to travel and take up square dancing after they officially retire on October 31.

“I’ve always told my customers I want to see Venice before it sinks and maybe see an opera in Paris,” said Jim. “When our kids were little, we’d close up the shop for a week in the summer and put up a sign. No one made a fuss about it, but once the kids grew up we took fewer vacations.”

To say goodbye to their loyal customers and introduce Ahn, the Thackers are holding an open house next weekend which will coincide with the monthly Art Walk. The Village Art Center open house will be open from 6 P.M. to 10 P.M. on Friday and 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. on Saturday

Originally published at Fullerton Stories

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