Progress often brings with it the dregs of society, and within a month of its grand opening,
the shopping center suffered its first major robbery. Thieves hit five merchants in the
shopping center, but if they were counting on taking advantage of a small town police force,
they were soon to be disappointed. The operation was abruptly ended and the perpetrators
arrested by professional and very alert officers of the Tulare Police Department who caught
them red handed.
As the Village tenants prospered, Phil and Iris were tireless in their quest to bring new
enterprise to Tulare, and before the year was over, they added Topps & Trousers clothing
store, Straw Hat Pizza, and Colony Kitchen Restaurants. Town and Country Village was forging
an impressive footprint in the community, and the community showed their appreciation by
flocking to the center to shop and dine.
The City fathers looked at this new growth with a certain amount of trepidation. Prior to
the arrival of Town and Country's impressive cluster of local, regional, and national
retailers, the only evidence in Tulare, of the commercial trends sweeping the nation, was a
walk-up Taco Bell on Tulare Avenue. Even Taco Bell was still a fledgling operation, owned
by founder Glenn Bell and a few family members. Glenn had just split his original 40 shares
of Taco Bell stock in 1969, in a 30,000 to 1 split. Adding to the city’s concerns, now the
Mehans wanted to bring a major discount gas station to their center. After months of
sparing, city planners finally approved plans for a Sav-Mor Gas Station, complete with their
massive trademark flag pole and huge American Flag.
In April of 1974, Charlie Strouse, a minority partner in the shopping center decided to
dissolve the partnership on terms that could mean financial ruin for the venture. Strouse
sued, but eventually settled for a fraction of his initial demands. The Mehans managed to
survive selling half the center to an investor by the name of Karsins, to pay Strouse off,
effectively trading in a 25% partner for 50% partner. Eleven years later, the Mehans paid
off the investor Karsins, while simultaneously maintaining the center in pristine condition,
and surviving numerous changes in small tenants and major anchors.
Over the years, the center has been home to a wide array of enterprise specializing in
everything from wigs to bicycles, a drive up photo-mat, greeting cards, book stores, a candy
shop, furniture stores, auto parts, numerous clothing stores and restaurants and much more.
When W.T. Grants Department Store went out of business, K-Mart took their place, and in a
bold move, Phil and Iris rolled up their sleeves and added five more stores along Prosperity
Avenue, adjacent to Thrifty Drugs. In December of 1976, Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors, a Donut
shop, and Ernie's Liquor moved into three of the newly constructed stores.
Springtime in The Village
Over the next decade, it was business as usual with many tenants coming and going. Some
outgrew the space they rented, while others were bought or sold, or went out of business
altogether. A few, like Revelation Dress Shop, just retired and closed their doors after
long successful careers as retail merchants. Still others were victims of changing trends
in the market place, such as video stores and photo processing centers that have been
replaced by more modern products, or market shares that were absorbed by big-box stores.
When Sav-Mor Gas moved out in June of 1986, the Mehans cleared the site and erected an
additional eight store retail complex, bringing the center to its near present day
footprint, other than ongoing landscape improvements, outdoor patios and pavilions, and a
few remodels and small additions to existing structures.
January of 1987, the center once again narrowly escaped disaster when the infamous John Orr,
a Glendale fire investigator turned arsonist, tried to burn the place down. Each evening
prior to leaving, Phil and Iris would drive around the center and through the back alley
checking everything out. One evening, Phil spotted a car in the back that sped off as they
approached. On investigation, they discovered several pallets placed in a hallway leading
into the rear of Family Bargain Center. The pallets had been doused with gasoline and set
afire. They managed to contain the fire until the fire department arrived, and saved the
Like the buildings and grounds, the center's name has also been renovated to more modern
standards. A few years back, the Mehans dropped "Town & Country," in favor of calling
their prized property simply, "The Village." Whatever its name, if you didn’t know the
history of The Village, you would never believe it's nearly forty years old. The grounds are
landscaped and groomed, and the buildings and parking area maintained in condition on par
with new shopping centers in the area. This is no accident, and is of great credit to Phil
and Iris, who have reinvested their money and countless hours providing Tulare with an
attractive and economically healthy business, professional, and shopping environment. Phil
and Iris have received numerous awards in recognition of their contributions to the
The latest major additions to The Village, are Vallarta Supermarkets and Fallas Paredes
Department Store. Phil and Iris, as well as Village tenants and the community at
large, are welcoming these two great businesses to Tulare with open arms. Vallarta and Fallas
are among the most energetic and dynamic retail establishments in California today,
bringing low prices and convenience of big box stores, with the service and home town
friendliness we miss so much in other large, well stocked stores.
Please feel free to browse our website, and be sure and click on “the village” tab above to
see a complete current list of The Village's stores, restaurants, and so much more.