If you drive down Santa Fe Street into the heart of downtown Riverbank, there is a clothing store that has become an iconic fixture in the Oakdale, Escalon, and Riverbank area for more than 70 years.
Landon’s Men’s and Women’s Wear, which opened in 1947 in the historic Del Rio Theater has been selling fashionable apparel options and accessories, from the rugged Levi brand to classy golf polos and women’s fashions for so long, many are going to miss the convenience of popping into a local store for quality apparel.
The business has had two generations run through it and it has seen the changing of the times with big box stores and now the changing of the retail world from Internet giants such as Amazon and eBay.
Richard D. Landon, the store’s namesake, started his business selling Army and Navy surplus items such as beds, desks, paint, ladders, and tarps. Whatever the military was dismantling, Richard would put up for sale. Landon’s stayed in the theater until 1952 until they moved to where Design’s By Karen is currently located. At that time, Landon’s sold soft goods from 1952 through 1962 and when they moved into the space they are in now in 1972, they expanded the store.
Richard’s son Stuart has been running the business for about 30 years now and has really enjoyed his time in Riverbank and in the clothing business. Stocking the shelves with items that he liked was a benefit to running a store but Stuart made sure to keep an open mind with eye toward trends that would come and go. Stuart joked, one trend he couldn’t quite appreciate was the skinny jean.
“I didn’t really get my head around that too much so I missed some business because I didn’t chase after the kids but they are all going to come back to the standard 501 fit sooner or later it is just too good of a fit,” said Stuart. “I should have perhaps been a little more aggressive but it wasn’t going to affect this decision, when it was time to sell the building, it was time. It was all predicated on that.”
They have outfitted plenty of high school students from Oakdale and Riverbank High School with their custom letterman jackets. This part of the business will continue with a new location at Sara’s Dry Cleaners in Oakdale and a new partnership.
“So all my jackets are heading there (Sara’s),” Stuart shared. “Still they (jackets) are mine but Sara and I are partners to sell them. We are still doing the work here locally. It is a nice partnership. Everyone is happy plus it is right next door to Oakdale High.”
Landon’s has also been in the business of fitting people for tuxedoes or renting them whether they are needed for a wedding, prom, quinceanera or any other formal occasion.
“We will miss the personal interaction,” Stuart said. “It has been fun and a great job. I was able to be a little bit of a renegade wearing shorts to work. I have also been known to have refreshments waiting for a customer. There is so many of these customers that are friends. We have grown and have such a great relationship.”
Downtown Riverbank has seen its share of businesses come and go and Landon’s has had many neighbors that have become close friends like his neighbor Karen whom he said has been a terrific neighbor and really great friend.
The store attempted a closure in 2008 that never happened. This time the doors will close for good and Stuart will never forget the support he has received from the community.
“There was a great deal of support for my Dad when he was both sick and when he passed away, which was really heartfelt from the community,” Stuart said. “They still come in and talk about how he impacted their lives and there were so many local families. It is a legacy that I am really proud of.”
With projects lined up for the rest of the year and an interest in agriculture and wine industry, Stuart will miss the people the most but as he said, “There is still some work left in me to be done.”
Stuart added, “It was a good run. We aren’t going broke, we are just closing.”
The store is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.; and Sundays from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. until the final closure.