An event bringing the opportunity for shoppers — and wanderers — to visit downtown businesses in Riverbank returned this past weekend, after an absence of nearly 10 years.
Leanne Jones-Cruz, co-owner of the Riverbank Quilt Company, organized what she called a Sip and Stroll event for Saturday, June 24. Several downtown shops remained open between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Volunteers even opened the Riverbank Historical Museum for visitors.
More than 10 years ago, the Downtown Business Association, along with the city and Rio Arts, sponsored several Sip & Stroll events over the course of a few years. A memorable event from that era was the Sweetheart Stroll, in February, which featured a horse-drawn carriage ride around downtown. The DBA group has since merged into a reorganized Chamber of Commerce. And the recession in the middle 2000s saw the demise of the arts group.
Most of the businesses that were open on Saturday also provided a selection of snacks and beverages to beat the heat, although it was nowhere near as hot as it had been earlier in the week in Riverbank.
While Pizza Plus had on hand its usual tasty food fare, there were surprises in other locations along Santa Fe.
Next door to the Quilt Company, which is on the corner of Third and Santa Fe, in the Bordona bank building, the Hitt Club, a boxing gym, featured smoothies, and further down, a new gunsmith shop and museum featured New Zealand beer for those who stopped in.
The shop, officially known as the Kiwi Gun Club, houses that museum, opening soon in the storefront, and a gunsmith workshop in the rear of the building. It is owned and operated by Lyndon Yates, a native New Zealander, hence the Kiwi moniker and the NZ beer.
Yates served years in the New Zealand army, then moved to the U.S. Here he became the official gunsmith for the Modesto Police Department for 16 years, ultimately managing the department’s gun range as well. He has also done some work for the Sheriff’s Department.
After continuing his work out of his garage, Yates, now a Riverbank resident, decided to buy the building he’s in now, moving his shop there and ultimately opening a gun museum in the front.
During the Sip and Stroll, Yates had many of his historic weapons on display for strollers who stopped by his shop.