RIVERBANK -- After 60 years of selling men's clothing in Riverbank, Landon's is closing shop.
"It's the right time," said Stuart Landon, 49, who has run the store for 15 years.
Clothes slashed to a fraction of their original prices were veiled from the autumn morning sun this week as Landon's windows were covered with bright yellow and red paint advertising the family's imminent retirement.
"I'd sell everything if I could," Richard Landon, 81, said of the store and building at 3327 Santa Fe St. in downtown Riverbank.
Richard Landon opened a shop in the Del Rio Theater building in 1947, shortly after returning home from serving in World War II.
The government was selling war supplies cheap. So Landon bought and resold them for a profit. It seemed like an easy way for a 20-year-old to turn a quick buck, he said.
Starting with $174, he made enough profit on war surplus goods to open a men's clothing store and dabble in other things.
Back then, men's clothing stores were common. There were about 50 in the area and five on Modesto's 10th Street alone, Landon said.
"I watched everything change," he said.
Landon has seen Levi's attempt to market lime-colored jeans, go slim on top and wide on bottom, and come out with super baggy pants.
"You're not going to make money on everything," he said.
He's also sold the same classic jeans for 60 years.
"Our customers have long memories," Stuart Landon said. "They'll come in wearing a pair of pants they've had for 20 years and say 'I want another pair of these exact pants.' "
Landon's has maintained a solid customer base even as large department stores carrying similar merchandise moved to town. Stuart Landon said the stores haven't threatened business. Landon's always has offered customer service -- including ordering hard-to-find clothes -- that keeps people coming back, Richard Landon said.
"It's just time to go," Stuart Landon said. "I've got things I want to do.
"Those big stores, they're good. I shop there. I wouldn't say they're a factor in us closing."
The Landons said they have been ready to retire for a while, but other factors helped them decide that now is the right time. It's fall, which is the perfect season to go out of business because people are buying Christmas gifts. Closing now will help them avoid downtown Riverbank renovations, which are scheduled to begin after the rainy season is over.
Landon's closing is a big loss for downtown Riverbank, said Carla Strong, a Riverbank Chamber of Commerce board member.
"It's a definite blow to the downtown redevelopment," she said.
"The more empty spaces there are downtown, the harder it will be to bring people in. Prospective business owners like to see traffic down there."
Strong said she hopes to see another clothing store or something like a Hallmark store there someday.
The Landons said they won't miss the government paperwork that comes with running a store, but will miss their customers.
"I love to hear about people's trips," Stuart Landon said. "They buy here before they go and come back to tell us about it."
Customers hate that the shop is closing, the Landons said.
"The older they are, the more they hate it," Stuart Landon said.
When customers ask where they should shop now, Richard Landon shakes his head.
"I have no idea," he said. "There's no other place like it."
Doug Daniels, who has been shopping at Landon's for 14 years, said he feels as though he is saying goodbye to a piece of Norman Rockwell-esque his- tory.
"I can get everything somewhere else that I can get at Landon's," he said. "It's the personal touch you can't replace."
Richard and Stuart Landon said they hope to be out of the building by the end of January.
Stuart Landon said he will focus on his walnut orchard and try some new ventures. He said he has started investing in stocks.
"It keeps me off the street," he said.
Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2382.