BENTON CITY — When Roy Baldoz moved to the Yakima Valley in the '20s, he couldn't buy land. As a Filipino immigrant, laws prevented it. Baldoz helped spearhead a deal with the Yakama Nation to lease reservation land for people in his community to farm.
Nearly 100 years later, his daughter Mary Baldoz Smith of Prosser is continuing his entrepreneurial and organizational effort by opening Branches & Vines in downtown Benton City. The business started in 2006 on the 175-acre orchard and vineyard in Kiona that Smith owned with her late husband Robert.
Her new store at 713 Ninth St. is now home to the work of many artisans, fresh produce, honey, pickled garlic, sauces, jams and antiques.
"We just wanted a family place for people to come and enjoy the fruits of our labor," said Smith during a grand opening ceremony on Thursday.
The location also provides a permanent home for artists like Maria Shoup of West Richland, who owns Lost & Found Cards, creating handmade cards from vintage photos. Shoup, who usually sells her cards at markets and bazaars appreciates the ability to grow her business through repeat customers and word of mouth.
"A bazaar is kind of a one-shot deal," she said.
The building is owned by the Port of Benton and used to house an auto shop, fire station and fitness center at different times. Now, Benton City Mayor Lloyd Carnahan hopes it will help bolster the local economy.
He said that 4,000 cars pass through downtown Benton City every day, and "we just have to find out how to get them to stop and shop in town."
Opening the store realizes a long-held dream for Smith, but it also continues what her father worked so hard to achieve.
"He was always very strong about helping others and making sure everybody was able to take care of their families," she said. "I think he would be very pleased today."
The store also is co-hosting the Colors of Autumn Harvest Festival with her neighbor Columbia Basin Distributors from 10 a.m. 3 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday at 713 Ninth St.
w Kai-Huei Yau: 585-7205; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @kaieeieei