By Tony Lopez

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — There is a new approach to bringing back crowds to Old Sacramento.

Without a doubt, that historic district has been one of the hardest-hit areas in the last two years, but it’s determined to bounce back from a pandemic punch in the gut.

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Businesses hope live music and a monthly sip-and-shop wine walk will bring customers back to the area.

“We love it, itgives us something to do on a Wednesday night,” one woman said.

“I was just excited to get out, get fresh air sip wine and shop,” another woman said.

Kevin Robinson bicycle store is one of the historic district’s newest businesses. It opened just one month ago.

“Where I would like to see improvement is local people coming down during the week after work, during their workday, on their lunch break,” he said.

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Many of these merchants cater to the tourist industry and were hit hard by the pandemic.

And the area has suffered a number of crimes, including a rash of retail thefts that prompted one long-time business to permanently close up shop and a shootout on the waterfront last summer that left two people dead and four others injured.

So how is the City of Sacramento helping Old Sacramento businesses? City leaders are spending $5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding to help improve the area, with most of the money going toward better security including additional surveillance cameras and more outdoor lighting.

Many customers like these efforts to glam up this Gold Rush-era destination.

“I think that’s absolutely necessary. More lighting would definitely be great,” one Old Sacramento visitor said. “It’d be nice to see a bit of a safer presence because that’s what we want to come down here.”

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If you’d like to cruise the cobblestone streets with a little vino, the wine walk is free to those over 21 years old and takes place the last Wednesday of each month.