Jill Brandt, who owns the Napa General Store with her husband Jim, describes their business as a “lifestyle store and community gathering place” that includes a restaurant and wine shop with a tasting bar.
“It’s a social place for both casual and serious discussions,” she added. The store has been serving the local community for more than 15 years.
Brandt took a course at Alumni Resources in San Francisco, where she had to write a business plan for one assignment.
The teacher recognized that nothing like Brandt described existed in Napa, and knew just the place for it. She introduced Brandt to Harry Price, who was developing the old Napa Mill.
Price liked Brandt’s idea and encouraged her to open a shop. Brandt was interested, and wanted to lease a couple hundred square feet.
In the end, Price encouraged her to take several thousand square feet, from the front of the building to the river. Brandt knew that, if she was going to do this, she needed Jim’s help. Fortunately, he was completely on board.
Price figured the store would be a tourist destination. Brandt disagreed. “No,” Jill said, “this is where locals will come.”
They’ve not only come, they’ve embraced the store as their own. Brandt said many regulars bring their family and friends in as a part of the “Napa tour.” It’s a point of pride for the Brandts as locals helped them through early tough times.
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