Is Apple, perhaps the coolest retailer in America, looking to open a store in Napa?
The rumor has been floating around town for some time. To add fuel to the fire, the maker of the iPhone and other popular products recently advertised job listings for a supposed Napa location.
Visitors to the Apple jobs website will find 13 retail jobs listed as available in Napa. They include manager, business leader, business manager, business specialist, genius, inventory specialist and store leader.
While one column specifically notes Napa as the location for those jobs, another column is more vague. It lists the job locations as “various.”
A spokeswoman for Apple would not explain where any retail store could be located in Napa, when it might open or why the job listings for Napa were posted now.
“We have made no announcements about a store in that location,” said Apple spokeswoman Michaela Wilkinson.
In 2012, the Shops at Napa Center developer Todd Zapolski said he had been in talks to sign Apple as a tenant in the former Town Center. Today, those talks are dormant, Zapolski said last week.
“We are far from any serious discussions,” he said. However, “what we have heard from them is that they see the benefit of Napa.”
Zapolski said he feels the Shops at Napa Center is the best location for an Apple store. But even if they do select another location in town, “it’s a further endorsement of the Napa area. We all benefit from good progress.”
“They’d be an awesome tenant for Napa,” said Robin Klingbeil, Napa Economic Development project coordinator. Klingbeil said she knows that some Napa property owners have been talking with Apple, but “I haven’t heard anything definitive in terms of an exact location.”
“We’ve heard they are interested. As far as where, I’m not aware,” she said.
Apple is a very popular store that serves a variety of demographics, she noted. “They are also very profitable” and “tend to draw other popular retailers that want to be in the same location,” she said.
“It would be a tragedy not to have an Apple store in downtown Napa,” said Joe Fischer of the Gasser Foundation.
Even though Gasser plans to offer retail space for lease next to the new Cinemark theater, downtown is the core of Napa, and therefore the best place for an Apple retail store, Fischer said.
“Many retailers don’t recognize the buying power that comes to this valley,” Fischer said. Many of those people center their visits in downtown Napa, he noted.
Apple has not signed any lease for retail space at the new Cinemark theater complex, Fischer added.
The iPhone maker hasn’t signed a lease for either Napa Crossings North or the future Napa Crossings South development, said Elisa Raygoza, director of development for Pacific Properties.
“That tenant is not going in either of our north or south centers,” she said in an email.
A representative for Bel Aire Plaza could not be reached for comment for this story on Friday.
Developer Keith Rogal has been working with a team to find new tenants for inside the former Copia building at 500 First St., but Apple hasn’t signed a lease at that location, Rogal said.
“We’d be delighted to do so, but we have not,” he said.
An Apple store would be a boon to any location in Napa, Rogal said. “They are a huge economic engine.”
Is Napa ready for a retailer like Apple?
“Absolutely,” he said. “Napa is ready for anything.”