Dear Silent Majority: St. Helena is sliding backwards -- a victim of a “thousand tiny cuts.” The latest one is frightening. That little Main Street shop, Rabbit Rabbit, is moving to Calistoga.

Listen to the proprietor’s reason in part: “And with the new hotels and increase in tourism , it seems like Calistoga is going to be the right place to be.”

She doesn’t believe St. Helena can continue to deliver the robust shopping scene that she requires to be successful. She has worked at that location for three similar retail businesses -- so she has seen the decline in St. Helena’s ability to deliver a proper shopper mix and in enough numbers to make businesses work here.

This is more than just losing a retail store -- we are losing a vital part of the balance of our store mix. Every shopping area around the world needs a store where everyone can by those $3.95 items. It’s a must-stop for visitors year round. It has been a source for my Christmas decorations and stocking stuffers year after year.

What’s worse is that we won’t find a replacement for this essential business. The minute potential replacements hear she went to Calistoga, they will also beat it out of St. Helena fast.

And even worse: add Rabbit Rabbit and Foot Candy to the dispirited list of empty storefronts -- totaling around seven or eight now; with two or three more just hanging by a thread until the summer season ends. I’m guessing that when you get to 10 or 12 empty storefronts in a town this small, the slippery slope of more closures gets really steep.

To downtown merchants: you need to get organized and proactive before it’s too late. Call City Council members Peter White, Paul Dohring and Mayor Alan Galbraith to tell them you can’t compete without a proper hotel on Adams Street.

To St. Helena’s Silent Majority: Stay silent at your own peril. To date, you have let a group of naysayers paralyze our city government. Every day, they try to say that they are the majority and must get their way.

But, look at the numbers -- and we win in a landslide – 3,000 to 50. Here are the numbers: In two open meetings regarding a hotel on the Adams Street property we own, about 40 to 50 well-organized naysayer attendees have insisted that they have the majority voice in town on this subject.

Not true. There are some 3,000 registered St. Helena voters who need to call council members to insist on a hotel (by the team with HRV as their presenter -- it’s the only proposal that got it right). I’m betting that 3,000 trumps 50 every time.

Why get involved? 1. We’re broke. 2. St. Helena is now uncompetitive with neighboring towns. 3. We are paying some $30,000 a year in interest on the loan on Adams Street. 4. Our merchant base is starving for the upscale shoppers that a luxe hotel will bring. 5.The naysayers have not proposed any alternative solutions at all. In fact, they are all caught up in stopping a needed hotel instead of doing what’s best for the town.

The HRV proposal will pay us $20 million for the property right now, plus $3 million in annual income to the city. Meanwhile, our opponents’ key stated reason for passing up this treasure is so one of their buddies can walk his dog along the river. Really!

Silent Majority: Haven’t you had enough? It’s time to take back our town. I’m going to try to help by contacting Peter White, Paul Dohring and Alan Galbraith to ask them to lead the majority. Please join me. It’s simple, just email each of them at

Bill Ryan

St. Helena