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Blackbird of Calistoga the latest store to fly the coop

After almost six years of doing business on Lincoln Avenue, Nancy Putney-Abernathy will close her Blackbird of Calistoga store at the end of March.

The mercantile store has been a mainstay downtown, carrying home goods items like rugs and linens, and also apparel, jewelry, garden, and children’s items.

“It’s a lifestyle store reflecting the outdoors in Napa Valley. It’s a real mix of price points so everyone who comes here could find something. That was my goal,” Putney-Abernathy said.

The store’s closing comes on the heels of several other businesses that have closed in downtown Calistoga in the past year that included Carmel Gallery, Goodman’s, Man’s Supply store, Sugar Train, and restaurants Brannan’s Grill, and Tanit. Also, soon to be closing is Rabbit Rabbit, and Calistoga Depot Trading Company.

Unlike other businesses that have cited reasons such as high rents and low foot traffic, Putney-Abernathy said she has been looking but couldn’t find another suitable space for the business downtown.

The building that houses Blackbird is being sold by owner Joe Seiberlich, and the potential buyer has other plans for the space, Putney-Abernathy said. The building also needs to be seismically retrofitted.

Blackbird has a mailing list of 1,000 customers, and people tell her they come from elsewhere in the Bay area specifically to shop at the store, Putney-Abernathy said. The store also accommodates customers by shipping items.

Still, she believes that shopping on the Internet has had an adverse affect on retail businesses, and the trend now is customers who are looking for “an experience.”

To meet that need, and to contribute to the community, Blackbird has hosted different events throughout the year, including featuring local artist Sequoia Buck’s handmade hats at Halloween, and summertime outdoor chess classes for kids and seniors alike.

The store also features the work of local artists.

Putney-Abernathy’s grandfather was a merchant, and although this was her first retail store, she said she believes, “You have a responsibility (to the town) as a business owner.”

Putney-Abernathy is currently in negotiations to open a similar store in Tiburon, where they have a home and family. She and her husband, Walter Abernathy, who is a member of the planning commission, have always loved the town she said.

If Putney-Abernathy does end up opening a store in Tiburon, she said she’ll call it Blackbird of Calistoga.

You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at csweeney@weeklycalistogan.com or 942-4035.

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The Weekly Calistogan Editor

Cynthia Sweeney has been editor of The Weekly Calistogan since July, 2018. Previously, she was a reporter for the St. Helena Star, and North Bay Business Journal. She also spent a significant amount of time freelancing in Hawaii.

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