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Craig Smith

Craig Smith is the executive director of the Downtown Napa Association.

J.L. Sousa/Register

There’s an old joke that people open their own businesses because they are otherwise unemployable.

That maybe true for some, but not for Naomi Chamblin and her husband Eric Hagyard. They’re owners of Napa Bookmine, located at 964 Pearl St. for almost five years and in the Oxbow Market for the past two.

Hagyard is a successful wine maker and Chamblin was a respected school teacher before opening the first store. For them, owning a business is an opportunity to more fully live their values.

“Our philosophy is fairly straightforward. Reading is a way to slow down and think deeply in this fast-paced life. Also, we also value ‘community’ above just about everything. Both stores are all about Napans, bringing people downtown, and inspiring Napa to be a city of readers.”

Chamblin grew up working in her father’s bookstore in Jacksonville, Florida.

She taught at an elementary school in the Napa Valley and during her fourth year opened Napa Bookmine.

“I loved teaching, but some days the only people I talked to outside of the classroom were in the grocery store. Here at Bookmine, I love connecting with people, helping them find a perfect book, or just doing my part to share compassion and kindness with anyone who walks through the door.”

That’s a sentiment echoed by customers and employees alike, including Michelle Dickson, who is now the bookkeeper for the businesses.

“I was so excited about this store opening and that Napa was going to have a homey, comfortable bookstore that I joined the online campaign to help get it started,” she said.

Dickson was a regular customer at Napa Bookmine from the start, befriending Chamblin and Hagyard right away.

Elayna Trucker, lead buyer and operations manager, was part of the opening team, left for two years, and is back on staff.

“I get to be part of a dynamic team that works closely together, and I run into our customers all over town, which is wonderful.”

Chamblin says that the connection to people is lost when folks shop online. “It’s boring and tedious.” She senses that many people in Napa don’t know how many Napan-owned businesses are in downtown.

“This is a great place to park the car and explore your own backyard. Start at the Oxbow, and walk around from there.”

In addition to connecting with people, independently owned businesses appeal to Chamblin because of their unique inventory and how responsive to customer requests they can be.

“It is grounding and uplifting to frequent a shop or restaurant where you know the staff and they know you. Our staff rarely changes, and I think the level of service you get here reflects that experience and passion.”

This is a big year for Napa Bookmine.

“We have free author events scheduled all year, and will celebrate our fifth anniversary. Come by—there is something here for everyone.”

Both shops are open daily. Visit Napabookmine.com or 733-3199.

See you downtown!

Craig Smith is the executive director of the Downtown Napa Association. Reach him at 257-0322 or craig@donapa.com.

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