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Mary Cervantes

Mary Cervantes is a columnist for the Napa Valley Register.

Are you interested in reviving retail in your business or area?

If so, join us in at the NVC campus in St. Helena on Tues. May 1 from 8:30 to 10 a.m. for a program called Retail Revival.

Hosted by the Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and Napa Valley College, Retail Revival will feature speaker Marc Wilson.

Wilson is a retail strategist and founder of the Virginia SBDC Small Town and Merchant Program.

During his presentation at Retail Revival, Wilson will discuss how to compete in the age of Amazon and be creative in retail when you are digging out of a sales slump or struggling with minimum wage increases and workforce shortages. He will also share practical strategies to help retailers win customers and achieve long-term success.

As a retail strategist, Wilson has visited more than 2,000 communities bringing his retail expertise to small town, independent retailers.

Those visits begin with a review of current financials and an operational checklist that has been completed in advance by the business. He discusses the challenges or opportunities the business is encountering.

Then Wilson reviews the business site, including traffic flow, lighting, signage, curb appeal, merchandising, loss prevention, efficiency and other physical aspects and their contribution to sales.

Finally, recommendations are provided to the retailer. If approved by the business owner, SBDC advisors are present at the one-on-one visit, and they can provide a follow-up visit with the business.

Wilson recognizes that it is truly a group effort that creates a successful commercial or Main Street district.

According to Wilson, individual merchant excellence is the foundation, but all merchants must strive for personal excellence and cooperation with their fellow businesses to create the “fair ground” atmosphere that brings residents and tourists to a town for food, products, and most importantly, excellent experiences and entertainment.

The May 1 Retail Revival workshop in St. Helena is one of five such retail-focused presentations to be held in the North Bay during National Small Business Week (April 29 – May 5).

Programs will also be held on:

  • April 30 at the Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce
  • May 2 at the Doubletree in Rohnert Park
  • May 3 in Ukiah
  • May 4 in Willits

National Small Business Week

Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.

To register

To register for the Retail Revival workshop, go to or the event registration page or call the Napa-Sonoma SBDC at 707-256-7250.

Mary Cervantes is the business services director for Napa Valley College Napa-Sonoma Small Business Development Center. Reach her at 256-7253 or