Black Friday may be the designated shopping day for big box stores, but for downtown Napa’s small businesses, the better day is usually the day after Black Friday, known as Small Business Saturday.
“Usually Black Friday is not a busy day for us,” said Naomi Chamblin, co-owner and manager of Napa Bookmine. Instead, the specials, including 20 percent off new Out Of Print T-shirts, are on Saturday, she said.
“I think bookstores are notorious for having really great small gifts,” Chamblin said. Many of those small gifts cost less than $20. Things like “fun” printed socks are still a big seller, she said.
“We’ve got a lot of new stuff this year,” Chamblin said as she pulled out jewelry and pins made out of old books. In addition to special sales, the bookstore will have multiple booksellers on duty to give advice and recommendations to shoppers.
“This is not the day for us,” echoed Michael Holmes, owner of Ivy, Twig & Twine on Main Street, Friday. “We will see (customers) tomorrow and Sunday.”
Holmes, who has been a business owner in Napa since 1976, said his store really picks up once people start decorating for the holidays. Each season, he said, the store is decked out with creative, decorative pieces. He’s spent this past week putting out holiday decorations, including numerous Christmas tree ornaments, which can be seen hanging all around the store.
Thea Witsil, owner of Wildcat Clothing on Randolph Street, has also spent this week preparing for the holiday shopping season, putting out vintage knick-knacks, kitchenware and barware, and vintage Christmas ornaments.
“The shop is packed and ready, for sure,” Witsil said Friday.
Despite her preparations, Witsil said she expects business on Small Business Saturday to be “fair.”
There have been so many changes downtown – everything from natural disasters to new construction – that sales aren’t reliable or consistent, she said. In general, though, business does pick up during the holiday season.
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“It’s a pretty busy time,” Witsil said. Since two-thirds of her store contains vintage items, she said, it’s important that people come prepared with sizes when shopping for gifts.
“A lot of people come in with their notepads,” she said. It’s great to visit the store and get ideas, but, when it comes to vintage, you may only get one shot. If it’s a one-of-a-kind item, it may be gone the next time you go back, she said.
Small Business Saturday doesn’t have the impact that it used to, said Buelah Cartwright, manager at Inti on First Street.
“We don’t have the foot traffic anymore,” and more people are buying online, she said. “But the locals love this store.”
Although things have slowed down in the past few years, Inti still sells clothing and jewelry year-round to its loyal customers, Cartwright said. Over the holidays, she said, sales of other items – like artwork and housewares – usually picks up.
“We had a great Saturday last week. I almost thought it was (Small Business Saturday) because we did so well,” Cartwright said.
Patricia Trimble Van Til, owner of The Roost on Second Street, expects this Saturday to be better than previous Small Business Saturdays simply because the roads are closing for the annual Christmas parade later.
“Usually they close the streets a lot earlier… (and) we do horrible because the streets are closed,” Trimble Van Til said. This year they will close at 4:30 p.m., she said. “I’m super, super stoked about that.”
Trimble Van Til said despite the hit in sales due to the parade, she enjoys the Napa tradition and even watches with her customers out in front of the store. On Saturday, she said, The Roost will have special sales.
“It should be a good day,” she said. Of the customers who came in on Friday, she said, “Everyone is just really happy.”