With redevelopment projects along the Napa River and the buzz created by the Oxbow Market, you would think that all is joy among Napa businesses, restaurants, and lodging establishments. Not so. The last few weeks have not brought good news to the city of Napa.
Copia continues to have its share of financial problems. Copia recently announced layoffs and surprisingly their winter hours leave Copia open only on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The Copia store and Julie’s Kitchen restaurant remain open on a daily basis. We stated in a blog post a year ago that on our last visit to Copia we felt that the exhibits were sparse and not very compelling. The most interesting area to us was the vegetable garden and now we hear that the garden plot might be up for sale to shore up Copia’s financing. You would think that with the addition of the Oxbow Market next door, Copia would see an increase in visitors. Apparently, that has not happened.
The tourist office in the downtown shopping center known as the Napa Town Center has been the scene of some strange happenings. Apparently, the Napa Valley Destination Center, formally the Napa Valley Conference and Visitors Bureau, decided to close the popular tourist office at 1310 Town Center. The Napa Association of Downtown Merchants was outraged at this development and staged what many are calling a “coup.” The merchants stepped in and are keeping the tourist office open at least for the next few months. We have been in the tourist office many times and have always been impressed by the information given to tourist by the centers staff.
The Town Center has been looking shabby the last couple of years with a worn out look and badly in need of a facelift. Now there is more bad news as Mervyn’s has announced that by the end of December they will close all their stores. The Mervyn’s in the Town Center is the anchor store and occupies a huge space. One has to wonder if they will find tenants to fill this space.
Lastly, no one really knows yet what effect the economy will have on tourists spending time and money in Napa and the Napa Valley. Most businesses in the Napa area appear to be optimistic at this point and say they have not noticed a downturn or expect one. The reality is that this major economic downturn is certain to have some impact on the wine tourism and the wine industry. The ripple effect will come and we suspect that there will be fewer people coming to Napa and, when they do come, spending less.