By Linda Bausch
For quite a few years, especially since we lost the Safeway at Jefferson and Clay Streets, if you were downtown Napa, had a headache and needed medicine, a band aid, a toothbrush, deodorant or throat lozenges—or if you wanted organic milk or a fresh baked loaf of bread, local honey or cheese, all in the same place, you’d have been pretty much out of luck. A trip to another neighborhood all together would be required to find the most basic items. All that changed March 10, when Napa locals Pat and Chrissy Jeffries, opened the doors to Jeffries General at 1416 Second Street, adding another dimension to the hometown ambiance they remember from their childhoods. In the background, a large, black and white picture of Bill Murray, peeking from behind a spray of branches, sets a playful mood.
Thanks to an unexpected job loss this past August and Chrissy’s entrepreneurial spirit, we can all now find the necessary sundries in downtown Napa. I asked Chrissy, “What was your impetus to open the store? Why now? How easy or difficult was the process?” She told me that she and Pat had long recognized the need for a neighborhood store downtown. Born and bred Napa locals, they attended opposite high schools and met ten years ago, marrying in 2014. They have a deep connection with the community. Both are committed to the greater good ... their wedding promise to each other confirmed that devotion, as they vowed to, “Help, rescue, and save animals, people, and all who have been neglected.” That answered the why.
Chrissy continued with the how. Like so many others during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was laid off from her job as a Tasting Room Manager last August. She knew this was the time for the couple to strike out on their own. Two days later, Chrissy attended a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) business workshop with Michael Basayne. Considering my experience as a writer, telling the story of free SCORE (Senior Core of Retired Executives) counseling in Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine (June 2018), I was reminded of my own SBDC experience with Carolynne Gamble, and many others in Napa and Santa Rosa, including Michael Basayne. Chrissy was speaking my language. She said Michael had the answers to her questions and guided the Jeffries throughout the entire process. Knowing what I know about the SBDC assistance programs, and Jeffries General opening date less than seven months later, I’d call this another SBDC success story.
The Jeffries didn’t set out solely for personal gain; they intend to lift and help carry as many other artists, local food producers, jewelers, candle makers and the like along in their journey. When you have a platform to highlight the work of others, you may as well use that to everyone’s best advantage. High-quality essentials, gift items, and daily needs can now be met within walking distance downtown. Some of the jewelry on display comes from local makers, and some ‘found items’ artifacts from India come through a contact Chrissy met more than twenty years ago when she was in retail at Crate and Barrel. That person is now an importer of international goods, supplying Chrissy’s downtown Napa shop. You never know where a connection may lead. If not now, there’s always the future. You just never know.
Fresh from the farm...
Local, organic milk chilling in glass bottles and other dairy items such as butter, yogurt, and chocolate milk from Straus Family Creamery are found on the shelves of the gleaming, cooler cases. Cartons of eggs are fresh from Taramasso Ranch on Old Sonoma Road in Napa. You’ll also find a variety of cheeses, dried salami and meats, nuts, and other condiments to prepare your own charcuterie board for an outdoor picnic or evening snacks at home.
Fresh from the bakery...
Breads are delivered fresh from the ovens of artisan bakers on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday mornings. Kyle Kuehner of West Won Bread, is baking sumptuous breads for Jeffries General, as well as, at their storefront at 1800 A Soscol Avenue in Napa, Wednesday through Sunday. Eleven varieties of bread are available. The menu features a variety of sandwiches, a very creative take on a banana split, fresh-brewed coffee, beverages, and on the weekends—a Cheese Box with olives, fruit, nuts, and four cheeses, an epi or baguette for purchase. Buttered Toast and Coffee is $5. (Their classic and creative bread menu, with ingredients listed, can be found online at westwonbread.com)
Also living up to doing for others is Fancy Savage Cuisine’s Chef JD Kammes. Aside from his successful catering business and bread baking, he adds to the good being passed on with a new partnership with the St. Helena Food Bank, delivering a fresh baked loaf of organic, sourdough bread for every family who uses the food bank each week. It is a simple, nourishing gesture of love that will make a difference on the table of our neighbors. You can help Chef JD with this effort by contributing through Venmo donations - #bread4people. Nothing would make Pat and Chrissy happier.
Merchandise at Jeffries General will rotate seasonally and as holidays come and go. Items from near and far will fill the shelves. If you haven’t discovered the shop yet, be sure to stop in. You’ll find something fun or whimsical for that special someone in your life. Newer items showcased at the store are from Love & Light Candles, locally made, using cheese molds as forms. Napa Valley Candle Company is another family owned and operated business happy to be included at Jeffries General.
Pat and Chrissy are busier than most people I know. Jeffries General is open every day. Team work keeps them on track with Pat opening the shop, setting up the signage outdoors—while Chrissy begins her work day as self-proclaimed “Shopgirl” at 8:00 a.m. sharp. Pat goes onto his busy day job at Robert Biale Vineyards, returning to close shop with Chrissy each evening. Their at-home hours are filled with aromas of Pat’s cooking as he does double duty perusing his latest, super-sized paintings on wall-high easels in the dining room, across the open floorplan. Chrissy mentions to me that a pan of water or two has boiled away while Pat tweaks a colorful dog portrait or other commissioned artwork. An artist will get lost in the subject—even when the pasta is on. Pat’s stylistic oil paintings of people and pets resonate with emotion and energy. The prolific results announce a fierce desire to create. Chrissy enjoys entertaining with family and friends as often as possible, spreading warmth, kindness and a welcoming atmosphere. Everyone who knows the Jeffries speak of them in high esteem, good deeds have not gone unnoticed. From fostering children in need, to making sure we can buy a toothbrush downtown, they nurture us with love and sundries, seven days a week.