By Craig Smith
For the first time in at least thirty years, the Napa Christmas Parade will take place on December 10th, the second Saturday in December, as opposed to the traditional Saturday after Thanksgiving. Fifteen years ago, the parade became a nighttime event, and attendance has increased dramatically since then and continues to grow. In order to keep it a safe event, the parade now requires close to 100 volunteers, and while Napans have always been willing to step up and help, that kind of support is hard to muster over a holiday weekend.
On the plus side, the change in date also means that downtown businesses will finally have the chance to fully participate in Small Business Saturday, a nationwide event that began in 2010 in response to the recession that took a major hit on small businesses.
Second Street is hardest hit when streets are closed for the parade. Lots of streets are involved and the closure process takes hours. There is logic to which streets are barricaded first, so that no cars find themselves boxed in, and the pattern means that Second Street is among the first blocked, always shortly after noon – a full five hours before the parade starts. “Once the streets are closed, our businesses really slow down. None of us have ever complained. We support the parade as much as anybody and love that it starts down Second Street. But financially, it’s a hardship,” said Chrissy Jeffries, who with her husband Pat owns Jeffries General at 1462 Second Street, between Franklin and School. “We’ve all suffered in silence for years,” said Chrissy, with a smile. “We love the parade and wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize it, but we are thrilled that we can be part of Small Business Saturday, and will be offering a lot of specials to make it worth our customers’ while.”
“Our plan for Small Business Saturday is to have extended hours and offer in-store specials for the day at every shop on our block.” Those offers will vary from store-to-store. The stores currently making the offer are between School and Franklin Streets. Park once and take advantage of all.
Erin Riley, owner of Be Bubbly will extend ‘Member for a Day’ benefits to everyone on December 10th. “Moving the parade gives us the best of both worlds,” she said. “We’ve only been here for one parade (COVID closed what would have been her second) and it was a delight for us. It’s a great gathering time for locals, and has a real small-town feel. We’re such a local street, with all the business being small and locally owned, that it fits us perfectly.” Across the street neighbor Jeffries General will offer 15% off any item that day, along with a $20 off coupon that can be used in January.
Muguette Rinaldi, who owns Muguette Renee Boutique at 1409 Second Street, has been in business for six years, which means that this year, she’ll be enjoying her sixth parade in front of her store. “We love the parade because it’s such a festive community event. It’s a way of ringing in the season,” she said. “We don’t really care when it is, and will support it any way we can.” In honor of Small Business Saturday, Muguette will offer all downtown shoppers 15% off any one item. B12 Love Lounge will discount injections and IVs. To round it off, Gamling McDuck and Benevolent Neglect, the two wine tasting rooms on the block, will be knocking 15% off the price of a wine tasting. “We love this community, and this is a good way for us to express that,” said Adam McClary of Gamling McDuck. Benevolent Neglect is the newest business on the block, having opened their tasting room at the end of October. “We are already so excited about being part of this block of businesses. What a great way for us to say hello to all our Napa friends,” said Ben Brenner of Benevolent.
If all of this isn’t enough, customers can pick up a Small Business Saturday game card, which will have the names of all participating Second Street shops - visit at least five, get a stamp, and turn in your filled card. One lucky shopper will receive a fabulous gift basket filled with wine, merchandise and snacks.
Change can be hard, but the change of the parade date has two definite upsides, and the Downtown Napa Association (DNA) loves how this is all turning out. “We’ve organized and hosted the parade for the past twenty-six years,” said Connie Anderson, president of the DNA board and publisher of the Napa Valley Marketplace. “Now the parade will go on, and our merchants can benefit from Small Business Saturday as well. One of those rare, true win-win situations.”