California’s current battles with wildfires, the housing crisis, and access to transportation claimed another victim in 2020. On December 30, Sonoma County’s legendary Jimtown Store closed their doors for the last time and stopped operation.
The Jimtown Store
Located in the Alexander Valley just outside of Heraldsberg, the Jimtown Store was a wine country institution for over a century.
However, the Store, as most know it, is the work of Carrie Brown. In 1989, she and her husband John Werner, a veteran of NYC’s iconic Silver Palate, purchased the then-abandoned general store, remodeled it, and then reopened as a country store and cafe.
The menu, populated largely by soups and salads, was a hit with locals and tourists alike. As wine tourism flourished, so did Jimtown. A packaged condiment line and cookbook soon followed.
Sadly, the condiment line is also ending. “The popular extension of our brand for wholesale throughout the west coast has lost its manufacturing facility,” explained Brown in a statement. “I haven’t been able to find a viable home to make it and this is another contributing factor to closing.”
Wildfires And The Housing Crisis
Brown said that “many factors” contributed to the closure, but singled out the Tubbs, Kinkade, Mendocino Complex, Camp, and Atlas wildfires as the largest contributor. Although, the store escaped direct damage, the associated power outages and evacuations took their toll.
“The rising expense of running a business to the loss of income at prime season due to the fires of the past 3 years have tipped the balance,” explained her farewell statement.
The closing was also attributed to a couple other hot-button issues in the west, housing and public transit.
“The reality is that the lack of local transportation and affordable housing nearby has made it nearly impossible to hire and retain qualified people,” stated Brown. “The Jimtown team is incredibly hardworking and loyal, yet without access to more people who can work, we are challenged to grow and be successful.”
The Property’s Future
Brown clearly loves the concept of the store. While she does not have a set plan for the future, she noted that she is open to a new operator taking over the space.
“Jimtown Store is once again a prime opportunity for reinvention,” she declared. “I hope to find a leasee or buyer with a deep commitment to the community, someone who would like to create the next vision for this iconic place.”
Brown, herself, lives on the property. She added that her personal plans are also uncertain. “What’s next? I don’t have a succession plan. I would like to stay in my chosen community but honestly, it’s now time for me to move forward.”