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Baker Street Downtown to Close in Napa: Owner Blames Rent Hike

Brenda Roberts, owner of Baker Street Downtown and president of the Napa Downtown Association, announces that after 26 years in business in Napa, she is "being forced out of business" by new landlord Michael L. Holcomb.

The owner of a prominent downtown Napa gift and cigar shop is fuming over what she says is a nearly fourfold rent increase that will force her to close her doors by early next year.

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Brenda Roberts, proprietor of and president of the , issued an email statement Friday saying she is "being forced out of business" by new landlord Michael L. Holcomb.

"He has informed me of his intentions to raise the rent almost 4 times what I’m paying now and plans to bump out the front of the store to be even with so he can  charge for the extra square footage. This  would eliminate our clients' favorite cigar smoking and socialization area that has become such a part of the culture of downtown Napa,” Roberts wrote.

She has operated the shop at various locations since 1986, said Roberts, explaining that the Baker Street name refers to the London address of fictional sleuth Sherlock Holmes.

"Baker Street Downtown moved to downtown Napa in 2001 after a similar situation happened with their St. Helena location, Baker Street Tobacconist, Clocks and Gifts," she wrote. "The original store, on Jefferson Street next to Burger King, was eventually consolidated into the downtown location," she continued.

"Downtown Napa is moving in a very positive direction, but retail rents like Holcomb is talking about are not conceivable for small businesses to be successful for at least another four years, with the changes that are currently planned," Roberts wrote.

Roberts reported that she and her staff will continue with their popular monthly  events along with inventory clearance sales.

"Everything down to the fixtures will eventually have to go… My pain is going to be their gain,” Roberts wrote.

She said she is "leaving the door open" for another downtown location, but so far has found nothing.

“ I would rather go out not owing money to anyone instead of being bankrupted by rent," Roberts wrote.

"Frankly it is all about our great clients, friends and my staff. It has been a blast being here for them. We’ve had a lot of fun! But it breaks my heart that I will no longer be a part of downtown Napa by early next year. I’ve been doing this for more than half my life!”

Ed Rapp August 22, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Esiuol....Call City Planning and/or Dept that handles County Food Health permits..I'm sure Holcomb is trying to keep this hush hush but it is in the works, guaranteed..
Ed Rapp August 22, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Esiuol..I've been told plans have been submitted to City Planning for Alcohol..They MUST by law tell anyone that inquires..Call them..
Ash Leigh August 22, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Ed, I have tried to call the city on different matters. All you ever get, is a voice mail to leave a message that is rarely even returned. It's not that serious. Just the way you come across, to me anyways, it's a rumor being spat out to stir up some pots.
Renee Cazares August 22, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Ed, these things can never be a secret and the Alcohol Bureau Contol mandates that all businesses serving Wine post a notice on their windows. Once Starbucks is approved then this will happen, just like any business seeking to serve alcohol. :) It is a very clear process in other words, as far as the public will be informed no matter what.
Louisa Hufstader August 23, 2012 at 02:25 AM
You know where there definitely will be wine served? The upcoming Cinemark 12-screen movie theater in south Napa, according to the business folks I met with today. They too need to get their permit when the opening day (11/9) draws nearer. But the plan is to have wine and charcuterie along with soft drinks, popcorn, candy and chicken tenders.

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