Historic Jimtown Store closing December 30, fate remains uncertain

In the heart of Alexander Valley just outside of Healdsburg, the Jimtown Store has been attracting visitors and locals since the 1890's. 

But owner Carrie Brown has announced she is closing this combination cafe and general store on Highway 128. The last day is December 30th.

"It is really bittersweet. This has been an extension of my life and home," Brown says.

Jimtown is the only place in the valley where you can get good food, house wares, toys, antiques or just friendly conversation in one place.

Regulars are equally saddened by the news.

"I used to come here after school, get sodas. Now I stop every morning for coffee. I will miss it. It's a big part of our community for sure," says Robert Young. 

The plight of Jimtown is perhaps a microcosm of the problems small businesses now face in the North Bay.

The owner says the challenges of keeping a business afloat through wildfires, evacuations and now power blackouts is taking a toll. Especially when it is happening during the busiest time of the year. 

"Three years of devastating fires has really pushed it over the edge. The parties we lost that we would be catering. They're not going to reschedule in January or February," Brown said.

There's another huge problem. The high cost of housing makes it difficult to attract workers.

"A lot of housing that could have been for lower income has turned into vacation rentals. That also squeezes people out."

— Carrie Brown

Jimtown started as a general store for agriculture workers in 1893. Brown and her late husband bought it 28 years ago and expanded it.

Now Jimtown is an outpost for those on their way to wine tasting, visitors to the valley, and of course locals.

The owner is hoping to lease the property, or put it up for sale. But there are no guarantees. So the future of Jimtown is very much up-in-the-air right now.