2013 Small Business of the Year – Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

2013 Small Business of the Year by the Napa Chamber of Commerce

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By Evy Warshawski

16 Years and Counting…

Meet Connie Anderson, co-founder, owner and publisher of Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine. For the past 16 years, she’s embraced that frenetic pace with pride in her product, an innate sense of humor and her heartfelt love of community. And, others have taken notice.  Marketplace has been honored as the 2013 “Small Business of the Year” by the Napa Chamber of Commerce.  No small feat for someone who, despite a high school award for yearbook layout, had little interest in graphic design or journalism at the time.

“I was a business, marketing and numbers person,” Connie explained, “but after I moved to Napa in 1989, I got a cute little Mac that looked like a toaster.  I took up desktop publishing and got the job of laying out the first KVON/KVYN, ‘Best of Napa Valley’ publication in 1993 working with George Carl.  Magazines just took off from there.”

Digging her heals in with that infamous “can do” smile, Connie, together with partner Deborah Stevens who ran the Contra Costa Marketplace, began her startup in ways similar to many small business entrepreneurs:  by doing everything!  From graphics to editorials, bookkeeping and occasionally cleaning windows, her philosophy from day one was simple:  “Be fair, honest and give good customer service, regardless of your business,” she advised.  “Take the high road when there is a question, and go with your gut feelings.  This has always served me well.” The partnership has split up and Deborah has since taken the Contra Costa Magazine and Connie has kept the Napa one.  Connie highly credits her staff for their work and dedication.

Marketplace, considered a “must read” by locals, is mailed gratis each month to over 42,000 homes and businesses throughout the Napa Valley and is supported by advertising.  Ten-year veteran, Marketplace sales executive, Mary Beth Herman, came to her position without an iota of media experience.  “Connie was kind enough to take a chance on me,” she mused.

Describing her role as that of “bartender psychologist,” Mary Beth is proud of the reputation that Marketplace has in the community.  “I truly enjoy meeting with people, developing rapport and, ultimately, friendships,” she said.   “I view my job as helping people be successful and sometimes that means helping them with advertising, but
not always.”

“Connie is a great person as well as a fabulous manager,” praised Mary Beth, “And, she has taught me so much about being successful in business.    She has the ability to step back and assess the situation before making a decision.  I am much more reactive.”

Statistics confirm that only one in ten new magazines
survive the rough waters of publication and public acceptance.  From its inception, the local success of Marketplace reflects Anderson’s strong priority to “give back” to
the community.

“This is an area I am most proud of,” Connie beams.
“We are supporters and sponsors of countless nonprofit organizations, the performing arts, Downtown Napa,
service clubs, the Queen of the Valley Foundation, the Chambers of Commerce, Grad Night, and so much more,
by donating space in the magazine each month.”

Sherrell Harper, local artist and arts advocate concurs:
“Marketplace and its wonderful employees regularly donate their time and energy to community projects and community service, helping support Kiwanis Club of Napa with building playgrounds, providing activities and programs for special needs children and working with our high schools to get our teenagers involved in social services.”

Harper notes, “If you are at a local event, you can bet a member of the Marketplace staff will be in attendance, stepping up to support the community.   And then, making sure pictures, results and needs of those community resources are made public.”

Connie’s community spirit and philanthropic philosophy is shared by her small staff, three of whom completed Leadership Napa Valley.  Over 100 hours of paid employee time is donated annually to charity work, and an education program for employees’ advancement is also available.

“I believe in hiring and then developing employees to work at their very best level,” said Anderson.  “We are a small staff; so, we each have our own responsibilities and own our particular department.  I give them the tools they need — equipment, software and training.  I believe in the employee/employer equation:  you give to them, they give it all back.  It’s about respect and responsibility.”

Looking towards the future, Connie and her team plan to keep the Marketplace’s winning formula intact:  fresh, entertaining, informative and, always, local.  “This publication is for EVERY resident of the Napa Valley every month,” Connie said.  “Between our work, advertisers’ support and the faithful readers, this is truly THE Napa Valley community magazine.”