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Mom and Pop Stores
Mom and Pop Stores
Where Did Mom and Pop Go?

Mom and Pop stores seemed to crop up in the 1950’s as a true staple of entrepreneurship. They were little local businesses normally owned by family members and they tended to have only one location. Mom and Pop stores were not big marketplaces. They had few employees and a limited amount of products but this is what made them so special.

“Run down to the corner and ask Mr. Barnes for a loaf of his best sourdough bread and a quart of milk. And tell him to put it on our tab.” In the 1950’s this was something a mother might have said to one of her children. She would’ve been talking about having one of her children go down the street to the local Mom and Pop store

Mom and Pop Stores
The Advantages of the Mom and Pop Stores

Different Mom and Pop stores were in every town. In fact, it was these shops that made up the town center. Because they were so small, they were also personalized. The owner as well as other employees knew their regular customers well and and vice versa.

These stores had a cozy feel to them as they were small and decorated with a local flare. They carried local products which people in the area could truly appreciate. These shops were also very unique which is one reason why people tended to go for Sunday drives. They drove from different towns and looked at the different shops and store fronts. It was not like today how you might see the exact same stores in one part of the country that you see in a completely different part.

Mom and Pop Stores
Disadvantages of the Mom and Pop Stores

The disadvantages of the Mom and Pop is that they only had single store locations. If you liked the products you got from your store at home you might not be able to find those same items in a store when you were away from home. Another disadvantage is the limited amount of products that these shops were able to carry. Today, in the big box stores there is a big variety, and therefore, a large selection of items.

Mom and Pop Stores

The prices in Mom and Pop stores were always a little bit higher because these small establishments were not able to buy in bulk, and therefore, were not able to get the kind of discounts on products that big box stores of today are able to enjoy. Additionally, these shops have a limited selection due to the fact that they can only afford to order a certain amount of items, and also because they have a limited amount of space to display and store the items they purchase.

Are Mom and Pop Stores Making a Comeback?

Today the idea of the smaller, more personalized store is coming back into style, yet they’re coming back in a different way than the Mom and Pop shops of yesteryear. In the past few decades large box stores such as Walmart have been the places to go.

Walmart has been known for “having everything you could want under one roof” at very reasonable prices. Who could want anything else? It’s true, these monster stores are very successful, but in recent days life has become more and more about convenience and saving time.

This is why certain store chains such as Dollar Tree or Family Dollar have begun to be more popular. Not only do they offer a wide variety of products just like stores like Walmart, but they offer these products at reasonable prices as well.

What Do They Know That the Big Box Stores Do Not?
Mom and Pop Stores

What these chains have discovered is that people today like the convenience of being able to park close to the door. They don’t like having to fight large crowds, and not have a large store to walk through or 10 brands of one particular item to sift through

Furthermore, as a matter of convenience, these chains have decided it is more advantageous to open many small stores as opposed to a few larger stores. By doing it this way there is a better chance of having one of their small stores be “just down the street” from almost everyone in a given neighborhood. This also gives these stores more of a feel of being like an old time Mom and Pop shop.

The other thing they have found is they can duplicate the feel of a Mom and Pop because since they are small they also have fewer employees, This means that if you are to frequent this establishment you may find that you get to know “the guy behind the counter” or “the woman who stocks the shelves”. Better yet, they may get to know who you are. Even when they don’t know who you are, it has become standard policy in many of these businesses to greet you when you come in the door and even to say goodbye when you leave.

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The Return of the Town Center

An interesting thing that is happening today because of the development of these small store chains is that there appears to be a resurgence of the old town center.

In many areas of different communities you’ll have an intersection where a few busy streets come together. In recent years some of these small community chain stores have begun to accumulate at these intersections. Stores like Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Pop Shelf, along with hair and nail salons, pet grooming shops, banks, pizza places, ice cream and bagel shops and coffee bars all come together here and make up these new town centers.

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How are Big Box Stores Like Walmart Fighting Back?

Interestingly, Walmart has begun to feel the pressure to follow suit. In recent years the Walmart Corporation has been starting to open smaller, more personal stores like “ The Neighborhood Walmart” which primarily sells groceries.

They even have Walmart Gas Stations now where you can purchase gas at more affordable prices. Not only has Walmart begun to open these smaller, more personalized and specialized establishments, but they are finding a way to intersperse them throughout towns and woven in between their larger stores so that they too can give off the appearance of being “on every corner”.

The Mom and Pops of Yesterday

Where Are They Now?

In 1971, 2 men by the names of Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight started a small company that made running shoes. In 2018 that company grossed $36.4 billion. That company is NIKE.

In 1978 two men took $8000 of their own money and took out a loan for $4000. They spent $5 on a correspondence course in ice cream making which they took through Penn State. Then they opened their tiny ice cream business in Vermont. Today they make 400 pints of ice cream every minute each day. These 2 men were Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield and the company is BEN & JERRY’S.

Heart Tie Dye

In 1950 a young man from Bentonville, Arkansas opened a small 5 and dime store. In 1962 he opened a slightly bigger store and vowed to build this store on “lower prices and better service”. The store made $75,000 in 1951. In 2019 the Corporation grossed $514.4 billion. The man’s name was Sam Walton and the store is Walmart.

In 1971 this man was part of a grass roots start-up operation of a new wave of coffee shops that would soon become a phenomenon that would sweep the entire nation and then the world. It all started in Seattle. 30 years later there are now 30,000 of these coffee shops sprinkled throughout the country. The man’s name was Howard Schultz. The company is STARBUCKS.

Mom and Pop Stores

In 1969 a young boy was given some crayons by his mother for Christmas. He took the Crayons and created a scented candle from them. When he grew up he opened a small candle shop in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Today there are 260 of these small-box format Candle stores throughout the country. The man was Michael Kittridge. The company is THE YANKEE CANDLE CO.

Small Business Value

While these massive success stories started off small, there are still plenty of mom and pop stores that continue to thrive today. These family-owned businesses provide a personal touch and unique experience that you simply can’t find at large corporate chains. From local hardware stores to artisanal bakeries, mom and pop shops add character and individuality to our communities.

Not only do these stores offer unique products and services, but they are also an integral part of their local economies. The money spent at mom and pop shops goes directly back into the community, supporting local jobs and business initiatives. Plus, these businesses tend to have a smaller environmental footprint than their big-box counterparts, often utilizing sustainable practices and sourcing materials locally.

Many mom and pop shops have had to close their doors permanently due to financial struggles caused by COVID-19. By shopping locally and supporting these small businesses, we can help them stay afloat during these difficult times. Please support “Small Business Saturday” when you can

So next time you’re in the mood for a cup of coffee or need to pick up some household essentials, consider stopping by a mom and pop store instead of heading to a chain. You might be surprised at what you find and the impact you can make on your local community.

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20 responses to “Mom and Pop Stores”

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