Small Town USA

What do places like Pratt's Country Store and Tony's Hardware have in common? They are part of the mom and pop type shops that make up more than 70 percent of all businesses nationally.

What do places like Pratt’s Country Store and Tony’s Hardware have in common? They are part of the mom and pop type shops that make up more than 70 percent of all businesses nationally. By Lynn Celmer

Perhaps no other highway in the U.S. is as famous as Route 66. Back in its hey-day, classic cars crowded the Mother Road and many small, mom and pop type businesses could be found along the way bustling with customers, bringing warm memories and stories people will share for generations to come.

But, you don’t have to get your kicks on Route 66. Many mom and pop shops still exist right in your own backyard. They offer loads of charm and personal touches that you won’t soon forget.

The next time you take the family out to dinner, bring them to the small, local, family-owned diner. If you watch the interaction between customers and the owner, you’ll notice the customers are treated more like family, often greeted by name with a warm smile and followed up with a handshake or a hug. In the summertime, you can take them for ice cream at the local ice cream parlor like Alice’s Place in Elburn, Ill.

Audrey Hanson has owned Alice’s place for 17 years and knows just about everyone in this small town of less than 5,000 residents. The best part of being in a small town, according to Hanson is getting to know all of the little kids and watching them grow up. “I love watching them eat their ice cream, they all do it so differently and they get so excited, she said. “Especially when you hand them their ice cream cone and it’s got sprinkles on it.”

Like many mom and pop owners, Hanson puts a lot of time and hard work into her business. “It’s a very rewarding business, but it’s only what you make of it yourself,” she said. “You have to work really hard. I’m here every hour we’re open, 7 days a week.”

In honor of the tremendous entrepreneurial spirit these business owners bring to their communities, there’s even a holiday that celebrates them. National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day is held every March 29, to celebrate small business owners. They spend countless hours nurturing and growing their young enterprises to contribute something to their communities and often the workload demands and lack of hired staff translates into long and late hours, and many missed family and personal events.

It’s important to support these small business owners not only on National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day, but every day. Let them know that you are choosing to shop at their store and keep your money circulating in the local economy.

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Reader Comments


Friday, October 23, 2009 at 4:34 PM
SEO Denver says:
With corporate America shedding a half million jobs per week, there is already a great increase in the number of small businesses. Retrenching the economy to set up more independent businesses should make it stronger in the long run - provided we don't get taxed or regulated out of existence there, too.

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