Mom and Pop Businesses Have to Change with the Times

Mom and Pop shops have historically been examples of living the American Dream. Thousands of families have stories of how their ancestors emigrated to America and started their own businesses, some that survive even to this day. They were the corner grocer, the milliner, the livery stable or cafe owner. shoe-repair-668079_1920 resizeIndustrialization and mechanization has changed the landscape over the years. The harness maker, the blacksmith, the cobbler and bootmaker have become obsolete in the modern age. Delivery of all kinds of services has changed through modernization. From the early part of the 20th century until today, small businesses have been phased out, bought out or absorbed. The corporation is now king. Those Mom and Pop stores that have survived through the generations have one thing in common. While they may have kept their product or service largely the same as when the company began, they have learned to roll with the changing business atmosphere, and keep up with modern technology. Adapting their best practices to keep pace with their competitors. In today’s economic and business climate, where approximately half of small businesses fail within the first 5 years, a company celebrating 70 or even 100 years in business is a kind of a miracle. Some examples of companies that made it multi- billion dollar big include Nike and Ben & Jerry’s. Both started by two guys and a small investment. Others grew their companies and sold out to larger companies, making millions in the process. These include The Body Shop, Yankee Candle and more recently, Spanx.   Mom and Pop stores contribute to stability in local economies and create about 3 million jobs annually. Many offer entry level opportunities to youth in small towns and sponsor sports teams, 4-H and school projects. Their contribution to community living cannot be denied. So how do they stay alive? Keeping their small business niche in the face of being devoured by the megacorps is tough! Aside from community support , they make use of modern technology.  Everything from banking, accounting, payroll and advertising has been upgraded. factory-700588_1920 resizeThe smart small businessperson knows that they must stay current with all the business trends if they want to stay alive. Just think of how far these businesses have come from the old- fashioned cash register and ledger bookkeeping, to computer programs that not only tell you how to make change, but subtract stock on-hand from inventory at the moment of sale. Banking, merchant accounts and payroll are now automated and computerize. Even shipping and receiving , accounts receivable and employee scheduling are computerized. The savvy business person keeps up with every upgrade and convenience to make doing business as smooth and easy as possible. Our great-grandparents could never have dreamed how their business practices would change! In this digital age, many long -established companies have even gone with an online presence. Expanding their storefront into the virtual realm opens their business to a whole new audience and has actually been a boon to some small companies who had been struggling to stay afloat. While it was difficult to make the choice to invest in a digital storefront, it’s been a real infusion of capital and publicity for these companies in decline. Many small businesses choose to remain small. Their burning desire is not to become a huge concern, rather just to stay afloat and flourish as they are. These companies are the lifeblood of our communities and we honor the traditions and commitment to excellence that has kept them in business all these years. We also recognize how resilient and adaptable these business owners must be to thrive in the changing economic world we live in.

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