Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Slow Death of the Ma and Pa Shops


My very first job was in a place called Clyde’s Grocery Store. It was a small grocery store located on the Ohio River in Maysville, KY. I have such fond memories of that place. It was family owned and the atmosphere was so down-to-earth.

Once Wal-Mart came to Maysville however, Clyde’s was unable to compete. It tried, oh boy did it try. But ultimately it succumbed to the same slow death that all the small stores are succumbing to nationwide and worldwide.

There’s just something so unexplainably wonderful about small-town, family owned stores isn’t there? Whether it’s a small grocery store, a clothing store, a book store, a café, or a restaurant, they just feel like home. They have personality. What’s more awesome than having coffee with a friend at a small-town café? What stirs the imagination like spending hours reading in a small-town book store? They are each unique unto themselves, whereas the large chain stores and restaurants are impersonal and are basically just clones of each other.

The realist in me knows that there is no reversing this trend. The small stores simply cannot compete with the prices of the larger chains. Wal-Mart can make a penny profit on each item and still make billions because their volume is so large. Whereas the smaller stores, with smaller volume, have to have to make a larger profit on each item just to barely break even. This is why the large chains can offer such low prices.

I am hoping that there will always be a home for the smaller stores though. I hope that there will be towns that will remain free from the larger chains. I hope upon hope.

Do you have any small family-owned stores or restaurants that you have fond memories of? What are your thoughts on the death of the small stores?

130 comments:

  1. Small stores still have items that are unique though. And while there aren't as many in the real world, I think they have new life online as unique sites offering a specialty product line.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Welcome back Keith. Oh don't get me started on Walmart:) I have many memories of Mom and Pop stores on a beachfront town my grandparents lived. Everyone knew your name and the quality of the shoes, clothes meat, or anything was top of the line and you never had to worry about where it came from it was locally made and not shipped in. There was a pride in what we wore and in my case Made in Canada was on every shelf.
    Oh dear the good old days surely had a lot going for it. I see more Mom and Pops around my area once again but they need support that is for sure. I am pretty sure the Walmarts of the world are here to stay but people are thinking about it differently, at least I hope. B

    ReplyDelete
  3. There will always be a place for small stores. I hope the owner's don't plan to become rich though. It they do it right, with good service and style, they will survive. If surviving means they have to offer top quality at high prices or a cheap but quirky experience for their customers, they will survive.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think it's still possible for small stores to survive. They've been "dying" for years now. When you think about it large chains are the ones who started as small stores and then succeeded. There are a few near me that I can definitely say I would miss if they were gone though. I even have an indoor market in my town that's been a major help to me. I've seen a few come and go, and I do enjoy just the atmosphere of a small town shop. They just feel friendlier.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have wonderful childhood memories of walking to the store with a dollar bill clenched in my pudgy little hand, headed for a sugar rush on either peanut patties, coconut sticks or Clark bars. That was back when a dollar bought more than one item, and when penny candy still existed and thrived. Today I live far enough out in the country that I can still find the smaller mom and pops- but prices are so high I can only shop there for one or two needed items.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hello:

    Alas, what you write here resonates all too loudly both in the United Kingdom and here in Hungary. Within Budapest, in the retail area of coffee shops, we are increasingly alarmed to see the disappearance of small, family run establishments and the rise, and rise, and rise of multi-nationals which, effectively, because the key note is profit at speed, are killing the café culture for which this city is so well known.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The world was different when we were kids, before mass globalism. I much prefer small independents. I find I have very little need or desire to go into town, the local shops do me fine. I hate branded coffee shops especially. I confess we do shop in a supermarket, but i try to buy any bits I can from a little Indian mart which has opened nearby.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I loved those small stores. We moved a lot, and I used to hang out at small cafes and small five and dimes. They were a cosy little world all their own. I still feel that way about bookstores. I have to confess I go to the big block ones and enjoy their coffee and reading nooks, but I especially like the local and small used bookstores in my neighborhood.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Our quaint and quirky town of Venice has a city government that does not allow big stores in the historic downtown section. That is a godsend for Mom and Pop stores and we have lots of them. Occasionally, though, one of them does an upgrade and loses that old-timey feeling. It's nice, though, to see them grow :)
    The word "Berea" in that sign on your photo reminds me of the Christmas crafts photo shoot I styled in Berea, Kentucky...many years ago :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Even here in Montana small stores like that aren't so common however when we go camping we still see them on occasion...a glimpse into the land time forgot...but I didn't.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I do have fond memories of the D&R Drug Store in the little town where I lived for so many years. My daughter had her first job in high school working there behind the soda fountain.
    And believe it or not, I know where Maysville KY is.

    ReplyDelete
  12. First let me get this out of my system: I HATE WALMART! Whew! I feel better. I refuse to shop there. My hubby will go but not me. I'd rather pay more than spend a minute in that place. Okay, now I'm done. Really.

    Although I grew up in NY, I was blessed to grow up on Long Island in a fairly small sea town. We had a great little downtown area with small mom and pop shops on main street. It's still there and although Starbucks and Dunkin' Doughnuts have wormed their way in, the true main street still remains. I love to visit and walk up and down that road, sit outside and eat a slice of pizza while people stroll by. It's awesome. This year, I'm bringing my future DIL. I can't wait to share that experience with her.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Glad to see you back Keith!

    We don't shop at Wally World; if our taxes have to pay for food stamps, etc... for their workers because they can't share some of their immense wealth then I'm not going to spend even more money at the stores! Thankfully this area is experiencing a resurgence...small but definitely growing...of Mom and Pop shops. Yup, it delights me!

    ReplyDelete
  14. We try to spread our money around - yes, we occasionally buy some things at the big chain stores but we also make an effort to give business to smaller shops whether going in person or ordering online.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have fond memories of a Coke float at the soda fountain in my hometown drug store. Definitely a thing of the past, especially being able to safely walk to that drug store. We still patronize M&P places as much as we can. And at WalMart...

    ReplyDelete
  16. We are HUGE on shopping small in my home :) From restaurants to stores - we go local as much as possible :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I mourn the demise of those wonderful little shops. I'd trade the variety and money savings of the big box stores for those wonderful places in a heartbeat.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I hate the death of the small business. Loathe it. I loathe Walmart as well. I WISH we could reverse this trend, but I fear like you, we cannot. In the meantime, I give many small businesses my business :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. These are the things we could never fight, the giants.
    Walmart is stealing it.
    The place where I hail is facing it too.
    They're still fighting.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I love small, family owned stores and businesses. I wish that I still lived in a small town so I could see/visit more of these types of places.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I love little stores and groceries are absolutely different of the bigger stores
    Here still we have someones but is difficult. I grow with little stores and I remember well the veggies store, the little cafes, a beautiful library store where I went sitdown and read snd they let me!! I think there I begin to read in english and look how important was for me Keith I never stopped read in english...and spanish.
    Lovely memories.
    Thanks for come back:)

    ReplyDelete
  22. I had a former co-worker post on his FB saying "Thank god for Walmart". Took me quite the strength to resist the urge to tell him how moronic that was.

    I heard a few stories of how Wal-mart comes to town and destroys main street business, and it all begins with a few rednecks saying "We want a walmart".

    I hear Europeans (especially Germans) don't particularly like the concept of Walmart-ish stores. They tried to move over there with mixed results. If only we Americans were a bit more smart.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I try to support local businesses as much as possible even if the prices are a little higher, it's worth what you get in return which is usually better service in general.

    ReplyDelete
  24. My memories are of the Bulldog Snack Shack where we could dance to the juke box, play Canasta, have a hamburger or pour peanuts in a Big Red. Everyone knew everyone so we couldn't get into trouble.

    ReplyDelete
  25. my son works at a family owned franchise and it is a much nicer place to work than at a big box store. But the owners are getting old and it may not last much longer.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Welcome back Keith. I live near a small summer tourist town that's main draw centers near the town square. Thus the whole of downtown is a bunch of small business stores, including an ice cream parlor and does quite well. Walmart does exist but it is farther out of town and doesn't really hurt the locals. Only time I have seen the two co-exist and prosper.

    ReplyDelete
  27. For personalized service, you can not beat the small stores. I love my local Hardware store, but I fear these are not long either. There used to be one in every town. Still for convenience and price, I am guilty of choosing the big box store.

    ReplyDelete
  28. In my childhood there were not any private busyness here at all. Last 20 years many small shops were opened and many supermarket chains opened as well. I agree with you Keith, small shops can't compete. It's pity!

    ReplyDelete
  29. I try whenever possible to use small stores-but it is sad when they finally just cant survive. The owners need to think outside the box-have excellent customer service, and bring in unique items that the big box stores don't carry. It is very difficult though-cause most people nowdays wanted the cheapest and want it fast.
    sometimes they can transfer to the internet and do well too

    ReplyDelete
  30. The neighborhood I live in now -- Northeast Minneapolis -- has small stores that we support feverishly. The bookstore, for example: at the rate that I buy books there, I may never die. Just too many books to read...

    I feel sorry for the small shops, hate the bright lights, forced gaiety of the "big box" places. I have friends in small towns that have virtually no choice but to shop at WalMart -- and they hate it.

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
  31. I live near a small market town where I shop - and though we have all the big supermarkets there are still a lot of independent shops - thank goodness - sadly, not anywhere near as many as there used to be - every week another seems to close down. What a sad enditement on modern living.

    ReplyDelete
  32. We live on the border of a wonderfully quaint little town that is beautiful and still rather pristine in it's countryside way . It has kept itself free of large chains and has relatively few stores . It even has an ordinance that you have to buy 5 acres if you are going to build a house, keeping it rather country.
    They still have a smaller ma and pa grocery with a deli and penny candy. It is well frequented and I adore the nostalgia there. I know the times they are a changing but it is nice to step back just a bit here and there.

    ReplyDelete
  33. When I walk into a wal-mart (or the like), my eyes begin to water from all the chemicals. I try to avoid them, but as you said, merchandize is cheaper but even more than that, I can do all my shopping in one spot. But I miss the Ma and Pa stores.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I love this. It makes me think about how we create our lives. Many think that living a "full" or "adventurous" life means living a big, well-known life. Being on top of the chain, being successful and having tons of money to spend.

    This post gives me hope otherwise; that we can live a rich and fulfilling life in the small coffee shops, we can feel "big" in the family-owned businesses. This way of life is fleeting - maybe it's time to bring it back into the light.

    ReplyDelete
  35. our 'town' just opened a walmart this week. i'm grateful as it'll cut my drive to them in half. but i'll still shop my smaller grocer, too.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I love small business, but you're right -- it's hard to defeat those big corporations!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Small business is great and I live in a small town outside Chicago. I grew up in Pickerington, Ohio and remember the great old family grocery store and drugstore in town, the days long before malls, etc. Nothing like a family owned store. I like your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  38. What a coincidence Keith, just this week I learned that a small grocery store that I visit about once a week has decided it's time to close. They had tried for about 6 years to make a go of it but have finally given up. The store was large enough to have almost everything I needed, but small enough to feel cozy. They even bagged and carried out your groceries! I felt a pang in my heart when I heard the news, almost 30 people in the store will lose their jobs. I despise Wal-mart and their ilk, I haven't been in one in about 12 years and will never enter one again.

    ReplyDelete
  39. With big stores like walmart and online sites, the actual small stores will be few and far between, if any in the future. But at least their online sites can be unique and they can charge less because there is no overhead like a physical store and such

    ReplyDelete
  40. i love mom and pop stores...especially book stores....they have the books that the bookstore never has because they are a bit more obscure and wont sell mass like the big books....def the comic shops as well...smiles.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I grew up in a small town and live in a different small town now. There are small mom and pop stores in both. I always frequent them to show my support. They will eventually all go away I'm sure and that's a shame. The big box stores you never know anyone, but the mom and pops you know everyone. That's what I like.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    ReplyDelete
  42. It is easy to hate Walmart but when you are poor and don't have enough money to make it through a month, then Walmart becomes a necessary evil and the local stores an impossibility. Besides, a lot of the local stores lately seem to have this entitled way of thinking that since they are small the public should support them. Why should I support the local stores if they cost more? Sure, they're cute and quaint but they can also be snobbish and trendy and make the owner a lot of money. I have no patience for the buy local philosophy.
    However, as a thing of the past they were nice and you knew the owner and they'd let you charge cause you lived in the neighborhood. A thing of the past.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I agree with you, Keith. I love the mom and pop businesses. I remember going to a country store growing up, going straight to the front left-hand corner--the candy corner! :-) The chamber in my town started a Buy Local First program to try to encourage people to patronize local businesses, which are usually the smaller businesses. We make every effort to do that.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Welcome home, Keith. I remember a mom and pop grocery store from my childhood. Family owned. Really enjoyed the personal touches and the fact that they knew their customers by name. After larger supermarkets came into being, they were driven out of business. Sad. So sad.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I agree. I do wish there was still a market for the mom and pop stores, but nowadays, people take savings over a more personal shopping experience. I love the feel of small town shops. We try to stop into local ice cream parlors and shop the local meat market when possible. The quality is always better in these small shops too!

    ReplyDelete
  46. Yes, I do. And, it was a roadside restaurant where we would sit in the car and eat.
    It's sad all these places are shutting down.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Hi Keith, Nice to have you back!
    I have many fond memories of the "dime store" in my mom's hometown. I loved searching for treasure or maybe a new goldfish there. Now I have a small pizza place that I consider a great place to meet or eat. I love small bakeries also. I try to put my money where my heart is and support small businesses that I like.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Welcome back! I hope you had a wonderful vacation, will there be pictures? I feel the same way you do. The independently owned stores usually do not make it, the statistics are awful. I guess this is part of futurism, big box stores and everything all like. Big brother IS watching!!

    ReplyDelete
  49. We have a fabulous used book store downtown that is going out of business. It's a wondrous space full of dark winding tunnels of shelves loaded to the ceiling with books. It's been in Guelph as long as I have which would be 40 years more or less. In this vast acreage of reading material the staff can put their finger on anything you can name. It will be missed.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Welcome home :) this is a sad reality everywhere. :(

    ReplyDelete
  51. Lovely photo, Keith, and nice to see you back! I am so NOT a fan of the big box stores, preferring the smaller, more friendly and personable ones, so I hate it when they closed down. It's like the end of an era, very sad.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Most of the stores I knew as a child are long ago, which the exception of a handful. It was rather sad, but as the city got bigger, it was inevitable.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Hi Keith...just wanted to say HI! I'm back on the blogosphere. And yes, I miss many mom and pop stores, including the small grocer that provided me with lots of tasty treats during my childhood. I remember that the people in the neighborhood had accounts there and they could pay later, at the end of the month. I think it's a historical landmark now, so it's still in existence, luckily!

    ReplyDelete
  54. Oh yes! I just lost my favorite fabric store! I refuse to shop in Wal Mart - I can't bring myself to shop at a place that ruthlessly puts small businesses out of commission just for profits off the share holders. I miss my favorite small town book store, too. Shopping on-line just doesn't do it for me. I am hoping this trend will start reversing itself soon. With all the security breaches at these big chains and on-line stores, I think people will want to shop with cash in the future. That will work in favor of the small businesses. At least I am hoping. xo Karen

    ReplyDelete
  55. There are quite a few family owned stores around where I live yet because there is not a lot people here.

    I find it sad though that so many have closed their doors. I love the little stores but I think people go where they can get things cheapest and Walmart is cheaper. Its a love hate relationship with them.

    ReplyDelete
  56. My sister and her husband own little shops in the local town,..,...two of the few bespoke shops in the area very sad

    ReplyDelete
  57. I think in most cities in Germany any grocery store belongs to a chain. We just have little fruit and veggie shops that are local shops. So sad that the small stores can't survive. But other than supermarkets I don't think we have an overload of chains. Did you know that Walmart's concept had no chance in Germany? They tried for a long time - and had to give up eventually. They no longer exist here. We do have Starbucks and other coffee chains here, but not too many. I love all the little cafés and ice-cream shops we have in our towns. We even have local bookstores and clothes shops :) Your post just makes me appreciate all those stores even more!

    ReplyDelete
  58. If you ever visit the UK come to the market town of Ludlow. We have almost no other shops than small ones; books, meat, fish, clothing, many cafes and restaurants, vegetables and fruit, wine, even chocolate shops. It’s a haven for the discerning shopper.

    ReplyDelete
  59. i grew up in the smallest village that had, when my family moved in it, three shops, one of them was left when i was born and even the last bar was closed before i turned 18. such rapid decline, it's rather sad really. i loved both the shop and the bar (that sold other things like sweets as well), the shop owner even sew&sold dresses to me and my sister and i was sometimes left at the bar to be babysat. it sounds like i was born in the 50's, but i do love that kind of a lifestyle and independent little shops and all that! x

    ReplyDelete
  60. We still have a family-owned Italian deli down the street, but it is definitely a rarity. I hate the big chain stores and would much prefer to pay more and get a smile and service.

    ReplyDelete
  61. I grew up in the era of small mom and pop stores and I watched the erosion of them over the years... it is sad. I think I enjoyed shopping more when it was leisurely and with a friend... now shopping is a hassle... I just want to go in and get out... I miss those days but we have to go with the progress...

    I do hope that some of these places can stay a float

    Have a really great day Keith (love all your pictures on Instagram)

    ReplyDelete
  62. Lots of our favorite small shops and stores over the years are now gone. The ones that did not suffer death by Wal Mart succumb to the internet. Amazon has killed more than a few fun little book stores. It is one of the things about our age of technology that I don't like.

    ReplyDelete
  63. I hope the small stores try to stick it out. I always try to give them business when I can. The small cafes and bakeries seem to be doing very well around here lately.. The small stores also help in smaller neighborhoods where the Walmart is just too far away..Great post, have a happy weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  64. It's nice going in a small store or business where they know you by name, but like you aid, they are almost all gone. I only go to Walmart when I absolutely have to. I'm not much of a consumer any more.
    It's nice having you back Keith.
    JB

    ReplyDelete
  65. I think we have one remaining independent store in the town in which I live - but I fear it will die a death. Our town centre now mainly consist of charity shops, banks, amusement arcades and estate agents, these nestling between the boarded up stores. Out of town supermarkets flourish...
    Anna :o]

    ReplyDelete
  66. Yes, the village we shopped at was very Mom and Pop and very rural. The store was a social gathering place.

    ReplyDelete
  67. We had a wonderful hardware/home supply store named Pyles in our town for years and years. Then Lowes moved in down the street, and in spite of locals supporting Pyles, the owners gave up.

    This winter, my husband was looking for weather-stripping and wood pellets and my brother-in-law, who'd broken his snow shovel, needed a new one. Both of them were laughed at by the sales people in Lowes, who told them that -- in February -- those items were "out of season." Patio furniture and bug zappers were on display.

    My husband actually tweeted the Lowes account, asking if they had a calendar and a map (Pennsylvania in February = winter) and received a phone call from an indignant Lowes executive.

    In this very long, very cold and snowy winter, Pyles might have run out of wood pellets and snow shovels. But they would have ordered more. They wouldn't have laughed at customers for needing them in February.

    Ma and Pa stores serve the community.
    Box stores operate on company policy.

    ReplyDelete
  68. I'm pretty sure Door County, Wisconsin doesn't allow chains. My dad always says that I should open up a bookstore with a bakery and coffeeshop, but he says I should do it there since all of the businesses are small. I like the smaller places because of the character that they have. I'm not going to lie, though, I really like Target. I don't like Walmart and avoid going there at all costs (too crowded/unorganized), but for me there's actually something relaxing about walking around Target.

    Maybe it's the dreamer in me who tends to dream big, but I also love watching a Ma and Pa Shop do really well. There's a restaurant in Minneapolis called Holy Land. When I first started going there back when I was 11 or 12, they occupied one shop in a little strip of stores. Half of the store was the restaurant, half was a small grocery store. They played Middle Eastern music and it was so loud that you couldn't hear them when they shouted out your order, but they'd turn the music up instead of down. As they became more successful, they bought the store next to their original one and put the grocery store there and used the original store for the restaurant only. A few years later they about another store in that strip and put in a buffet. They also started operating out of two locations. They eventually bought another building, where they make hummus and bread that they ship to grocery stores all around the country. I actually don't eat there much anymore, because just down the street is an Afghani restaurant (that has also done really well and has two locations now) and we know the family that owns it so we like to go there as often as possible, but I'm still really happy when I see how well the Holy Land is doing and when I see their hummus in a grocery store. I think it's so cool and inspirational to see how much they've grown! :)

    ReplyDelete
  69. I just got back from a trip to the town I grew up in and saw that my favorite coffee shop is now competing and losing out to Starbucks. It broke my heart. It's amazing how your blogs often touch upon things I have been pondering as of late. I hope you had a good vacation!:)

    ReplyDelete
  70. I totally agree with this analysis, and I too hope that the small establishments can survive and thrive.

    ReplyDelete
  71. I love small shops! In fact one of my assignments is to give my whole class a different small shop, and they have to redesign their logo. Every year I sadly have to go through to see if they still in fact exist.

    Here I like a shop downtown called City Limits, and The Afternoon. They both have artist made things. They kind of remind me of Uncommon Goods. Uncommon Goods is small to, but growing on the internet.

    ReplyDelete
  72. Great post! I always try my best to support the ma-pa establishments. Thanks a bunch for sharing:-))

    ReplyDelete
  73. I remember so many little "mom & pop" stores when I was a kid. Things have really changed and it's sad. Walmart seems to have buried the old shopping traditions.

    ReplyDelete
  74. I have a friend who met her husband in a small town cafe/restaurant. He was the cook there. I love little cafes:)

    ReplyDelete
  75. You are absolutely right.
    Small businesses like ma-pa shops can lose business one fine morning when big supermarket chains open in the vicinity. It is the reality that of course is very painful both to the owners as well as to loyal patrons and it has happened in many parts of the world and it is still happening. Here too many businesses suffered already and many are just surviving fearing a total shut down.
    Very thought provoking post :)

    ReplyDelete
  76. It all finally hinges upon the choice and conscience of the consumer. Those who elect not to feed in bulk avoid big-box stores, pay a bit more, consume less, keep their communities and usually look more fit.

    ReplyDelete
  77. Welcome back!

    We had one here, and it felt so genuinely holiday-y when we shopped there for holidays, that I still miss it to this day when Thanksgiving rolls around. Walmart went up across the street from it and it was gone in less than a year.

    ReplyDelete
  78. In my area there are a resurgence of indie coffee shops and restaurants. I live in a tourist area, so that might be part of the reason. In fact, I'm able to choose from many more coffee shops than I ever have before.

    ReplyDelete
  79. We live in a time that the supermarkets will win. When we get worse off [money], so that we have enough to feed ourselves. I am one of them.

    ReplyDelete
  80. I've written about this before too Keith. There are a few small stores here that managed to thrive in a bigbix environment. They offer things that Walmart don't carry and the service can't be touched by the big boys. But these stories are far too rare.

    ReplyDelete
  81. I LOVE these small family-owned stores! I really hate Walmart etc. When I was a kid we had a little grocery store in my village, run by an old woman and I always begged my mom to go there to get the groceries because the kids always got a little something...candy, chocolate etc. It was wonderful! I also love the small book store in my town. They even make you a coffee.

    ReplyDelete
  82. My husband grew up in a small town in Texas - I grew up in NYC. I loved visited his mom in their home town because everywhere we went, she knew people and they knew her. Now, because of Wal-Mart, many of the ma and pa stores are closed and the downtown is practically dead. It's very sad.

    ReplyDelete
  83. Those small stores are still very much alive in my town, I like them a lot. Lovely post :)

    ReplyDelete
  84. I have great hope that the small, indie stores and restaurants are going to make a come-back. I always try to give my business to them rather than the big box or the chains.

    ReplyDelete
  85. I've never lived in a small town so I've always been surrounded with chain stores. They have their place and I'm comfortable with them. I don't think they're evil. But in my travels I've experienced the type of businesses you talk about and they're wonderful and charming. They have that personal touch. And whenever I come across a good, independently owned business I always try my best to patronize them and recommend them to others. Because you're right - there's nothing like sitting in a small, local cafe with a good friend. Or buying your grandchildren clothes from a small boutique where the items don't look like everyone else's Baby Gap clothes. (Not disparaging Baby Gap - they're wonderful. But unique is nice too.)

    ReplyDelete
  86. It's sad to see Mom and Pop stores closing down. I've seen quite a few book stores like this go out of business. One of my favorites was a store called The Blue Heron. It was the coziest little place!

    ReplyDelete
  87. So many outstanding shops by wonderful owners, unique very personal, lovely, I miss them so much......I remember them all old buildings places you'd stop by after school, just for maybe a small treat but maybe just for the atmosphere, we have a few left that have turned very popular without become big, and those I cherish, they are not venues for the mass like Tim Horton's but still delightful shop that have organic foods and homemade dessert, and salads and a few tables you can sit in or out, and it is magical, especially to me, when I moved from Montreal the house I Lived in is the house that host this wonderful mom/dad special treats and special coffees, it means the world to me, hope you had a lovely holidays Keith

    ReplyDelete
  88. Oh, this really hit home for me because I just love the small-town shops. A good friend of mine worked in a small restaurant in town and I used to see her all the time, and they ended up shutting down recently. I was so bummed because they made the best food, and now I don't get to see my friend as much as I would like to. You will always have your memories of Clyde's Grocery Store, and you're right.....there's nothing more awesome than having coffee with a friend at a small-town café.

    I'm so glad you met your mom for lunch recently. I'm sure she loved every minute of it.

    ~Sheri

    ReplyDelete
  89. Awesome keith! I indeed agree with your on small-town shops... I ever enjoyed in big malls or restaurants, but I too feel there’s something special exists at the small town stalls, with less regular customers there space for sharing and serving as family members. I always like visiting village or small town café to have coffee or tea, which are made of cow milk. But nowadays everywhere there is packed milk in use.

    ReplyDelete
  90. A friend of mine was bemoaning the fact that Amazon is slowly killing her on-line business. Small businesses cannot compete with the big guys...sigh

    ReplyDelete
  91. This topic breaks my heart. I miss the amazing places that we had in our small town when I was young. We don't have a Wal-Mart, (we only have 400 people in our town) so we have to drive quite far to get the stuff we used to be able to buy "in town".

    ReplyDelete
  92. Video stores. Do you remember those? Oh man, we had this great one, and they had this really cool kids section and I could spend HOURS in that store. I had to have been about 10 when it went out of business, but it's definitely a place I'll never forget.

    ReplyDelete
  93. That's one of the reasons I refuse to shop at walmart. That and the fact that they train their workers to be as slow as a snail at the cash register and when they see there are tons of people in line, they still don't open another register making people stand in line for up to 45 minutes, which is slightly nuts.

    ReplyDelete
  94. I think people love smaller stores with unique items and proprietors on a first-name basis. There might be a reversing of the trend, or at least a stagnating of it. You can only grow so big on finite resources. I think we've seen that since about 2008, with larger franchises shrinking or buckling under their own weight.

    ReplyDelete
  95. When Walmart moved in. the town withered. I loved the small stores, the people who knew its customers.

    ReplyDelete
  96. Small stores have not only their own charm but also a livelihood of many. In india, our government is not allowing walmart particularly for this reason.

    ReplyDelete
  97. You're absolutely spot on, Keith!

    I still have fond memories of Mr.Cowie, my dad's old fishing mate, who ran the local grocery shop-cum-post office. It's a shame, I hardly recognise some parts of town now.

    ReplyDelete
  98. Hi Keith,

    Sadly, more of a rapid death. Small, family run stores are becoming very much a thing of the past in Britain, also. There was a time when the main road in a town, dubbed, "The High Street", had the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. Most are now boarded up or have major store chains instead. Either that or charity shops. You can ascertain the state of the economy in a town by the number of charity shops.

    All the best, Keith.

    Gary

    ReplyDelete
  99. Small mom and pop stores are disappearing as they cannot keep up with
    the mega giants and it is hard to keep their business open with rising costs. I think it is rather sad. I remember a small corner store growing up that was operated by a lovely lady who knew everyone she always made you feel special.

    Welcome back...

    ReplyDelete
  100. Hi Keith,
    Welcome back and congratulations!
    We like to stop in Berea a few times each year on our way back from London, to visit the small shops there...I would hope they will always be there.
    As for here in Louisville, I just don't know. Thornberry's closed down this year and I NEVER thought I'd see that happen...if that can go, I guess anything can go. :(

    ReplyDelete
  101. My husband's family owned a small restaurant in their hometown. Art is therefore an excellent dishwasher and cook. My father-in-law woke up every morning at 5:00 so that he could open the shop for the coffee drinkers. He made almost no profit, but he felt he owed it to them for being his customers for decades. It's a good thing Walmart did not open up on the Big Island because my in-laws were able to send their two kids to college (with scholarship help) on the mainland and provide them with what they needed. I don't think they could do it now with the small profit margins. I do miss all those small shops we used to have in our hometown way back when.

    ReplyDelete
  102. What you said is true. It is difficult to compete with big shops. My cousin has a small gym in his house itself. At first he earned lot from it since that was the one in there place. As days passed by many big gyms with attractive packages came near to put down his business.

    ReplyDelete
  103. There have been a number of stores here in Milford that couldn't compete but I think that's why the nation has adopted the "buy Local" and several other campaigns that is escaping from the brain cells today.

    Good to see you! Hope you enjoyed your vacation looking forward to hearing about it.

    ReplyDelete
  104. I have memories of quite a few of these small family owned stores from my childhood.
    Sadly, all but one have fallen victim to the huge chain stores of today.
    It IS sad, these bigger stores are so impersonal...as a customer, you feel invisible, as you're herded through the checkout...
    Yes...makes me long for those far off days...

    ReplyDelete
  105. I feel sad when I see these small stores close down ~ Just sad that the big malls are crowding out the uniqueness of these home grown business ~ Have a good weekend Keith ~

    ReplyDelete
  106. Ive seen two of my favorite store closed and it makes me so sad. Now I have to travel far just to shop to my favorite store but ive seen its started to slow down and might close. Have great week, Keith:)

    ReplyDelete
  107. Yep! I hate how Fox books put The Shop Around the Corner out of business. And then, Hanks dated the X-owner!

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com/2014/04/atoz-w-for-winning.html

    ReplyDelete
  108. I simply do not shop at Wal-Mart. We can't blame the problem on Wal-Mart (Target,, Starbucks, etc). If we didn't shop there, it wouldn't exist. I do know a few small, locally owned shops and I shop there....even when I know I'm paying way more. It's a choice but I know I'd miss these people if they weren't around and, in the case of my favorite hardware store, I'd be lost without their gardening knowledge. You just can't put a price on community. But I don't think my small actions will change anything much. And that makes me sad....

    ReplyDelete
  109. Hello Keith
    A great topic indeed. We make a concerted effort to support individually owned businesses.
    Helen

    ReplyDelete
  110. The very same thing has been happening here as well Keith for quite along time too. Where some of the old family stores are thriving is in some of the country areas where a bigger town isn't near by and they are also the little country towns where the big city dwellers don't mind driving a few hours for that weekend get-a-way. The successfully ones are situated in pretty countryside as well.

    ReplyDelete
  111. yes it's sad what is happening to small business's in towns across the country. I will always shop in the small stores when I can.

    ReplyDelete
  112. Hi Keith - I quite agree ... and just love the variety small stores offer us - I cannot stand the sameness ... no uniqueness, no real value, no appreciation of the effort the farmers put in, or small manufacturers put in ..

    I won't go on ... but so sad ... cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  113. I'm happy to see you back, OE! I've been away and busy myself. I wanted to leave a comment on your post about your sister's blog, but couldn't find the comment button. Anyway, I visited and followed her blog. It took me many months to get as many followers ~ I'm so happy for her because getting new followers is so exciting! She, like you, asks thought-provoking questions. I grew up in lots of small and/or remote places, so I saw lots of small shops and restaurants. I have to say that some of my favorite stores were two remote Hudson Bay posts in Northern Canada. Although I am appalled by trapping, I was fascinated with the piles of beautiful furs in the Lansdowne House post ~ tapping supported the community. there was nothing else. Have a happy week!

    ReplyDelete
  114. I have very fond memories of these sorts of small businesses. In my old university town they were everywhere and I used to love weekends away at a family B&B. There seems to be some change in the modern culture perhaps, that makes the majority choose to support big corporations. Something like how we choose to dash off an email rather than handwrite a letter perhaps? Trust you are doing well -- just came from your sister's blog :)

    ReplyDelete
  115. I started to comment the other day and got seriously side tracked. I don't shop at Wal-mart (for a whole host of reasons), but that is a big one. When my husband and I travel we always try to eat at the local restaurants and shop local. It is very sad that the big box stores who lack in customer service are taking over the world. Sometimes you've got to pay a bit more, but it's worth it to shop in a store that is different than to shop in a store where everything is the same in any location!

    ReplyDelete
  116. It's so so sad, that's what it is. I keep trying to support my local businesses and I really hope that they do not completely die. I play my part as much as I can.

    ReplyDelete
  117. When I was still a teacher the kids in school thought I was a crazy person for not going to "chain" shops - that did not seem to grasp that it was not because I don't like a burger now and them - but because I wanted to shop in places that you might call "ma and pa'" shops.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    ReplyDelete
  118. Thumbs down to walmart.
    I try to support all locally owned businesses, in whatever town I'm in.
    There is a mom and pop grocery store in my neighborhood! They sell exotic cheeses and have an awesome old fashioned deli. The store is like 200 yrs old or something. Hehe.

    ReplyDelete
  119. I am huge on going to our local cafe at the end of our road and the one boutique near me instead of big stores. I dislike big clothing stores anyway, too much choice and not a happy shopping experience. I like a few things, nicely curated.

    ReplyDelete
  120. I am from a small town and totally get it. My dad refused to shop at Home Depot just for this reason. Yes, it eventually came to my small town in New Mexico. Luckily, the small hardware store he shopped is still there. He could even smoke in the local hardware store. I didn't like that part though.

    ReplyDelete
  121. It's sad when small stores die ... they have a sense of belonging and familiarization which is missing in extravagant shops.

    ReplyDelete
  122. Such a great post! Our little town has barely any small retail left...not due to Wal-Mart...we're too small for that...we have succumbed to www and youngsters who don't want to commit to 9-5 6 days a week...and I don't blame them! I've had my share of owning small businesses...I miss it!

    ReplyDelete
  123. You say you're optimistic existentialist...How is it possible?Have you made another philosophy?:/..if so let me know:P...because i hv read that of sartre and Albert Camus and that is depressing!

    ReplyDelete
  124. i love the little hole in the wall restaurants here - there are so many people to eat out, that they seem to do well, and if they're really good, people fill the place up, one place had to expand they were doing so well. but the stores, yes, they are vanishing, like "You've Got Mail" - sad, but inevitable, just like paper. i know a generation will come who has never touched paper!
    hope you had a nice vacay and i will say hi to your sis =)

    ReplyDelete
  125. Agree with you. There is always a personal touch in such places.
    This reminds me of a cartoon strip that I saw in which a corner store was opened by a widow. She was doing good business and she expanded to one more store on the next block. The expansion went on till it was a "chain store" (and the business went down) The last frame is another lady opens a small store adjacent to the chain store (and there is a bee line there)

    ReplyDelete
  126. hi Keith, We are using your blog in class as a demo and everyone is so impressed!

    ReplyDelete
  127. I hate Walmart! It's always so crowded and messy. I feel stressed when I'm in there. I do not shop that at all anymore. I try really hard to go to smaller stores. It's hard though when they are closing all the time. :( One of my favorite things to do is decorate with second hand items from antique shops and thrift stores. This is also better for the planet! It's a win win!

    ReplyDelete