The Mom and Pop Store: True Stories from the Heart of America

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Overview

The buying and selling of wares goes back as far as 7500 B.C, and the first retail shops (stalls operated by artisans) were created around 650 B.C. in Turkey. Business journalist Robert Spector, who grew up working in his family's butcher shop in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, set out to discover the current state of independent retailing in America. Spector found that despite a depressed economy, many mom & pop stores have been launched or successfully reinvented by responding to the changing tastes of their ...

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The Mom & Pop Store: True Stories from the Heart of America

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Overview

The buying and selling of wares goes back as far as 7500 B.C, and the first retail shops (stalls operated by artisans) were created around 650 B.C. in Turkey. Business journalist Robert Spector, who grew up working in his family's butcher shop in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, set out to discover the current state of independent retailing in America. Spector found that despite a depressed economy, many mom & pop stores have been launched or successfully reinvented by responding to the changing tastes of their patrons, offering good customer service, and fostering a sense of neighborhood identity and camaraderie. From a specialty soda pop shop in Los Angeles to a florist shop in Dayton, Ohio, from a bakery in Chicago to a bookstore in Washington State, mom & pop store owners shared their stories with him, revealing the spirit and tenacity of the small business owner. The Mom & Pop Store reflects the story of this country, for it embraces and cross-references every ethnic group, and virtually every element of our society.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Spector takes a close look at successful family businesses across America … And guess what? The mom-and-pop model turns out to be the essence of localism, entrepreneurship and a lot of other very 21st century ideas.”Entrepreneur Magazine

“The stories that Spector has gathered are cheering testimonials to the value of hard work and creative retailing, heartwarming in this day of conglomerates … Readers who enjoy Capra-esque stories about plucky general merchandising outfits run by colorful individualists will enjoy Spector's book.” Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Spector offers a love letter to American small-business people … his book truly sings when [he] recounts his childhood spent in his family’s butcher shop and the practical wisdom he gleaned at his father’s knee. Cheerful and charming, this is a heartfelt look at life on ‘the other side of the counter.”Publishers Weekly

“The most intriguing parts of the book chronicle the struggle of each business to survive in a retail environment in which small businesses must adapt or fail … Lively lessons about business ethics and practices that Fortune 500 companies, the author suggests, would be wise to follow.”Kirkus Reviews

“This excellent book is about real America since 90 percent of all U.S. businesses are family owned or controlled, and though some are large, mostly they are mom and pops.”Booklist

“There's a great deal of good journalism in Spector's book, and it affirms what I've long believed: that this kind of small, family business is integral to the American experience.”—Gay Talese

“A warm and personal look at the entry point of American emigrant entrepreneurship. The Mom & Pop Store is part Studs Terkel, part Bill Bryson, as Spector mixes family history with his vast knowledge of retail.”—Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping

“Every business lesson my dad ever taught me was built around the idea of treasuring every single customer. The resourceful entrepreneurs you’ll meet in this captivating book live by that simple, but powerful, idea.”—Bruce Nordstrom, chairman emeritus, Nordstrom, Inc.

We need more mom and we need more pop. Do you want to know why? Because they care. Caring matters. If you need proof, Robert Spector has it.”—Seth Godin, author of Tribes

“These personal accounts and reminiscences of tenacity, pluck, resourcefulness, and integrity, peppered with a few shakes of history, could forever change your interactions with local businesses.”—Jennifer Rockne, director, American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA)

Publishers Weekly
Spector (Category Killers) offers a love letter to American small-business people, in particular his beloved, hardworking father, a neighborhood butcher. A tribute to local merchants, depicted as independent, passionate and persistent and the guardians of our most basic and enduring commercial bond, the book presents a broad, intriguing history of the 90% of all modern-day U.S. businesses, which are family-owned or controlled, and their neighborhood-defining, community-building, ethics-based contribution to the American way of life. Spector touches on such examples of small-business successes as Rob Kaufelt of Murray's Cheese in New York's Greenwich Village, but his book truly sings when the author recounts his childhood spent in his family's butcher shop and the practical wisdom he gleaned at his father's knee. Cheerful and charming, this is a heartfelt look at life on “the other side of the counter.” (Sept.)
Library Journal
In this uplifting read, Spector (The Nordstrom Way) aims to show what life looks like "from the other side of the counter" in mom-and-pop stores—small, independent businesses—and to help us appreciate the service these types of shops offer our society. The son of a butcher, Spector spends the first section of the book telling the story of his own family's mom-and-pop store, including its immigrant beginnings. Then he follows with stories from interviews he held with proprietors of mom-and-pop stores across the country, also offering tips on customer service and life lessons learned by those who grew up around their family's small business. The third section of the book is devoted to the role of these stores in the community, showing how they enrich the lives of those in their geographical areas. VERDICT Readers who are feeling discouraged about the encroachment of big-box stores into their region will be delighted to hear stories of family businesses that are holding their local communities together by serving customers in the old-fashioned way: one person at a time.—Elizabeth L. Winter, Georgia Inst. of Technolgy, Atlanta
Kirkus Reviews
There's no business like small business in this study of the retail sector. Growing up in Perth Amboy, N.J., veteran business journalist Spector (The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence, 2005, etc.) worked with his grandfather, uncle and parents in the family butcher shop. There he learned both the struggles and rewards of running a small business and began a lifelong fascination with independent retailing. Spector saw in his family, quoting Emerson, a "tenacity of purpose." Through passion, persistence and scrupulous honesty the business would succeed in the face of any challenge, from supermarket competition to the economic decline of the neighborhood. He saw that the shop was more than a place to buy meat, but also a neighborhood institution where customers could gossip, joke and feel at home. With these lessons in mind, Spector set off on a "retail odyssey," traveling around the country-and the world-to document the experiences of other small businesses. Whether it was a grocery store in Los Angeles, a fruit stand in Miami, a tea shop in Tokyo or a hat store in London, the same values of hard work and optimism applied. The most intriguing parts of the book chronicle the struggle of each business to survive in a retail environment in which small businesses must adapt or fail. After being unable to compete with the big chains, the L.A. grocery store became a specialty store selling hundreds of brands of soda not found anywhere else in the city. Along the way, Spector interweaves a never-boring history of retailing-the first retail shops were created by the Lydians in present-day Turkey in 650 BCE-and the origins of currency, credit and trade laws. Lively lessons about businessethics and practices that Fortune 500 companies, the author suggests, would be wise to follow. Agent: Elizabeth Wales/Wales Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802777652
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 8/31/2010
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,434,283
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Robert Spector is author of The Nordstrom Way, The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence, Amazon.Com: Get Big Fast, and Category Killers. He has appeared on the National Business Report, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, Bloomberg Business, CNET News.com, CEO Exchange, NPR's Marketplace Report, and numerous other radio shows. He has written on business for the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, UPI International, NASDAQ Magazine, Customer Service Management, and Corporate University Review; on fashion for Women's Wear Daily and Details, and civil liberties for Parade. He gives dozens of talks every year to business organizations and groups.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I Stories from Home

1 Working-Class Hero 13

2 Perth Amboy 31

3 Zeyde (Grandfather): Founder of Our Family Business 49

Part II Stories from the Road

4 The Rise of the Merchant 67

5 Working Alongside Mom & Pop 89

6 Independence 117

7 Passion and Persistence 138

8 Reinvention 151

9 There Goes the Neighborhood 171

Part III Stories from the Community

10 Connection 197

11 Hard Times 216

12 If Your Neighbor Has It to Sell... 237

Acknowledgments 269

Notes 271

Selected Bibliography 277

Index 281

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