September 28, 2017 by Julie Austin
The term “mom and pop shops” usually refers to small, independent brick and mortar stores. I know the term well. I grew up in one. My grandparents ran a small gas station/grocery store and I stayed there as a baby while my parents worked. All the free candy and ice cream I could eat!
Everyone in the small town stopped by on a regular basis to sit for a while and have some snacks and strike up a good conversation. Who needed a newspaper when you could hear all of the latest news at my grandmother’s store.
So, it was kind of sad when the mega chain stores started going up downtown. But it really never changed her level of business at all, because there are some things the big chain stores simply can’t compete with. She had learned from the time she opened her business at the tender age of 17 that business is about relationships. Sure, you could buy those snacks and groceries cheaper at Walmart, but you could never get the camaraderie and personalized service you got from Mama Parney.
When she died almost everyone in the whole town showed up for the funeral. It was a testament to how well she treated all of her customers. Even when people didn’t have the money to pay, she would run a tab. I heard pretty much everybody paid her back.
With more and more customers seeking a good customer experience, mom and pop shops have a great opportunity to compete with the big box chains, doing things they aren’t able to do. Here are some mom and pop shops who are rising to the occasion:
- SitStayGo – SitStayGo™ invites you to come out for a special trunk show event at the D Pet Hotels in Chelsea showcasing the recently launched PET DINETTE & Leash. This unique all-in-one system allows pet owners to conveniently pack all of their walking essentials so that they can grab n’ go with ease. On Saturday, Pet parents will have the opportunity to learn more about this innovative product firsthand, meet the inventor, Michelle Glasser, enjoy some wine and cheese, have a treat tasting with Fido, and shop for SitStayGo™ products just in time for the holiday season! The Trunk Show is FREE and open to the public and little dogs. Guests will experience the luxurious D Pet Hotels, enjoy delicious wine and snacks, mix and mingle with other pet lovers, all while learning more about the innovative PET DINETTE & Leash from the inventor herself, Michelle Glasser. Best of all, this is the perfect opportunity to get your paws on some awesome pet gifts for the holiday season!
Michelle and the SitStayGo™ team are devoted to giving back to the animal community. Through their launch and the holiday season, a portion of each sale will be shared with Houston SPCA to help the most vulnerable victims of Hurricane Harvey thanks to their Give 2 Get program.
Learn more at: https://www.sitstaygoco.com/.
About D Pet Hotels: From Uber suites (larger than most New York City apartments!) to the lavish Pant doggie gym and lounge, distinguished dogs have all they could beg for. The hotel grounds span nearly 10,000 sqft with 19 ft high ceilings. The lobby offers clear views into the space, creating visibility and comfort for owners. The spa and chauffeur services turn a pooch into a pup star and, curating the coolest of the cool in dog fashions and lifestyle products, D Pet Hotel Chelsea’s retail boutique is worth a peek!
Learn more at: http://chelsea.dpethotels.com
Here is another inventor partnering with local mom and pops for a mutual benefit:
- BodyWorksBall – Last October, we attended the kick off event for Amex Shop Small Saturday in NYC. Shop Small Saturday has become a huge movement that we independent retailers depend on. Two years ago, we decided to harness the power of social media to drive traffic to my business. We rented a professional video camera set up, and taped 11 local businesses for Small Biz Saturday (including my own). Between my Mom and Sister, we filmed me outside of each small business, and then shopping at each small business, highlighting great products and services from each small business. We posted all these videos to my YouTube page (BodyworksBall), emailed all the videos to American Express OPEN, posted them on all the local merchants social media pages, posted on my Facebook and Twitter pages. We ended up not having to pay any fees for the video equipment, as we made a video shopping at the camera store that provided it to me, we did not pay for video editing services, as we created a video of the video editing company. The cross promotion, added business and goodwill among all was tremendous.. To say Shop Small Saturday has a HUGE impact on my community is a tremendous understatement. For most of us, it’s the kick off to the “money making” season for us. Last year, we selected new businesses to partner with, and my graphics person created the social media fliers for all the businesses, to cross promote our businesses (stop in this store, try out “my” product, post pictures on social media using our designated hashtags, etc.) The results were great for all of us. We’re meeting with other small businesses to work on this year’s small biz Saturday campaign.
And another mom and pop turning a negative into a positive:
- Nathan Stuart, owner of Seafood Kitchen in coastal Florida, is seeking out negative reviews about his business on sites like Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor specifically to drive repeat business. Before online reviews were a thing, small, independent businesses like Seafood Kitchen had no way of knowing if a customer was unhappy when they left the store. Now, they can engage with complaining customers and incent them to come back. Nathan offers a free meal to encourage a return visit, and he says it works every time. The lesson for local business owners is to read and respond to all your online reviews.
Here’s more about Nathan’s story.
Who knows what the mom and pop shops will look like in the future. But, like all businesses, they will change and grow. I look forward to seeing that happen.