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

3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  80 ratings  ·  41 reviews
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
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by Walker & Company (first published September 15th 2009)
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My mother has been the sole proprietor of a gift shop in a small town for about 35 years. I grew up working there and to this day put in time at the wholesale marts and on the sales floor when I’m home visiting. I picked up this book from the library with my mom in mind. She came for a visit and took it home with her to finish. Rather than me write a review, I thought I would quote her letter that came in the mail when she sent the book back (we believe in returning things to the library).

Mike Lindgren
For many Americans, the phrase "mom and pop store" is irresistible, bringing back memories of a favorite candy store or corner grocery, usually run by an irascible immigrant with a hidden soft side. It's no news at all, of course, that the advent of monolithic chain stores and "big box" "category-killers," to use retailing parlance, threatens the existence of these embattled gems.

With "The Mom & Pop Store: How the Unsung Heroes of the American Economy Are Surviving and Thriving," Seattle-bas
Good beginning, goes downhill quickly. In the age of, Google Express, big box brands, etc., what about the little mom and pop shops? What will become of them? How did they get started? How do they adapt? what is so appealing about the small, independent stores? What makes people come back?

These are the questions author Spector looks at in his book. The son of a man who once owned his own shop, the author examines the rises of such stores and the people who made them: immigrants, retir
I think this book is very interesting and educational. I love the way the writer explains things and helped you to tune into the characters he portrayed.
This book is equal parts love story (with small business), biography and economics history. While I could see how some of the biographical details could get a little stale and repetitive for some readers, I felt that it really helped frame the nuts and bolts of what it means to be a small shop owner. Spector did a good job of covering small shop owners, in all industries, from across the whole country.

It was interesting to see all of the similarities in all of these family-owned businesses. And
One of the things that I like most about First Reads is the exposure to books that I might have never actually picked up myself. I tend to read fiction, mostly novels, and occasionally some non-fiction that somehow touches on medicine. So, a non-fiction book on business is not something that I would typically read. With that said, I really enjoyed this book. It gives some great insight into why mom-and-pop stores are doing okay in this terrible economy, and provides a very convincing argument ab ...more
I love supporting independent, neighborhood stores, but I didn't really know much about the history of them or all the time and energy that went into making these sort of shops a success. The author of this book tries to paint a picture of how mom and pop stores have influenced cities and communities and why their success is so important for individuals, as well as the economy in general. A number of owners of such stores are featured in here, explaining how they got where they are today and giv ...more
When Robert Spector's father died, he reflected on the kind of man he was, a Russian immigrant who came to America with only an eighth-grade education but despite this, he went on to own and operate a butcher shop in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Robert considered his father a hero and it wasn't until he was older that he realized how hard he had worked to maintain a family-owned business and it is this realization that inspired the author to write this book. So for two years, he traveled across the ...more
I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. I was expecting a nostalgic look at Mom and Pops. It wasn't nostalgic in the least. It was about the vibrancy of small business owners and families that truly enjoy working together.

Spector begins with his own memories of his family's butcher shop in NJ. His family was not one that loved working together, yet Spector reflects on what he learned about business and life from his early years working there.

We are then introduced to a variety of small business owne
Spector begins with his family's history in Perth Amboy, New Jersey as owners of a butcher shop, and continues with anecdotes from other longtime small business owners in the area. Next is a history of small business, beginning several thousand years BC and anecdotes from mom and pop shops around the world. Finally, Spector describes the mom and pop shops and small businesses in his more recent home (of 30 years) in West Seattle. He lightly makes a plea on behalf of less regulation for small bus ...more
Jan 19, 2011 Becky rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone starting a business (independent or chain) or anyone living in West Seattle or Perth Amboy
Recommended to Becky by: won from goodreads
Nonfiction account of the Mom & Pop stores around America. Stories of how some chain stores & brands (like Pizza Hut and Calvin Klein) started as well as the average American store that is surviving based on their great service and product. Some of the history (like the Perth Amboy area) was a little long for my taste but I would love for this author to do a piece on the Mom & Pop stores in my area - because sometimes you don't even know they exist until you wander in one day. It mad ...more
This is subtitled "How the Unsung Heroes of the American Economy Are Surviving and Thriving". It's divided into three sections. The first deals with the author's recollections of his family's businesses. The second (my favorite part) deals with many stories of real, currently operating mom-and-pop stores throughout the country. Some of the ideas presented are redundant, but I guess that just means that some methods are pretty much universal, i.e. customer service is paramount, be physically pre ...more
I won this book from back in November '09.

I wish I've would have read it sooner. I didn't realize what an impact that Mom & Pop stores had on a whole communty. I just that people just wanted their business or that just got sick of working for other people. Why not start a business if you can? This book set me straight on the in and outs in Mom & Pop businesses. I look at these businesses as speciality stores. The stores I've been into had product that no other store had. I
I thought this was pretty interesting reading. In the beginning the book focused on Mom and Pop businesses who didn't make it. It looks like a lot of business were either driven out by larger retailers or third and fourth generations who didn't want to bother with the business and let is falter.

The second half of the book focused on those who made it and why. It all comes back to people who are dedicated. You have to be willing to work seven days and week and be able to be working behind the cou
I won another book on Goodreads! I thought this would be interesting since we own one of those small businesses. I also thought it would be an interesting read for my husband Alex.

Updated: First off, I LOVED this book. I found it a fascinating look into small business, and more specifically of course Mom and Pop stores. I didn't think I would like this book as much as I did by the way. There was a lot of history in this book that outweighed the economics that I'm not as interested in.

He talks f
Aug 21, 2011 Michelle rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: small business owners & those wanting to learn about mom & pop stores
Being the "mom" in a mom & pop store, I needed to read something to boost my morale when battling Big Box Stores and City bureaucracy. This book did the trick. I learned a little, but was reminded of a lot, of why Mom & Pop stores exist, and thrive, in this era of corporations, where one city blends into another in an endless chain of chain stores. The stores that stick out now ARE the small, locally owned businesses, that know their customers, and know what they want, offering something ...more
This is an excellent inspirational book for anyone who is running a small business, or who knows someone who is doing such.

The success stories are fascinating and varied, and the context of small business within the development of American culture is both inspiring and helpful.

This is NOT a book that gives any particular lessons about running a small business, or making it succeed; if you're looking for that, this is not the best choice.

However: we're seeing a lot of media stuff these days about
This was a pretty interesting look into Mom & Pop stores. It definitely wasn't any sort of academic text, it's more like an anecdote-filled anthology of different Mom & Pop stores, but not in a bad way.

I'm already pro Mom & Pop store and will shop at them every time I can, which, fortunately, is most of the time here in Boston. I'm lucky, not everyone has such a great selection due to big meanies like Wal*Mart driving them virtually out of existence in many suburban areas.

Spector m
I won this book as a Goodreads First-reads. In a way, this book begins as a memoir, with the author giving us a firts-hand look at life in his father's butcher shop when he was a kid. The story gives us the viewpoint from the owners of small businesses, how they have stuggled, remained successful, and simply gotten by. He reminds us of how valuable the neighborhood shop is, the small business where the customer and the merchant actually interact and have a relationship. There is some history inv ...more
Spector has collected stories of these kind of shops and has entwined them into a collection that reveals the movement and traditions through the ensuing decades. There are many stories and histories of 'Mom and Pop' families who have carried on the traditions of this kind of shop.

I remembered with nostalgia the many hours spent with my closest friend and she waiting on customers in a little gas and goodies type of station. We grew up together in the midst of that experience.

This will be of int
Chris Aylott
Fun book, and I enjoyed the portraits of retail history over the last century. Spector does an especially good job of talking about how immigrant families have prospered through the businesses they started. However, it's hard to shake the feeling that a lot of the store owners profiled here are living on borrowed time.

The retailers who are building strong in-store communities will probably last the longest, but the demographic that is comfortable ordering almost everything online gets broader e
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway contest. Full of many inspirational stories of mom and pop store owners and their lives and experiences. I commend this book for having so many anecdotes and obviously well researched information. The author is the son of a butcher from Perth Amboy New Jersey, and he did not follow his father into the business but had helped in the store during his teen years. After his father's death, he decides to write about what made the store a success and in the cour ...more
If you've ever doubted the importance of independent retailers, Robert Spector's book will convince you. He talks about his own background growing up in a family business in New Jersey, and goes on to profile many small businesses around the country and in England. Happily he uses the term "Mom and Pop" fairly broadly, since not all of the stores he describes are owned by a married couple, but the message is that the relationships that build the business are important and the relationships with ...more
Tara Lynn
I was honestly surprised to find that this book was far less like an academic research piece than I'd imagined. I loved the author's own anecdotes about his family business, and I really appreciated the stories he told about little Mom and Pop stores operating today. There were moments where the text dragged the tiniest bit, but overall I was definitely entertained. A good read. I'd recommend it to economy or business students who are looking for something lighter and more fun to read in their f ...more
I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads, and I admit that I was a little skeptical about reading it. However once I finally started I found that I absolutely loved all the stories about how those little businesses that we all love have survived over the years. I sometimes find myself going to the bigger chain stores simply because they are cheaper, but after reading this book it's safe to say that I know my business will now be going to the much loved mom & pop stores.
Started out well, but petered out in the final 80ish pages.
This was a Firstreads win for me, and unfortunately, the book and I were not a good fit. I was hoping for more than cute stories and wishful thinking, but this book is short on practical advice.

If you're interested in the author's reminiscences about growing up in a family which owned a small store and in stories from "Mom and Pop" retailers across the country, this is the book for you.
Interesting discussion of the "mom and pop" business model, mostly told by interviews with the owners on how and why they chose the small buisness route. It focuses almost exclusively on the retail sector, however, ignoring the many microbusinesses in the service, construction and manufacturing industries.

Still, an interesting, if somewhat disorganized read.
the first part of the book was kind of boring, it wasn't what i was expecting but it got more interesting in part II.
I enjoyed part III and I do agree with most of the points discussed in this book specially about buying local. I always try to do that and during my lunch hour I always have the usual, I love going to that place because they know me.
Margaret Sankey
Spector, drawing on his own family's traditional butcher shop, profiles a new generation of business, highlighting their specialty service, community commitment and assimilation of emigrants. On the other hand, I've lived in small towns where you can be a hostage to tiny stores that are provincial, cliquish and intrusive. It's a fine line.
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Robert Spector is an author of business books, consultant and motivational speaker focusing on customer service.
More about Robert Spector... Get Big Fast The Nordstrom Way: The Inside Story of America's #1 Customer Service Company Category Killers: The Retail Revolution and Its Impact on Consumer Culture Lessons from the Nordstrom Way: How Companies Are Emulating the #1 Customer Service Company The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence: A Handbook for Implementing Great Service in Your Organization

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“Mom & pop stores are not about something small; they are about something big. Ninety percent of all U.S. businesses are family owned or controlled. They are important not only for the food, drink, clothing, and tools they sell us, but also for providing us with intellectual stimulation, social interaction, and connection to our communities. We must have mom & pop stores because we are social animals. We crave to be part of the marketplace. ” 3 likes
“Like all shopkeepers, they are deep-down optimists. They have to be, because every morning they unlock the doors to their stores, turn on the lights, prepare for the day, and wait for people to walk in and hand them money.” 2 likes
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