Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Mom & Pop Store: True Stories from the Heart of America” as Want to Read:
The Mom & Pop Store: True Stories from the Heart of America
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.27  ·  Rating Details ·  90 Ratings  ·  42 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 Books (first published September 15th 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Mom & Pop Store, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Mom & Pop Store

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mike Lindgren
Oct 05, 2009 Mike Lindgren rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
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
Feb 17, 2010 Nan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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).

Oct 20, 2009 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 31, 2014 Bookworm rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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, reti
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
Nov 03, 2011 trav rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, business
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
Sep 17, 2010 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, giveaway-wins
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
Oct 12, 2009 Melanie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
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
Sep 28, 2010 Becky rated it liked it  ·  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
May 22, 2010 Lennie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 10, 2011 Michelle rated it really liked it
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
Oct 21, 2009 Mischelle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
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
Oct 13, 2009 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 23, 2009 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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
Nov 04, 2009 AJ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 07, 2009 Cissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 03, 2010 Patricia rated it it was ok
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
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
Sep 19, 2010 Kris rated it liked it
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
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
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
Jan 12, 2016 V rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You will think twice about buying items from "big box" stores or chain restaurants (assuming you have a Mom and Pop alternative in your town) after reading this book. It is an excellent read about how small business owners have survived the economic times of the last century and how they help one another and their community members when the chips are down. I admire their tenacity and strong willed personalities.
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.
Apr 17, 2010 Peter rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This could be a good book if your really into the local store scene. The book has many snippets of details of different small shops. I didn't think it flowed very well and I got bored with it. There was some good stuff in it, but I would rather have read it as a article in a newspaper rather than a book.
Nov 30, 2009 Phil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 19, 2009 Armando rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
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.
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Unleashing the Killer App: Digital Strategies for Market Dominance
  • Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity and How Great Brands Get It Back
  • Reinvention: How to Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life
  • Seven Years to Seven Figures: The Fast-Track Plan to Becoming a Millionaire
  • The New How: Creating Business Solutions Through Collaborative Strategy
  • The Millionaire Maker: Act, Think, and Make Money the Way the Wealthy Do
  • Often Wrong, Never in Doubt : Unleash the Business Rebel Within
  • Rich Like Them: My Door-to-Door Search for the Secrets of Wealth in America's Richest Neighborhoods
  • A Million Bucks by 30: How to Overcome a Crap Job, Stingy Parents, and a Useless Degree to Become a Millionaire Before (or After) Turning Thirty
  • The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge
  • Co-Opetition
  • Flip: How to Find, Fix, and Sell Houses for Profit
  • Borrowing Brilliance: The Six Steps to Business Innovation by Building on the Ideas of Others
  • Designing Gestural Interfaces: Touchscreens and Interactive Devices
  • The Intelligent Entrepreneur: How Three Harvard Business School Graduates Learned the 10 Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship
  • Jeffrey Gitomer's Little Red Book of Sales Answers: 99.5 Real World Answers That Make Sense, Make Sales, and Make Money
  • Subject To Change: Creating Great Products & Services for an Uncertain World
  • Our Patchwork Nation: The Surprising Truth About the "Real" America
Robert Spector is an author of business books, consultant and motivational speaker focusing on customer service.
More about Robert Spector...

Share This Book

“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. ” 4 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
More quotes…