Lessons From Five Famous Mom and Pop Shops

March 15, 2022

Mom and pop shops are the heart of many towns, neighborhoods, and cities across the United States and worldwide.

Whether they are the local pizzeria, hardware store, boutique, or grocery store, mom and pops serve their communities with a level of care not found at many other businesses.

These small businesses come from humble beginnings. Many were started by a husband and a wife, two best friends, or a parent and a child. The commonality is that they were created with a shared passion and dream. Yet, some mom-and-pops have been able to make it big.

Whether these small businesses offer original products consumers cannot find anywhere else or place new spins on classic products, they have thrived on their dedication to their work and emphasize what makes them unique from their competitors.

Here are five mom and pop shops that have made it big:

1. Nike

Perhaps one of the most well-known sneakers and athletic apparel brands, Nike, began as a mom-and-pop shop. Nike was born from the University of Portland track and field coach Bill Bowerman’s desire to create lightweight sneakers that would help propel his runners forward instead of slowing them down because of the typical heavy material many running shoes were made from. Bowerman partnered with Phil Knight, a runner on his track and field team, to develop the shoes and create Blue Ribbon Sports. Bowerman and Knight began selling their shoes from the trunk of their car, and soon enough, they took off. Bowerman’s drive to make better running shoes for his athletes, like Knight, created a multibillion-dollar athletic apparel brand. The brand was renamed Nike.

2. Yankee Candle Co.

A classic candle company that is a staple in many malls today, Yankee Candle Co., began with a son creating a DIY Christmas gift for his mom. At 16 years old, Mike Kittredge made a candle for his mom out of canning wax, crayons, string, and a milk carton. However, before he could give his mom the candle, his neighbor asked him if she could buy it instead. Kittredge used the money his neighbor gave him to purchase the supplies to make two more candles, one to give to his mom and the second to sell, and thus the Yankee Candle Co. began. A multibillion-dollar candle company came to fruition through Kittredge’s thrifty gift idea.

3. Ben & Jerry’s

One of the most notorious and influential ice cream brands in stores today began as a mom-and-pop shop. Best friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened their first ice cream shop in a gas station in Burlington, Vermont, after taking a $5 ice cream-making course at Penn State. The two were determined to escape their failing careers and decided to go into business together. Although they had little knowledge about the ice cream-making process, their perseverance led them to build one of the most successful ice cream brands today that provides customers with quality treats and gives back to the community through philanthropy.

4. SoulCycle

One of the trendiest fitness studios, SoulCycle, began as a dream between best friends Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice. After being introduced by a mutual friend, the two bonded over their desire to find a high-energy fitness class with a strong sense of community. Failing to find such a class, Cutler and Rice decided to open the first SoulCycle. Their first place was in a former dance studio listed on Craigslist. Cutler and Rice’s desire to revamp the fitness studio scene created a multimillion-dollar cycling craze. The Soul Cycle craze was built on working out in an upbeat and inclusive environment.

5. Five Guys

The classic burger restaurant that never disappoints, Five Guys, is an actual mom-and-pop shop. Jerry and Janie Murrell opened the first Five Guys. The first shop was a nod to Jerry and their four sons. The intention was to provide their two eldest sons a workplace after they graduated high school. The business values were focused on care and attention to detail, hand-forming each burger and hand-cutting each french fry. The once stand-alone Five Guys burger restaurant exploded into a franchise by focusing on making high-quality products. Five Guys has quickly become an international favorite.

Regardless of their locations, mom-and-pop shops are staples for many consumers.

Their friendly atmosphere attracts customers. A mom-and-pop shop’s attention to excellent service makes it easy for them to return again and again.

Each mom and pop shop on this list has thrived on its ability to redefine its respective industries. They create elevated products that consumers cannot find anywhere else. No matter what industry a mom and pop shop calls home, what enables them to make it big is their innovativeness, their capacity to reimagine what already exists, their passion for what they do, and their ability to stand out from their competitors.

Mom and pops are small businesses with big hearts. They never fail to satisfy their customers and give them exactly what they need and want. These small businesses are unafraid of creativity and thinking outside of the box. It is what gives them the power to rise above their competitors.

Small business owners should take inspiration from these moms and pops. It’s an opportunity to learn and strive to think creatively and emphasize what makes their businesses unique. There’s be afraid to think outside of the box! Through creativity, originality is born.

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