What Some Creative Mom and Pop Shops Are Doing

mom and pop shop

mom and pop shop

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. [Read more…]

Would You Buy Products Made in the USA?

made in USA

made in USA

When I posted the question “Would you buy products made in the USA?” on social media, I got a flood of responses. As a manufacturer, we have to deal with many different issues, and one of those is price. Americans have gotten used to paying low prices for products that are made in other countries, mostly China.

I got a quick lesson in importing when the company I was licensing my product to went bankrupt only weeks before we were to sign our contract. I didn’t have time to wait, and realized I was going to have to do it myself. I had never even run a business before, and here I was searching for international manufacturers, and learning about freight brokers, ports, and ocean shipping. I also have to deal with regulations and taxes in the other countries I ship to. Plus, you have to allow about 30 days for delivery and usually have to buy in large quantities.

I have hope that we will soon be bringing cheaper and better manufacturing back to the U.S. through innovative manufacturing systems like robotics and 3-D printing. Right now robotics in manufacturing is still new. They are limited to one task, and aren’t yet suitable for assembling small items. But new models currently being developed will be able to assemble any kind of product, and will be able to work alongside humans without danger of injuring them.

Since wages have soared in China, they have also begun to invest heavily in robotic manufacturing. The small, family owned factory I use there is constantly increasing my prices. Hopefully, robotic manufacturing used here to lower prices will mean the end of manufacturers always having to chase the lowest wages.

Buying products made in the USA is something many Americans feel strongly about. In fact, about 80% of the people I polled said they would rather buy American made. And it’s a completely bi-partisan issue. Everyone knows American-made products, for now, will be more expensive. The question is, how much more?

Here are some of the answers I got when I asked about buying “Made in USA” products:

“Yes I would and here’s why: I don’t actually know what’s in my cleaning agents, for example, if I import from China. They recently had a huge bust over there with a sophisticated operation selling industrial salts as food grade. Happens all the time in that country. In American I know what I’m getting. That I’m supporting people outside my own company is karma in the bank that will come back to my business if we all pitch in.”
Sean Desilva, owner of http://EveryLastSpot.com

[Read more…]

5 Reasons to Attend Face to Face Meetings

face to face meetings

face to face meetings

A Forbes Insight survey revealed that 8 out of 10 executives said they preferred face to face meetings as opposed to online or videoconferencing to build more meaningful business relationships. This proves what I’ve always believed to be true, that no matter how much technology we have, nothing beats a good ‘ole fashioned face to face meeting for putting together a strong business network.

A friend of mine who runs one of the most successful concert promotion businesses told me that he started his business with the idea that he would always make a point of meeting a potential customer or partner in person no matter where they were in the world. And he has stuck to that to this day. He’s racked up millions of frequent flyer miles and traveled to almost every country in the world.

His extensive phone book isn’t just for show. Because of his years of using this business tactic, he can literally pick up the phone and get almost anyone on the phone. And if he doesn’t have their number, he knows someone who does. But he accomplished that by building his network one person at a time and meeting them face to face.

A recent survey by the Meetings Mean Business Coalition found that 96% of small business owners got a return on investment with face to face meetings. For this reason, over 90% of those same small business owners say they plan to continue going to live meetings and events. This is good news for anyone who works with small business owners. Make sure you find out what conferences and events they attend and arrange to meet them there in person. This is also true if you want to work for a small business. Many say they prefer to find potential employees at a live, face to face event.

Here are some reasons why small businesses should have face to face meetings: [Read more…]

Do You Mix Business With Pleasure?

As a business owner I spend about 95% of my time working. I’m sure I’m not the only one. It’s well known that business owners almost always put in more time than salaried workers. So, with all of that work, how does a business owner get a break? We’ve been told that you can’t mix business with pleasure. But is that true?

mix business with pleasure

mix business with pleasure

These days business owners are having to find more creative ways to sneek in some fun and relaxation, even if you don’t leave the office. Taking the family along on a business trip is becoming quite popular. There’s even a word for it. “Bleisure”.

Here are some examples of business owners who are combining business and pleasure:

“I own a small business designing, making, and selling chainmail jewelry. I have a booth and sell at a number of craft shows and conventions.  I’m established enough to do well at shows, but not profitable enough to employ staff to help.   I always invite a few friends or my mother-in-law to help or even just to visit.  It’s a great opportunity to chat between customers, they get to attend the show, and I have someone I can trust with the booth when I need to step away to powder my nose or check out the competition.”

Gwendolyn Kestrel


Promote a fun -but professional- environment. Example: At our office, we play ping pong religiously. Employees often partake in games two to three times per day. We have a professional style table, tournament brackets and a plethora of balls. The one thing that everybody owns is their own personal racquet. 
Find methods to detox: Work in stressful. What outlets are you providing for your employees to burn off some stress and relax? Sponsoring a group lunch? A nice 5à7? We’ve done both of these every month.
Productivity and exercise: Have business meetings while on a light jog with your employees. This kills two birds with one stone. Why? An elevated heart rate moves you away from laziness, and the things that you see outside spark thinking and curiosity. More than that, you can actually iron out some major points without overthinking things. On Mondays, I run with my Marketing Director. Wednesdays it’s two of the web developers. On Thursdays, the logistics people fill me in during the run about inventory and such. Guess what? We’re all much fitter, happier and healthier…and we’re being efficient while becoming those things!
Sebastien Dupéré
Owner, President and CEO of Dupray
We sell steam cleaners and steam irons in six countries.  

[Read more…]

Are You a Charismatic Leader?

Charisma. It’s hard to define, but you know it when you see it. Think of some of the most charismatic leaders you can remember throughout history. Many are probably politicians, successful business owners, religious leaders or activists. They have a combination of personality, power, charm, and many unique skills that make up the whole charismatic persona as a leader. And we’re drawn to them like moths to a flame.



It isn’t a class that’s taught in college, but it’s one of the most important traits you can have as a leader. Some people are born with it, but many are not.

Some charismatic leaders, like Ghandi and Churchill, were just average students in school. Some, like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, prove that even introverts can transform themselves into leaders that people want to follow.

So, what if you aren’t a natural charismatic leader? How can you sharpen your skills and up your game?

  • Exude confidence – Being confident means knowing your stuff. If you want people to follow you, you have to really know what you’re talking about. Become an expert in something. And know every single thing you can possibly know about it. If you’re a leader in a company you should know how the entire organization works, from top to bottom. Know as much as you can about every job in the company. Be ultra prepared and confidence will come naturally.
  • Be a great listener – Charismatic leaders become that way because they understand people and what makes them tick. They can quickly size people up and adapt to what they need in a compassionate way. Richard Branson said “To be a great leader, you must be a great listener”.
  • Be passionate about your vision – Again, think of all of the charismatic leaders you’ve known. What did they all have in common? They had a strong, unwavering vision and they were passionate about it. Being excited about a vision causes others to become excited about it too. Enthusiasm is contagious.
  • Be an articulate speaker – Speak clearly and use concise language. Lose the words “like” and “um”. Say what you mean, and mean it from your heart. Charismatic people don’t analyze what they say. It comes from a place of being sure of what they’re doing. Also, adding a little humor goes a long way.
  • Be curious – The day you lose your curiosity is the day you lose your zest for living. Being curious about the world around you opens you up to people and gives you something to talk about. The most creative and innovative people are also the most curious and are willing to take creative risks.
  • Be positive – This should be common sense, but people are drawn to leaders who are positive. They seem to have an energy that you just want to get next to. You want it to rub off on you. If you aren’t feeling positive, think about something you can feel grateful for. Sometimes that’s enough to turn your mood around. Even faking it will sometimes get you in a better mood.

[Read more…]