There is nothing that says you’re living the “American Dream” like operating your own business and even more so when it’s “all in the family.”
Not long ago communities were littered with mom-and-pop businesses. Everything from greasy spoon diners to hardware stores were owned and operated by the people who lived in the community. Saturday celebrates those who follow that dream with National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are more than 27 million small businesses in the United States. The majority are small family-owned businesses with 20 employees or less.
Whether it’s been in the family for generations or is a brand new start-up, owning your own business is the ultimate goal for most Americans.
“It’s the mom and pop business that are the ones who support the communities,” Monica Bristow, president of the River Bend Growth Association, said.
Bristow said small businesses are vital, but not everyone fully appreciates what it is they do.
She said they often bring different products to the marketplace as well as provide stellar and personal service.
“These are the businesses that give back and it’s the mom and pop businesses that make a community stronger,” she said.
Julie Meeks, and her husband, Tim, opened Olive Oil Marketplace, 108 W. Third St., Alton, in 2011. The store carries extra-virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around the world.
The couple loves to cook and knew after visiting similar businesses that the shop would be a good fit in the community.
“Since the day we opened, this community has supported us,” Julie said.
Due to that support, the Meeks have also been able to expand.
“We carry more than olive oil and vinegar,” Julie Meeks said. “We now offer all types of specialty food and ingredients and in April we are planning to expand again.”
Meeks said it’s not just the people who offer support, but other business owners. She said the mother-daughter duo, Sherry Reddo and Stacy Keshner, co-owners of White Birch Interiors and Home Accents, 701 Delmar Ave. in Godfrey, have referred people to her shop, for which she is thankful.
Keshner said she knows it takes support from everyone, including other small business owners, to survive. White Birch first opened in 2007 and on March 14 the mother and daughter opened a second shop at 441 E. Vandalia St. in Edwardsville. The store offers one-of-a-kind gifts and items.
“When we opened our first shop we jumped in feet-first to follow our dream,” she said. “We support the community, but being able to open a second location is rewarding in the fact we know the community supports us as well.”
Bristow said whether you’re looking for a particular product, special service, a great place to eat or a fun night on the town, the area is filled with family-owned places.
“Our membership is made up by more than 50 percent mom and pop businesses,” she said. “They are what keep the American dream strong.”