The Mom and Pop Store

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Business journalist Robert Spector grew up working in his family’s butcher shop in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, an experience that taught him about the independent retail business and about life. In The Mom and Pop Store: How the Unsung Heroes of the American Economy Are Surviving and Thriving, he tells the history of small, independent retail and how renewed community support for local businesses is helping mom and pop stores across the country.

Event: Robert Spector will be part of a panel discussion on the state of small businesses
Wendesday, September 16 at 7 pm
The Hudson Memorial Assembly Hall
239 Thompson Street, off of Washington Square South
The event is free, but reservations are required.
You can RSVP to


Robert Spector

Comments [11]

Kazuo from Fairfield


You are running your own shop, LL show, your own brand.

Sep. 16 2009 01:56 PM
Jgarbuz from Queens, NY

My parents were immigrants from post-Holocaust Europe and also has literally a "bargain basement" hole in the ground of a store that I was dragged into by virtue of having to. It meant mostly 6-7 days a week and little time for a young person to enjoy the weekend, which was a non-existent concept for my East European parents. So I can perfectly relate with Mr. Spector's experiences, and his desire to tear away from it to pursue a more intellectual or professional career. Alas, I too could not appreciate the innate and seemingly instinctive wisdom and values of my parents till much later in life as well. There is much to be said about the loss of small family businesses and small family farms. Happy Mr.Spector has decided to take on the job.

Sep. 16 2009 01:16 PM
Connie from Westchester

Nina Talbot writes about her paintings. I went on the website. They are terrific. I wonder how many of these people are still in business.
I doubt that the "One Hour Photo" shop is still there.

Sep. 16 2009 12:45 PM
joe g from LI

i grew up working in my father's variety store on fordham rd in the bronx in the 60's and early 70's---it instilled a work ethic that is not seen today and there was a true community spirit in the "neighborhood" ---maybe all that has changed---i remember being a budding lefty trying to convince my dad that pathmark selling housewares was unfair and he defended the system even though it hurt him---
thanks for the memories


Sep. 16 2009 12:33 PM
hjs from 11211

jimmy carter owned and ran a farm

Sep. 16 2009 12:33 PM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

when i lived in france not so long ago, the bodega at the foot of our court was not only the closest resource, but an exceptional neighbor, as well. the merchant would extend centimes to to shoppers who ran short, and he would hand-select produce for you with a smile.

when i found him making lighting improvements to his tiny but mighty empire, i asked this gentleman (who was born in morocco, but proudly referred to himself as french) if this was to help him against the competition of nearby shops of similar scale.

he said no, that if he made the same living he made the year prior, that it was enough for him. he felt that if he put in an exceptional level of effort on "business investment" that he would be enslaved to "too much business" to manage. he was content to have something to hand his sons when the time came, and believed he could thrive without chasing bigger/better.

twenty plus years in the business (and in what he felt was a supportive culture), and he's still there.

Sep. 16 2009 12:30 PM
Jack from New Hyde Park, NY

I have a variety store as the old fashioned 5&10, and unfortunately my children were not interested in coming into the business. When i'm ready to retire I just don't see anyone interested or able to do all that we do.
Between the competition and costs and sources of merchandise drying up independents days are numbered. But, I still love what I do.

Sep. 16 2009 12:19 PM
A listener from Queens from Queens


Didn't you mention once how your parents once owned a pharmacy in Ozone Park on 101st Avenue? (I think I remember it from my youth, btw. The front had a facing of concrete with large pebbles. That was in the late '80s, though....)

Would you ask your guest if other countries or cities help subsidize or otherwise protect their mom 'n' pops? I don't think we do that in the city.


Sep. 16 2009 12:16 PM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

not they ended up "mom and pop", but thanks for mentioning the balducci story. when they closed the west 14th/8th avenue store this past year, many of us who depended it upon it worried about their wonderful staff and the prospect of them finding jobs in this climate.

Sep. 16 2009 12:09 PM
Nina Talbot from Flatbush, bklyn

Two years ago i painted local mom & pom shopkeepers around my Flatbush corner; workers in their stores. These painted stories of working people in their everyday lives highlight themes of immigration and gentrification against the backdrop of old-time New York.
My inspiration for the "Vendors of Newkirk" series came from reflecting on my Flatbush neighborhood. What will this place and these people look like in ten years, or in fifty years? Will the storekeeper from Tajikistan and the one from Hong Kong hold on to their uniqueness, or will they mesh entirely into a homogenous American landscape? The portraits grapple with these questions.

Link to series on website:

Sep. 16 2009 12:08 PM
stuart from upper west side

Mom and Pop stores are disappearing from Manhattan in the blink of an eye. How many banks, cell phones shops, and other chain stores can a neighborhood support, when it loses basic necessities like a butcher, hardware store, or even a run-down bar?

Sep. 16 2009 12:03 PM

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