Mom and Pop Shop Definition | What Are They?

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The Mom and Pop Shop name is commonly used for private, family-owned businesses. These types of stores are typically run by a family and usually consist of a limited number of employees. What’s more, Mom and Pop Shops often generate limited revenue. Initially, the term “Mom and Pop” referred to investors who had very little market experience. However, it eventually came to reference family-owned businesses such as restaurants and bookstores. As more private owners branched out their business ventures, insurance agencies, automotive repair shops, and a bevy of other industry types entered the market. Mom and Pop Shops tend to focus on and sell local products and are often composed of a single location. Over time, larger brick-and-mortar stores staked their claim into the free market, serving as fierce ongoing competition for Mom and Pop Shops.

The Trials of Operating a Mom and Pop Shop

Mom and Pop Shops have some key disadvantages when it comes to facing off against big businesses and franchises. Whereas Mom and Pop Shops are often limited to a single store in a single city or town, franchises have stores all over the place – not just in the United States, but often around the world, as well. Based on reach alone, bigger businesses get an automatic edge over the smaller Mom and Pop Shop. And because of this, more and more Mom and Pop Shops are closing their doors indefinitely. In the face of the recent pandemic, Mom and Pop Shops are struggling like never before. Even the ones that thrived amidst stiff competition are now being forced to close down. This is a shame, as Mom and Pop Shops have many advantages over big-box stores.

Advantages of Mom and Pop Shops

There are many reasons why taking your business to a Mom and Pop Shop is better than going to a retail giant. Big-budget corporations continue to spend billions of dollars each year in an effort to find out what attracts customers. In doing so, they often come up with cookie-cutter cheesiness that is insincere and ineffective. Mom and Pop Shops are personal businesses that don’t need expensive marketing research to know how to win over customers. When they get business, they don’t need to employ a false marketing tactic that placates their customers. Instead, knowing people by name and treating them fairly is often more than enough to keep customers coming back. And because Mom and Pop Shops are often the livelihoods of those working there, they are happy to provide genuine assistance to their customers. Contrast that with the underpaid help you find in corporate chains, and the difference is jarring. When you shop at Mom and Pop stores, you’re directly contributing to your local community. What’s more, many of these shops will often stock a single item at the request of a loyal customer. Try getting that kind of service from your local retail giant.

Disadvantages of Mom and Pop Shops

Since these shops are limited in their reach and customer base, they often have less of a variety of products to choose from. What’s more, you’re likely to pay more at Mom and Pop Shops. This is because they can’t afford nor have the space to buy the high level of bulk that big-box stores order. Because Mom and Pop Shops are locally-owned and operated, it’s rare to find one that’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Service is therefore limited to when the owners can work. Whereas retail giants aren’t dependent on one person, Mom and Pop stores often are. As such, if the owner’s reputation is tarnished, it can harm the business as a whole. Mom and Pop Shops can make a comfortable living by focusing on one type of product or service. However, this can negatively affect their business, as well. Since customers can’t get everything they need from Mom and Pop stores, they have no choice but to shop at big-box stores. When you’re in a hurry or don’t feel like running into more than one store, the retail giants will usually win out based solely on the fact that they have more products to choose from.

Examples of Mom and Pop Shops

It’s not exactly a state secret that Mom and Pop Shops are declining across the country. With that said, you might be surprised to learn that many of the corporate giants you see today actually began life as a Mom and Pop Shop. Let’s look at some companies that are doing well for themselves today yet started out as a private Mom and Pop business.


That’s right, the computer company that rakes in over $90 billion a year started out as a simple Mom and Pop Shop. Dell was started by a college student named Michael Dell back in 1984. He assembled computers in his college dorm room and then sold them on the cheap. Years later, Dell is going strong as one of the most recognizable – and successful – forces in the computer industry.

Whole Foods

Started by partners John Mackey and Renee Lawson Hardy in 1978 under the name “SaferWay Natural Foods,” Whole Foods eventually grew to consist of over 500 stores and $16 billion in annual revenue. Not bad for a store that started on the first floor of a two-story house.


Founded in 1964 by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman under Blue Ribbon Sports , Nike is now a juggernaut in the shoe industry. The company currently brings in between $6 billion and $10 billion in revenue every year.

Starting Your Own Mom and Pop Shop

Do you dream of starting your own business? Whether you have aspirations of becoming as big (or bigger) than the companies above, or you’re content with a single store, you’ve got to start somewhere. Follow the advice below for direction in starting your own Mom and Pop Shop. Research Before investing money, assets, and time into your business venture, research what you’re planning to sell. Extensive planning and education will give you the inside track on your chances of success. Budget Wisely A solid business plan will help you to determine how much of a budget you’ll need to purchase various items and pay for rent, salaries, marketing, and more. Scout Your Location Where you set up shop will make a big difference in the success of your business. Scout out different locations and research what kind of traffic it usually sees. Research Your Customers You can perform all the analytics in the world, but it won’t mean anything if you neglect your customers. Your customers are going to be responsible for keeping your doors open, so be sure to plan for the type of customers you are going to serve. When you have determined who your customers will be, it will be easier to plan your business. Seek Advice Don’t be afraid to get advice from those who have gone before you. Seek out successful business owners to learn what you need to do in order to succeed in your business venture. If possible, speak with owners who are in the same industry that you want to enter. This will help you establish a solid game plan so you’ll know how to best implement it. Secure Funding You’re likely going to need to secure a small business loan to get your company off the ground and running. It’s important that you get a loan with reasonable rates and terms. If you’re not sure how to go about this, we invite you to contact us for more information. We have helped small business owners secure funding totaling over $400 million. Let us add you to that list and assist you in getting the money you need to open your doors. Pick an Opening Date Setting a deadline will serve to keep you on track. Once you have everything in place to start your own Mom and Pop Shop, pick an opening date and work to stick to it. Market Your Business You need to let as many people as possible know about your new business venture. If you budget wisely, you can spend a small amount of money to go toward marketing your brand. While local marketing is important, you need to focus on establishing your online presence, as well.


Starting your own Mom and Pop Shop can prove to be fruitful if you find the right niche and research it accordingly. If you need assistance in doing so, we encourage you to reach out to us . Our small business experts will be happy to lend a helping hand to ensure that you make the best financial decisions. Be sure that you also explore the rest of our extensive blogs page . We cover a variety of topics related to small businesses that can help you in your journey to starting your very own Mom and Pop Shop. Sources

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