Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

On Saving the Forgotten Small Business in Your Town…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Depression and Hope,Retail Purgatory — Bob at 7:52 am on Thursday, December 5, 2019

by Robert M. Katzman © December 5, 2019

As a former owner 

I can tell you it is death 

Of an intense boutique business 

By a thousand individual sales 

Which never happened 


By previously steady customers 

Choosing to go to giant shopping centers

Or online

The new and terrible killer

Forgetting that many small operations

 Survive on a shoestring

 and the 

Entrepreneur patiently waiting

 For old customers to remember her or him

Is the first slice of overhead 

To go unpaid


Giving frustrated priority to: 







Rarely is there any 

Advertising budget to cut


Just prior to a unique

 and thinly financed 

Small business closing

 Is a period of terrible sorrow


That all the decades of 

Creativity, searching and pleasing

And attempting to please

 So many people

 May not have survived

 The transition to

 The next generation

 Or an

Unstoppable evolution 

Of technology


This period of your intense 




Kwanza shopping

Take a moment to think

 About the possibly shabby exterior

 of the 

Little enterprise you have passed

 So frequently that 

It has become invisible


There is a person inside 

of the

Dusty glass window

They are waiting

Waiting for you

Give them a chance


When an ancient small business

 Closes its door in a big city

I can tell you

Besides the silent

Breaking of an old heart

 It doesn’t make a sound



Comment by Brad Dechter

December 5, 2019 @ 8:40 am

What you write about- the reducing in size of the number of small businesses- may be fait accompli. These businesses do not have the resources or expertise to fight the larger chains. Their hope for salvation is in finding a niche that there is actually a small demand for in the area they exist. If the demand is too great, it invites competition. If the area of demand is a large area, it invites competition. This is why the idea, if good, tends to take on wings and grow until the person with the concept is no longer running a small business.
It is sad, because most of the smaller businesses nowadays cannot compete on pricing or maintain low costs to compete.
Sad, sad, sad to watch as the Amazons and AliBaba’s take over the world.

Comment by Donald Larson

December 5, 2019 @ 5:37 pm

Hi Bob,

The story you tell is true.

It’s not just large chains. The bigger impacts are created by suppliers, customers, new competition from near and far, and public perception of value.

Those factors were always present, they’re really not that new.

I think back to our old grade school neighborhood. Small store personnel were friendly, helpful and patient. Society was at a much slower pace. That wouldn’t work today on a larger scale. Mayberry ended when Opie and we grew up.

Over thirty years ago, I started telling people I wanted to start a hot-dog stand. I would only sell a hot dog, a bun, and mustard. No drinks, no other condiments, no fries, etc. I wanted simplicity and very little negative reactions.

I felt I would call it “Mayberry Hot Dogs Stand”.

No one took me seriously. People didn’t want to be limited to simple satisfaction unless I would provide their custom order on the spot.

What was really going on was my rejection of people wanting me to solve their computer issues that they were too stuborn to learn how to resolve themselves.

Today people just go to the large stores and expect satisfaction in real-time, delivered to their doorstep. That approach skips the Mayberry Expectations process.

Warmest regards,


Comment by sue burckhart

December 5, 2019 @ 11:56 pm

I used to visit a local toy store to buy my penny candy. I would stare at the toys and dolls that I loved in the hopes that perhaps an elf or that Santa would remember the special doll or toy that I had looked at and wished for several months and maybe on Christmas or my birthday I would get my wish. I did. Mrs. Reed was the owner of the toy store and she had some of the most wonderful and inventive toys for children with lots of imagination, like me. She had toys that no other toy store had. Thank you, Mrs. Reed and all of the small stores that made life more interesting. I am sorry that my future grandchildren will not have that happy experience.

Comment by Bob

December 8, 2019 @ 9:55 am

Sue, a lovely memory, thank you.

Comment by Paul

December 9, 2019 @ 8:56 am

Your poam reminds me of my first time I came into a store filled with thousands of magazines and a lifetime of memories and history. I was greeted by you and your liftime stories filled with all the emotions and experiences one can imagine. My own are filled with hanging out with my friends at the local fountan store. Having a chocolate shake and my world is at peace. Stay well my friend.

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