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The Mom & Pop Store: How the Unsung Heroes of the American Economy Are Surviving and Thriving Hardcover – September 15, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Company; 1 edition (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802716059
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802716057
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,584,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Spector (Category Killers) offers a love letter to American small-business people, in particular his beloved, hardworking father, a neighborhood butcher. A tribute to local merchants, depicted as independent, passionate and persistent and the guardians of our most basic and enduring commercial bond, the book presents a broad, intriguing history of the 90% of all modern-day U.S. businesses, which are family-owned or controlled, and their neighborhood-defining, community-building, ethics-based contribution to the American way of life. Spector touches on such examples of small-business successes as Rob Kaufelt of Murray's Cheese in New York's Greenwich Village, but his book truly sings when the author recounts his childhood spent in his family's butcher shop and the practical wisdom he gleaned at his father's knee. Cheerful and charming, this is a heartfelt look at life on the other side of the counter. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“The stories that Spector has gathered are cheering testimonials to the value of hard work and creative retailing, heartwarming in this day of conglomerates…. Readers who enjoy Capra-esque stories about plucky general merchandising outfits run by colorful individualists will enjoy Spector's book.”—The Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Spector offers a love letter to American small-business people...his book truly sings when [he] recounts his childhood spent in his family's butcher shop and the practical wisdom he gleaned at his father's knee. Cheerful and charming, this is a heartfelt look at life on 'the other side of the counter.'"—Publishers Weekly

“The most intriguing parts of the book chronicle the struggle of each business to survive in a retail environment in which small businesses must adapt or fail…. Lively lessons about business ethics and practices that Fortune 500 companies, the author suggests, would be wise to follow.”—Kirkus Reviews


More About the Author

Robert Spector is recognized worldwide as the ultimate authority on The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence. His best-selling business classic The Nordstrom Way: The Inside Story of America's #1 Customer Service Company is the first and only up-close and personal look at how this company became the national standard of customer service. BusinessWeek said it "bubbles with customer service insights."

In March 2012, a completely new edition of the book The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence: How to Become the Nordstrom of Your Industry was released. Please watch Robert's author video to learn more about what's new - for YOU - in the new edition.

Robert has been involved in customer service since the age of 13, when he first went to work in his mother and father's butcher shop in the farmers' market in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Working alongside his parents, he learned firsthand what it takes to take care of customers--and to keep them loyal. Those lessons inspired his latest book, The Mom & Pop Store, which features interviews with successful independent retailers from all over the world. Robert believes that the elements of world-class customer service are the same, whether they come from Spector's Meat Market, Nordstrom, or Amazon.com, the subject of his international bestseller Amazon.com: Get Big Fast.

Robert has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, among others. When he is not speaking, training and consulting internationally about customer service, he lives in Seattle.


Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mary Lois Timbes on October 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is about love, make no mistake about that. Retail guru Robert Spector reveals his lifelong affection for the Mom `n' Pop store, a seemingly endangered institution. Raised in such a store--a butcher shop in Perth Amboy, N.J,--Spector has spent his life researching and advising the retail universe, and it is his thesis here that retailing is all a version of the Mom `n' Pop store, and that success is achieved in the same way for such venerated giants a Nordstrom as it is for the little grocery on the corner.

The book is a great read. Spector takes us through the history of retailing--which all began with little family stores--in all places of the world, from medieval fairs to eastern bazaars. He threads through his narrative abiding memories from his own life, including many of his contacts in cozy neighborhood establishments across America. He cites the reality that most U.S. stores were imbedded in the immigrant experience--the store was a way to relate to and provide for the community, and ultimately provided people like Spector with a way out into the larger world.

Reading it causes one to reflect on what it was we loved about the little hardware store where all the guys used to hang out, the corner drugstore where the soda jerk knew what you were going to order, the man slicing the meat at the butcher shop with one of those fascinating slicing machines. It taps into a well of nostalgia, while at the same time reviewing dozens of up-to-date stores based on the principles of the original mom-'n'-pops. Spector is unabashedly sentimental about his subject while at the same time imparting a wealth of information and inspiration to enterprising entrepreneurs.

He may be the one voice in retailing today who preaches love above techniques taught at business schools. It's a refreshing approach, totally authentic, and it's time we took a look at the obvious through such a book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ritamarie on November 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"The Mom and Pop Store" has something for everyone. It is: a passionate defense of small family businesses; a history of the retail merchant from ancient times to the present; a trip down memory lane; a celebration of the contributions of new immigrants to the melting pot that is the USA; and - most interesting of all - an exploration of how a variety of small businesses have contrived to adapt to a changing environment that includes big box stores, the Internet, gentrified neighborhoods, and more.

Any reader looking for a calm and rational analysis of the place of small family businesses in our economy will be disappointed. This book is highly anecdotal. Robert Spector begins with his youth in the family butcher shop in Perth Amboy, New Jersey and ends with a walk through his current Seattle neighborhood. In between, he profiles a myriad of small stores around the country - and the world - pausing occasionally to dredge up a bit of retail history or to reminisce about some aspect of his grandfather's shop.

It's true, the author does ramble a bit. But that's part of the charm. Concise? Well, no. Analytical? Uh, no, not that either. But fascinating, charming, and totally convincing? Absolutely yes!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William Harvey on November 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Small businesses account for about 50% of the private GDP of the US and create, on average, about two thirds of new jobs annually."

Robert Spector interviews perhaps 50 owners of mom & pop stores and draws heavily from his own experiences as a third generation family store owner. Story after story paint a picture of the small business owner as self-reliant, hard-working, independent, passionate and inventive. The aim of this book is not to 'take on' big box retailers but simply to show how mom & pop stores get in your blood.

Will mom & pop stores maintain their place in the community? Peter Drucker suggests we predict the future by creating it. Darwin suggests that survival depends on our ability to adapt to change. Small business forces it's owners to be creative and thereby gives them the foresight to adapt to changes in the economic road ahead of them. Sounds like a winning plan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By rlweaverii on August 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

Let me begin by telling you what this book is not. First, it is not a history nor a background study of mom and pop stores. One reviewer at Amazon.com commented on precisely this aspect: "If you're looking for a book to give you some background, data and understanding of small businesses, how they operate and how they fit in and affect the US economy, unfortunately this is not it. It will not tell you, as its title suggests, how mom & pops are `surviving and thriving.'"

Second, it is not at all concise. Rather, it rambles a bit.

Third, it is not the least bit analytical. He has no interest in writing a rational, logical, or organized approach to the topic. He has, instead, put together a love story (or love stories) that reveal the passion, creativity, and tenacity small business owners demonstrate -- in the Studs Terkel tradition -- in order to survive.

One reviewer at Amazon.com, A. Westerman, writes, "Robert Spector has written a homage to the small, family-owned business -- the type rooted in the American psyche and as iconic as a Norman Rockwell illustration. Spector hopes to combat the notion that the family store is, much like The Saturday Evening Post, fading from the contemporary scene.

"The book, part memoir of the author's childhood at the family butchershop, part tribute to others family-owned businesses, Spector seeks to make the case that family shops aren't leaving the retail landscape. He does this with varying degrees of success: the profiles of business owners and their family members are heart-warming and interesting, but he also makes claims that are not supported by evidence.
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