Local lifestyle columnists

Small businesses are everywhere in America, even in the least expected places

By From page B5 | June 07, 2014

Sometimes inspiration can come from the most unusual and unexpected places and that’s the case here.

On my recent trip to Texas, we were on our way to breakfast at Kitchen’s Hardware and Delicatessen, established in 1898. As we entered the downtown of Mineola, I looked up and saw this storefront with the sign, “Prior Attire.” A clever way of saying, “We sell used clothing.” I thought to myself, “Here is an entrepreneur.” I had never thought about what “small businesses” really are in America.

Here’s what I have come up with:

Most of the places and people we do business with are small-business entrepreneurs: people who stick their necks out to make it on their own. Many big-name businesses are really a collection of franchises where someone is taking a chance to succeed using someone else’s good product and marketing.

There are real chances to grow and become a big “small business”; have multiple stores instead of just one. I number several such people among my list of friends. C.C. Yin, for example, started out with one McDonald’s restaurant many years ago and now has 20 or more. Hard work and good management or maybe a small family business has a product so good that it grows. The Dynasty Chinese restaurant makes really good food and a genuine friendly atmosphere into a thriving business.

The Family Cookie Company in Suisun City is a genuine family owned and operated company. They supply the cookies for the It’s It ice cream sandwiches – my favorite. But they also have a line of ready-to-bake frozen cookies that are outstanding. They are packaged for home use or for fundraising.

On a truly grand scale, two really fantastic entrepreneur stories pop into mind: Willis Johnson created Copart in Vallejo and it is now the world’s largest auto parts auction company. Of course, there is Herman Rowland at Jelly Belly, whose mighty bits of flavor are loved all over the world. Those are examples of the essence of opportunity in America. They’re right here at home in Solano County.

I have had the pleasure to experience the wonder of America personally. In my own working career, I was general manager of a business that was finally sold to a national corporation. We made almost all of the components of our product ourselves and provided our own distribution services.

Vertical integration – that is one of the wonders of America. A person can take a small idea and succeed in a big way.

Everywhere you look is a small business, even if you don’t think so. Many gas stations, hardware stores, fast food restaurants and many other franchises are small businesses. Many of your neighbors, attorneys, accountants, financial advisers and insurance agents are in business for themselves, even though they may work through the services of large companies. It’s still small business.

Most folks think of small business as some sort of manufacturing operation. The truth is that most small businesses offer some sort of service. They are in a real sense the businesses that keep us going. We need to appreciate and protect them.

When I think of small business, I think of “Prior Attire” taking a chance in America.

Murray Bass can be reached at 427-0744 or [email protected]

Murray Bass


Discussion | 5 comments

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  • Vince GuisandeJune 07, 2014 - 7:57 am

    Great read Murray. We are very appreciated of the folks who understand the value of shopping local and supporting local small business enterprises. Thank you for mentioning a few of the fine local merchants we are blessed to have serving our community.

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  • Vince GuisandeJune 07, 2014 - 7:59 am


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  • P.J.June 07, 2014 - 9:48 am

    I think a small business that comes up with a clever name is on the road to success. One time we were eating at a Dairy Queen (on every street corner in Texas) and I looked up and saw a business across the street: "The Best Little Hair House in Texas". It put a smile on my face!

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  • patrickJune 07, 2014 - 10:45 am

    PJ remember we are in CA not Texas. CA will take care of small business as long as they don't try to expand.

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  • Mr. PracticalJune 07, 2014 - 3:35 pm

    Patrick, in California there is an all out legislative assault on small business that is hurting the smallest businesses the most.

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