It’s a good sign when small businesses move into a neighborhood. The best and most profitable small businesses create jobs and keep money in the local economy, as well as support charities, community organizations and events. Of course, they also provide their service or product to the community.
But not all small businesses are created equal. See which mom-and-pop shops play a major role in making neighborhoods vibrant, healthy, wealthy and unique in case you’re looking to start a new business in your town.
Screen Printing Shop
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Graphic and screen printing shops are losing revenue even as the number of businesses and employees grows. They, like so many other businesses, are facing stiff competition from online merchants who can print just about any image on just about anything.
But the local screen shop develops deep roots in the community. That’s because community events, festivals, concerts, organizations and fairs all need merch. The local screen printer makes the T-shirts you see at local 5K runs, charity fundraisers, corporate events, fraternity parties and just about anything else that needs a logo or slogan.
Independent Coffee Shop
Community branding, tourism and downtown development firm Roger Brooks International developed a community-planning guide that outlines what the firm calls “ingredients of an outstanding downtown.” When a town has several businesses that sell food and drinks in a radius of a few blocks, it helps create what the report calls a “critical mass” or “clustering” effect — a hallmark of a healthy neighborhood.
Vibrant nightlife is another key. And coffee shops can double as venues for entertainment like music, comedy, poetry and open mics. Finally, indie coffee shops break the Starbucks mold and lend flavor and culture to their ZIP codes.
There are over 75,000 pizza joints in the United States, according to Statista. And it’s hard to imagine a truly great neighborhood without a truly great pizza shop. Few small businesses are more American than the neighborhood pizza place.
If you open a great one, you’ll likely get a very warm reception despite having to compete with the likes of Domino’s and Pizza Hut. After all, there’s enough business to go around. The average American eats 46 slices of pizza per year and the country as a whole gobbles up 350 slices every second.
Wine and Spirits Shop
The Brooks report names wine and spirit stores among the “destination retail shops” that every strong neighborhood should have, provided the town permits the sale of packaged goods. They help create critical mass in downtown shopping, retail and business districts and add flavor to the neighborhood. They also give nearby restaurants and sidewalk cafes that don’t have liquor licenses the chance to offer BYOB service.
Corporate giants like Borders and Barnes and Noble dealt the first blow to the local bookstores that had long been a hallmark of healthy neighborhoods everywhere. Then came Amazon and the crushing tide of online retail. According to Writer’s Digest, however, neighborhoods need local bookstores now more than ever.
Bookstores are a hub for creativity and a safe place for inquisitive kids. They often hold events that generate critical mass like book signings, author readings, book clubs and contests for budding authors. Writer’s Digest also points out that for every $100 you spend in a local bookstore, $73 goes back into the local economy compared to $43 for national chains.
Bistros, sandwich shops and other small-scale eateries do their towns a favor when they offer sidewalk seating. Sidewalk cafes add to the beneficial clustering effect — and they contribute to the neighborhood in other ways. They create a buffer between road traffic and parking and they generate crowds waiting for outside tables. And those crowds are likely to kill time window shopping or perusing adjacent businesses. Sidewalk cafes also create a pleasantly crowded and lively atmosphere that keeps visitors coming back.
Barbering is America’s fastest-growing profession, according to Forbes. That’s because the men-specific grooming industry is experiencing a massive boom. Barbershops decreased by 23% between 1992-2012 as the traditional red, white and blue pole gave way to salon culture. But barbershops are back.
In 2013, the number of barbershops grew at least 10%, and they’re expected to help make male grooming a $26 billion industry by 2020, Forbes reported. Barbershops are more than just a place to get a trim and a shave, they’re community hubs of conversation, networking and, of course, barbershop gossip — all of which are staples of vibrant neighborhoods.
Ice Cream Shop
Families are an important part of the customer base for independent ice cream vendors, according to the International Dairy Foods Association. And most ice cream manufacturers are family-owned businesses.
By opening a business that’s based on things like waffle cones, rocky road, maraschino cherries and whipped cream, you lend a family-friendly feel to your neighborhood and give locals and visitors alike a reprieve from the corporate chains that have trampled the nostalgia of the old-fashioned ice cream parlor.
A brewery that doubles as an eatery and bar is just the type of small business that meets the standards of a key trait of healthy neighborhoods — an anchor tenant. According to the Brooks report, anchor tenants are the small business ideas that make a town or neighborhood a destination.
Anchor tenants are the ones that make the “best-of” section in the town’s