This article was originally published on Common Edge.
Few businesses in the United States are regarded with more fondness than mom-and-pop retailers. There’s an “all’s right with the world” quality about owner-run shops that meet a neighborhood’s everyday needs and, through repeated face-to-face exchanges, help people feel they’re members of a mutually supportive community. And yet for a long time, mom-and-pop stores have been under stress. In the half-century after 1950, cars shifted much of United States’s retailing to unwalkable roadside strips and winnowed the ranks of neighborhood-scale mom-and-pops. In the past two decades, the burgeoning of the internet has intensified the pressure on brick-and-mortar retail, a situation worsened by the pandemic.