COMMENTARY: Tis the Season to Shop Small

By Joe C. Hopkins, Journal Publisher

Every year there are radicals who tell us not to spend our money on gifts. I’m not going to tell you not to spend your money on gifts for your loved ones. I’m going to tell you to spend it locally and at small businesses as much as possible.

This weekend I went to do some work on a house I am renting. I went to get food for some of the workers who were painting the house and doing some gardening, and I found myself in a line at a local national food chain where I don’t generally go. In a hurry, I looked around and found Andres. It is a local burger joint where I took my then girlfriend who I later married. That was 56 years ago and they are still there. One of the workers commented how good the burgers were. He commented that you can’t find burgers where the restaurant puts the buns on the stove’s grill to brown them before putting the meat on the bun.

Joe C. Hopkins, Journal Publisher
[/media-credit] Joe C. Hopkins, Journal Publisher

I drove back home and wanted some pie, and so I went to Dutch Oven Bakery in Altadena on North Lake Avenue. I’ll order Monkey Bread for Christmas. Dutch Oven Bakery is a family owned and operated bakery that has been serving Altadena and Pasadena for many years.

My wife and I joined the crowd on Sunday afternoon to attend the Pasadena, Altadena Links Awards luncheon where Mrs. Arzella Valentine, owner of Woods Valentine Mortuary was presented with the Legacy Award. Woods-Valentine Mortuary is celebrating 90 years of service to the community, this year.

Three examples of doing business at or near home with small family-owned businesses. They last, serve, and they provide jobs and services to the community. You can go online to buy for Christmas, but you are not going to see the owners at your Scholarship luncheons, and yet there was the Valentine family with Ms. Valentine in all her glory at 91 years old, still giving to her community.

The Journal gives them honor because they have always spent some of their advertising dollars with us to help us keep going.

I saw Attorney Marlene Cooper at the luncheon. Her office is a good place to have your Living Trust taken care of. Find her with good family and financial planning ideas in her weekly column in the Journal.

Someone at our table complimented me on my article about starting your own business a few weeks ago. I appreciate the readers of the Journal as we celebrate 29 years of service to the community. We are a long way from 90, but with continued support, our children and grandchildren or whoever will take over the paper will keep it alive and moving.

As it is, Grammys Place was a business we started a few years ago and now our granddaughter is working it now under a different name. It’s a good place to stop by and do some business, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from noon until 5 pm. Pick up some art, handmade jewelry, oils, candles, or other unusual gifts including some Afrocentric items like quilts pillows and tote bags, among other things.

The mind of an entrepreneur should always be open to new ideas. I saw where basketball star Steph Curry was inspired by a young girl who wrote him and told him that he needed to make or market basketball shoes for girls. The shoes are on their way. A Sikh man was out of work and found work as a truck driver. He soon bought his own truck and today owns a trucking company with 9 trucks and a truck stop with a restaurant. Another man bought a house, fixed it up, bought another house and eventually bought an apartment building. A roofer does solar energy as a second business. Robin Selzer sells great barbecue at Robins Restaurant in Pasadena and caters for major events across the area.

Shark Tank is a television show on acquiring other businesses. There’s something to that. Traditionally, barber shops used to have shine stands in them. Beauty salons sell cosmetics, hair care products and have joined with manicurist’s, nail shops, Estheticians and massage therapists. Rusnak is a guy who sold Mercedes and Jaguars. Now he sells other luxury cars. Funeral homes provide burial insurance.

There are ways to start your family business. Start small and grow it. It takes work and perseverance, but in the long run it is worth it. I encourage the community to support these small businesses.

This article originally appeared the Pasadena Journal.

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