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7 of America's Favorite Mom and Pop Shops on Their Special Thing

Jun 21, 2023

By Entrepreneur Staff • Jul 18, 2023


This story appears in the July 2023 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Roxbury, New York

"When people ask us about our hotel we say, 'Imagine if Alice in Wonderland married Willy Wonka, and they took up residence in Oz.' That's what we want The Roxbury to feel like. We're a 'pop-and-pop' business — we met in NYC in 1988, and have basically been married for 33 years. We spent our first decade together in the theater, but putting food in our mouths became so overwhelming that Greg let a temp job on Wall Street turn into a real job. Then 9/11 happened. We realized we were happiest 'putting on a show' together. We had this little cabin in the Catskills, and we bought a rundown motel 30 minutes down the road. Never in our wildest dreams did we foresee that 20 years and four expansions later, we would have 43 rooms, suites, and cottages." — Owners Gregory Henderson and Joseph Massa

Jersey City, New Jersey

"Our hands-on candle-pour parties offer our customers an opportunity to let loose in an immersive candle-making experience. We meticulously designed these parties to be a multisensory experience, so from the moment customers enter our studio, they are greeted by a soothing ambiance, Top-40 music, and 'scentsational' aromas. Our staff guides them through the entire candle-making process, and customers get to choose from a wide range of fragrances, colors, crystals, and florals. We've really tried to create a haven where people can escape the stress of everyday life and find solace in the simple act of making candles." — Owner Ashley Shillingford

Related: 3 Ways to Identify Your Company's Unique Marketing Angle

Indianapolis, Indiana

"Botanical Bar is known for our beautiful selection of indoor houseplants that also have various health and wellness benefits. One unique service we provide is our in-house plant repotting service, since we know repotting can be a daunting task for many plant enthusiasts. We're the first Black- and woman-owned plant shop in Indianapolis, and during our first year in business, we hosted a series of community workshops aimed at helping people become better plant parents. The response from the community was overwhelming, with people of all ages and backgrounds attending and actively participating. Witnessing the joy and excitement as attendees gained confidence in their plant care abilities was incredibly rewarding." — Owner Victoria Beaty

San Francisco, California

"Our customer service is what I'd like to be known for — we've never had a drink minimum because I hated that at other comedy clubs; comedians stay and party with the customers; and I even learned to play piano to keep the party going after the show — but to be honest, we're most easily remembered for a giant foam clown head that sits in our downstairs bar. We operate in the old Shelton Theater, and many, many years ago they did a play and had a custom giant clown head made. It was made downstairs and is too large to go through any doors, so we moved it into the bar during a remodel, and it just lives there now." — Owner Jon Allen

Related: 5 Proven Tips for Better Defining Your Business' Unique Value Proposition

Austin, Texas

"Pinballz is known for having one of the largest collections of pinball machines and classic video games in the country, along with many other attractions — from wrestling to comedy nights, e-Sports, live music, murder mystery events, whiskey tastings, brew fests, kid-specific events, and much more. Over the last 13 years, we've seen couples meet at Pinballz — some got married here and many now bring their children. We even helped one young man pop the question. At that time, all our games spit out redemption tickets. We had Will you marry me? come out of one of our Skeeball games as she played. Her answer: 'Yes!'" — Owners Darren and Mikki Spohn

Sherwood, Oregon

"Most alpaca farms that are open to the public allow you to interact with animals through a fence, but on our farm, people sign up for a one-hour immersive experience. They get to hand-feed and pet alpacas while we educate them, and they also have the opportunity to visit our barn store to buy alpaca yarn and other products. People tell us every day how much they appreciate spending time with the animals. We get people from all over the world, but our favorite customer is Angela Marie. She is a lovely person who has visited the alpacas probably over 20 times. After she visits, she usually texts us a couple of edited videos that are ready to be posted on social media. She's so good to us and very talented!" — Owners Doug and Suzanne Campbell

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Denver, Colorado

"Our unique service is called 'beer therapy.' Guests unwind in a giant tub packed with fresh hops, barley, and medicinal herbs. A cousin of marijuana, hops are a mild sedative, and hops extract offers antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, while barley is rich in vitamins and antioxidants. We're excited to break the stigma of a day spa as a female experience. With our gender-neutral design and warm customer service, we want everyone to feel comfortable. In fact, nearly half our guests are first-time spagoers, typically coerced by their partner with the promise of beer. By the end of their experience, that person is often begging to come back! Many couples have made The Beer Spa their monthly date night." — Owners Jessica French and Damien Zouaoui