“Mom-and-pop” businesses are typically small, family-owned, independent. They’ve gone in and out of fashion (mainly out). But I reckon there’s a new wave emerging….

Historically, these were local family-owned-and-operated general stores. The term is used mainly in the US, but the overarching concept shows up in just about every country. Today, mom-and-pop stores include restaurants, bookstores, car repair shops, nail salons, and more.

In the past few decades, many of them have been slammed: first by the expansion of big corporations, then by the internet - and a wave of high growth tech companies shifting spend towards centralized e-commerce.

Two factors have helped Mom-and-Pop stores weather the storm:

  1. A growing number of people want to shop local. Independent. Human.
  2. Platforms like Etsy, Shopify and Square give small businesses the tools to deliver top-notch experiences for customers

Yet these shifts have mainly supported those selling physical goods.

I wonder if we’re on the cusp of a similar shift - but in the digital realm.

Er... yeah, obviously. This is already happening, right? 

Creator Economy’! ‘Side Hustles’!


Well, I dunno. Because ‘Mom & Pop’ = parents. If you’re a working parent in today’s world, being ‘a creator’ or side hustlin’ may be seductive, but in reality carries high risk, and frankly can end up borderline delusional. You need to be more intentional; avoid betting on the algorithm’s lowest common denominator ; feel clear on how you use your limited time and energy.

Ongoing issues with cost of living, bandwidth, and scheduling mean a lot of people - especially parents - are seeking something different.

Yet they also know that opening a physical storefront or stitching together a freelance life come with other types of trade-offs. 

Hence, a new kind of Mom & Pop store. Digital first, Global & Local. Small squad, measured in atomic units.

7 ways they’ll be different:

  1. Fellow Travelers: Not just Mom & Pop - it’s those with a shared experience. They could be family, they could be friends. They’re people who see what you see, feel what you feel. They could be located anywhere in the world.
  2. Nickel & Dime: Do more with less. Everything defaults to the most stripped back/basic/free version. Use the plethora of new creative tools to help
  3. Digital focus: physical production eats that precious cash, and drop-shipping is… well, kinda grim. Instead, it’s digital products, tools, games, productized services
  4. Small bets: every new initiative - new feature, marketing campaign, etc - has to be small enough to get going quickly, again with minimal $ outlay and not causing decision fatigue
  5. Made to Fit: All work has to fit around parent-friendly hours (i.e. async where possible, with an hour or two in the evenings and MAYBE (!?) 30 mins in the morning)
  6. Profit First: The goal of profitability to support the family remains the same, but somewhere in the middle of primary income source and ‘side income’. Say 20-30% of each owners costs.
  7. Zero employees: If you’re a parent, you’ve already got a boss. You may also have one in your day job (or clients/customers if self-employed). You don’t have the bandwidth to manage full-time employees on top of that

Does this resonate? Any examples you’ve seen in the wild? 

And what have I got wrong here?

P.S. Hold on. I should have given this idea a catchy brand name so I could sell a course about it. Then I could have joined the Creator Economy with my new Side Hustle. Darn it.

The new Mom-and-pop store

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