How Mom and Pop Stores Survive

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

In the era of big box and chain stores, it's getting harder to find privately owned mom and pop type shops across our area, but they are out there, and some owners said they are surviving quite well.

Veteran tailor Leo D'Angelo stitched a name for himself at his men's clothing store, LaSalle the Image Makers on South Webster Avenue in Scranton.  His store managed to survive for 35 years despite dozens of department stores at the nearby malls popping up over several decades.

"I got customers that have been with me for 36 years," said D'Angelo.

The 80-something year old entrepreneur said the personal interaction with customers keeps bringing them back into LaSalle. Even at his age, D'Angelo still hand alters his client's clothes, giving them a personal touch, something he said you won't get from a chain.

"Someone else could be cheaper than me but they can't do what we can. You can take a $50 suit and make it like a $300 suit when we're done," added D'Angelo.

From fashion to pharmaceuticals.

Vince Peck along with his family and staff operate Fino's Pharmacy on Main Street in Pittston. It's been in the family for 65 years.

"We're the oldest business on Main Street in Pittston and the oldest pharmacy in Pittston. We survived because we provide services that the chains do not," said Peck.

The owners of Fino's said they are the last privately owned drug store remaining in Pittston. Several big chain pharmacies are located just a short distance away from Fino's.

"People come in here. It's like family.  They feel comfortable and we talk to them because they are family.  They've been coming here forever," added Peck.

Not only do mom and pop stores keep customers happy, they keep Pennsylvanians working.

According to the Center for Workforce Information and Analysis, small businesses in Pennsylvania, places that employ less than 50 people, make up about 95 percent of the total employers . Only 44 percent of people employed in the state work for small businesses.

The Shehadi name has been around the mid-valley since 1945, and the small business in Throop is one of the area's longest privately owned appliance stores.

"Shehadi is a name people know and feel comfortable with. They feel like it's an old friend you can talk to and feel they can get a good answer they are looking for," said Katherine Roman, an employee at Shehadi Appliance and Video.

What if you wanted to open your own appliance store, pharmacy, or even fine fashion shop? Can it be done today? Roman said, absolutely.

"It takes a lot of time. Invest your time into it. Learn your product and treat your customer like the queens and kings they are," said Roman.

Perhaps that's good advice, because without customers, there would be no stores like Shehadi, Fino's, or LaSalle.