Deciding to start your own small business can be a life-changing, if sometimes nerve-wracking, event. Luckily for the residents of Waterloo region, the community encourages and welcomes the entrepreneurial spirit of families who choose to open shop here. With National Mom and Pop Business Day around the corner on March 29, here are some amazing examples of stores in the Waterloo Region worth visiting:
Michelle Schneider, Harmony by Earthwinds
For Francisco and Johanna Mansilla, selling giftware from their native country of Guatemala was but the beginning of their life in Canada. Now in its 27th year, their store Harmony by Earthwinds has grown in to a trendy boutique selling unique and personalised clothes and accessories. Their daughter Michelle, who now manages their store in UpTown Waterloo, says their passion and belief was what led her to continue in their footsteps. “We believe strongly in what we offer and the families we support both locally and internationally.” she says. “All our products are fair trade and we travel all over the world to hand-pick what we have in our store.”
Kevin Stemmler, Stemmler Meat & Cheese
Like Michelle, Kevin Stemmler says his love of family is what led him to join the family business and manage Stemmler Meat & Cheese with his brothers. Motivated by the love of good food combined with the joy of creating new things, Kevin knew that joining the family business was a no-brainer. “Stemmler’s is a company that is really big in to local and health conscious manufacturing,” he says. “So working on meeting different dietary needs and allergies and the science behind that is what got me hooked.”
Gina and Niko Makyrydakis, Three Kretans
Husband and wife duo Niko and Gina Makyrydakis of Three Kretans believe keeping the family atmosphere is what attracts people in the community. “People like a family restaurant,” says Niko. “It’s not always about the product, but the service you have. We don’t treat them as customers, we treat them like family.”
For Niko, growing up in the family-run Greek restaurant has fond memories and lessons he hopes to instill in his children. “We started working when we were 10 years old, where we’d stand on a crate and do the cash register,” he recalls. “Nowadays, kids have things handed to them and we’d like them to appreciate the value of earning things by working here and developing that work ethic.”
With the international economy slowly recovering from the recession, people are acutely aware about the importance of supporting the local economy. Whether it’s a fair trade accessory and clothing store, or a locally sourced market or restaurant, small businesses know that the relationship between their patrons, the community, and even other businesses are a mutual bond of trust – just like family.
If there’s a local small business that you visit and appreciate, show them some love this Sunday on National Mom Pop Business Owners Day by visiting them!