The Business that Made Me


[Originally published at]

May 26, 2015

I was raised in my dad's small business in my hometown. I spent every afternoon napping on a couch in the back office. I would follow my grandfather (then owner and manager) around the store in pursuit of M&Ms he kept stashed in his back pockets.



I learned more history lessons there than I ever could have in a college history class. I heard first hand accounts of WWII, Vietnam, the Great Depression, the hippie '60s, and so much more. I gained crucial knowledge of economics, and engineering, manning the cash register as a five year old, and repairing refrigerators in the warehouse.


Over the years, I have watched my dad slave over his legacy. I watched his hair thin and gray. I watched wrinkles grow deeper around his eyes, as he succumbed to the sleepless nights and stressful days of the recession in 2008. I watched my grandfather return from retirement to help bring my family together through tougher days. I have seen humility, victory, integrity, harmony, and dedication. My dad's small business, Watson's Furniture and Appliances, has a shattered window. It has leaky roofs and cracked walls. Despite the appearance and the wear and tear, I have seen all I want to be in my dad's small business.


Watson's Furniture and Appliances, like many other small businesses, is embraced by culture, family values, the best way for consumers to voice concerns, and is a direct option to pour money back into your local economy.


Most small businesses are fueled by, and cater only to, the American public. Like my dad's business, some have seen America at her best and her worst. Watson's Furniture has been around for 67 years. Before that, the building stood as a doctor's office and a Five and Dime store. The windows tell the story of dirt roads of the mill village, train tracks being laid through a forest, and war leaving footprints in the woods. Small businesses exemplify American traditions, culture, and history.


They are most often run by families and, therefore, support family ideals. My dad's small business has provided me with opportunities that no one in his family, before me, was given. I have been able to attend the college of my dreams due to the business's revenue, and a scholarship from his buying group Brand Source. They exemplify the American Dream that brought millions to her shores over the centuries, and the dream that so many are beginning to lose faith in. Furthermore, because small businesses rely solely on their loyal customers, there is no room to ignore their worries.

This summer, ditch the daily Starbucks routine and look for a local coffee shop to support the America we all love. Find a family-run cafe for lunch. Embrace the culture, ideals, and economy that has made us, raised us, and symbolizes all we want to be. I may be nostalgic, but I believe the millennials will be the generation to fund the return of the American Dream through small businesses.

Gracin JohnsonComment