Sunday, January 29, 2012

It's a Wonderful Life: Small Town Rallies Behind Mom & Pop Store

The owner of a Mom & Pop hardware store in a small community in northern Ohio had a true It's a Wonderful Life moment when hordes of local townspeople rushed to the store to spend their hard-earned money...and to save the store from possible closure.

Jack Shutts, the owner of the Chagrin Hardware Store in Chagrin, Ohio, outside of Cleveland didn't anticipate the reaction his customers would have to an e-mail call for a "cash mob" to help his store out. "Let's show our support for one of our local businesses. I challenge everyone to spend AT LEAST $20 at the hardware on the 21st," Shutts' good friend Jim Black wrote in a letter to all of his e-mail and Facebook friends. 

Although he did casually mention a "cash mob" in the e-mail, Jim had no political motivations whatsoever... he just wanted an easy and affordable way to promote his friend's store, as the tight noose of the much larger "box super-stores" such as Lowes' and Home Depot tightens around the necks of small business owners. 

Word quickly spread through the picturesque town that Jack and the hardware store were in need of help. By 10 AM, the store was crowded with people, both longtime customers and new customers alike.  By early afternoon, the credit card machine in the store had gone temporarily offline, after repeated use. Chances are, the store has never seen so many customers in a 24 hour period of time.

The Chagrin Hardware Store has been a staple of the community since the original store opened in 1857. The Shutts family has owned and operated the store for the past 72 years. "Thanks to Jimmy Black,' an emotional Shutts said at the end of the incredible day. "Thanks to everyone. Thanks to Chagrin Falls. What a place to live."

It's very encouraging to know that a town like the fictional Bedford Falls in Frank Capra's classic It's a Wonderful Life still actually exists in modern day USA...

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