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Sometimes Bigger Is Not Better..That Size Doesn't Matter.

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Years ago building a car one at a time was too costly if you wanted to sell them for $300 a copy.

Streamlining the assembly line, having your own steel foundry and making even the parts for the tin lizzie became part of the production recipe for the horseless carriage. But in small town real estate, when a business expands too quickly or just adds on period, the momemtum and special charm or mystique of that business can change.  Example, in Bangor Maine there is a place called The Coffee Pot.  The hardworking German owner is up early making classic sub sandwiches. He makes a certain number each day, stocks his coolers and keeps his overhead/labor to a minimum.  He has the process down like a science. Each day, the sidewalk outside is packed with addicted sandwich buyers who have enjoyed the snack for decades.  The trek to his business becomes part of the consumer's way of life and even family tradition passed down to another generation because he has been open so long. Unlike sandwich artists at Subway's yellow signs that are seen everywhere, The Coffee Pot is a one man army assembling one sandwich at a time and winning over customers one at a time. Dana's Grill was another hole in the wall operation famous for lobster rolls to die for. It's out of the way Bangor Maine location was an old trailer that zoning would frown on with today's regulations. But it had an almost cult following.  Maybe because someone's dad or mom introduced their kid's into the habit of visiting this eatery that you might not think would be successful. Dan's also had a mobile unit to take the lobster rolls on the streets of Bangor to hit the lunch crowd of the was called "Son of Dana's".  If your little business's product is good enough, and if you endure long enough, you could become a tourist attraction with fans wanting to try the unique creation you have mastered that has loyal following and the right media exposure to call attention to it.

     In the case of the Coffee Pot with its original red neon window sign,  I remember as a kid my parents stopping into the green colored place to pick up subs for themselves and others.  Simple sandwich of great ingredients, wrapped nicely but simple.  The owner did not franchise, he did not add on, he created a tradition and a demand because only so many were "built" each day.  If he had added on, or become more modernized, the spark and excitement as a David could have been lost in the transformation to a Goliath operation. Bigger is not always better. Also, I have seen churches that grew and grew and because a ten oclock service was typically full to capacity, decide they must direct a building fund to expand, or even relocate and build a grandiose new building with all the added overhead that goes with it. Having a second service at 8 oclock might be all that is needed but the notion we have to get bigger is not always true. Being bigger can lose something special that small business possesses...that smaller, cozy not the norm intimacy.  Small businesses, especially the ones paid for with low overhead can survive any economic storm too.  Small independent business owners are a big part of the economic under pinnings of mooers realty owner andrew mooers, mooers realtyAmerica's economy and you feel good doing business with the owner in the store.

Maine REALTOR Andrew Mooers - Aroostook County, Houlton Maine Real Estate Information | 207.532.6573

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Comment balloon 2 commentsAndrew Mooers | 207.532.6573 • February 26 2009 07:43PM



Great post!  America is a society of consumers, which often influences people to thing that more is better.  I often advise businesses to reverse engineer their goals to meet their needs.  This allows for much more balance and happyness for the business owner.

Posted by _ _ almost 12 years ago

Small businesses that survive decades have something special and develop a following too Dave!

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) almost 12 years ago

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