Mom and pop businesses built on hard work, community commitment

Shopping at a mom and pop business offers uniqueness and keeps dollars local. Mom and Pop Business Day, on March 29, is a chance to salute them.

“When someone shops at a locally owned business their dollar circulates three times in the area. For example, a local restaurant will use a local printer for their menus and a local accountant to handle their bookkeeping. They also pay their taxes locally and are more likely to donate to nonprofits,” said Lisa Renee Jennings, program manager for Retail Alliance’s LOVEVA initiative to encourage local shopping.

In addition, each business has its own style, she said.

Bill and Sharon Scruggs have combined marriage and business for 41 years.

The owners of Retro’s Good Eats and The Fife and Drum Inn, both on Prince George Street, said their success is because “we divide and conquer.”

“Bill handles the marketing and book work, while I handle the maintenance and employees. This is a lifestyle and it’s worked for us,” Sharon said.

The Williamsburg natives met while teenagers. Early in their marriage — back in 1976 — Bill purchased a Texaco station.

“We did it because we wanted to work for ourselves. Gas was 39 cents a gallon,” he said.

When their four grown children were young, Sharon bounced between home and the station while Bill worked about 70 hours a week.

“My daughter once said ‘Daddy, you work hard.’ I said, no I work long,” he recalled.

After they sold the gas station, they purchased the Fife and Drum 19 years ago. It needed extensive renovations.

When they exceeded their renovation budget and took longer than planned, Bill asked her if Sharon knew it would cost that much.

“I said yes, but didn’t tell him because I knew he wouldn’t agree to it,” she said laughing.

They purchased Retro’s 11 years ago to bring back downtown memories.

“There used to be a drug store with a lunch counter. It served the best limeade, which we now do,” he said.

Because the businesses can afford managers now, the couple work fewer hours and take off several days at a time. When they do so, they often leave town.

“Because if we are in town, we will end up coming to work,” Sharon said.

Colonial Folk Art Studio & Gallery owners Beverly and Davie Burgdorf have been in the art and book binding business for more than five years.

A pottery artist, Beverly developed the idea to rent studio space and a pottery wheel to other artists. It also gives her time to pursue her own art. Business is good and they are expanding to include a shop to sell artwork created in their studio.

They started the business working together, but now Davie works in a federal job during the week.

“We have two tuitions to pay for our sons’ school,” she explained.

Davie works in the business on weekends as a book binder and antique book restorer.

When asked how they combine marriage and their business, Beverly responded “we strictly work well together when we work in different parts.”

Her advice for couples thinking of opening a business together is “set boundaries early.”

Copyright © 2018, Williamsburg Magazine
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