Small business is the backbone of America. — Chuck Fleischmann

Small businesses abound throughout America and while almost everyone likes a good bargain, such as those offered at big box stores, nothing matches the service found at a family-owned business.

As the nation marked Mom and Pop Business Owners Day on March 29, Ark City Daily Bytes readers were more than happy to highlight some of their locally owned businesses.

“I shop Country Mart, Graves, M&M Meals for the Soul and Steamy Joe,” said lifelong Arkansas City resident Rags Smith.

“And, of course, with 31st Century Techsupport.”

Small business ownership

The other side of that coin is owning and operating a small business.

“The good stuff for me is finding that there was a market for my products and services here in a small town, when I was told by many there wouldn’t be,” said Colorful Events Bakery owner Brittany Carder.

“(Also) flexibility in my schedule, to not have to send my child to daycare, is the most important for me. Studying the market and adapting to the customer base out here has been fun, as well as the way my customer base has been built off of referrals.”

“My wife and her business partner had Brittany’s muffins at their chamber coffee two years in a row,” said 31st Century owner Gareth McGee. A small business owner himself, he loves supporting other local businesses.

“They were absolutely delicious,” McGee said. “I didn’t even know they were gluten-free until someone told me,” he said.

“We shop with 31st Century Techsupport, WB Meats, Graves, Schmidt Jewelers and local beauty shops,” said Evelyn Shoup, a retired USD 470 teacher.

“Joe Walker is a barber, age 84, and has been cutting hair for over 60 years. Joe’s Barber Shop — now he’s an amazing man.”

Service at forefront

Most local small business owners seem to come from a place of service.

“(The good part is) helping people when you can,” said Done Right Plumbing owner James Bogner.

“It’s one thing to provide a service, but to truly be helpful is a great feeling.”

“WB Meats, Graves, Schmidt, Mike’s Barber Shop, Steamy Joe, Country Mart and Phil-Stop,” said Commissioner Duane Oestmann, when asked about some of his favorite small businesses to patronize.

But with the sweet also comes the sour.

“The bad includes that you may have a 20-hour workday or a seven-day work week. There have been nights, especially in the beginning, where I did not sleep,” Carter said.

“I had to pull an all-nighter many times in order to meet a deadline for a project that I didn’t realize was going to take so long.

“Accountability is everything as a business owner of a mom-and-pop-type business.”

Worth the pain

Other business owners agreed there definitely are some drawbacks to owning a business.

What might seem like a small bump in the road to large corporations can seem like an impassable mountain for a small business owner.

Whether struggling with city codes or the judicial system, time and effort spent away from the business can be detrimental to that business’ success. But ultimately, it’s worth it.

“I choose my hours. So I don’t miss stuff with my kids,” said Land Rush Antique Mall co-owner Amanda White. “I have great employees and no boss!”

Small business employees agreed.

“Working for a small, family-owned business, like anything else, has good and bad. But for me, (it’s) mostly good,” said 1025 The River employee Kelly Dillner. “I love that we actually have a name, and we are not just a number that we are identified with.

“The people we work for are truly interested in our families, how our weekend was, and are truly concerned when things arise.

“We all work together and that means we all wear different hats. The bathroom doesn’t clean itself and the floor still needs swept, if you know what I mean.”

As for the customers, they just keep thinking of more businesses they love.

“Ark City Greenhouses and La Hacienda,” said Smith, adding to her list.

“Dillons, WB Meats, RooJax, Ark City Greenhouses, Bee’Tween Friends and Steamy Joe,” said area resident Dixie Lyon-Colquhoun.

“The Greendoor,” one resident added. “They have the best white cheese ever!”