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My Mother, The Country Grocer…Success Isn’t Always What You Think

by Mary Emma Allen on December 19th, 2007

In the apprentice challenge this week, we’re to relate to Kay, our prototype entrepreneur, a success story that might inspire her.  I discovered recently that success isn’t always what you think it is, Kay.

My Mother, the Country Grocer

When I consider business success stories, I now think of my mom, who, with no experience, took over the operation of a small country grocery.  She’d been a school teacher, then farmer’s wife and mom to four children.  When a grocery store, built on a corner of our farm property by my dad and a friend, was in need of a storekeeper due to the friend’s ill health, Mother decided to embark on a new adventure.

“You don’t have any grocery store experience,” Father reminded her. But we couldn’t leave the store vacant.  Besides, Mother thought it would be good experience for us children.

She operated the Poughquag Town & Country Grocery Store from 1955 through the early 1980s.  She learned by trial and error, perhaps trusted too many people to “pay her later,” spent more time visiting with her customers than stocking shelves and doing bookkeeping, and juggled caring for a family with a store (much like Kay who has a business and family).

She taught her daughters, “Be pleasant to customers.  Help them find what they need.  Don’t talk back when they’re difficult.  Remember…always SMILE.  Through this experience, Mother also helped me overcome my shyness about talking with people.

Since Mother never seemed to make a great deal of money for her long hours of work, other than helping Father keep the bills paid for the farm and everyday living, I sometimes wondered, “Why does Mother do this?”

However, after Mother died of Alzheimer’s at age 92, I discovered she’d left a legacy.  Many people wrote and visited me while she was ill and after her death.

I learned then of those she’d helped with groceries and clothing, the children she’d tutored (f0r free) in the back of her store, the young girl she’d comforted who lost her mother, the ones she encouraged to finish high school and go on to college, those for whom she’d been a ray of cheer when they stopped for groceries on their way home after a tiring day at work.

I realized then that success isn’t always measured by monetary standards.  Yes, you do  need to operate your business at a profit.  You should establish good business practices. 

 However, there’s another measure of success, I discovered…it’s the legacy you leave while helping and encouraging others.

So, Kay, as you scurry around with your business, remember, it’s people you’re serving and helping…to make their lives better…and our world a greater place because you’ve lived here.

(c)2007 Mary Emma Allen

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POSTED IN: Business Ideas, Family, Personal Experience, Success Stories, Women

12 opinions for My Mother, The Country Grocer…Success Isn’t Always What You Think

  • Bridget Wright
    Dec 19, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    Mary Emma, this is a wonderfully inspiring story. I think the legacy your mom left has touched us all. Even those that have never met her. Her actions teach us all to be more giving of ourselves and open ourselves up more to really be sensitive to the needs of others. This is a great post!

  • Mary Emma Allen
    Dec 19, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    Thank you so much, Bridget, for sharing your thoughts. It means so much to me to know I’ve been able to write about Mother so that her legacy continues to touch others. I’m sorry I didn’t understand Mother better during those years. However, I don’t think she even realized what a legacy she was leaving and how many people’s lives she was touching. That’s one reason I write Alzheimer’s Notes here at b5 and have written the book about Mother’s Alzheimer’s journey, “When We Become the Parent to Our Parents.” Caring for her during this time in her life broadened my outlook so much. Through all of this, and from people who let me know what Mother did for them, I learned that what we do will leave a legacy. It’s up to us what type of legacy we leave! (I’ve also written about my dad who left a legacy, too, but different because he was a different personality. And if it hadn’t been for my dad, Mother wouldn’t have had the country store.)

  • Yvonne Russell
    Dec 20, 2007 at 4:28 am

    What a beautiful and inspiring story, Mary Emma. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Mary Emma Allen
    Dec 20, 2007 at 8:16 am

    I’m pleased you enjoyed the story, Yvonne, and found it inspiring. I think we all can find inspiring stories within our families. I hope, with this story, I encourage others to look at their lives and the people they know. Someone, somewhere has inspired them in a way they may not realize at first.

  • “My Mother, The Country Grocer” Wins This Round of Business Channel Challenge!
    Dec 21, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    […] Home Biz Notes post, My Mother, The Country Grocer, won this round of the b5 Business Channel’s “Apprentice” type challenge, an […]

  • My Mother, The Country Grocer, Inspired My Quiltmaking
    Dec 21, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    […] So when we (those who write blogs at b5media’s Business Channel) were asked for a “success story” to encourage Kay, our prototype business owner in the “apprentice” type competition., I decided to tell about My Mother, the Country Grocer…Success Isn’t Always What You Think.  […]

  • My Mother, The Country Grocer…a Winner!
    Dec 22, 2007 at 5:01 am

    […] Home Biz Notes post, My Mother, The Country Grocer, won this round of the b5 Business Channel’s “Apprentice” type challenge, an […]

  • b5media - We Have A Winner!
    Jan 7, 2008 at 6:50 am

    […] In Week Seven, Mary Emma at Home Biz Notes, was the winner for her heart winning and inspiring success story. […]

  • colbert low
    Jan 9, 2008 at 9:45 am

    hey mary, thanks for the excellent inspiring story. Its similar to what my Dad does for this insurance business…..I guess we can still learn a lot from old horses. thanks!

  • Mary Emma Allen
    Jan 10, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Thanks, Colbert, for sharing about your dad. I’m pleased the story about my mom has inspired so many people. So often we don’t realize what we’re learning from our parents and others close to us.

  • Easter Carnival of Positive Thinking
    Mar 23, 2008 at 4:27 am

    […] Emma Allen presents My Mother, The Country Grocer;Success Isn’t Always What You Think posted at Home Biz Notes, saying, “As I thought back over my mother’s years as a country grocer […]

  • Mary Emma Allen
    Mar 24, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    I’m pleased Mother’s story appeared in the Easter Carnival of Positive Thinking and that Mother can continue to inspire others.

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