My grandparents, Irene and Danny Schankweiler, gave me my first taste of small business. And it was a very small business — just the two of them with occasional part-time help during the busy periods on holidays. They owned Danny’s Market in Shamokin. It was something that is missing in today’s world: the neighborhood grocery store.
It was on the first floor of their four-story home, and for the small space that is was, it included fresh produce, home medical needs, a post office, a butcher shop, canned goods, dry goods, baked goods and — my personal favorite — the penny candy counter. I started working there on weekends and summers when I was in fourth grade. Talk about playing store as a kid!
I think I learned most of my business philosophy from my grandfather. I thought I was learning how to butcher meat, work the register and stock the shelves. But reflecting back, I see he was teaching me about customer service, merchandising, marketing, profit, giving back to the community, and running a family business with my grandmother, as I do today with my wife. It was better than any college course or seminar, and I didn’t even realize what he was preparing me for.
In the eyes of an adoring grandson, my grandparents were exceptional small-business owners. If they were still with us, they would fit right into this special issue of the Business Journal dedicated to the hard-working small-business owners of Central Pennsylvania. The federal government has deemed it important to name a week in honor of small business. I applaud that decision, because small business is our economy.
This week, we devote our efforts to the midstate’s small businesses, highlighting just a fraction of those that are the fabric of our economy, telling their stories of struggle, growth, innovation and, most definitely, success. They keep our region strong.
I started this publication 30 years ago, because, like my grandparents, I wanted to be a small-business owner. What I discovered, beyond owning a business, was the enjoyment of writing and documenting the stories of business. I like seeing how businesses operate and especially the passion of the owners behind them.
We hope you will be inspired by some excellent small-business owners who share their methods of operation and, more importantly, their passion for why they do what they do. It’s the true secret of their success. Enjoy.
David A. Schankweiler is CEO/publisher of the Central Penn Business Journal.