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What what the best business in the town you grew up in and why?


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What what the best business in the town you grew up in and why?  I went thru this mental exercise and found it helpful.


I think the best business where I grew up was a private parking lot for train commuters.  Simple business with excellent pricing power because the only competition were the city spots with limited spots and then there was no room for expansion.  The parking lot couldn't be expanded because it was surrounded by a highway, railroad and river.  Biking, parking ~1 mile away or walking from home were really the only substitutes.  Incidentally the owners never went to college and got very rich off this parking lot.

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What was the best business in the town you grew up in and why?


There were no businesses in the town I grew up in.






Welcome to Soviet Russia Union, tovarishch.




Edit: the very interesting mental exercise would be, why the heck some shops/cafes/factories/etc. were still 10 times better than others. Clearly it was not the monetary business ownership motivation. Sometimes pure-capitalist models forget that other motivations exist and might be quite powerful.


Edit 2: Ah, what the heck. The best thing was still to be a monopolist for attractive product. If you were the manager of chocolate shop that was the only one that got chocolate allocation, you were fricking rich. Just give some bribes, sell the allocation on black market, voila. Yep, there was shortage of everything including chocolate and toilet paper and your choice was either to know someone who knows someone who would sell you stuff for inflated prices or to stand in multihour long lines hoping that you get some of the allocation that was not stolen/backdoored. Moral: being monopolist pays even in Soviet Russia.

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Hmm, I grew up in a small town with a lot of mom and pop type businesses.  I don't know which ones were highly profitable and which ones weren't.  There was a great ice cream shop that only opened in the summer that everyone went to.  There was a chinese restaurant named "Ho Toy" (only a Chinese place could get away with that).    I have a feeling no one will have a post as interesting as Jurgis though.  The moral of his post is that you can ban the market, but in that case the black market becomes the market.


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Skyline Chili and Chemed.


Though to be fair my hometown is full of large Fortune 500 companies, I think the two above are quite unique.


Skyline Chili is family/mgmt owned and has grown from 1 store to over 130.  Still mgmt owned and it's nearly synonymous with Cincinnati style chili.  Ask anyone in the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio area about Skyline and they'll know it.  And most everyone who grows up in the area has to always stop for a 3-way and a coney or two whenever they are in town.


Chemed originated as a soap and cleaning supply company, was acquired by W.R. Grace and then bought out by management, spun off or sold companies in the cleaning supply business as well as pharmaceutical services/supply (Omnicare).  By the early 2000s it owned Roto-Rooter and they went through a transformative acquisition in 2004 to acquire Vitas Healthcare, which they've grown into the largest hospice provider in the country.  Neat little small cap company that took a pretty stead cash flow stream from Roto-Rooter and turned it into a healthcare growth company.



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Grew up in a small town that doubled in size during the summer as it's a beach town. There is a pronto pup stand right on the waterfront with barely room for just two employees and no seating for customers--they use the municipal picnic tables or the lawn on the water. Crazy lines all day starting around 11am and all they serve is soft drinks and pronto pups. Open during the summer only. I'd guess the margins on that place are out of sight. The place looks exactly the same as it did 30 years ago. Also a pizza joint with a somewhat similar story. The restaurant looks like it has had zero capital improvements in 40 years and I mean that. Open year round and busy at night year round. Insanely busy every summer night with lines out the door and tons of carry out business. Family owned since the 1940's.

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