Q&A - July 28, 2017

Like many of you, growing up, I always enjoyed watching the Andy Griffith Show on television. Tuning in each week made me feel like Mayberry was a pretty special place to be. What it lacked in big city amenities, was more than compensated by its neighborliness and hometown charm. As a viewer, I cared about Andy Taylor, Barney Fife, “Aunt” Bee, Opie and their menagerie of quirky friends and neighbors too. In Mayberry, it seemed like friendships were lasting, and good neighbors watched out for each other. For many of us, the fictional TV town of Mayberry still represents the ideal small town— a tight-knit community with low crime, a slower pace of life, and wholesome fun.

Q: I would like to start my own business in downtown Okmulgee. What are some of the most promising small town business ideas?

Small towns are making a major comeback! As big cities become more crowded and more expensive, it seems like more and more people are flocking to smaller towns for things like family-friendly activities, lower costs of living, more affordable housing, and less time spent sitting in traffic.

With a renewed interest in small town living, a new idea of an American downtown has emerged. Gone are the days of a downtown area with just a courthouse, barber shop, and general store (like Mayberry). What has taken the place of this fictitious personification are vibrant and eclectic downtown areas full of energy, entertainment, and accessibility for folks of all ages. Quaint downtowns in small communities have become preferred gathering places for residents and visitors alike. Many of these downtowns have rich history and culture attached to them. In addition to their history, many of these small downtowns are now places to shop, unwind, dine, attend festivals, listen to music, and so much more.

I’m so pleased you want to venture a new business in downtown Okmulgee. To answer your question, I defer to a blog posting I found at ShopKeep.com titled “27 of the Most Successful Small Town Business Ideas.” Here is their list: 1) Coffee Shop and Bar, 2) Pet Grooming and Boarding, 3) Clothing Boutique, 4) Vape Shop, 5) Bakery, 6) Grocery Store/Specialty Food Shop, 7) Lawn and Gardening Service, 8) Food Truck, 9) Thrift Shop, 10) Tutoring Service, 11) Car Wash, 12) Gym/Exercise Studio, 13) Restaurant, 14) Sports Bar, 15) Specialty Health Food/Organic Food, 16) Hair Salon/Barber Shop, 17) Ice Cream Shop, 18) Home Improvement, 19) Gift Card Shop, 20) Flower Shop, 21) Cleaning Service, 22) Bookstore, 23) Electronics Dealer, 25) Bowling Alley, 26) Microbrewery, and 27) Massage Therapist.

It’s a fact that many of these businesses already exist successfully in downtown Okmulgee, but there’s always room for a new idea. Regardless of the business idea you choose, proper planning is essential. Since owning a small business is a major commitment, make sure your choice is one you see bringing you both profit and enjoyment for many years to come. Good luck!

If you have an exploratory question like this one, I would love to respond to it. Please send them to me at osuit-president@okstate.edu