Can Yelp Save the Mom and Pop Shop?

I love mom and pop shops. I can’t quite put my finger for when this affinity began, but I prefer an owner operated business over a chain any day of the week.

We all know that corporate America has slowly destroyed these small businesses.
One by one, we preferred Home Depot over our local Ace Hardware to the point that franchisees had to give in. The same goes for restaurants, music stores, grocery stores… the list goes on and on.

The paradox is that the more prevalent big box shops get the more a certain portion of the population longs for the uniqueness and quirkiness of the little guy.

This is where Yelp is saving the day. Yelp is people powered reviews of local businesses. Users rate all kinds of services within a community– they cut past the marketing and give you the straight skinny. I’ve used Yelp to chose places to eat, doctors, furniture stores, hotels, and even parks!

Here’s the fun part. I’ve learned that when you give a fair and honest review of a place you often get an incredible response from the owner. The shareholders of Home Depot never wrote me to thank me for spending money there. Nor have I ever received a follow-up note from Chili’s.

Here’s one I got from the place we bought our bed:

Thank you so much for your outstanding review!! My wife and I are responsible for many lives who depend on the success of our business and the only way to make it these days is by providing proper service. I want you to know that your review means a great deal to all of us.
So once again, from me, my wife and the whole crew, we thank you for your business and great review. It was a pleasure doing business with you and we look forward to serving you again in the near future. See you soon.

It’s good to know that when I spent my money at that place, they not only noticed, but appreciated the connection between my choosing their establishment and their paying their staff. Again, not something you see at a corporate joint.

Of course, Yelp has an iPhone app. Kristen and I have literally been exploring a city, standing in front of a place reading reviews, and deciding whether or not to eat at a place based on reviews posted that day.

Here’s my request. If you value small businesses. If you love all things unique and quirky where you live. Please use Yelp. Joining the site is free. And posting reviews and ratings can take just a couple of minutes but help others out a ton. Even if you don’t travel much, just rating the places you like will help your favorite places find more customers. Be kind to the places you like and brutally honest to the places you don’t like.

This one small act can make a huge difference for some small businesses. Just one additional customer per day is a big deal.

Of course, feel free to add me as a friend on Yelp so you won’t Yelp alone.

By Adam McLane

Adam McLane is a partner at The Youth Cartel, co-author of A Parent's Guide to Understanding Social Media, blogger of 10+ years, and a fan of all things San Diego State University Aztecs.

5 replies on “Can Yelp Save the Mom and Pop Shop?”

Morning Adam!

Great post… Your passion for helping mom & pop shops is awesome!

Small businesses are the heart of the real economy and are so critical to the health of our local communities.

With big box stores everywhere and internet mega-retailers just a click away, these independent businesses need all the help they can get – and reviewing them online definitely helps generate the awareness they need to attract new customers and communicate the value that they offer – usually; friendly service, deep product knowledge, diverse selection and passion for the products and services they offer.

To help support local businesses, we’ve recently launched a new website called We’re encouraging people to support the local small businesses in their communities and helping these moms & pops get online and tell the world about all the goodness they have to offer.

I see you’re in San Diego, so your local site would be (most of our sites are just ‘Shop’+’The City Name’+’.com’, but is one we didn’t manage to get and haven’t yet partnered with the owner on).

We’re just starting to spread our wings, and would appreciate any help you or your readers can offer in getting us off the ground.

The small businesses in our towns and cities need a powerful advocate online and a system to help them really benefit from all that the internet offers. Supporting small business needs to be as simple as going to a big box store or using Amazon, and that’s what we’ve set out to achieve.

Once again, great job bringing attention to our moms & pops! If everyone follows your lead and recommendations, it’ll definitely have a positive impact on the local landscape!

All the best,


Oh yeah, we’re on twitter too –

The community of users seems to be at Yelp. Each city has a community manager, you’ll hear from that person, and if you get really into it (I am not) you can even do some meet-up stuff, get local offers, etc.

In general, I’ve found Yelp to be a community whereas Google is just like leaving a comment on a Yellow Pages ad.

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