10 DFW Mom and Pop Businesses That Changed My Life (And Maybe Yours, Too)

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By Kristina Rowe, NewsCastic

Most of us have special memories associated with places we went as youngsters. Depending on how many years ago your youth was, those places may have been very different from the ones you frequent now. They may have been smaller stores, and unlike in today’s mega stores, you probably knew the owners. Visiting those venues now is like getting a souvenir from a bygone era.

Some of those “Mom and Pop” stores may struggle to compete with big box stores and online distributors. Some owners have had to evolve with changing times or capitalize on nostalgia to stay afloat. Yet many of those small stores continue to thrive in DFW, and new ones open all the time.

Here’s a collection that celebrate both personal and collective memories (and memories yet to be made) from ten family owned and operated businesses in DFW.

Tap Into Something Special

Opened in 1962, Parkit Market has become an icon of Dallas, especially to the college crowd. In the ensuing 50 years Ann and Frank Todora built the place into a one stop shop for all kinds of good things — beer, liquor, a deli with great food, plus margarita machines and kegs. It was and is party central! Mom and Pop’s kids still run the place, and we predict this store with the familiar striped awning will still be a Dallas icon after another 50 years.

Go Nuts for Donuts

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“Mom and Pop” doesn’t have to mean old or old fashioned. And in this case it doesn’t mean husband and wife, it means father and daughter. Blair Ji is the donut designer extraordinaire of her dad Michael’s shop, Jaram’s Donuts. Family owned and operated donut shops are a dime a dozen, but this one adds art and creativity to the family feel, resulting in donuts you don’t want to miss.

Snack and Swing

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Grand Prairie has lots of “Mom and Pop” shops — in fact, they seem to thrive here. One of our favorites is one you could find blindfolded, even at its newest location. The Eddlemon family has been smoking something that smells like heaven since 1953. These days, at Prairie Lakes Golf Course, they run the food service operations, and you can still get that old school Eddlemon’s Barbecue by the pound to take home with you.

My special memory: There was an Eddlemon’s store near my house when I grew up and we drove by the smell of barbecue on the way to school. Everyone in town knew and loved the Eddlemon family. Lots of GP folks still do.

Treasure Every Moment

In historic downtown Carrollton, Silver Star Mercantile offers physical treasures and treasures of the heart. Their beautifully curated collection of antiques and accessories inspires the interior designer in all of us, while the family owners’ history of giving inspires their community to do the same.

My special memory: It was about a decade ago in historic downtown Carrollton that I discovered my love of historic downtowns. Discovering “Main Street” America, wherever I find it, now constitutes the lion’s share of my bucket list.

Sew it Up

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In Mesquite, sisters Jacqueline and Terry have a fun sewing and quilting shop, Watt a Find. They also offer classes and group quilting projects for donation to charitable organizations. This year, in keeping up with the times, they started a strip club — hold on there, not that kind of strip club. Precut fabric strips make the art of quilting a little easier, so ask about special Saturday mornings when you get a light breakfast, a strip quilt pattern, and a discount on your choice of precut strips for just five bucks.

My special memory: I’m not a seamstress or a quilter — this recommendation came from a friend. But I’ve never known a quilter who wasn’t a giver. Community projects, charitable donations, and quilting go hand in hand. Some of the most beautiful quilt designs I’ve ever seen were conceived with the intent to gift them to a loved one or a person in need. Sometimes the recipient doesn’t recognize the hours of time that went into making the quilt, but the love that went into making it is still there, whether they recognize it or not. I hope that kind of connection never becomes a relic of the past.

Grab a Bite

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There is magic in numbers.

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The phrase “Mom and Pop” will definitely make you think of restaurants, right? DFW has dozens, maybe hundreds of family owned and operated restaurants both small and large. One of our favorites is Dino’s Subs in Arlington. Lawrence “Larry” Dino’s family started a sandwich shop in New Jersey almost 100 years ago. When Dino ended up in Texas, he followed the family tradition. The original Dino’s near Six Flags Mall, which opened in 1980, has closed but the South Collins location is still thriving. Sadly, Larry Dino passed away in 2014, but the family promises that Dino’s will remain family owned and operated.

My special memory: I’ve eaten MANY Dino’s subs, mostly on dates, preceded or followed by a movie at Six Flags Mall. It was also a popular hangout after working a shift at Six Flags Over Texas, where I sold balloons and manned the souvenir map carts in one of Texas’s hottest summers ever. Ahhh, those were the days.

Sit a Spell

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Part coffee shop, part country store, part community gathering place, Shoemaker and Hardt Coffee and Country Store has been a charming part of historic downtown Wylie for decades. Owners Kent and Velma Crane recently reopened the store, which had been closed for several months to repair damage from this spring’s hailstorms.

Learn While You Play

What a dream come true for a kid to have a mom and pop who run a toy store. Well, Candace and Wes Williams do. Their North Dallas toy store, Toy Maven, focuses on educational toys alongside the major brands.

Eat Like a Kid

The place has changed hands over the years, but other than that, it hasn’t changed much at all. Kids still spin on the counter stools, and the pimento cheese sandwiches are still the best around at Highland Park Soda Fountain, which has been in business for more than 100 years. Since 2006, owners Sonny and Gretchen Minyard Williams (yes, of those Minyards) have maintained the magic there.

Feast Your Eyes

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When you picture a “Mom and Pop” store, the picture that comes to mind is probably not an impressionist painting. But such a painting is merely one of the many treasures you’ll find at Milan Gallery in downtown Fort Worth. Impressionist painter, Henrietta Milan opened her gallery that’s been in downtown Fort Worth since 1992. Her son Tal Milan is the director of the gallery while her other son Rome is also a painter whose work is on display in the shop.

My special memory: My late mother and I spent many an hour “shopping” at Milan Gallery, coveting paintings that somehow never made it out of the gallery and onto our walls. Yet the experience was uplifting — we took home our favorite art in our memories. I expect there are thousands of DFW families who’ve done the same. I’m thrilled to see this very special family business still thriving.

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