Shop Life Columnists

Everyone Has a Story

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Most of the stories start the same way. The person telling it begins slowly and somewhat guarded. They explain their “entry point” into the industry. Maybe their parents owned the shop before them—their grandparents even. Maybe it was the push of a vo-tech instructor. Maybe it was an entrepreneurial itch that they couldn’t shake. Maybe it was all of it. 

Then the timeline progresses: They decided to take it on themselves, open up their own business, buy out their uncle—whatever it is, this is when it launched. They talk about the struggles, the early failures, the starts and stops. You can feel the blood, sweat and tears in every word as they walk through it. 

And suddenly, they’re rolling into their story. The “aha” moment comes in their career. Their turning point brings them to the next level. And this story, that sounds so much like so many others (maybe yours?) feels fresh, it feels unique, like it could’ve only happened to them. 

One of the things I love most about my job is hearing these stories, no matter how many times I hear them and no matter how similar one might think they are. And, sure, there are similarities. The vague description I just gave could likely mimic your own version. But let’s not confuse anything here; these stories aren’t the same. 

You can hear just how unique and personal each and every one of these stories are through the level of emotion and connection the owner has in telling it. You feel it. What they’re describing is not just their business, it’s their life’s work and something they’ve put every ounce of energy into for years. It’s a part of them, and you instantly know just how much it means to them. 

When I read through our winners for our Best Workplaces feature this year, this was what I felt. And it wasn’t just about the people we profiled—even though their unique stories follow that same pattern above. More so, I thought about the years’ worth of stories I’ve heard, each one as personal and important as the next. I instantly flashed back to sitting in a room full of shop owners just a month or so ago, while the host of our meeting broke down his own story. 

His story was touching and revealing, and it demonstrated just how invested he was in his business. He cared for his team like it was his family, and he was proud. 

When you read this month’s content, especially our Best Workplaces features, I hope you’re left with the same feeling I always get in hearing these types of stories: rooting for them to succeed, but also hopeful and inspired to put the same passion and focus into my own work. Please keep telling your stories; we’ll keep working to share them.

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