A recent story from Minneapolis’ KARE-11 found that a local Checkers had in its employ both a professional chef and a civil engineer. Columnists far and wide will no doubt take this to mean that the age of Cthulhu is upon us. Robert Spector’s new book The Mom & Pop Store probably won’t change our fascination with down-and-outs, but it should. Spector’s message is, essentially, “Adapting beats bitching.” A Nordstrom fanatic (he wrote three books about the company’s approach to customer service), Spector traveled the United States profiling community businesses and found that a lot of them are hanging in there, despite gentrification, legislation that favors large chains, and economic instability. D.C. vendors who feel persecuted would do well to read up on Hobby’s Delicatessen of Newark, which responded to competition from chains by offering things that its competitors couldn’t; namely, “Hobby’s Unbeatable Delicatessan Buffet.”

SPECTOR READS AT 7 P.M. AT POLITICS & PROSE, 5015 CONNECTICUT AVE. NW. FREE. (202) 364-1919.

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