Small businesses are key

Published 11:41 am Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Have you ever wondered who some of Atmore’s true entrepreneurs were?

First let me explain entrepreneur. According to the Internet dictionary, Wikipedia, it is an “owner of a business who makes money through risk and initiative.” Normally an entrepreneur can be described as a self employed businessman or business woman. Some entrepreneurs are generally very successful. However, there are more people who venture out on their own in a much smaller attempt to merely satisfy an ego drive without making a profit. No business can thrive without turning a profit.

Sandy Furney, back in the early 1940s, operated a bakery here. Not long after he opened up he decided to establish a route, selling bread and various bakery products to smaller stores, service stations and “mom and pop” stores. I am told by some of friends he readily turned his route sales into a very successful operation.

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Joe McMurphy, who operated a dairy, found a demand for milk deliveries to homes in the Atmore area. He also successfully introduced a “Dairy Bar” which drew countless daily customers. That business served as the foundation that we know today as “Busters”.

Marvin Pipkin and his brothers began a soft drink bottling company in the 1940s. Various soft drinks were processed at their company and they successfully distributed their bottled sodas in the same manner as Sandy did. Their drink routes extended into surrounding counties.

Marshall Robinson helped small farmers raise cucumbers. He furnished seeds, etc and farmers brought their crops to his shed where he paid for their cucumber production. Through contracts, the cucumbers were shipped out to major companies up state where they were processed and marketed throughout the south.

My late brother in law, Lawrence Cooper, who owned a grocery store in Bratt, added a unique business in the 1950s. He went around to small stores and schools in the Atmore trade area and took orders for mostly grocery and related items. Lawrence built a tremendous clientele as he successfully maintained that route for many years.

In the mid 1950s Tom and Ernestine Miniard gave Dan Locke (Not sure if name spelled correctly) one hour of free radio time in exchange for his conducting a “soul” radio hour on WATM. Dan, who was identified by his radio name “Bruce The Roost,” would sell ads for his show and he would also use the show to promote his “Soul Concerts” that featured various singing groups. His was a unique and profitable example of entrepreneurship.

Moreover, all these business, known so well by all of us dating back to the early 1940s, were examples of entrepreneurial efforts. Many of us have underlying desires to create businesses or become creative but sometimes those ideas, as I stated above, merely serve our egos. One must be sure a profit will result from his or her efforts. Remember, the definition above states risk and initiative must be considered to become a successful entrepreneur.

Now let’s take a look at a few news items from 1969.

Gordon’s Furniture and Appliances ran an ad in the Advance in January that year. “GE washing machines $169.95 and WE HOOK IT UP.”

Brantley Tires ran a special on Dayton tires $32.95 with free rotation.

Jim Monroe, long time Alabama State Trooper, was recognized by the state for his faithful service patrolling the highways in the Atmore area. Jim also was a faithful worker in our youth baseball leagues having coached Little League teams for several years.

Mr. and Mrs. Cleveland Boatwright were the parents of Atmore’s first baby that year. Lucinda Melanie Boatwright was born at Green Lawn Hospital January 2, at 5:47 p.m.

Finally, those of you who follow the yard sales may want to venture with your wares up to any town between Cuba, Alabama on the Mississippi line to Phenix City on the Alabama, Georgia line. This lengthy sale is ongoing now and will continue until June State officials are calling this “The World’s Widest Yard Sale.”

Have you noticed, as of my writing this column on Monday morning, all seems quiet from county commissioners and their battle with Creeks? By the way I failed to mention in earlier columns Commissioner Smith is and has been a supporter of the Creeks efforts. I apologize for not making that clear in my earlier columns.

Be back with more next week.

“…yes, it always whispers to me…those days of long ago…..”

Lowell McGill can be reached at