As a young boy, the ability to walk a block down Madison Avenue and present a list to the wonderful folks at Heath’s Grocery was fun. I can still envision the inside of that grocery store. Neal, the butcher, was always behind the meat counter.
My dad enjoyed jowl bacon as part of his hardy breakfast before leaving for his daily milk route. I was often dispatched to Heath’s for a couple of pounds of jowl bacon.
Most of the businesses that we shopped at were family-owned. I bet if you sit back and recall your formative days, you will remember the small businesses that served your neighborhood. Many of those businesses and people still serve our community.
Last week, on the front page of this locally owned newspaper was not one, not two, but three articles about just the sort of people I have been talking about.
I used to be in a business club with Mike Heimel, who owns Heimel Auction Service in Beech Grove and was recently inducted into the Indiana Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame. Not only do I know and like Mike, my therapy dog, Stuart, and his dog, Maggie are canine friends.
Ray Skillman is the owner of Skillman Auto Group. His business is on a much larger scale, but he is a big part of our Southside life. His company just pledged $500,000 to help renovate UIndy’s Nicoson Hall. I think that (among many other things) qualifies him as a good neighbor and a good businessman. (Stuart is interested in meeting his dog, which appears in some of the company’s television commercials.)
Drs. Robert Kopecky and John Deever operated their office on Shelby Street for more than 30 years. I remember having a terrible pain in my lower stomach one day while playing basketball. I believe I was in the fourth grade. When the pain didn’t get better, my mom called Dr. Kopecky, who soon arrived at our house. He sent me to St. Francis Hospital, where the next thing I remember was recovering from a double appendectomy. I also recall being given special care because I had two infected appendixes. Thank you, Dr. Kopecky.
I’m always excited to see local folks open new businesses. Karla Richardson and her family have joined forces with Mike Jarvis and his family to open The Whistle Stop Ice Cream and More Shop on Main Street in Beech Grove. I worked with Karla at the transportation department of Beech Grove Schools. I know Mike from the Beech Grove Historical Society, of which he serves as president.
The husband-and-wife team of Nick and Stephanie Alford and some of their friends and/or family members are close to opening D’s Taps on Main Street in Beech Grove. The bar will feature local beers and wines.
A while back there was a day known as Small Business Saturday. I think we should visit and shop in our local businesses EVERY DAY.
I hope all small-business owners consider participating in The Southsider Voice’s “Family Business Album,” which will be published Feb. 4. The deadline to be included is Friday.