Title

Main street business owners: aging in plain sight

Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

1-1-2022

Abstract

Purpose: Aging is the most important social-demographic issue worldwide, supported by the initiatives of the World Health Organization (WHO) in its global strategy and action plan for aging and health (Rudnicka et al., 2020). The average age of business owners in most industrialized countries is on the rise. In the United States, fifty-one percent of small private businesses are owned by someone age fifty-plus (SBA Office of Advocacy, 2018). Design/methodology/approach: The authors shed light on small business owners, who age in place. The authors suggest that their importance as long-term actors in entrepreneurial ecosystems nor the issue of “Main Street churn” have not been meaningfully explored. They become embedded in their community and possibly stuck there in retirement. Understanding the risks they face offers an opportunity for academics and practitioners to provide insights for business owners, the next generation of the acquirer and advisors. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has elevated the status of many of these businesses from invisible (and perhaps taken for granted) to “essential” and amplified the co-dependence of business and the local economy. Findings: The anticipated “silver tsunami” caused by the retirements of Main Street business owners is not a national and homogeneous wave. Rather, each wave will land on beaches locally. Small business owners age in place, and their importance as long-term actors in entrepreneurial ecosystems nor the issue of “Main Street churn” have not been meaningfully explored. They become embedded in their community and possibly stuck there in retirement. Originality/value: The embeddedness of these owners – who likely have social connections, community identification and feelings of responsibility to the community directly impacts the places that they care deeply about – is often unquestioned. However, their retirements call for increased visibility within entrepreneurial ecosystems and translations of scholarly work from several kinds of literature into policy and practice.

Publication Title

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

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