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Tale of two stores in Manteca: One holds secret of success
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This is the story of two stores in Manteca. Maybe, I should say, the stories of two stores in Manteca because one is about how success is achieved, and the other is about how success slips away.

They may be the stories of two stores, but in a deeper sense, they are human stories because it’s the human element that chooses to either fuel the success of the endeavor by employing the old and basic rules of survival, or to turn it into an economic Waterloo.

They could be any two businesses anywhere and anytime, so I’m not going to name names. But the location happens to be here in Manteca. They also opened about the same time a while back. I am very familiar with each store’s story because I’ve had interaction with both.

One, of course, is now defunct. But I’m getting ahead of my story.

When the two small businesses opened, the owners were highly upbeat, excited and feeling very optimistic. Their optimism was contagious. Since both businesses set out to fill an obvious need in the area, it was easy to see they had a good chance of being an enduring part of Manteca’s economic skyline.

But as I continued to stay in touch with store Y, I noticed some cracks appearing early on. When I called one day to ask a question about a store item, the phone just rang and rang. I thought maybe the store owner or the one hired employee was busy with customers. So, after waiting a day or two, I called again. The same result. I decided to stop by a few days later. When I asked the employee if they were having problems with their phone service, explaining my unsuccessful attempts to reach them, he said everything was just fine.

During another store visit, I was browsing when several customers came in. Among them was a family of three. It was obvious they were looking for something by the conversation they were having which I could not help but overhear. They were talking loud enough. As they got increasingly frustrated, I half expected the employee to walk up to them and ask if there was something he could do to help. But he did no such thing. I watched as the trio finally huffed and puffed themselves out the door.

A few months later, I happened to be driving past Y store when I saw another family of three – a couple and their two children – try to get inside. I watched as they peered through the glass door. According to the posted business hours, the store was supposed to be open. Again I watched as the family reluctantly walked away. Perhaps, this was the beginning of the end for the store because not too many months later, I saw the door close for good. I was very disappointed because I liked the store. It was clean, very aesthetically pleasing the way the store items were displayed, and they had interesting sale items that I liked.

Then there was the Z store. I should state that in the present tense because it’s still here and, by all indications, thriving. Like many start-up businesses in a small town, Z store struggled through the early months. The business partners owned as much during conversations I had with them, but always they spoke with optimism and a hopeful smile even though it was obvious they were really working hard. Between the two of them, they took care of all the overhead. One time I stopped by the store, one of them just finished mopping the back area. None of the tasks was contracted out; they did it all themselves, combining their collective skills and acumen.

During the times I happened to be at the store, I also witnessed how they treated their customers. They treated them like royalty, not necessarily in a stifling way but in a helpful, polite and friendly manner. It’s easy to see why their business is still open and thriving.

I’m sure there’s nothing that is truly unique about the stories of these two stores, but being witness to the turn of events faced by both business ventures presented me with a lot of possible allegories in life that I thought their tale was worth noting.