Thursday, October 21, 2021

Generational Companies As Tourist Attractions


Keramion Pottery  Margarites, Crete
3rd+ generation potter who digs his own clay and fires pots in the traditional manner, with no glaze needed

My husband and I recently returned from a long-awaited trip to the Greek Islands. This was a trip organized by a tour operator specializing in small group walking tours and we spent a delightful seven days visiting Crete, Naxos, Mykonos, Delos, and Santorini. Besides the many amazing archaeological sites, we went to wineries, an olive farm, a small-village potter, a hand-made baklava baker, and a number of small restaurants/tavernas. It didn’t take me long to realize that all these unique visits were generational, family-owned and run operations – some 5th generation. The tour operator realizes these businesses are cultural treasures. Now back home, it makes me wonder whether we honor our generational companies the same way: My hometown has the Lake Michigan beach and Windmill Island and Dutch Village for tourist attractions, but part of its charm is the vibrant downtown with a number of Century Club retail shops. People visiting Holland, Michigan go to the Peanut Store for old-fashioned candy, shop for shoes at Lokers, stop for a bite at Crane's in the City, look for Holland gifts & souvenirs or art supplies at Fris; and maybe venture out to the Holland Bowl Mill to see unique wooden bowls being made or to Graafschap Hardware for a stroll through an old-fashioned hardware store. I’ve become convinced that ‘old companies’ – particularly generational family businesses – help make a community special. Which ones should be on the tourist list for your community?