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Thursday, July 21, 2011

mom and pop

Idiom: Mom and pop; used as an adjective

First example: My parents have never been rich, but they were always able to provide for us. I spent many happy days at their mom and pop restaurant watching them work and learning how to run a business. It was the only Greek restaurant in the small town I lived in. My parents were always there, and they knew personally many of the customers who ate there. When they retired and closed the restaurant, many of their customers cried.

Meaning: "Mom and pop" literally means "mother and father." It is a term used to describe a small business that is owned by a single owner or family. The business generally has only one or two locations. The owners are personally involved in taking care of the business. In the situation above, the writer's parents were always at the restaurant and the restaurant depended on their involvement to stay open.

Here is another example:

Second example: In my neighborhood when I was young, there were a lot of Middle Eastern immigrants. Most of these families opened small convenience stores to survive. These mom and pop stores were on almost every corner. Each was owned by a different family. When one family felt it had enough money or education to pursue other opportunities, it would pass the store on to a new family. This is how the Middle Eastern immigrant community took care of one another.

Meaning: In this situation, the stores are not always owned by mothers and fathers, but they are still individually owned. One family would start a store, and pass it to a new family when the first family no longer needed it. The store owners never combined their stores into a chain group. Each store was controlled by a different person/family.

This idiom is from LSI's book "Reading Horizons," which is used in the level 6 Reading classes. For more information, please visit

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