Truth: Urban mom-and-pops are seeing a bigger revival than Main Street businesses.
The vision of a small-town mom-and-pop store serving the community is one of Hollywood's favorites. Increasingly, though, small businesses are finding it better to locate themselves in the heart of a big city.
Downtown Los Angeles, for example, is in the midst of a revival led by independent businesses that provide unique products or services, things the big chain stores can't or don't offer.
"Small businesses in metro areas appear to be doing much better than those in rural areas," said Vitner. "There are certainly some exceptions, but that follows what we've seen with economic growth in those areas."
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While some farmers near metro areas are able to capitalize on the urban Farmer's Market boom and take advantage of the "buy local" trend, the same can't be said for traditional, rural farm communities. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that more than 75 percent of businesses located in cities with active "buy local" campaigns reported increased customer traffic or other benefits from these initiatives.
Many rural areas, meanwhile—especially those tied to agriculture—are actually tougher for small businesses today, Vitner said, as commodity prices have come down, slowing the local economy.
Population is part of the story: "The population living entirely outside metropolitan areas—nearly two-thirds of the nation's 3,100 counties—shows an actual population loss for the third year in a row. At the other end of the spectrum, the nation's largest metropolitan areas are growing at far higher rates," according to a recent Brookings Institute analysis.
But a key factor in this urban revival of small business is size: It's not necessarily the biggest cities in the U.S. that are the best metro areas to set up shop. Sixty-three percent of small-business owners said smaller cities are better for small business than the largest cities in the U.S., citing first-class networking, low taxes, minimal regulations, high-quality talent pools, affordable commercial real estate, lower living costs and availability of federal contracts, according to a semi-annual survey by Rocket Lawyer of small-business owners.