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Honoring Small Businesses: Check Out The Five of the Oldest Small Businesses in America

The American small business is the foundation of our nation’s economy. Without the hard work of dedicated small business owners, our economy would never have grown with as much acceleration. From the farmers to the local grocers, to blacksmiths and masons—-our country has been blessed with hard working individuals ever since its beginning in 1776.


Recently put together a list of the oldest small businesses in America. It should be noted that most small businesses don’t even last five years, however these businesses have been around for centuries now—and most are still in the family.


Small Business #1- The John Stevens Shop-this stone carving business was founded in 1705, in Newport, RI, where a man by the name of John Steven was a carver, who specialized in gravestones. Over 200 years later, in 1925, the family sold the business to John Benson, whose family still to this day, owns the business. The family says, “We don’t care about the money as much as we care about the product, we’re inspired by the legacy we have received.”  


Small Business #2- Bachman Funeral Home, which was founded in 1769, is the quintessential story of immigrants who left Europe in the 1700s, came to america, and started a business. Originally, the funeral home was a store, which sold furniture, cabinets, and most importantly, coffins. But in 1885, the factories started to produce furniture, and Bachman’s had to think of another area to focus on because of the changing industry trends….this is how they started the funeral parlor, which is still around today.


Small Business #3-  Laird & Co. Distillery- founded in 1780, in Scobeyville, NJ, the company first began making Apple Jack Brandy. In the 1920’s during prohibition, the distillery was almost forced out of business, but the Lairds’ and their quick business sense, began making non-alcoholic beverages. The distillery is still in business today and offers almost any spirit you can think of.


Small Business #4-Bixler Jewelers, who was started by Christian Bixler, after the Revolutionary war in 1785, started selling grandfather clocks, rings and lots of silver items. Even Tiffanys recognizes this store as the oldest jewlrey store in America. The owner claims they survive on one motto, “Treat people well and they could become customers for generations.”


Small Business #5– Curtis Mallet Law Firm, started in 1830, According to, “The firm, formed in 1830 by Don Graham and his cousin, codified the country’s banking laws. It also drafted the charter for Farmer’s Loan and Trust Company, which later became Citibank, and it helped with Fidelity Investment’s foundational documents.” Although none of the original owners still work there, employees say the history still lives in the company culture.


Many of the core values these pioneers followed can still be implemented in business today.

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