It takes a ton of work to open a business, even more to keep it going, and all of that – plus some luck from the universe – to run a successful store for a long time. We’ve all seen those storefronts in our towns and neighborhoods that seem to change owners and businesses in the blink of an eye, to open and close before we can make the decision to stop in and check it out.
That’s not the case for these 10 stores, though, that have been operating continuously for years, decades, and even centuries since first hanging out their shingle.
Check them out, and maybe stop in one day and ask them their secret to success.
#10. Temple Slug – Kansas City, MO
It frankly does not compare to some of the others you’ll see on the list, but selling waterbeds for over 40 years (they opened in 1970) is quite the accomplishment, I’d say.
#9. St. Peter’s Stiftkseller – Salzburg, Austria
This restaurant is considered to be the longest operating in Austria, and, with some dating its inception all the way back to 803 C.E., it could be the oldest in the world. Located within the walls of St. Peter’s Abbey, the spot claims to have hosted Charlemagne, Christopher Columbus, troops during the Napoleonic Wars, and, more recently, Bill Clinton and Clint Eastwood.
#8. Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy – Florence, Italy
This is the oldest pharmacy in the world, founded by Dominican monks in 1221. They began by selling medicines, soaps, and colognes and are still situated in their original building, which features painted ceilings, a museum, and, of course, their products – the most famous of which is a smelling salt that was (according to legend) used by grave robbers to protect themselves from contracting the plague.
#7. Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan – Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan
This inn was founded in 705 CE and has been run by the same family for 52 generations. Seriously. Located at the foot of the Japanese Alps and featuring hot springs, maybe it’s not such a surprise that they’ve lasted so long, right? You can find them in the Guinness Book of World Records under the world’s oldest hotel.
#6. C.O. Bigelow – New York, NY
Though Carl’s Drug in Greencastle, PA opened a few years earlier in 1825, it has changed both location and ownership since then, making C.O. Bigelow in Greenwich Village the oldest continuously operated pharmacy in America – it has been selling drugs and soaps and such in the same spot since 1838.
It’s nowhere close to the oldest pharmacy in the world, but it has had some interesting clientele over the years. Thomas Edison allegedly nursed an injured finger there, and other famous faces like Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain, John Waters, and the New York Dolls have all passed through their doors. Gotta love New York!
#5. Moravian Bookshop – Bethlehem, PA
This bookshop was opened in 1745, which makes it the oldest bookstore in America. The Moravian opened as a place to print and buy religious texts, but now you can find pretty much any genre you seek among its shelves. Unsurprisingly, some even claim the space is haunted by its lengthy past – literally – with friendly ghosts appearing to current employees on a regular basis.
#4. R.J. Balson & Son – Bridport, England
The Balson family has been in the meat business at the local market since 1515, and they set up their shop – now the oldest butcher shop in the world – in 1880. Its owner jokes, “we’ve just never made enough money to be able to retire.”
#3. Antica Pizzeria Port’alba – Naples, Italy
This pizzeria was founded as a food stall in 1738 and helped transform cheap street food into indoor dining. They also use rocks from Mount Vesuvius to line their oven, and I’m guessing not many restaurants can say that – or that they’re the longest running pizzeria in the world.
#2. Pearson Cycles – Sutton, London, UK
This bicycle shop, established in 1860, is the oldest one in the world. Not only that, but it’s been run by the Pearson family for five generations! Will and Guy Pearson, the great-great-grandsons of the original owners, now run the shop, and they just opened a second location in 2011. Will Pearson told The Telegraph, “We have a slow roll-out program; one store every 150 years.”
The shop even claimed their spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.
#1. The Oldest Sweet Shop – Pateley Bridge, England
Aptly named, this is the oldest sweet shop in the world, operating in the same location since 1827. The way the manager Keith Tordoff describes his business reminds me of the nice shop owner in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the original film):
“To me, sweets are all about the memories. You remember sweets from your childhood just like you remember a song. You remember the sweets your grandparents gave you, or giving a packet of Lovehearts to a girl you liked.”
Could he be any more charming? Possibly, as he also described a 97-year-old woman who recently came in and said that, aside from the position of the counter, the place hasn’t changed since she visited as a 5-year-old girl.