From your local convenience store, to your neighbourhood bar, to that place you get your smokes, small business owners are there to look after you in your moments of need.
Jeremy Cassar

17 Oct 2016 - 3:35 PM  UPDATED 17 Oct 2016 - 3:35 PM

Australia’s Small Business Secrets is a compelling SBS show that offers insight on a diverse range of successful business owners, gleaning from them an equal measure of nifty tips and poignant stories for our viewing pleasure.

It’s always comforting to walk into an establishment and understand the backstory of how a business came to be, the human blood, sweat, and tears that went into starting a successful business. 

Today we celebrate small business' in film and TV with a look at some of film & TV's memorable small business', 


Cheers (1982-93)

I don’t even need a place where everybody knows my name. A head nod and a banal question-come-hilarious-miscomprehension from Woody is enough for me. No local would ever want this Boston treasure shut down. That is, if it wasn’t a fake pub set on a soundstage. 

Smoke (1995)

Back before ‘Indie’ was a faux-genre with no set creative parameters, and it was rightly referred to as the independent method of production and distribution of creative works, this little Wayne Wang film was set at the local tobacconist, spotlighting the cross-section of consumers that pass through its doors.

The sprawling cast of lonely smokers are unified by he who sells the smokes: shop owner Auggie (Harvey Keitel) - a man that takes the time to talk and listen to them, even forming bonds. This quiet, talky, Silver Bear-winning film is a celebration of the small business.

In Treatment (2008-2010)

A private psychotherapy practice is a small business, right? Gabriel Byrne’s Paul Weston practices out of his house, so it’s difficult not to take his work home with him.  When on the ball, Paul is a pro at running his business. Attentive, intuitive, and genuinely caring, Paul can take a particularly difficult session and turn it into progress.

Unfortunately, for much of In Treatment, Paul’s struggling to run the business effectively—becoming too close to patients or letting his inner woes cloud his judgement and stifle his tolerance.

A key to running a successful small business: if your heart’s no longer in it, your heart’s no longer in it. 

Horace and Pete (2016)

While the century-old Horace and Pete’s was once a thriving watering hole, it’s now just a hole, and was only ever really thriving before people started scrutinising the patriarchy. So, it's been a while.

Here, the small business is a thorn in everyone’s side despite the fact Horace (Louis CK) clings to some semblance of its legacy, as if it deserves one. Really, it’s just a sad, ugly place where miserable people enjoy the sounds of their own voices, thick with an air of cumulative pain.

Ladies and gentleman, comedian Louis CK!

Clerks (1994) 

Ah, the Quick Stop. The perfect place to buy a pack of smokes or a carton of eggs or listen to two jerks wax lyrical on the ins and outs of existence, Star Wars, and pornography with uncharacteristic verbosity.

Such disdain do Dante and Randall possess for both consumers and their bosses that they’ll discuss adjective-ridden genitalia while serving a customer or shut up shop for a hockey game on the building’s roof. ­­

Black Books (2000-2004)

'Fiendish' and 'surly' are two descriptors everyone wants from their local bookseller, right? Here’s a small businessman who adopts the my-way-or-the-high-way method of retailing—insulting customers, refusing to sell certain books to certain people, and forcing other books on others.

Yes, this is an OTT situation comedy replete with laugh track, but we’ve all at some stage encountered some version of the rigid shopkeep that continue to haunt you every time you even think about visiting *that* hobby shop.

Get stuck into the little-big dreams of Small Business Secrets’ (and maybe even get inspired) when a brand new episode airs on SBS at 5pm on Sunday. Or catch up with previous episodes on SBS On Demand:

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