Entrepreneurism

The Greek American-owned diner and candy store are iconic features of the American landscape and a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of Greek Americans. Journalists and social workers in the early twentieth century routinely noted that Greek immigrants were eager to go into business for themselves, often forgoing, or quickly moving on from, the large factories and mines where most immigrants made their living.  These fledgling businesses were often family affairs in which financial resources and labor were pooled to make a successful business. 

These small, family-owned businesses, like military service, were an important way in which Greek immigrants became part of the fabric of American life. While businesses in “Greektowns” served a mainly Greek clientele, often Greek-owned businesses relied on the patronage of their non-Greek neighbors. In restaurants, grocery stores, and candy shops across America, Greek immigrants and their children began to form long lasting relationships with their American neighbors and become part of the wider community.

George Phillos worked in his family’s candy shop and meticulously documented the shop’s elaborate window displays as you can see here.

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NHM Collection 2003.26.11

Princess Confectionary Store window display for Washington’s birthday, February 1925, Bloomington, Illinois. This display for Washington’s birthday includes boxes of chocolate covered cherries referencing the myth that George Washington did not lie to his father about damaging his father’s cherry tree.

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NHM Collection 2003.26.28

Princess Confectionary Store window display of a Gingerbread castle, December 24, 1924, Bloomington, Illinois.

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NHM Collection 2003.26.39

Two men behind counter at Princess Confectionery Store, c. 1910s, Bloomington, Illinois.

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NHM Collection 2003.26.41

Employees in front of Princess Confectionary Store, 1910s. George Phillos stands on the left side, Bloomington, Illinois.

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NHM Collection 2003.26.19

Princess Confectionary Store window display for Halloween, c. 1920s. This Halloween display features pumpkins and homemade bon-bons.Bloomington, Illinois.

Entrepreneurism