George Bailey – Our Favorite Fictional Small Business Owner

Movie Poster of It's a Wonderful LifeWho is your favorite small business owner from fiction?

Whether big screen (movies) or small (television); novels or comics; there are plenty of great characters who owned a small business (and some not so great characters). Not all were good at their operation, but there were lots of role models.

I think my personal favorite fictional small business owner of all-time is George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart), Bailey Building and Loan Association of Bedford Falls (It’s a Wonderful Life).

As Rhonda Abrams penned in a USA Today piece years ago,

Bedford Falls was fortunate to have a small businessman, George Bailey, who invested in his community, who gave people a chance, who looked beyond a person’s bank balance. George Bailey didn’t view the patrons of his savings and loan as “consumers,” each with a dollar figure attached. He saw them as people, as his neighbors.

An example of such loyalty and community-building is found in this scene (7 min.), where he (and his wife – having just moments ago had their wedding ceremony) save the business and the community:

Another favorite scene from this movie is where George Bailey gets excited about seeing the storefront of the business and yells out, “Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!”

I’m sure we all have heroes in fiction who were wonderful characters, role models, and examples of humanity or business. Next week, we’ll be launching a contest around the celebration of small business owner characters in fiction.

I’m thankful that I had two great role models in real life. My grandfather was a solopreneur (independent carpenter and commercial fisherman-for-hire). My father owned his own real estate office (and often had a handful of full-time agents working in the office).

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