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What makes a local business last for nearly half a century or more in Palo Alto?

A look at the secrets of longevity through five businesses

The laid-back Mac's Smoke Shop at 534 Emerson St. sells cigars, hookahs and newspapers, among other items. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Whether going through economic booms or busts, or facing changing city and state regulations, local businesses have had to stay nimble to survive. To understand the secrets to longevity, the Weekly asked the owners or managers of five businesses in different industries to talk about some of the hurdles they've had to overcome and how they stayed afloat when other companies met their demise. The oldest of the five businesss was founded in 1904 and the youngest in 1987.

In the past 40 years alone, nearly all enterprises have had to figured out how to adapt to a new digital reality, whether by shifting gears as cars incorporated software and computers or competing with online commerce that devastated so many local brick-and-mortar stores.

And with the rising dominance of tech companies in the Valley, the biggest challenge to the longtime businesses queried for this article is hiring new staff.

We take a closer at five businesses who have survived for decades and in some cases more than a century. Read their stories alongside more photos on our Atavist page.

Related content:

This article is part of the Palo Alto Weekly's 40th Anniversary edition. Click on the links below to read the complete package:

The price of 'paradise': Palo Altans love their hometown, but the stress of living in the heart of Silicon Valley is growing

Block by block: Longtime and new residents living in four neighborhoods share their outlooks on living in Palo Alto

40 years of news: The events and issues that defined Palo Alto over a generation

Editorial: Why our next 40 years depends on you

VIDEO: 'When I think about Palo Alto...'

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