His passion for showing people how to see and think in new ways led David Leschinsky on a journey from being a traveling computer consultant to owning a puzzle shop. For Peter Meyer, opening a cafe in Newton was the fulfillment of a running joke he and his wife shared while frequenting New York coffee shops years ago. And Tony Dopazo followed in his parents’ footsteps by opening his own company, a small-business computer consultancy firm, in his childhood neighborhood. more stories like this

These independent business owners are sharing their stories and entrepreneurial spirit in a booklet called Indie Owned. They’re doing it under the premise that consumers who know the names and faces behind the storefronts are more likely to venture inside and shop, as well as possibly pay a premium at a business owned by a neighbor rather than shopping for a discount at a faceless national chain.

“It gives people a connection to the people and families running businesses and offering services in their community,” said Leschinsky, owner of Eureka Puzzles in Brookline. “They feel better about shopping here because they know it’s not simply a clone of Wal-Mart or Target or Toys “R” Us.”

It’s precisely why Debbie Thompson of Brookline created Indie Owned. Her first effort offered detailed looks at more than 100 independently owned businesses in Brookline. Now she is ready to distribute a version of Indie Owned covering Newton businesses and nonprofits operations, and is making plans to branch out into other suburbs west of Boston.

An attorney on maternity leave, Thompson got the idea in September when her mother’s helper, Hannah Leschinsky, 14, shared how her father opened his store in pursuit of his passion for games and puzzles. A mother of three children under the age of 5, Thompson had shopped at the store for two years but knew nothing about the family who ran it.

“Learning how involved Hannah, her sisters, and mother are in the business, and that it fulfilled her father’s dream, made it a totally different shopping experience for me,” Thompson said. “Small businesses are driven by word-of-mouth. It’s about the accessibility and commitment of the owner.

“I thought I can’t be the only one who would really like to know this story and the stories of other business owners,” she said.

Three months later, Thompson mailed a nearly 70-page, glossy directory of 110 independently owned businesses to every homeowner in Brookline. Every quarter-page of the directory offers a photograph and up to 250 words of insight and background into the local entrepreneurs. “It’s a way to build community, and at the same time it’s a way to build business,” said Thompson, who doesn’t have plans to go back to her career as a lawyer.

Full Story: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/03/