It’s not every day, while simply mowing her lawn, that a proprietor of local Mom and Pop businesses is approached by a bona fide representative from one of the world’s oldest and most widely known motion picture and entertainment companies and asked to use one of her establishments as a partial filming location for major movies starring A-list celebrities. This very scenario played out repeatedly for entrepreneur Tammy Tolzdorf, who, with her husband, owns the Pub General variety store and their bar called Millers Pub, both in Millers Falls, Massachusetts. For the couple, this rare encounter resulted in three movies – “The Judge,” “Labor Day,” and the upcoming film “Sheepdog” – shooting scenes at Millers Pub. Ms. Tolzdorf declined payment for the third filming because, she said, the movie was low-budget, and she asked the producers to donate the fee to the film’s hired veterinary doctors.
Being on Hollywood’s radar may have been a highlight for Ms. Tolzdorf, yet the daily privilege of serving her neighbors through both businesses—and all the happenings that come with the labor of love—creates ongoing special memories for the community. The charming Pub General, where patrons can purchase everything from bread to delicacies to collectible gifts, opened in 2022 adjacent to the well-established and popular Millers Pub started in 2006. A family affair, Ms. Tolzdorf’s daughter works part-time at the bar, and the youngest of her three stepsons also works for her and her husband, with whom she built the businesses from scratch with very little money, having grown up poor.
Buying and converting a rundown building for the general store, they decided to open the second business to benefit their community and so local folks would not always have to travel too far for necessities. Together, the couple oversees or handles all financial transactions, tends to the needs of customers and their employees, hosts community fundraisers, and works alongside their staff during the busiest hours, including tending the bar at Millers Pub. Outside of running the businesses, they also own rental houses.
Attributing her success to lots of hard work seven days a week, Ms. Tolzdorf prides herself on treating her staff well and not expecting them to do anything that she would not do herself. One of her strengths, she says, is being good at numbers and learning new tasks easily, yet conversely, she says she admittedly can be forgetful, and her staff, who call her “Ma,” always give her helpful reminders. Ms. Tolzdorf also believes that her love for people, everything about her profession, entertaining, cooking, and having a good rapport with customers have all been of great benefit to the bottom lines. She knows everyone who frequents the bar and often extends credit to patrons, as examples.
Ms. Tolzdorf’s goal is to make the bar even more successful than it already has become. She wants to “put it on the map” by expanding its reach and customer base. She and her husband also will continue to use their businesses for fundraising initiatives to benefit local people.