Most grocery shoppers today are looking for products that are lower in price and healthy yet still taste good.  Finding the right fit for each family can be a challenge, but Jason Cohen and Jerry Bello seem to have found the right mix with their brand of better-for-you snacks called Sensible Portions. “We set out to transform the snack category with sustainable, better-for-you products that weren’t part of an over hyped fad, said Cohen, president of World Gourmet, the parent company of the brand. “Portion control and the consumption of the right ingredients and nutrition are keys to improving overall health, and our products give consumers the same satisfaction they crave from unhealthier products.”

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When opportunity knocked, Furlani’s Food Corporation answered. Founded in 1984 as a small company producing garlic spread and chopped garlic, branching out into a related area helped the company expand its presence not only in Canada but the US as well. The company now resides in a 140,000-square-foot facility in Mississauga, Ontario. 

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Most retailers will agree: 2009 was a terrible year for business. But few were also hit with the largest single tax on a consumer product in the history of the US and an overhaul of federal regulations for the industry. Smoker Friendly, a national tobacco products retailer, was one of those few, but good planning, some luck, and an optimistic outlook helped maintain this Colorado-based retailer’s relatively strong position moving into 2010. 

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The six-store Hickman’s IGA chain headquartered in Mexico, Mo. recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, and the family-owned chain continues to pride itself on being a company that maintains a small-town feel and treats its customers right. “We celebrated our anniversary in 2009 with a year-long event, and now we hope to keep going through another 50 years,” said Jim Hickman, president.

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The coming year will be similar to any other year for the team at Bomgaars, a farm and ranch supply store based in Sioux City, Iowa. But Dave Meyer, senior vice president at the company, explained very little changes year to year in this kind of business. “When the economy is booming, we don’t see much growth and in fact see some decreases in our profit margins because our customers opt for more expensive and fancier retailers,” he said. “But when times are tight, they rely on their neighborhood Bomgaars for the tools they need.”

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The partnership between BJ’s Wholesale Club and Barclaycard, the payments business of Barclays Bank that began in 2007, has paid dividends for both companies. Barclaycard’s co-branded credit card with the warehouse giant has strengthened the financial service provider’s position in the market and provided a wealth of incentives for BJ’s customers.

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Sanrio has the kind of relationship with its customers that is the envy of consumer brands everywhere. With its motto of “small gift, big smile,” the company is celebrating its 50th year of marketing gifts, stationery, fashion accessories, and lifestyle products featuring a host of internationally popular characters, including Hello Kitty.

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One of the reasons Glen Hussmann, LEED AP, was so excited to join Tandus two and a half years ago was the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability. Now consider this: Tandus is a commercial carpeting company with a focus on soft flooring. Although much of the focus in the retail world is on how CPG companies develop customer satisfaction, it’s just as important in the world of flooring. When Retail Merchandiser talked to Hussmann, president and CEO of Tandus, he was at the Greenbuild 2009 conference in Phoenix, Ariz. and discussed the importance of paying attention to what customers want in regard to construction materials.

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