Within two years of acquiring Richard’s Whole Foods chain in the late ’90s, John Rorer and his two partners doubled the company’s sales. They started by retrofitting the chain and putting in credit card machines, telephones, additional refrigerators, and more grocery options than the Sarasota, Fla.-based specialty food chain had in the past. Today, John Rorer is the sole owner of the chain, which now goes under the name Richard’s Foodporium. The chain has grown to 11 locations across Southern Florida, but Rorer sees significant growth ahead. 

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What lights up Ken Mandelbaum, chairman, CEO, and principal of clothing brand Mandee, is creating products that help people flourish. Although this might not be the philosophical approach of many clothiers, as a member of the third generation of the Mandelbaum family to run Mandee, which operates under the umbrella of Big M, Inc., going at the business without this personal philosophy is not an option. 

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To compete with national corporations, independently owned and locally operated retail organizations often have to rely on subjective variants, like exceptional customer service and instinct-based decisionmaking, because from a strictly financial standpoint, the two don’t measure up. In recent years, however, it has become increasingly more important for independent operators to focus their attention to objective factors, like pricing.

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When Mr. W. T. Brookshire founded his first grocery store 80 years ago, he started a tradition in excellent, friendly service and low prices that continues today through the 156-store Brookshire Grocery Company (BGC). Even in this poor economy, Brookshire’s competes with the best of them and is taking steps to prepare for a future of growth. 

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In two years, Coca-Cola will be celebrating its 125th anniversary, and as a brand, there is a lot to celebrate. For Kate Dwyer and her team, the company’s global licensing division, there is a lot to do to get ready. “For us, licensed merchandise is a celebration of Coca-Cola’s rich heritage dating back to the 1880s,” said Dwyer, the group director of worldwide licensing. “The story of Coca-Cola is exciting and vibrant, and we look forward to showcasing it again in a new way in 2011.”

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In the 17 years the New York City-based licensing agency Beanstalk Group has been in business, corporate brand licensing has evolved from being an afterthought at most companies to being an integral part of their identity and marketing strategy. Michael Stone, Beanstalk’s president and CEO, said he was surprised that brand licensing was given such short shrift at many companies for so long.

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Brothers Alex and Carlo Tabibi established Pets United in 2002 after purchasing the inventory of a wholesale company in the dog-grooming market. One of the first URLs the  brothers bought was Dog.com, but many others, such as Horse.com and Garden.com, were soon to follow. Today, Alex and Carlo own thousands of URLs with easy-to-find names.

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A simple way to describe Alibris is as an exchange. The online retailer has become the largest independently owned and operated marketplace for new, rare, and used books, CDs, and DVDs in the 11 years since it was launched, primarily through its ability to focus on its customer base. 

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