“Everyone sells the same products,” says Bielat, who serves as vice president of grocery merchandising for BJ’s Wholesale Club. “For BJ’s, it’s all about value. So, we continuously collaborate with our vendor partners to adjust sizes and pack configurations when necessary in order to differentiate ourselves from our competitors and preserve the value for our members. In doing so, we keep our members engaged in the categories, and bring in new members, as well.”

Read more: BJ’s Wholesale Club

Talking Friends is the entertainment franchise and digital app phenomenon that started with everyone’s favorite cat, Talking Tom. Since Tom’s rise to international stardom, he has been joined by a whole cast of characters including Talking Ben the Dog, Gina the Giraffe and Ginger the Kitten. Talking Friends apps have been downloaded more than 500 million times in less than two years. This amounts to 120 million monthly users and more than 850 million plays per month.

Read more: Outfit 7 Ltd.

Convenience stores are not necessarily the first places people think of when it comes to getting fresh food fast. Sheetz is looking to change that.

Food is a major driver for the regional convenience store chain, which operates more than 428 locations throughout Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina.

Read more: Sheetz

A brand never gains strength overnight – it has to be developed over time before the market holds it in high regard. Founder and President Dan Pamperin has been building Titletown Oil Corp. and its related brands since the mid-1980s, helping Titletown to become a top performer in the Green Bay, Wis., area. It started by standing on the shoulders of already strong brands, but that wasn’t enough to get it where it is today – much of Titletown’s current strength is the result of its service culture and commitment to customers.

“When we started, I was a big customer of brands – I was very loyal to brand-name products,” Pamperin explains. “At the time, the competition was generic, so we based our culture on being a premium brand company – we wanted to sell the best of everything we sold. I started by picking the No. 1 brand for every product we sold. I wanted to create a brand that you can count on and be confident with.”

Read more: Titletown Oil Corp.

In the 2008 economic downturn, T.A. Solberg Co. faced a decision about its future. How would it weather an economic storm in the midst of markets that were becoming overly saturated with stores that sold groceries? The answer was simple: diversify.

T.A. Solberg is now a company with a broad spectrum of formats, including seven grocery stores, five gasoline stations with convenience stores, one gasoline station, a smokehouse, an events resort, a hardware store, salon, trucking company, central bakery and two recycling centers.

Read more: T.A. Solberg Co. Inc.

The Schwinn and Mongoose brand-names typically evoke thoughts of bicycles – a natural reaction, considering they are two of the most recognizable names in the two-wheel realm.

The company behind both brands hopes to take these names beyond their traditional realm on the road and into the home. “The biggest thing we are looking at is how to expand our brands’ footprint and take them into new categories where they make sense,” says Danna Dueck, licensing manager for Pacific Cycle Inc. “We want people to have a positive association with our brands long-term and bring them into other areas of their life year-round.”

Read more: Pacific Cycle Inc.

Online retailers spend thousands and even millions of dollars on market research to determine where to dedicate resources.

But all eBags.com co-founder and Executive Vice President Peter Cobb has to do is consult with his three children, who are 17, 19 and 20 years old and  and conduct just about all of their shopping through their computers or mobile devices.

Read more: eBags.com

After the economy soured in 2008, Conn’s examined which of its locations – currently numbering 65 in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma – did well during the downturn selling the company’s mix of appliances, consumer electronics, furniture, mattresses, lawn equipment and computers. Conn’s found that the stores with a concentration of its core customers – those with credit scores from 525 to 650 – did better.

“The most unique thing that we do – our key differentiator in our business model – is our consumer finance program,” COO Mike Poppe emphasizes. “Credit scores from 650 down to 525 are our core customer – that is the sweet spot we play in. These customers have limited access to other credit; they generally are good payers and good stewards of the credit that they do borrow, and are typically going to be blue-collar, working-class, lower or fixed-income individuals.”

Read more: Conn's

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