This family owned business pioneered direct retail in the plumbing supply industry and continues to raise the bar in service. Increased competition from big-box and Internet retailers sends many family-owned brick-and-mortar stores into a panic, but the team at Best Plumbing Tile & Stone of Somers, NY welcomes the challenge.

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This retailer continues to dominate the fashion scene at one of the East Coast’s most popular summer tourist destinations. The latest cultural flashpoint for those in the know is MTV’s newest reality show “Jersey Shore,” which has fascinated some, entertained many, and aggravated others with its over-the-top portrayal of stereotypical New Jersey Shore residents. But Jeff Davidson, who’s been coming to the shore since 1974 when his father purchased the iconic B&B Department Store, said the show presented an opportunity for the chain.

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With an emphasis on service and customer retention, this organization is using the economic downturn as a tool. Sam Ross founded Fantastic Sams in 1974 in Memphis, Tenn., and for the last 35 years, the organization has continued to grow. Today, with 1,350 full-service salons operating in the US and Canada under the Fantastic Sams name, the corporation staffs a team of 14,000 individuals and has 800 franchise owners dispersed throughout 25 regional areas. 

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This family-owned c-store chain continues to treat each person that walks through its doors like family, even after nearly 80 years. With a name like Fleming Oil Company, one would assume the business would be built around, well, oil. But to only focus on the company’s distribution of oil and kerosene to residential, mobile home, commercial, and industrial markets would be akin to looking at the night sky and saying, “Look, there’s a star.”

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An extensive history in e-commerce and a low-price guarantee keep this discount furniture retailer strong in a shaky market. Furniture retailers often struggle with having to buy inordinate amounts of inventory, estimate what products will move, and, when they run into a slow time, liquidate the leftovers at extremely low prices. These are problems One Way Furniture has avoided since its founding in 2001 due to a direct manufacturer business platform that cuts out the middle man.

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This c-store chain’s long history of growth has positioned it well for new management and a strong future. Across the Southeastern United States, one name rings true in the world of convenience: The Pantry. With more than 80% of its locations now branded under the Kangaroo Express banner, the big red ‘K’ and yellow marsupial might be a more familiar site. But behind the scenes, when it comes to guaranteeing quality, convenience, and consumer satisfaction, The Pantry is the name to trust. 

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Understanding the unique needs of each of its markets helps this Pennsylvania c-store chain thrive. Convenience store operators find themselves in an interesting niche in a tough economy. They are sure to see a drop in sales in some areas just like any business, but the variety of products and competitive price points gives them an edge that other businesses often don’t have. However, at Pennsylvania’s Top Star Express, the key to surviving the economic downturn comes back to one word—service.

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Most noted for its fashion, fit, and value proposition, this urban plus-sized women’s clothing retailer is making a name for itself in the apparel industry. Customers shopping at Urban Brands’ Ashley Stewart stores are not shy about who they are. Mostly college educated homeowners with middle to upper-middle incomes, these divas know they can come to any of the company’s 215 nationwide stores and find fashionable clothing that fits their budgets and their bodies. 

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