Chris Gilchrist and his family were not strangers to Convenient Food Marts of Northeast Pennsylvania when they purchased the company in December 2012. The family had a long-established supplier relationship with Jerry Zubert, who started the 30-location franchise in 1976, as they distributed much of the fuel sold at Convenient locations.

The retail world was also not new to Gilchrist, who also helped manage and operate a truck stop and travel plaza built by his uncle William Gilchrist. Several of the Convenient locations the family took over have long histories and well-established cultures, which the Gilchrist family seeks to encourage and build upon. 

Based in Flint, Mich., Beacon & Bridge Market operates 23 convenience store gas stations and two restaurants in small Michigan towns. “We are from here,” General Manager Bob Carpentier says. “We are a wholly owned Michigan company so we focus a lot on Michigan-made products. We have one of the largest, if not the largest, selection of products for sale made in the state of Michigan.”

This local focus has served Beacon & Bridge Market well since it was started in 1969. Bob Eastman has been the owner and CEO since the start.  

Beacon & Bridge Market emphasizes its Michigan-made inventory with interior signs. “We are known as a place the locals want to go,” Carpentier says. “We are from here so people react pretty well to our message.”

If you live in Southern California, there’s a good chance you know Larry Miller’s face and/or voice. As chairman and CEO of mattress and furniture retailer Sit ’n Sleep, Miller has appeared in radio commercials for more than 30 years and in TV ads for more than 20 years, making catchphrases such as, “Or your mattress is free!” a part of Los Angeles pop culture. Sit ’n Sleep’s commercials have made Miller a household name in Southern California, but that would never have happened if Sit ’n Sleep wasn’t one of the best and most successful mattress retailers in the region, and Miller says the company has been focused on that from day one. 

When the first Sam Ash Music store opened in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1924, the stock consisted mostly of the era’s most popular musical instruments: banjos and mandolins. Although the stores’ stock today is vastly different, the business philosophy and ethics established by its founders continue to live on 90 years later. 

“My grandparents believed in doing all the right things with regard to honesty, opening early and closing late, making deliveries and doing everything they could to make sure their customers were taken care of,” says COO Sammy Ash,  who was named after his grandfather, the store’s founder. “They believed in running a clean house – no lying, no cheating, no nonsense.”

Customers know something is different about Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy as soon as they step through the doors of one of its locations. Traditional pharmacy services and products are offered alongside holistic remedies and supplements, and the staff includes not only credentialed pharmacists but also practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine such as herbalists, naturopathic doctors and chiropractors.

“Pharmaca is a unique and innovative retail concept – there’s nothing else like it in the United States today,” says Laura Coblentz, vice president of marketing and innovation for the Boulder, Colo.-based company. “This is a store that has wide appeal for consumers interested in being proactive about their health and wellness.”

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