The grocery business is more than just a job for Scott Dunn – it's his family legacy. “I learned the business from the ground up and [have] done everything there is to do in the grocery store, including bagging groceries,” says Dunn, president of Piggly Wiggly Central, headquartered in Pinetops, N.C. “I grew up in the business.”

Dunn's family has owned grocery stores since the 1920s, when his grandfather started Dunn's Grocery, a small store in Pinetops. That business was later purchased by Dunn's father, Marshall Dunn, who in 1968 bought into the Piggly Wiggly franchise. Today, the family's franchise encompasses nine locations in Pinetops, Ahoskie, Farmville, Grifton, Jackson, Rocky Mount and Wilson, N.C.  Allen Jackson, Dunn’s partner in the company, also has strong family ties to the grocery business as he is a second generation store owner.

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Conventional medicine and natural remedies are often relegated to separate sections of a pharmacy or even separate retail businesses. But just as natural and organic foods have now become a fixture in conventional supermarkets, Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy is filling this niche by combining traditional prescription filling with natural and complementary health solutions.

Now operating 24 pharmacies in five western states – California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington – the chain distinguishes itself from vitamin and nutrition retail competitors by staffing its stores with practitioners who have training in a variety of disciplines. Their fields include nutrition, skin care, homeopathy, naturopathy, Ayurveda – a traditional form of medicine from India – acupuncture, massage, chiropractic and herbal studies.

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The word “mother” recalls many adjectives in people’s minds: kind, gracious and loving, for instance. Even more profoundly, it reminds people of someone they can trust because a mother’s instincts will never steer you wrong. Also, mothers tend to make really good food. If you put those last two attributes together in retail form, you might just come up with a small Southern California chain that’s been providing good food that people can trust for the past 35 years.

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Being an independent retailer isn’t easy. Corporate chain stores and big-box retailers are around practically every corner in most cities and towns, and an increasing number of consumers are turning to their computer screens to satisfy much of their shopping needs.

Managing the competitive and changing retail landscape can be a challenge even for large companies with deep financial resources. For smaller, independent retailers without extensive marketing budgets or technical knowledge, surviving is even more difficult.

Read more: Mega Group Inc.

Co-founders Ryan Baty and Mark Barrientos opened the first Mattress Hub store in 2008 in a Hutchinson, Kan., shopping mall. Back then, Mattress Hub focused on low-priced, value mattresses.

“We had a relationship with Glideaway Manufacturing to help liquidate their overstock and clearance items on consignment,” Baty recalls. “At that point in time, Glideaway was our only vendor and our goal was to only do $1,000 a day in sales so that we could make enough to pay the company’s bills and our personal expenses.”

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John Cosentino says he still hears stories about the way his family treated customers at its first Kansas City-area supermarket. For example, there was the time his Uncle Jim helped a sick woman carry her groceries home and then stayed to play a song for her on her piano. Cosentino, now vice president of Cosentino’s Food Stores, says that level of customer service has been the backbone of the company’s success from the very beginning, and the family owned and operated grocery store chain continues to be known throughout the city for it.

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William Aubuchon IV, vice president of sales for Aubuchon Hardware, wants the family stores his great-grandfather started more than 100 years ago to be “destination hardware stores.” For Aubuchon, this means continuing to offer the best customer service possible in larger locations, with wider product selection and specialized departments, such as full-service plumbing and paint.

Aubuchon and the company’s management team – comprised largely of family members – have a strategy in place to reach their objectives and keep their brand current and prosperous. It entails expanding the stores’ footprints and re-vamping the Aubuchon website to offer better selection and service.

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The thrift retail environment is vastly different from mainstream retail. America's Thrift Stores is one of the largest thrift store chains in the southeast United States and is guided by more than profit.

“We minister in three areas,” President and CEO Timothy Alvis says. “We support Christian ministries, we provide a lot of jobs as we have more than 1,200 employees, and we provide a product that anyone can afford to buy with dignity.”

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