The delicate balancing act of continually improving technology while understanding the evolving needs of both suppliers and consumers is one of the largest challenges facing online retailers in today’s competitive environment. Overstock.com, founded in 1999, has stayed true to its history of innovation in the e-commerce world while priding itself on making personal connections with its partners and customers. 

“We are a retailer with soul, and that’s one of the things separating us from others in the online world,” says Stormy Simon, president of the Salt Lake City-based online shopping giant.


With 15 apps totaling more than 2 billion downloads worldwide, Outfit7 has already claimed a dominant position in the digital entertainment world since its formation in 2009. The company is now expanding its presence far beyond the small screens of smartphones and tablets.

Talking Tom and Friends, the 3-D animated characters featured in the company’s family of apps, are making the leap not only to web series and movies, but also into the non-digital world. “Outfit7 is an entertainment company, and that means not only apps, but everything our users want to spend their free time on, including books, television, movies and licensing,” Deputy CEO Iza Login says. 


Oka-B was founded on the principle that fashion and comfort should never be mutually exclusive. Delivering on its promise to offer fashionable yet comfortable shoes and sandals, the company has been able to expand its line and develop a loyal customer base over the past 10 years.  

The Budford, Ga.-based company was founded in 2005 and began by making comfortable footwear for the spa and resort market. Oka-B started with two basic styles – a slide and a thong, which are designed to feel like a spa shoe by integrating the principles of reflexology and ergonomics. “We were selling to spas and had a great response,” Director of Sales, Spa/Resort Market Kara Conrad says. “The spas and resorts wanted to start to sell the shoes in their boutiques, so we had the idea to start embellishing the sandal design and launched Oka-B as a fashion sandal.” 


Originally founded in 1982 as Pro’s Ranch Market, the Phoenix-based grocery chain has received a new lease on life after being purchased by a joint venture of Cardenas Markets and Northgate Gonzalez Markets. The 11 former Pro’s Ranch Market locations throughout the Southwest were rebranded last year as Los Altos Ranch Market. The connection to two of the leading Latino supermarket chains in the western United States not only allows Los Altos Ranch Market to maintain strong ties to the Latino community in the Southwest, but also gives it the stability to continue serving its customers for a long time to come. 


The key to Kid City’s success is that the children’s apparel and accessories retailer knows exactly what it is and exactly what it is not. The family owned company opened shop in the late 1950s with one store, selling children’s clothes, accessories and baby furniture for children from newborn to size 14. From then to now, its mission has been the same: to sell valued products at prices that make its customers smile. 

The company does that by combining the best techniques from local and national retailers and improving upon them. Although Kid City is a small, regional chain – at the moment – it thinks like a big player by making large volume purchases. It can also take advantage of local opportunities, such as purchasing closeouts. CEO of Kid City Jack Shamosh says the goal is to buy bigger volumes than the local competition and work sharper than the bigger chains.


Who doesn’t love a good cookie? Alabama’s The Cookie Place Inc. has grown into the largest Great American Cookie franchise in the country because it knows how to provide customers with quality food and exceptional customer service.

Led by CEO Jeff Pizitz, the company has 55 stores open and operating today with a diverse geographic footprint that extends from Florida up to North Carolina and as far west as Oklahoma. It currently has another 10 stores on the drawing board and expects to open about 75 percent of those stores this year.


The Topps Company has long been known as one of the premier producers of baseball cards, but 30 years ago kids would have been just as likely to sit around trading cards featuring “Messie Tessie” or “Adam Bomb” as they would any of the major baseball heroes of the time. That’s because 1985 was the year Topps introduced the Garbage Pail Kids sticker cards, creating a phenomenon that disgusted parents, outraged teachers and – most importantly – thrilled children around the world. The cards and stickers were a major hit on with kids almost immediately, and eventually Topps produced more than a dozen series of cards. Garbage Pail Kids even made the jump into international markets, becoming incredibly popular in Europe, Latin America, Israel and Australia. Topps ceased production of Garbage Pail Kids cards and stickers after 1988, but their popularity has kept them in the public consciousness ever since.


The success of the “Dumb Ways to Die” franchise could be used as a case study in irony. A public service announcement that manages to be cool? Animated short videos that show silly characters meeting unfortunate and absurd fates and yet effectively promoting safety? A program made to benefit the general public that turns into a commercial success? These things should not happen, and yet, they have. 

“Dumb Ways to Die” was conceived by McCann Erickson Melbourne on behalf of their Australian client Metro Trains Melbourne. McCann created short videos showing animated characters clumsily dying because of shortsighted decisions – getting toast out of the toaster using a fork, poking a grizzly bear with a stick, dressing up as a moose during hunting season and so on, all to the lyrics of a sing-songy tune. The last three examples show different characters making unwise decisions at train stations – standing too close to the tracks, going around gate crossings as a train approaches, and walking across the tracks. And at the end, a plea from Metro to “Be Safe Around Trains.” 

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