Founded in 1959, Hickman’s IGA is a Missouri chain of family owned, independent grocery stores that is carrying on the traditions of small-town grocers in the face of an ever-more-competitive marketplace. Headquartered in Mexico, Mo., the six-store company is just as proud of its focus on community as it was when it began operations 53 years ago.

Hickman’s IGA is part of the Independent Grocers Alliance, an organization founded in 1926 that helps independent grocers in the United States to remain strong despite growing competition. Hickman’s IGA is part of an IGA network of 5,000 independent grocers worldwide, as there are IGA stores in 46 states and more than 30 countries.

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When Pat Gilligan graduated from college, he started out in BP’s management trainee program. He spent five years in the company’s retail training program, working in many different functions, and in “total happenstance,” he says, he had the opportunity to take over a couple of stores from BP in Ohio, where he was from. Wanting to stay in the business and not move around, he jumped at this opportunity. Two years later, Gilligan bought a third store, and has continued to grow his business.

“Retail was where I was trained and I knew I had the ability to grow and manage a business,” he says. “The fuel business is such high volume because it is needed by every consumer, and the fuel provided an opportunity to grow the retail side of the business. At this time, however, we are beginning the transition of the fuel business into more of a focus on retail.”

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As a leading global specialty retailer of athletic shoes and apparel, Foot Locker Inc. has a long legacy to uphold. The company celebrated its 100-year anniversary as a publicly listed company on the New York Stock Exchange this year and can trace its roots back to F.W. Woolworth Company and Kinney Shoe Corp.

The company has 3,400 stores and 35,000 sales associates in 23 countries, operating under a number of different brands. In fact, the organization goes to market via eight different brands: Foot Locker, Lady Foot Locker, Kids Foot Locker, Footaction USA, Champs Sports, CCS and Eastbay. A new brand, SIX:02, is soon to launch.

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For nearly four decades, Casino ABS has been blazing trails in the Western Canadian gaming industry. Today, it is the largest Alberta-based casino operator based on number of facilities, gaming positions, employees and revenue.

“We were founded in 1973 and opened one of the region’s first permanent casinos in the mid-1980s,” President George Goldhoff says. “We have a reputation for hospitality, service and fair and honest gaming.”

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The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is well known for its logging industry, proximity to three of the Great Lakes, quality of sites for skiing and especially for the down-to-earth nature of its residents, commonly referred to as “Yoopers.” The Yoopers share a strong regional identity – primarily due to the physical separation from Michigan’s Lower Peninsula – and as a result, tend to take care of each other. In fact, this value for the local community is one of the main characteristics that local chain Pat’s Foods works to demonstrate every day through its product offering and services.

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When life throws you a curveball and puts you in a wheelchair, in need of oxygen or in a hospital bed, most consumers want to find an organization that will empathize with them, not treat them as a number, and understand that their situations are unique. That is what differentiates Boardman Medical Supply (BMS) from other durable medical equipment (DME) companies; with BMS, patients always come first.

BMS supplies home medical supplies ranging from respiratory products such as oxygen tanks and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices for apnea treatment, to scooters, wheel chairs and mastectomy products.

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You don’t see a lot of grocery businesses being bought by individuals without a private equity partner,” says Bill White, owner, president and CEO of Belle Foods. “It is usually the big companies buying the small ones, so it’s refreshing to see a different kind of business transaction, one that returns a business to 100 percent family ownership.” White is not new to the business; he has been CFO and vice president of different food retail stores for over 20 years.

At the beginning of 2012, White and his son Jeff bought 57 stores in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Florida from Southern Family Markets, operated under the Bruno name. White has been slowly changing the name to his own brand, Belle Foods.

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From Madagascar and Tanzania to Thailand and Sri Lanka, Jewelry Television (JTV) sources gems from mine and independent gem sources around the world and works with designers to create what President and CEO Tim Matthews of JTV calls “America’s Showplace of Jewelry and Gemstones.” Founded in 1993, JTV brought broadcast and jewelry together to create a 24-hour multi-channel retail entity that has become the fourth-largest home shopping network in the country, the third-largest e-commerce jewelry retailer in the nation and, it says, the largest retailer of loose gemstones worldwide.

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