This hometown grocery chain is using its local presence to gain an advantage over the national, big-box stores it’s competing against. Nearly every sector of the retail industry has suffered a hardship of some kind during the last 12 to 18 months as a result of the economic downturn. Big-box chains and independent operations of all shapes and sizes have been forced to adapt; few have proven immune.

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Having existed for more than two decades under its former name, this Canadian closeout retailer believes rebranding is just the latest step in shoring up its extreme value business model. It takes a lot of gusto to ditch an established brand identity, even for one closely tied to the original moniker. At the Canadian closeout retailer LW (formerly Liquidation World), the decision to change the name of the store was about appealing to a wider customer base without alienating the long-time customers.

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Running a grocery store isn’t about profit for this organization but rather about providing a community with healthy, sustainable food. For all those who say cooperatives are loosely organized, hippie-driven start-ups going nowhere, Rainbow Grocery can prove them wrong. After more than 30 years selling sustainable, organic, and vegetarian food in San Francisco, this one-store business has only bigger plans for the future.

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It’s all about balance for this family-run design house and retailer in British Columbia, which values work-life balance as much as the bottom line. For Serena Kwei, selling designer work and formal attire for women is more a calling than a career. She and her husband founded Serena Fashions in 1973 with limited experience in the Canadian retail scene, but they have built a respected boutique fashion brand by relying on a philosophy of balance and empowerment.

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Thanks to a focused market and a multi-platform selling approach, this clothing designer and retailer enjoys enviable brand power. The key for retailers today is often developing a powerful brand identity that wins shoppers hearts and creates long-term, lucrative relationships. After almost 10 years in the business of providing high-quality, great fitting clothes for young, plus-size shoppers, Torrid has got it down to a science.

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With the support of Japan’s largest fashion retailer, this subsidiary company is making a name for itself in the US. Uniqlo USA currently operates just a single brick-and-mortar location, but that’s about to change, as the organization plans to open a second flagship store in New York City soon. According to COO Shin Odake, the company’s team spent the last few years perfecting its North American business model, and now, satisfied with the progress to date, it’s looking to expand. 

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The team at this airport retailer has created a cohesive, supportive culture along with creative approaches to a challenging business. The airport retail business is, in many ways, an entirely different animal from retail in a mall or downtown area. Although the stores have a prime location with a large, almost hostage population that mostly falls in a very positive demographic for shopping, these people didn’t come to the airport to shop, turning every purchase into an impulse buy. But Susan Stackhouse and her team at Stellar Partners, Inc. thrive in this environment.

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One of the leading specialty golf retailers in the US, this company is using a multi-channel approach, expanding its footprint and putting an emphasis on vendor relationships to tackle a tough market. Known as the one of the best golf specialty stores in the US, Edwin Watts Golf is a multi-channel retailer with retail stores, an online store, and a catalog that is considered to be a leading source of information on golf equipment and apparel. The company has 72 stores in 10 Southeastern states. Stores range in size from 750 square feet to 21,000 square feet. 

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