“We look for associates who have a passion for serving customers,” says Mark Hasting, COO of the West Des Moines, Iowa-based company. “We hope that they’ll connect with our customers and get to know their favorite brands and buying habits.”

This sort of relationship building is enhanced by the physical design of each new store, as checkout counters are placed at the front of every 5,000-square-foot model, making it easy for employees to greet customers as they walk in. “Our associates enjoy building relationships with customers because, in many cases, they’re seeing the same person multiple times a week,” he adds. “Kum & Go is often a part of our customer’s daily routine, so we want them to feel like a special guest in our store.”

After a short ride on America’s highways, it becomes obvious that there is no such thing as a “typical” motorcyclist. The estimated 85 percent of motorcyclists that take to the streets ride big v-twins, nimble sport bikes, or fully decked-out touring machines all with their own styles. Even the remaining 15 percent that take their machines off-road have unique needs, whether they are going trail-riding or heading to a motocross track.

Cycle Gear has been around helping the motorcycle enthusiast select parts and apparel since 1974, and Cycle Gear CEO Dave Bertram insists that the business is anything but mainstream. “We don’t really single out any one type of rider,” he explains. “We’re a family store, and we’ve got a lot of great customers that ride all types of motorcycles.” 

One of the hottest trends in the retail foodservice industry right now, ironically, involves a cold treat. The rise of self-service frozen yogurt has been one of the most interesting stories to emerge in recent years, and between the established names and the mom-and-pop operations there are plenty of concepts all jostling for attention. 

The stories are legion. Soldiers digging foxholes with their Swiss Army knives to save themselves, fishermen in the ocean untangling themselves from their nets with a timely cut of their Victorinox Swiss Army knives or even business presentation equipment being kept dry in a disaster by Victorinox Swiss Army luggage.

Those kinds of stories and that kind of brand loyalty cannot be bought. “These are the stories we hear more and more frequently as we open more stores and the consumers engage with us on that level,” relates Jason Gallen, senior vice president, of direct to consumer and retail development. “Stories like this you don’t get from a typical brand.”

Spiegel was founded as an American furniture company in 1865 and transitioned into a fashion retailer that began selling women’s clothing in 1912. Through newfound independence gained during the suffrage movement that continued into the 1920s and the working women’s revolution of the 1970s, Spiegel brought class to mass with its catalog, found in millions of households throughout the country – unifying women’s fashion from coast to coast. 

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