Liquor Depot 36Liquor Stores continues to grow in a very stable market.

By Alan Dorich

Liquor Stores N.A. Ltd. not only makes sure its stores have the beverages its clients want, but also quality employees to help them. “The company continues to focus on getting the best people on board so we offer some of the best retailing in North America,” President and CEO Stephen Bebis declares.

Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Liquor Stores has 252 locations across North America that sell adult beverages. The company’s history goes back to the early 1990s, when its home province’s government decided to privatize liquor retail.

Liquor Stores’ founders had worked in the real estate business and had several shopping centers in their portfolio. They decided to put liquor stores in their centers and purchased locations that were formerly owned by the government.

“They grew the business from zero to where it is today,” Bebis says, noting that the company has Liquor Depot and Liquor Barn locations in Alberta, British Columbia, Alaska, Kentucky and Connecticut. “We’re one of the top specialty retailers in North America.”

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Accent Food Services has built its reputation in Texas by emphasizing the importance of its customers and employees.

By Bianca Herron

Accent Food Services is the leading provider of vending, coffee and break room refreshment services in the State of Texas. Tom & Rhonda Hawkins founded the company in 1994 initially as a vending company for snacks and beverages, but quickly realized the opportunity to broaden scope as technology firms established in Austin, offered a much broader breakroom offering than the norm. 

“In our region at that particular time, many operators either offered snacks or coffee,” CEO and President Josh Rosenberg says. “Hawkins brought them both together to broaden the company service lines. In 1994, we were a $1 million company. Today, our revenue is now pacing $72 million with pending acquisitions that will take us to more than $100 million by the end of the year.”

The market has evolved and Accent Food Services has grown with it, says Rosenberg, noting that nearly six years ago the industry produced its most progressive innovation yet: micro markets. “They are unattended retail stores within the work place,” he says. “We’ve grown that business from zero stores to more than 350, which has equated to more than $20 million in total revenue. It’s taken the industry by storm.”

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Empire Petroleum Partners develops programs to boost sales for independent gas station operators.

By Tim O’Connor

Fuel distributor Empire Petroleum was founded in 1998, but today’s incarnation of the company truly started in 2011 when it merged with Quikway to create a larger customer network. Since then it has grown more than five fold. The company now supplies more than a billion gallons of fuel to 1,200 independent filling station operators annually, making it one of the top gasoline distributors in the United States.

The company primarily serves gas stations in southwest Texas, Midwest, mid-Atlantic and Southeast, but  brings its commitment to customer support to hundreds of new independent dealers every year. For many customers, Empire Petroleum is more than just a fuel seller. It is a partner who can support every facet of their business from store operation to credit card systems, insurance and equipment leasing.

Unlike some distributors, Empire Petroleum only operates a few of its own locations, which are mainly used as test sites for new programs and promotions. “We are 100 percent dedicated to servicing, supplying and interacting with independent dealers,” CEO Hank Heithaus says.

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Super King Markets provides next-level service by staying abreast of its customers’ demands and hiring knowledgeable personnel to help guide them through the shopping experience.

By Janice Hoppe-Spiers

Super King Markets is known as the go-to supermarket in southern California to find the largest variety of international foods and knowledgeable employees who help customers find exactly what they are looking for. “Southern California is a melting pot with tremendous ethnic diversity,” General Manager Daniel Barth explains. “All of those people shop in our stores. People from all over the world and from different ethnic backgrounds like our store for different reasons.”

The Los Angeles-based supermarket offers foods from customers’ home countries and unique offerings, as well as traditional supermarket items all in a bright, clean, well-staffed and stocked store with aggressive retail prices. Founded in 1993, Super King Markets remains a family owned and operated company. 

“We are learning about what our customers want all the time,” Barth notes. “We have a good idea up through today at noon, but we are learning all the time by listening, talking to our employees and talking to the shoppers. The promotional mix as well as the product mix is evolving all the time. We know what we know now.”

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Big Saver Foods tailors its products to all of its customers in each of its 14 California locations.

By Stephanie Crets

Catering to the communities it serves is Big Saver Foods’ focus. With only 14 locations in California, the company can easily tailor its stores and products to customers. “We can really custom-tailor the stores because we’re small,” Vice President of Marketing, Procurement and Strategy Jose Huerta says. “If we had 300 stores, we couldn’t do that, and it’s an advantage of being small.”

For example, its Santa Ana store is in a predominately Mexican-American neighborhood, so the store merchandises it in a way that appeals to those residents. On the other hand, its Rosemead store is in a neighborhood with a largely Asian-American population, so that store carries a different selection of products. 

Another advantage of being a smaller, neighborhood store is that Big Saver Foods’ employees can really get to know the clientele. They learn customers’ names, can recommend products to them more easily and even offer tips or recipe recommendations on how to cook something. This, in turn, creates a family atmosphere throughout all of Big Saver Foods’ stores.

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