The November 2011 passage of Washington’s Initiative 1183 marked a major turning point in the state’s 78-year practice of controlling the sale of hard liquor. The measure, supported in large part by Costco and many other major retailers, spelled the end of sales in more than 300 state-owned stores in favor of allowing private businesses to carry liquor in addition to beer and wine products.

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As a convenience store chain, L&L Food Stores may not have reinvented the wheel, but it has made sure to keep it working to its fullest capability. Founded in 1973 by Wayne Land, the North Carolina operation has grown to 14 stores located in rural but well-populated cities. The company is currently planning a new 4,500-square-foot location to open in either Wilson or Bailey, N.C., by the end of the year. The strategy for success for the new store is the same tried-and-true, simple-but-effective rule the company employs in its current stores: Give the customers what they want.

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Not everybody always receives what they want for Christmas or their birthday, so when they don’t, they frequently treat themselves to what they wanted but did not receive. “I’ve tried to make The Paper Store so that it’s 50 percent buy-it-for-yourself and 50 percent you buy-it-for-a-gift,” CEO and Founder Bob Anderson notes. “We try to have the products that we bring in be able to fit both categories. Probably 80 percent of The Paper Store merchandise fits both categories, and 20 percent fits just the gift category.”

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Each region of the United States has its own style – the East is colonial and New England, the South pillared and plantationed, the West tiled and stuccoed and the Northwest wooded and rustic. Within these generalizations, finer regional classifications can emerge. South Florida – with its South Beach, motorboat lifestyle and Latin, nightclubbing vibe – is a category unto itself, as is the Fort Myers area on the Gulf of Mexico northwest of Miami.

Read more: Robb and Stucky International

The leaders of Standard Furniture are well aware that although decisions happen in the corporate office, the real business occurs on the showroom floor. “We have a sign in the corporate office that reads, ‘Our Stores Are Our Customers,’” says Greg Tronacle, vice president of operations. “We realize that in our main office and our distribution center, our role is a support role and that we don’t sell out of these locations. We are here to support our stores because they are on the front line every day dealing with customers.”

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As a fourth-generation family owned grocery store chain, Winegars Supermarkets Inc. has had to adapt with the times to remain relevant in the grocery landscape. Over the years, Winegars Supermarkets has morphed from a convenience store with gas pumps outside and food inside, to a warehouse business model and then into today’s fresh-food format.

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As the grocery industry evolves, so do the grocery stores. Brookshire Grocery Co. (BGC) has reacted to the changes in the industry by creating different formats to meet customers’ differing needs. Besides its full-service Brookshire’s Food Stores, the company also has established its Super 1 Foods warehouse-style stores and is experimenting with its new FRESH by Brookshire’s concept store in its headquarters city of Tyler, Texas.

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Founded in 1981 and headquartered in New Paltz, N.Y., Chestnut Petroleum Distributors (CPD) Inc. has established a significant footprint of gas stations and convenience stores. Among the leading petroleum distributors and marketers in the Northeast, CPD’s portfolio has been built on several go-to-market methods, including company-operated and commission agent sites.

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