Fridays has long been a household name when it comes to casual dining establishments. For the past 50 years, the iconic restaurant brand has pioneered and popularized menu items such as potato skins and drinks, including the Long Island iced tea, that have since become ubiquitous in its industry.
The brand further established itself as a market leader and innovator in the 1990s, when it began licensing its name for food and beverage products. “Our customers wanted to enjoy our food and beverages at home; licensing was a logical way for us to give them what they wanted,” says Matt Durbin, vice president of brand strategy and menu innovation for the company. “Licensing provides touch points for our customer to experience our brand and brings further awareness to our brand. It is natural and logical that an iconic restaurant and bar brand like ours would have a robust line of products in the retail channel.”
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Rocky Mountain Soap Company, owned by Karina Birch and Cam Baty, is resolute in looking out for the best interest of its customers – even if that interest comes at a price to Rocky Mountain’s own. The Alberta-based company owns 11 stores in Canada, including two new stores in Vancouver and an ecommerce site, and continues to grow. Its products have been 100 percent natural since 2006 when Rocky Mountain made a decision to make products with only 100 percent natural ingredients. That decision led to the discontinuation of its most popular line at the time – an array of vanilla-scented products that were a mere 99 percent all-natural.
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For 40 years, the family owned and managed Promotions Unlimited has operated without the layers and bureaucracy of large corporate entities. This enables the company to make decisions for its customers very quickly, General Manager Ellen Phelps says.
“We can change on a dime,” she asserts. “If somebody hears something from a store on the phone, we don’t have to wait four weeks for the next board of directors meeting. We go down the hall, talk to the buyer [and make a decision]. We have very open communication.”
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The delicate balancing act of continually improving technology while understanding the evolving needs of both suppliers and consumers is one of the largest challenges facing online retailers in today’s competitive environment. Overstock.com, founded in 1999, has stayed true to its history of innovation in the e-commerce world while priding itself on making personal connections with its partners and customers.
“We are a retailer with soul, and that’s one of the things separating us from others in the online world,” says Stormy Simon, president of the Salt Lake City-based online shopping giant.
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With 15 apps totaling more than 2 billion downloads worldwide, Outfit7 has already claimed a dominant position in the digital entertainment world since its formation in 2009. The company is now expanding its presence far beyond the small screens of smartphones and tablets.
Talking Tom and Friends, the 3-D animated characters featured in the company’s family of apps, are making the leap not only to web series and movies, but also into the non-digital world. “Outfit7 is an entertainment company, and that means not only apps, but everything our users want to spend their free time on, including books, television, movies and licensing,” Deputy CEO Iza Login says.
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Oka-B was founded on the principle that fashion and comfort should never be mutually exclusive. Delivering on its promise to offer fashionable yet comfortable shoes and sandals, the company has been able to expand its line and develop a loyal customer base over the past 10 years.
The Budford, Ga.-based company was founded in 2005 and began by making comfortable footwear for the spa and resort market. Oka-B started with two basic styles – a slide and a thong, which are designed to feel like a spa shoe by integrating the principles of reflexology and ergonomics. “We were selling to spas and had a great response,” Director of Sales, Spa/Resort Market Kara Conrad says. “The spas and resorts wanted to start to sell the shoes in their boutiques, so we had the idea to start embellishing the sandal design and launched Oka-B as a fashion sandal.”
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Originally founded in 1982 as Pro’s Ranch Market, the Phoenix-based grocery chain has received a new lease on life after being purchased by a joint venture of Cardenas Markets and Northgate Gonzalez Markets. The 11 former Pro’s Ranch Market locations throughout the Southwest were rebranded last year as Los Altos Ranch Market. The connection to two of the leading Latino supermarket chains in the western United States not only allows Los Altos Ranch Market to maintain strong ties to the Latino community in the Southwest, but also gives it the stability to continue serving its customers for a long time to come.
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The key to Kid City’s success is that the children’s apparel and accessories retailer knows exactly what it is and exactly what it is not. The family owned company opened shop in the late 1950s with one store, selling children’s clothes, accessories and baby furniture for children from newborn to size 14. From then to now, its mission has been the same: to sell valued products at prices that make its customers smile.
The company does that by combining the best techniques from local and national retailers and improving upon them. Although Kid City is a small, regional chain – at the moment – it thinks like a big player by making large volume purchases. It can also take advantage of local opportunities, such as purchasing closeouts. CEO of Kid City Jack Shamosh says the goal is to buy bigger volumes than the local competition and work sharper than the bigger chains.
Read more: Kid City
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