Not many would look at a parachute and think it was the ideal material for a handbag, but that level of creativity has enabled LeSportsac Inc. to thrive for 40 years, Vice President and Global Creative Director D’Arcy Jensen says. “This brand has such a unique and distinctive personality,” she says.
Based in New York City, the company manufactures handbags that are sold around the world. Jensen explains that the Shifter family started the company in 1974 after encountering a unique parachute material on vacation.
“The idea was to take this innovative material and create lightweight handbags,” she says.
Today, LeSportsac is the leading American brand of casual nylon bags in markets throughout the United States, Asia and Europe.
Read more: LeSportsac Inc.
HomeTown Pharmacy’s friendly service, family ownership and dedication to the communities it serves all help the company live up to its name. “We’re an old-fashioned, hometown pharmacy that specializes in building personal relationships with its customers,” says Jim Mathews, COO of the West Michigan-based company.
For HomeTown Pharmacy, this often includes providing home delivery and other services not often offered by its larger chain competitors. The company’s pharmacists are easy to find, as they are located front-and-center in its stores.
Clinically, all HomeTown Pharmacies offer immunizations and many participate in a pilot project working with Ferris State University, the University of Nebraska and NACDS to offer rapid diagnostic testing for influenza and strep.
Read more: HomeTown Pharmacy
GUESS?, Inc. is taking its service to the next level by implementing omni-channel retailing that combines all of its shopping channels to provide customers with a seamless experience. “We have first-in-class capabilities or the holy grail of omni-channels,” COO Michael Relich says. “It has been tremendously successful.”
Choosing to shop in-store or online is nothing new – those two options have been available for years, but GUESS has taken an aggressive approach at combining those two channels over the past few years to revitalize the shopping experience. Although the traditional ways of shopping are always still available, customers are now presented with alternatives to obtain the desired product.
Read more: GUESS?, Inc.
All odds were against Distinctive Apparel succeeding three years ago when it acquired the Chadwicks of Boston and Metrostyle apparel brands out of bankruptcy. The company has given life back to the brands it believes so strongly in and has been climbing the retail ladder ever since. “When everyone thought we would fail, any other outcome was a good outcome,” CEO Aldus Chapin says.
The Randolph, Mass.-based company was incorporated in 2011 to purchase the Chadwicks of Boston and Metrostyle brands. The following year it purchased The Territory Ahead, which sells men’s and women’s apparel. “We really did believe there was value in these brands and with a highly variable cost business model we were confident we could make them relevant once again,” Chapin says.
Read more: Distinctive Apparel
Offering high-end luxury, upscale urban and value hair salons, Dessange Group North America has something for everyone. “We are the only franchise company that offers the breadth of the industry that we do,” says Dessange Group North America CEO and President Allyson King.
The Dessange Paris is its ultimate luxury offering; Camille Albane is its brand for chic, active urban women ages 25 to 40 years old; and Fantastic Sams offers families a wide range of haircare service at an affordable price.
Read more: Dessange Group North America
Chris Gilchrist and his family were not strangers to Convenient Food Marts of Northeast Pennsylvania when they purchased the company in December 2012. The family had a long-established supplier relationship with Jerry Zubert, who started the 30-location franchise in 1976, as they distributed much of the fuel sold at Convenient locations.
The retail world was also not new to Gilchrist, who also helped manage and operate a truck stop and travel plaza built by his uncle William Gilchrist. Several of the Convenient locations the family took over have long histories and well-established cultures, which the Gilchrist family seeks to encourage and build upon.
Read more: Convenient Food Marts
Based in Flint, Mich., Beacon & Bridge Market operates 23 convenience store gas stations and two restaurants in small Michigan towns. “We are from here,” General Manager Bob Carpentier says. “We are a wholly owned Michigan company so we focus a lot on Michigan-made products. We have one of the largest, if not the largest, selection of products for sale made in the state of Michigan.”
This local focus has served Beacon & Bridge Market well since it was started in 1969. Bob Eastman has been the owner and CEO since the start.
Beacon & Bridge Market emphasizes its Michigan-made inventory with interior signs. “We are known as a place the locals want to go,” Carpentier says. “We are from here so people react pretty well to our message.”
Read more: Beacon & Bridge Market
If you live in Southern California, there’s a good chance you know Larry Miller’s face and/or voice. As chairman and CEO of mattress and furniture retailer Sit ’n Sleep, Miller has appeared in radio commercials for more than 30 years and in TV ads for more than 20 years, making catchphrases such as, “Or your mattress is free!” a part of Los Angeles pop culture. Sit ’n Sleep’s commercials have made Miller a household name in Southern California, but that would never have happened if Sit ’n Sleep wasn’t one of the best and most successful mattress retailers in the region, and Miller says the company has been focused on that from day one.
Read more: Sit ’n Sleep
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