A focus on customer service and technical knowledge give Ben’s Pharmacy the edge it needs to compete against much larger big-box retailers. The pharmacy, founded in 1979 in a medical center in Pefferlaw, Ontario, today has 12 stores including its largest, flagship location in Beaverton, Ontario. That is where founder and President Ben Smith can be found personally helping customers.

“We believe in personal service and being involved in the community,” Smith says, noting the pharmacy regularly sponsors local hockey, baseball and soccer teams and organizes events including an annual golf tournament.

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Ever since it was founded in 1996, APW Brands has stayed on top of technology trends. The organization is known for its airport retail locations, where it sells and services electronic devices and accessories.

The company began with The Cellular Shop, a cellphone and accessory store in Bryn Mawr, Pa. Over the next few years, the organization created the Airport Wireless brand, selling wireless phones and accessories from a cart in Terminal B of the Philadelphia International Airport in 1997 before opening a small store in the airport in 1998.

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Thrifty consumers equal smart consumers, and since 2008, consumers have been getting smarter about their money every day. The shopping hasn’t ceased, but the way people shop certainly has changed and smart retailers have adjusted to that fact.

“Everything in the economy has slowed down in the last five to seven years, and we slowed down, too, until we knew exactly where we wanted to go,” explains Jim King, president of framing and art supplies retailer Aaron Brothers. “We made the decision that we needed a growth strategy and we needed to reinvent our stores. The chain is a 65-year-old chain. It’s had its ups and downs from a sales and profit perspective, but to be successful in the future we needed a new store prototype and growth strategy.”

Read more: Aaron Brothers Inc.

When you leave a Yumz Gourmet Frozen Yogurt® store, you will see a sign on the door that reads “Thousands of combinations… See you tomorrow!” With great taste, more than 53 flavors, 80 toppings and new flavors introduced regularly, Yumz Gourmet Frozen Yogurt knows you won’t be able to try it all in just one visit.

At the heart of Yumz is the taste. Matt Thelander, founder of the company, had visited a number of frozen yogurt stores before the idea to start his own concept started taking shape. “I knew we could greatly improve on the standard frozen yogurt store concept,” he recalls. “I spent a lot of time doing research before presenting my concept to anybody.”

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When new technologies emerge to enhance the movie-going experience, UltraStar Cinemas is an early adopter, Executive Vice President of Operations Damon Rubio says. He explains that its seven locations specialize in providing more than just movies to their audiences.

“We spend a lot of time focusing on providing ... a great entertainment experience,” he explains. “That [covers] everything from pristine facilities to amenities to great technology to great guest services.”

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Founded in Mount Pleasant, Mich., in 1977 by Richard Woodrick, Ric’s Food Center has expanded by acquisitions to four locations. Now, under the management of President Andy Woodrick, the founder’s son, Ric’s has built a new location from scratch in Rockford, Mich.

The new store retains the aspects of Ric’s Food Center that have kept the business healthy for more than 35 years. “We have full perishables, a full bakery, a deli, a quality meat department and a quality produce department,” Woodrick says. “So it was really an aesthetic difference that we were able to achieve. It’s a very attractive store. It presents itself fairly high-end in the presentation, whereas our other stores were existing facilities.”

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The grocery business is more than just a job for Scott Dunn – it's his family legacy. “I learned the business from the ground up and [have] done everything there is to do in the grocery store, including bagging groceries,” says Dunn, president of Piggly Wiggly Central, headquartered in Pinetops, N.C. “I grew up in the business.”

Dunn's family has owned grocery stores since the 1920s, when his grandfather started Dunn's Grocery, a small store in Pinetops. That business was later purchased by Dunn's father, Marshall Dunn, who in 1968 bought into the Piggly Wiggly franchise. Today, the family's franchise encompasses nine locations in Pinetops, Ahoskie, Farmville, Grifton, Jackson, Rocky Mount and Wilson, N.C.  Allen Jackson, Dunn’s partner in the company, also has strong family ties to the grocery business as he is a second generation store owner.

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Conventional medicine and natural remedies are often relegated to separate sections of a pharmacy or even separate retail businesses. But just as natural and organic foods have now become a fixture in conventional supermarkets, Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy is filling this niche by combining traditional prescription filling with natural and complementary health solutions.

Now operating 24 pharmacies in five western states – California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington – the chain distinguishes itself from vitamin and nutrition retail competitors by staffing its stores with practitioners who have training in a variety of disciplines. Their fields include nutrition, skin care, homeopathy, naturopathy, Ayurveda – a traditional form of medicine from India – acupuncture, massage, chiropractic and herbal studies.

Read more: Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy Inc.

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