Freds1Competition is fierce in the discount retail market,” says 40-year retail veteran Dave Mueller. The senior vice president of sales and marketing for fred’s Super Dollar stores knows that pricing is not the only  important factor to succeed in this sector.

To retain the competitive edge it has gained over its 65-year history, fred’s started a transformation in 2009 to change the way its 700 stores and pharmacies looked, how they were organized and displayed merchandise. The first new concept store opened in October of that year, close to the company’s headquarters in Memphis. The new concept performed well and fred’s has now more than 60 stores open with the new layout.

Farmers1Few companies thrive for 100 years as Farmers Brothers has, notes CEO Michael Keown, and he attributes this success to concentrating on the company’s core product – coffee – while continuing to diversify into complementary markets. “As we look to the next 100 years, I think you’ll see us move to re-embrace several core values that have made the Farmer Brothers innovation so successful over time,” Keown says.

The company is returning to some of its basic business values. “We’re spending time now on reinvigorating values that seemingly are a bit old-fashioned, but we believe they are very relevant,” Keown insists. “It may sound clichéd, but serving customers with great products and investing in the future – be it technology, product development or new types of products – is part of our past. We have a legacy of being very innovative in the coffee space, and we plan to maintain that and also invest in our people.

Elevation1Companies exist to provide goods to consumers and to turn a profit from that, but that isn’t necessarily what drives them all. For Elevation Brands, the goal is to create lines of healthy, all natural foods in a grocery section that isn’t always know for its wholesome options: the freezer aisle.

In 2010, Ian’s – a line of all-natural, gluten-free and allergy-friendly foods such as chicken nuggets, sweet potato fries, pizza and breakfast options – merged with Blue Horizon Wild – a value-added seafood manufacturer that uses sustainably caught seafood – and formed Elevation Brands LLC. Blue Horizon Wild moved all of its production into Ian’s Framingham, Mass., plant, and the two brands formed one mission.

Crunchies1The health revolution has seen a big push in the last few years. First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign promotes active lifestyles and proper nutrition, and several states have stepped in to make sure vending machines at their schools include a balance of healthy options. The federal government even has taken steps to define what “all-natural” means so food companies can’t mislead consumers with ambiguous packaging. These factors, coupled with media attention on rising obesity levels, have sparked a fire under the healthy eating trend.

Brennans1If you are looking for ketchup and diapers, do not go into Brennan’s Market. But, if you are looking for the highest-quality, eco-friendly fruit available, or great wine and cheese, then Brennan’s Market is the place in central Wisconsin.

For 70 years, the Brennan family has made it a priority to purchase directly from the products’ sources to ensure the stores’ produce, wine and cheese are of the best quality available. The owners and managers at Brennan’s Market personally visit and assess each farm, orchard, vineyard, microbrewery and cheese factory before purchasing anything. The company buys produce only from farms that engage in sustainable practices, treat their employees ethically and limit their use of pesticides.

Brads1When Brad Gruno, founder of Brad’s Raw Foods, decided to adopt a raw food diet six years ago, he started seeing great benefits right away. This type of diet consists of consuming mainly uncooked, unprocessed, organic fruits, raw vegetables and nuts.

Gruno explains that he lost 40 pounds in the first three months, felt better and healthier, had more energy and his complexion cleared. Though he was sold on his new diet, he missed the familiar crunch of chips and other similar snacks.

Staples1Among the reasons for Staples Canada’s success is its non-hierarchical structure. Steve Matyas, president of Staples Canada, relates that if he arrives at the company’s headquarters in Richmond Hill, Ontario, late in the morning, he parks at the back of the lot and walks, just like every other employee.

Sheetz1Convenience stores are not necessarily the first places people think of when it comes to getting fresh food fast. Sheetz is looking to change that.

Food is a major driver for the regional convenience store chain, which operates more than 428 locations throughout Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina.

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