Roomful1 ThumbFifty years after opening its doors as a wholesaler of sewing machines, Pittsburgh’s largest purveyor of room furniture packages is asking for a favor. Because of the success the company has seen as it’s evolved throughout the years, Roomful Express is asking its customers to write in and nominate someone they know who needs furniture, and they’re giving it away for free.

Reallygood1 ThumbReally Good Stuff (RGS) in Monroe, Conn., which makes and markets a wide variety of creative educational tools for teachers and school systems via direct-mail catalogs and the Internet, is itself growing more creative in how it goes to market. From a steady stream of new products to ongoing cost-cutting strategies, President and CEO Jim Bennett is leading his company through a fiercely competitive marketplace today, to prepare kids for their own competitive marketplaces of the future.

Creme1 ThumbThe Gap could have a new neighbor in the next few years, and it’ll be one you’d never expect: a high-end preschool. Colorado-based Crème de la Crème owns and operates early childhood learning centers and plans to roll out 10 to 12 new locations each year, so one could be coming to a retail center near you.

Eblens1 ThumbBefore even opening the doors of its first urban clothing store in 2004, EbLen’s Clothing & Footwear had a problem. As they were unloading the first shipment of merchandise, the dozen or so kids hired to work at the Brockton, Mass. store had to not so gently remind owner and president Richard Seaman that if he was planning to put Yankee hats in the store, he would need to find someone else to work there.

Plumbs1 ThumbFive years ago, Plumb’s grocery stores had to contend with just two Meijers Supercenters in the Muskegon, Mich. area. Today, there are three Meijers and two Walmart Supercenters. Jim Nader, president and CEO, said his predecessor saw the influx of new competition as the perfect time to sell the chain and retire, but the younger executives thought differently. They bought the company, established it as an ESOP, and started making changes.

Northern1 ThumbThis woman’s clothing retailer completed a successful turnaround in a decade of new ownership and redefined systems and products. This women’s clothing retailer completed a successful turnaround in a decade of new ownership and redefined systems and products. When Canadian-based Northern Reflections was sold seven years ago, it began a new era on its own. But it wasn’t without challenges, such as redesigning product lines and rebuilding IT infrastructure. Lalonnie Biggar and Bill Booth, managing directors, helped lead the reinvention that returned a once distressed business to profitability.

Family1 ThumbNot your typical drug store chain, this company has with a variety of services and never stops innovating. The drug store industry has changed a lot in the last 30 years or so, as Lynn Morris knows. He and his wife founded Family Pharmacy in 1977, when patient profiles were recorded by hand, prescription labels were typed on a typewriter, and generic drugs were rare. But what hasn’t changed for this Ozark, Mo.-based company is the values the Morris family founded it on.

Bluemercury1 ThumbOne of the fastest growing in the nation, this skin care and cosmetics chain changed the way beauty products are sold in the US, and it isn’t finished yet. One of the fastest growing in the nation, this skin care and cosmetics chain changed the way beauty products are sold in the US, and it isn’t finished yet.

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