Back in 2009, Rovio Entertainment Ltd. hit it big with Angry Birds – a mobile game that became a worldwide sensation and has now permanently entered popular culture. Earning the title of the most downloaded game of all time with 2 billion downloads under its belt, Angry Birds is Rovio’s classic and beloved brand. But the company isn’t taking its success for granted. A hub of passionate artists, seasoned game developers and experienced business minds, Rovio has more than 800 employees worldwide but still operates as a start-up, constantly looking for ways to innovate and delight its fans with new offerings

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Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa has built its franchise brand over the past decade by delivering on the demand for a day spa where customers can receive a tremendous experience at an affordable price and at a convenient location. “You have a successful business with these three elements,” CEO Todd Leff says.

John Marco, a physical therapist for more than 25 years, founded the Hamilton, N.J.-based company in 2004 with the goal of making massage services more convenient and affordable. Leff joined Hand and Stone in 2009 after retiring as president and CEO of AAMCO Transmission Inc. in 2009. “After playing golf for 90 straight days, I started looking for a company to invest in and lead from a management position,” Leff recalls. “I met John, loved the concept of Hand and Stone, loved the industry and within 45 days I invested money and became the president and CEO.”

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Shoe Sensation is taking rural communities by storm as it opens its 100th store this year and celebrates 30 years of bringing well-known footwear brands to small-town America. “We have been able to survive through the thick and thin of the economy and expand our model currently to 14 states – 16 states come September,” CEO Mike Zawoysky says. “We have been able to deliver new stores each year and comparable store growth for each of the past six consecutive years.”

The Jeffersonville, Ind.-based company was founded by an entrepreneur whose vision was to open shoe stores in rural towns located 30 to 45 miles away from a regional mall. “He wanted to make it more convenient for the local community to come in and purchase branded, high-quality footwear,” Zawoysky says. “At the time, many family owned shoes stores in small-town America were closing.” 

Shoe Sensation took the idea of niche big-box retailers and designed a scaled-down branded concept for smaller communities. The company’s headquarters supports each location with 15,000 square feet of offices, a 50,000-square-foot distribution center and 800 employees. 

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After more than a century of service, Rexall has developed a reputation as one of the leading pharmacy brands in Canada. Established in 1904, Rexall has adapted over time from its beginnings as apothecary-style drugstores into a network of contemporary community pharmacies. It is a member of the Katz Group of Companies, a privately-held Canadian-owned and operated organization.

The company strives to help Canadian families and communities become healthier through increased accessibility to quality healthcare and products. Today, the company boasts a network of 425 Rexall and Rexall Pharma Plus locations. It has a staff of 8,600 staff serving 180 communities across Canada.

Rexall offers a wide array of pharmacy, health and wellness, beauty, daily living, seasonal, exclusive and online photo products and services. It also delivers special offers and coupons to its customer base. In addition, it operates Rexall Specialty Pharmacy, a division that aims to provide highly specialized clinical care and complex medication management services in the world of transitional care.

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Sometimes a girl needs a whole new look, and that includes her digs. maurices keeps that in mind. In fact, maurices is so committed to serving its customer and understanding her needs that it has given her a name — but they won’t reveal what it is. Every lady has secrets, right?

maurices’ stores are even getting a makeover for her. The new azure-and-white décor is feminine and flirty, with florid fixtures and ceramic tile flooring. The signature front double doors are azure as well. Dressing rooms are spacious, with seating areas for fashion shows among friends.

“The goal was to create a fun, inspiring experience,” President George Goldfarb says. “And the new design makes it easier for customers to find what they want.”

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Operating an independent grocery store in New York City is more challenging today than in decades past. Increasing competition from national chains that previously didn’t have a presence in the city, as well as rising rents, can be daunting obstacles for owners. 

Customer needs have also changed. Although the city has always been known as the nation’s “melting pot,” ethnic and cultural lines are now even more diffuse and numerous. 

“The needs of our stores used to vary by the borough – now they’re different pretty much from one block to the next,” says Dennis Wallin, vice president of retail development for Alpha 1 Marketing.  

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Since its inception in 1989, H2O+’s business model has truly evolved. Founder Cindy Melk, an entrepreneur and ocean-lover at heart, along with her R&D team launched the skin and body care brand in the U.S. with innovative gel-based, oil-free formulas that were viewed as more natural alternatives to traditional heavy creams and lotions. Her original brand vision was to harness the power of the ocean to create water-based beauty care products that protect and transform the skin. As the company celebrates its 25-year anniversary in 2014, that concept has not wavered.

From its Chicago base, H2O+ came into the marketplace via free-standing retail stores in prime shopping street and mall destinations in North America. Melk then cued the company up for worldwide success in an unorthodox manner. Instead of taking the standard route through Europe, the brand debuted on the international scene in reverse fashion; H2O+ was one of the very first skincare brands to successfully launch in the Chinese market and by doing so gained an early and very strong and valuable foothold in Asia. 

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As one of the world’s largest hair salon brands, Great Clips was built on the principles of giving customers the highest level of care and convenience for their hair. The company has grown to encompass almost 3,600 franchised salons in the United States and Canada, and continues to grow each year because customers know they can expect to get great service every time they walk through the door. CEO Rhoda Olsen says the core concept behind the company’s success is simple, but Great Clips never stops working to ensure customers get the best experience from any Great Clips salon they visit. 

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