In terms of function, there isn’t a big difference between a pair of shoes and a set of car tires. Each serves a similar basic purpose – getting a person from one place to another – only on a much different scale. Work shoe wearers and drivers also have similar expectations for the products such as grip, performance and durability.

For more than 100 years, iconic tire brand Goodyear has applied many of the qualities and materials of its tires to the soles of shoes. After seeing success with footwear in the international market for the past several years, the company is now looking to expand its shoe licensing efforts to the U.S. market. 

Read more: Goodyear

Ranked among the top 100-U.S. drug store chains by pharmacy dollar volume, Family Pharmacy has lived according to its “Best Service and Low Prices” motto since its founding in 1977. The company is based out of Ozark, Mo., and has served thousands of families in southwest Missouri since owner Lynn Morris started the company more than 35 years ago.

“We have very attractive stores, and our niche is based on our focus on customer service level,” Morris says. “We believe no one does it better because providing a first-rate experience is engrained in our culture.”

Read more: Family Pharmacy

If the parents know it and love it, if the grandparents know it and love it, there’s a great chance they’ll buy it for the kids. The trick is, the kids have to love it, too. To the younger generation, for kitschy to be cool, old has to seem new. 

That’s the beauty – and challenge – of vintage brands. 

Maximizing the captivating potential of retro is the task of Michael Connolly, head of global consumer products at DreamWorks Animation, the Hollywood studio that has produced such franchises as Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda.

“Vintage is in – from Lucky Charms to Jack Daniels,” Connolly says. “But it’s been in for 20 years now. It’s not a trend anymore, it’s a market.”

Read more: DreamWorks Animation

The plus-size women’s apparel market – sizes 14-32 – is growing fast. The average American woman has moved from a size 8 to a size 14 over the past 40 years. Every 10 years, the average increases one size and 10 pounds. The plus-size market reached $16.2 billion in 2013 – and will no doubt continue to increase since more than half of American women are plus-size but plus-size clothing accounts for only 19 percent of apparel sales in the United States. 

Avenue, a national specialty retailer for plus-size women, is positioned to take advantage of its burgeoning target market. The New Jersey-based company, founded in 1983, operates 283 stores, mostly in strip centers across the country, and a growing e-commerce business. It sells modern, fashionable clothes at affordable prices, targeting a customer who is 35 to 65 years old and has an average annual household income of $65,000.

Read more: Avenue

As a fashion retailer, Apricot Lane loves to lead new trends. Founded in 2007 by CEO Ken Petersen and partners Scott Jacobs and Tom Brady, the company brought together two familiar but typically separate concepts and launched a women’s boutique fashion franchise.

“This fashion retail industry didn’t really have franchises,” Petersen says. “But we’re franchisors and we’re good at it. With 22 years of experience in franchising, I thought, ‘My gosh, there has to be a lot of people who would love to have a fashion boutique, but the risk is high without the infrastructure of support, leverage and networking that franchising provides.’ So in 2007 we launched and grew right through the most difficult economy since the Great Depression.” 

Read more: Apricot Lane

WWE Rules the Ring

Round-the-clock content, a cache of superstars and a presence in many retail categories helped the WWE become a world-class brand.

The WWE is one of the world’s most recognizable brands. The giant of professional wrestling and sports entertainment has grown into a billion-dollar company that holds more than 300 live shows a year and broadcasts in more than 150 countries. It also has an active consumer products group that has more than 150 licensees in more than 85 countries worldwide, generating more than $1 billion in retail sales through global distribution.

Read more: WWE

Delivering exceptional customer service and partnering with the communities it serves is what K-VA-T Food Stores’ Food City supermarkets are all about. “We are focused on our customers and the community,” President and CEO Steve Smith says. 

The Food City banner dates back to 1918 when its first grocery store opened in Greeneville, Tenn. K-VA-T Food Stores, Food City’s parent company, began in 1955 when founder Jack C. Smith, his father, Curtis Smith, cousin Ernest Smith and uncle Earl Smith opened their first store in Grundy, Va. 

Today, the company operates 105 Food City supermarkets throughout southwest Virginia, southeast Kentucky and northeast Tennessee and of those, 78 include a pharmacy and 81 locations offer fuel. K-VA-T Food Stores also operates Misty Mountain Spring Water, L.L.C. and its own 1.2 million-square-foot Food City distribution center. “We are not a general merchandise retailer,” Steve Smith adds. “We are a traditional supermarket format.” 

Read more: Food City

Creating trends in men’s clothing is keeping the Hart Schaffner & Marx and Hickey Freeman brands prospering. One of those trends is a reaction to the casual dress codes in effect in many offices. 

“You’re seeing a trend back to people dressing up again,” W Diamond Group Corp. owner and CEO Doug Williams observes. “You’re seeing more dressing up by the 26- to 40-year-olds, and the 40- to 60-year-olds are following suit.” For W Diamond Group Corp. – manufacturer of Hart Schaffner & Marx and retailer of Hickey Freeman – following suit literally means selling more suits.

“You’re finding in young people there’s a desire for heritage, and our Hart Schaffner & Marx brand being more than 125 years old has that heritage,” Williams asserts. “There is a desire to support their community, so being made in the USA is a positive. The customer sees the quality, and they’re willing to forego multiple purchases of poor-quality products and make an investment in better-quality products.”

Read more: W Diamond Group Corp.

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