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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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.”

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All odds were against Distinctive Apparel succeeding three years ago when it acquired the Chadwicks of Boston and Metrostyle apparel brands out of bankruptcy. The company has given life back to the brands it believes so strongly in and has been climbing the retail ladder ever since. “When everyone thought we would fail, any other outcome was a good outcome,” CEO Aldus Chapin says.

The Randolph, Mass.-based company was incorporated in 2011 to purchase the Chadwicks of Boston and Metrostyle brands. The following year it purchased The Territory Ahead, which sells men’s and women’s apparel. “We really did believe there was value in these brands and with a highly variable cost business model we were confident we could make them relevant once again,” Chapin says. 

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Offering high-end luxury, upscale urban and value hair salons, Dessange Group North America has something for everyone. “We are the only franchise company that offers the breadth of the industry that we do,” says Dessange Group North America CEO and President Allyson King.

The Dessange Paris is its ultimate luxury offering; Camille Albane is its brand for chic, active urban women ages 25 to 40 years old; and Fantastic Sams offers families a wide range of haircare service at an affordable price.

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Chris Gilchrist and his family were not strangers to Convenient Food Marts of Northeast Pennsylvania when they purchased the company in December 2012. The family had a long-established supplier relationship with Jerry Zubert, who started the 30-location franchise in 1976, as they distributed much of the fuel sold at Convenient locations.

The retail world was also not new to Gilchrist, who also helped manage and operate a truck stop and travel plaza built by his uncle William Gilchrist. Several of the Convenient locations the family took over have long histories and well-established cultures, which the Gilchrist family seeks to encourage and build upon. 

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Based in Flint, Mich., Beacon & Bridge Market operates 23 convenience store gas stations and two restaurants in small Michigan towns. “We are from here,” General Manager Bob Carpentier says. “We are a wholly owned Michigan company so we focus a lot on Michigan-made products. We have one of the largest, if not the largest, selection of products for sale made in the state of Michigan.”

This local focus has served Beacon & Bridge Market well since it was started in 1969. Bob Eastman has been the owner and CEO since the start.  

Beacon & Bridge Market emphasizes its Michigan-made inventory with interior signs. “We are known as a place the locals want to go,” Carpentier says. “We are from here so people react pretty well to our message.”

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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.

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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.” 

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