It’s all about balance for this family-run design house and retailer in British Columbia, which values work-life balance as much as the bottom line. For Serena Kwei, selling designer work and formal attire for women is more a calling than a career. She and her husband founded Serena Fashions in 1973 with limited experience in the Canadian retail scene, but they have built a respected boutique fashion brand by relying on a philosophy of balance and empowerment.

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Thanks to a focused market and a multi-platform selling approach, this clothing designer and retailer enjoys enviable brand power. The key for retailers today is often developing a powerful brand identity that wins shoppers hearts and creates long-term, lucrative relationships. After almost 10 years in the business of providing high-quality, great fitting clothes for young, plus-size shoppers, Torrid has got it down to a science.

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With the support of Japan’s largest fashion retailer, this subsidiary company is making a name for itself in the US. Uniqlo USA currently operates just a single brick-and-mortar location, but that’s about to change, as the organization plans to open a second flagship store in New York City soon. According to COO Shin Odake, the company’s team spent the last few years perfecting its North American business model, and now, satisfied with the progress to date, it’s looking to expand. 

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The team at this airport retailer has created a cohesive, supportive culture along with creative approaches to a challenging business. The airport retail business is, in many ways, an entirely different animal from retail in a mall or downtown area. Although the stores have a prime location with a large, almost hostage population that mostly falls in a very positive demographic for shopping, these people didn’t come to the airport to shop, turning every purchase into an impulse buy. But Susan Stackhouse and her team at Stellar Partners, Inc. thrive in this environment.

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One of the leading specialty golf retailers in the US, this company is using a multi-channel approach, expanding its footprint and putting an emphasis on vendor relationships to tackle a tough market. Known as the one of the best golf specialty stores in the US, Edwin Watts Golf is a multi-channel retailer with retail stores, an online store, and a catalog that is considered to be a leading source of information on golf equipment and apparel. The company has 72 stores in 10 Southeastern states. Stores range in size from 750 square feet to 21,000 square feet. 

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Despite myriad challenges from the federal government and a down economy, this tobacco retail chain won’t vanish in a puff of smoke any time soon. Most retailers will agree: 2009 was a terrible year for business. But few were also hit with the largest single tax on a consumer product in the history of the US and an overhaul of federal regulations for the industry. Smoker Friendly, a national tobacco products retailer, was one of those few, but good planning, some luck, and an optimistic outlook helped maintain this Colorado-based retailer’s relatively strong position moving into 2010. 

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For more than 30 years, this family-owned food market chain has built a reputation for fresh food and customer service. A family tradition that began more than three decades ago continues on today in DeCicco Family Markets. Founded in the Bronx, the company now has six locations in New York, one each in Ardsley, Bronxville, Jefferson Valley, New City, Pelham, and Scarsdale.

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This Spokane, Wash. boot manufacturer builds the kind of footwear that can last a lifetime. In today’s throwaway society, it is increasingly harder to find the kind of high quality, handmade goods that are built to last a lifetime. However, for White’s Boots, a commitment to making boots that are built to last isn’t just a marketing strategy, it’s a tradition.

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