Fashion is a fickle thing. trends come, go and come back again. New becomes passé and old transforms into retro. For fashion retailers, the game can be quite dizzying if you don’t know the rules, and over the years, it’s kicked more than a few players off the field. So to last more than 140 years in the business as a family owned and operated company going head to head with conglomerates backed by their New York Stock Exchange tickers and shareholders is impressive.

“I think our success is owed to the fact that we have never lost sight of what’s important in terms of customer service,” explains Melody Westendorf, COO of department store retailer Von Maur. “Since we’re private, it enables us to be nimble. In my position, I don’t have to worry about analysts or Wall Street punishing us for making long-term decisions. That’s a big part of why we’ve been able to grow the business – by making decisions that make sense for the future.”

The grocery store business is a competitive one and wherever there is competition, the temptation to adopt gimmicks is ever-present. But if there’s one thing that the Vowell family has proven, it is that it’s possible to flourish just by sticking to good old-fashioned values. 

The family owned and operated Triple V – the corporate parent of Vowell’s Marketplace, Vowell’s Fresh Market and Cash Saver by Vowell’s – was founded in 1945 by E.L. Vowell Sr. and wife, Elizabeth Vowell. Sons, brothers – along with their sons and daughters – and other family members joined the fold and the company was incorporated in 1979. Today, the family runs 19 grocery stores in Alabama and Mississippi, with five of those recently opened in September. 

The world’s leading destination for toys and juvenile products is making big plans for the holidays in both its brick-and-mortar stores as well as online.

In November, Toys“R”Us Inc. rolled out a number of loyalty incentives for shoppers through its Rewards“R”Us program – which boasts a membership of more than 35 million people – as well as expanded offerings for “R”Us Credit Cardholders. Rewards include a 10 percent discount on in-store Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us purchases made on Saturdays through Dec. 21, 2013 when shoppers use their “R”Us Credit Card; double reward points on all in-store and online for credit cardholders and loyalty members every Wednesday in November and December; and a first-time ever special email offer giving Rewards“R”Us members access to select Toys“R”Us deals two days before Black Friday, Nov. 29. 

Schuylkill Valley Sports, based in Pottstown, Pa., is focusing on its customers’ shopping experience by creating visually appealing stores and emphasizing its employees’ product knowledge. 

The company opened its first location in 1971 in the Audubon Shopping Center in Audubon, Pa., as a full-service sporting goods retailer. Today, the company has 20 store locations serving eastern and central Pennsylvania with high-quality merchandise from the top manufacturers in athletic equipment, footwear and apparel. “It’s easier to say what we don’t carry and that is items for hunting, fishing, bowling, biking and golfing,” Director of Apparel and Licensed Products John DeMaria says. “We carry the full-line of sporting goods for the main sports.” 

After 55 years in business, quiktrip is confident in its operation of the convenience store and gas station formats. Since opening its first store in 1958, the Tulsa, Okla.-based company has grown to a national company with 667 locations in 11 states and $10 billion in revenue. 

QuikTrip continues to grow and renew its physical presence, with an average of 55 new locations and replacement buildings built each of the past few years. Much of its recent growth is in North and South Carolina, markets it initially entered in 2011 and now has 35 stores operating in, with 15 more slated to open before the end of 2013. 

When visiting patients in hospitals, people often stop first in its gift shop. It is at that point where Lori’s Gifts has the chance to make a sale and an important first impression, CEO Kim Schuler says.

“We are a direct reflection of the hospital,” she says. “In today’s competitive healthcare market, all avenues must be managed to best reflect the image of the hospital and the gift shop is no exception.

As an independent bookseller, Joseph-Beth Booksellers has dealt with a great deal of change in recent years. But the company believes it has a strong foundation and offers a unique experience that can help it grow in the future.

“We’re one of largest independent booksellers in the United States,” President and CEO Mark Wilson says. “What makes us unique is our store-within-a-store concept.” 

Success is difficult to achieve unless everyone involved feels fully invested in achieving that success, and Hy-Vee CEO Randy Edeker understands that. He says this is a major component of what makes the Midwestern supermarket chain one of the top-20 supermarket chains and one of Forbes’ top 50-private companies. 

“I think one of our key strengths that make us stand out is our commitment to employee ownership,” Edeker says. 

rmcover janfeb2016

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