Pilot Flying J does not take lightly its mission statement of “making life better for America’s drivers.” The company, formed in 2010 following the merger of longstanding travel center brands Pilot Travel Centers LLC and Flying J. Inc., recently invested more than two years and $200 million dollars to improve its existing travel center facilities and expand its offerings.

“Almost every dime of the capital we’ve put into our business during the last few years has been in response to our customers asking for something different, better or improved,” says Tim Purcell, director of merchandising for the Knoxville, Tenn.-based company.

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Everybody loves a grilled cheese sandwich, but where can you find a gourmet’s selection of them? At Murray’s Melts, a grilled cheese counter inside Murray’s Cheese shop, which claims to be the oldest cheese shop in New York City. A new concept that Murray’s Cheese is trying three doors down from its original Bleecker Street location is Murray’s Cheese Bar, where some of the hundreds of varieties of cheese it sells can be sampled and consumed on-site with wine and beer.

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Not every retailer strives to instill the tenets of exceptional hospitality into their operations. The Meat House is one company that does. Perhaps that is why the company has grown from its debut in Portsmouth, N.H., in 2003 to more than 30 stores in 11 states, and even more on the way.

“We started out trying to bring a level of customer service to a retail setting that you’d find in a restaurant,” co-founder and CEO Justin Rosberg says. “Yes, our origins are as a butcher shop, but we’ve always operated with a mindset of offering unrivaled hospitality that you can’t find in other places.”

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As Lawtons Drugs has grown over the past 106 years, the pharmacy retailer has not let its values falter. Instead, the company says it has shown “integrity, commitment to its employees, and a desire to consistently exceed customer expectations in service, value and product selection.”

The Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada-based company started operations with a small pharmacy in Newfoundland in 1907. Today, Lawtons Drugs is part of Sobeys Inc. and has grown to more than 80 locations in Atlantic Canada.

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With the tagline “close to home,” Facemire Foodland’s stores demonstrate that its primary commitment is to remaining a key figure in the communities in which it operates, as well as supporting local endeavors and organizations. The West Virginia-based group of independently owned and operated grocery stores remains dedicated to meeting its customers needs and providing the best value.

“Foodland stores are locally owned and operated, dedicated members of the communities we serve and always close to home,” the company says. “So whether customers have just moved in or they have grown up in the area, they’ll feel like family in our stores.”

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Fashion is much more than what someone wears or what they listen to – it’s a lifestyle. Not every retailer lives by that credo, but DTLR Inc. certainly does, and because of that it has been a leading retailer for 30 years. By focusing on the latest and most popular trends in urban culture, DTLR has created a core of loyal customers who view the stores as centers of their communities. “Our moniker is ‘your fashion, your lifestyle,’ and we pride ourselves on having the greatest, latest footwear, apparel and music,” Chief Merchandising Officer Scott Collins says.

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Twenty-nine years ago, Carpet One Floor & Home was founded on a philosophy that didn’t focus solely on how cheaply it could buy from suppliers. Instead, it also focused on how well it could merchandise and sell for a higher profit.

“Our foundation was merchandising, management and marketing,” President Eric Demaree says. “Our parent company is CCA Global Partners, which has 12 affiliated divisions. Carpet One Floor & Home is the first and still the largest.”

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A focus on customer service and technical knowledge give Ben’s Pharmacy the edge it needs to compete against much larger big-box retailers. The pharmacy, founded in 1979 in a medical center in Pefferlaw, Ontario, today has 12 stores including its largest, flagship location in Beaverton, Ontario. That is where founder and President Ben Smith can be found personally helping customers.

“We believe in personal service and being involved in the community,” Smith says, noting the pharmacy regularly sponsors local hockey, baseball and soccer teams and organizes events including an annual golf tournament.

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