As a family owned and operated chain of grocery stores in the Gulf Coast region of Texas, Arlan’s Markets understands how busy the life of the head grocery shopper of a family can be. With that in mind, founder Ames Arlan makes sure his locations are sized with convenience and ease of navigation in mind.

“We don’t claim to be the cheapest in town but we are competitively price and run great weekly ads,” Arlan says. “I found in the first couple of years that trying to be everything to everyone was a very quick way to go out of business.

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To some, a beanbag chair might seem like a mere novelty item. But for Yogibo LLC, it was a starting point for a firm that has brought comfort and luxury to consumers in all New England states and New York state. “The first key is the products themselves,” founder and CEO Eyal Levy says. “The products line is one of a kind and you know it when you try them.”

Based in Nashua, N.H., Yogibo specializes in lounging and comfort products and contemporary home décor accessories. Levy notes that the origin of the concept of the first line, the lounge bags, was in Israel, where he was born and raised.

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Forward thinking and an emphasis on fresh produce help Westborn Market maintain its place in a regional market known for independent grocers. The family owned retailer, which has three locations in Dearborn, Berkley and Livonia, Mich., will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.

“I think putting one foot in front of another and moving forward has been key to our success throughout our nearly 50 years in business,” stresses company President Sarkis Mark Anusbigian, who co-owns Westborn Market with his brothers Jeff and Tony. “We try to be visionary in terms of staying ahead of industry trends.”

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Tomlinson Sales Co. has spent the last 75 years getting to know its customers. From its nine locations – seven in South Carolina and two in North Carolina – Tomlinson Sales Co. focuses on the specific needs of each city it serves. The merchandise retailer is divided into various outlets such as traditional department stores, a gift shop and warehouse showrooms, which is a stark contrast from how it was founded.

U.C. Tomlinson founded his first store in Johnsonville, S.C, in the heart of the Great Depression. The lean economic times provided the foundation for a fiscally conservative and sound business philosophy that served it well during tough times.  As the business grew, he opened a number of other stores in small rural towns in the state’s northeast. In 1945, he formed a new wholesale distribution company in Florence, S.C., to supply to his stores as well as other locally owned merchants in the area. In 1963, he built a new warehouse and distribution center.

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Pat Burns got his start in the grocery business at the age of 14 as a bagger for a Philadelphia-area supermarket. Later, Burns opened restaurants and catering operations throughout Philadelphia before starting The Fresh Grocer in 1996. Burns says the close ties he and the rest of the chain’s management have kept with Philadelphia have given the company a strong advantage in a tough market.

“I think the Philadelphia region has some of the fiercest competition in the country,” Burns says. “You really have to be on top of your game.”

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Businesses realize that the world is always changing, but in this global state of flux, one thing is certain: Those that don’t evolve will indubitably be left behind.

“We have to constantly change and develop and monitor what customers are looking for,” says John MacDougall, founder, president and CEO of Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes. “The big thing for us is finding what customers want, developing those products and having those products when they need them. You have to keep it nice and easy.”

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For a U.S. sailor stationed in a faraway post, there might be no more welcomed sight than a pair of Levi’s jeans or a tube of Crest toothpaste. The familiar brands and flavors of home bring these men and women a great deal of comfort when they are thousands of miles away from loved ones for months at a time. To make sure they can get these comforts, the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) was established in 1946.

Today, NEXCOM operates 300 stores around the world with 14,000 employees who provide the Navy’s men and women and their families a wide array of retail products and services. Of NEXCOM’s $3 billion in annual revenue, 70 percent of profits benefit the Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) program, with the remaining 30 percent retained for capital reinvestment in NEXCOM facilities.

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The Myers Group LLC President Tyler Myers understands how difficult it can be for a small, independent grocer. His father started with the purchase of a single grocery store on Whidbey Island in Washington in 1978, and over time the company has grown to include a half-dozen grocery stores along with hardware stores, gas stations and other assorted retail businesses.

That’s why The Myers Group launched its management services division several years ago, Myers explains – to help independent store owners avoid becoming overwhelmed by the day-to-day operations of their stores and instead focus on interacting with the customers. “If you’re a single-store owner in the grocery world, it’s really difficult these days,” Myers says. “What’s happened is there’s a lot more back-office work.”

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