William Aubuchon IV, vice president of sales for Aubuchon Hardware, wants the family stores his great-grandfather started more than 100 years ago to be “destination hardware stores.” For Aubuchon, this means continuing to offer the best customer service possible in larger locations, with wider product selection and specialized departments, such as full-service plumbing and paint.

Aubuchon and the company’s management team – comprised largely of family members – have a strategy in place to reach their objectives and keep their brand current and prosperous. It entails expanding the stores’ footprints and re-vamping the Aubuchon website to offer better selection and service.

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The thrift retail environment is vastly different from mainstream retail. America's Thrift Stores is one of the largest thrift store chains in the southeast United States and is guided by more than profit.

“We minister in three areas,” President and CEO Timothy Alvis says. “We support Christian ministries, we provide a lot of jobs as we have more than 1,200 employees, and we provide a product that anyone can afford to buy with dignity.”

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How many people do you know – hopefully not yourself – who have successfully run the gauntlet of obstacles on the way to an airport departure gate, only to discover they left a crucial piece of equipment – such as a cellphone charger or a camera – at home? Have you ever had a flight delayed and wondered how you would pass the time?

Answering these needs are the three retail brands of Project Horizon Inc. – InMotion Entertainment, SoundBalance and Headphone Hub. Since its first two airport stores opened in 1999 renting DVDs and players, InMotion Entertainment has changed with the evolving industry into an airport-only consumer electronics store that still rents DVDs and players. Rentals generate only a small amount of revenue, but they serve an important purpose.

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Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Davenport, Iowa, hopes to find business growth in a geographic area that has seen very little growth of its own in the last 20 years. “One of our biggest challenges is trying to find growth in an area with a stagnant population,” Vice President and General Manager Todd Johnson says. “Trying to manage our number of SKUs these days has become quite the challenge.”

While a large influx of new accounts isn’t necessarily in the immediate offing for the distributor, it continues to look for opportunities to expand its product reach in other ways.

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NewsLink Group became a worldwide brand by setting up concession stores in some of the busiest international airports in the United States. In 2011, however, the company took a leap of faith by opening the Shoppes at Ocean Drive, a 10,000-square-foot department store-style retail location in Miami International Airport.

Not just any company could pull off a feat of this magnitude to critical acclaim and with nary a hiccup. However, NewsLink Group is not just any company. In fact, NewsLink Group’s management and operating team boasts more than 50 years of combined experience in the airport concessions industry dating back to 1959, and the company has delivered a variety of retail concepts and store designs that it says are unparalleled by its competitors.

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Comfort and convenience are two of the most important products any company can offer, and Mirabito does just that every single day. The Binghamton, N.Y.-based company serves central New York state and parts of Pennsylvania with a slate of energy products for families and businesses as well as a successful chain of convenience stores.

Mirabito has been family owned and operated since its inception in 1927, the company says. Over the years, it has come to be known as one of the best providers of energy and related products including heating oil, propane, natural gas, coal, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuels and lubricants.

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For more than 40 years, Manning’s Food For Less has sold groceries to its customers, changing the format to cost plus 10 percent nine years ago. This approach allows the company to differentiate itself in the market with its low prices on trusted national grocery brands.

“Customers are tired of long lines and walking a mile from their parking spot,” General Manager KC Constantine says. “Customer service and our focus on perishable items are what makes us strong, because those areas are neglected by the bigger stores.”

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Since opening its first Timewise Food Store location in 1983, Landmark Industries has successfully carved out a place for itself as a leading Texas c-store operator. From the original location in Hempstead, Texas, the company has expanded to 240 stores located in and around the Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Laredo marketplaces.

“We operate in a pretty diverse group of markets,” owner Marshall Dujka says. “As times have changed and our operations have become more of a snack-and-go, immediate consumption type of outlet for the customer, we’ve focused on building large locations with an open floor plan format so we can make changes easily.”

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