As Walt Disney readies “Cars 2” for release, the consumer products division is revving up its engine. When Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures releases the animated Disney-Pixar film “Cars 2” in 2011, Disney Consumer Products (DCP) will have a clear merchandising mandate: build on the stunning success of a brand that has surpassed all expectations.

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A strategy built on thrifty fashion and friendly service enabled this women’s fashion retailer to quickly expand in a short amount of time. Dots' first store opened in 1987. Within five years, there were 200 just like it. The women’s clothing closeout operation started by Bob Glick, which offered everything, everyday for $10 or less, was a wildly successful operation—but the Dots of today barely resembles that discount format. 

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This company has flourished by embracing a diverse array of services, from wholesale fuel delivery to operating convenience stores. Diversity is the key for the Tewksbury, Mass.-based Energy North Group. The company operates three divisions: retail, wholesale, and transportation. Energy North operates a dozen convenience stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire under the Fresh Express banner. These three divisions of allow the company to be well balanced.

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This West Virginia grocery store has only 13 stores, but its warehouse operation allows it to compete with much bigger chains. The 13-store Foodfair Markets grocery chain has one advantage that gives it a leg up over other smaller independent grocery store chains. By operating its own warehouse, the chain is able to serve its own stores as well as other independent grocery stores in the Huntington, W. Va. tri-state area.

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This Texas-based furniture store found a way to incorporate speed into its process without adding pressure to the customer. The most amazing part of the story behind Gallery Furniture isn’t just that the $100 million company was founded with only $5,000. It’s also not the fact that when the company’s main warehouse burnt down, its employees had the business up and running from a secondary location by morning. It’s that Jim McIngvale’s success is based on the fact that when he was younger, he was fired after college. 

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By offering high-quality appliances at the right price, this New Jersey retailer outcompetes many of its larger competitors. From it’s humble beginnings in 1941 with a single 1,800-square-foot store to its position today as one of the largest appliance retailers in the New York-Northern New Jersey area, Karl’s Appliance has continued to focus on providing the best prices on high-quality products to its customers. The Fairfield, NJ-based retailer now has eight stores with another one on the drawing board.

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An entrepreneurial spirit launched this c-store chain in 1984, and it’s only getting better. John Riley opened up his eighth c-store location in Weirton, WV in June this year. Considering when he opened his first he wasn’t sure which direction his entrepreneurial ambitions were going, the growth his chain has seen since 1984 is pretty impressive. 

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By understanding how to compete on more than price, this family-owned grocery store is growing while others in its industry are not. Ninety-three years after opening its doors, Mackenthun’s Fine Foods continues to find new ways to entrench itself in the lives of its community. Headquartered in Waconia, Minn., this fifth-generation family-owned and operated grocery store started off as a butcher shop. Although the meat and homemade sausage department continues to bring in customers today, it’s the spirit of service and innovation that makes Mackenthun’s a Twin Cities staple. 

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