Despite myriad challenges from the federal government and a down economy, this tobacco retail chain won’t vanish in a puff of smoke any time soon. Most retailers will agree: 2009 was a terrible year for business. But few were also hit with the largest single tax on a consumer product in the history of the US and an overhaul of federal regulations for the industry. Smoker Friendly, a national tobacco products retailer, was one of those few, but good planning, some luck, and an optimistic outlook helped maintain this Colorado-based retailer’s relatively strong position moving into 2010. 

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For more than 30 years, this family-owned food market chain has built a reputation for fresh food and customer service. A family tradition that began more than three decades ago continues on today in DeCicco Family Markets. Founded in the Bronx, the company now has six locations in New York, one each in Ardsley, Bronxville, Jefferson Valley, New City, Pelham, and Scarsdale.

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This Spokane, Wash. boot manufacturer builds the kind of footwear that can last a lifetime. In today’s throwaway society, it is increasingly harder to find the kind of high quality, handmade goods that are built to last a lifetime. However, for White’s Boots, a commitment to making boots that are built to last isn’t just a marketing strategy, it’s a tradition.

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By offering a wide range of products and services not typically found at an outlet of its kind, this pharmacy chain is breaking new ground. Kohll’s Pharmacy & Homecare is a Nebraska-based organization that offers a unique assortment of products and services to its customers. The company has seven locations spread throughout the city of Omaha; all of the facilities are home to a fully staffed pharmaceutical team, but each also boasts its own portfolio of advanced services not typically found at your neighborhood pharmacy.

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The success of this independent retail chain proves that a show of appreciation can go a long way with customers, employees, and vendors. The volatile economic climate has affected businesses across every industry throughout the last 12 to 18 months, both in the US and abroad. And although no business or market has really shown immunity, some have certainly been hit harder than others. With unemployment at a staggering high, many people have adapted to the situation by curtailing their spending, which, of course, has had a significant impact on the retail world, making it one of the hardest hit. 

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Giving customers the most for their money has helped this 35-store chain stay a step ahead in the dollar store industry. New York-based dollar store chain Just-A-Buck rose to prominence in a busy industry by offering its customers products that are inexpensive, but not cheap. “When we opened our first close-out store in 1988, we decided that we would sell at the dollar price point, and customers couldn’t believe the value they were getting,” said Steve Bakst, president and CEO.

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A service culture, bolstered by the best fashions, fine tuned stores, and technology investments, helped this Texas specialty clothing chain reach 65 years in business. Since 1945, Julian Gold has carved out a name for itself in Texas as a specialty store providing women with top fashions at competitive prices. Founded in San Antonio, the company now has locations in Austin, Corpus Christi, and Midland. The stores offer whatever a women could want, from designer brands, sportswear, contemporary, bridal, and casual clothes to eveningwear, shoes, lingerie, accessories, cosmetics, jewelry, and handbags.

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This grocery store chain may not be the largest around, but it takes the time to find out how it can help its customers. With nine grocery stores in Virginia and North Carolina, Farmer’s Foods is a small chain that is looking to grow without losing sight of the needs of its customers. “We think we really know our customer base and really cater to it,” said Pedro Carrasco, the director of marketing and procurement. “We provide the goods and items our customers want; we don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach.”

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