The concept of a full-service salon began in 1974 with Sam Ross. Having been a barber years before, he founded Fantastic Sams with the idea of servicing everyone, not only men in a barbershop, and opened a unisex hair salon. 

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With seven locations throughout Northwest Alabama, Gateway Foods, Inc. is a small supermarket chain that focuses on superb customer service. The company opened its first store in 1978 in Double Springs, Ala. and has gradually expanded over the past three decades. 

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With consumer spending trends pointing downward, it is a wonder that independent retailers can survive at all. But California’s Gene’s Fine Foods has served generations by connecting with customers in a way most chain stores would envy.

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Julian Gold founded the eponymous luxury retail chain in San Antonio, Texas in 1945, the first suburban speciality store in the city. Back then, all sales and accounting data was computed by hand or with a mechanical adding machine. When Bob Gurwitz, current co-owner and president, joined     the company in 1963, he had a lot to learn about retail.

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Since its inception, Magnolia Audio Video has been known to offer only the highest quality products. Founded 54 years ago as a stationary store in Seattle’s Magnolia district, there are 13 stand-alone locations the company calls experiential centers in Southern and Northern California, Beaverton, Ore., and several in the Seattle area. But the company also found new opportunities thanks to its purchase by Best Buy in 2000. 

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The Colorado-based Smoker Friendly chain has become a full-fledged tobacconist with the addition of a premium cigar offering at 90 of its 100 corporate stores, a move that has been 10 years in the making. As prices rose after the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the 48 State Attorney’s General and the major cigarette companies, Terry Gallagher, president, and his brother Dan Gallagher, VP of operations, saw an opportunity.

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TSG Consumer Partners is a private equity firm that refuses to work by the books. But for all its “wrongdoings,” the company has been very successful, averaging approximately 60% returns throughout its 20-year history. 

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You might be tempted to think that a company celebrating its 30th anniversary by restructuring leadership was bracing for hard times. But for Viva International Group, a global leader in ophthalmic frames and sunglass distribution and manufacturing, it was all about making a strong company even stronger. This corporate transition began last March.

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