Since it was started in 1991, Lighting New York has evolved into a leading residential and commercial lighting expert in the Empire State and beyond. By combining retail showrooms in the Bowery with an extensive online presence, Lighting New York has fully embraced the omnichannel world and expanded its business well beyond its New York City origins in Manhattan’s lighting district.
“Initially, we were primarily importing product from Europe,” President Gary Fitterman says. “We differentiated ourselves because we could create value and build a big collection by directly importing merchandise. When the dollar collapsed, we moved more toward domestic and Chinese product, which again helped differentiate our offerings.”
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The Lebo’s story is one of perseverance and adaptability. Founded in 1923 when Sidney Levin opened the first Lebo’s in uptown Charlotte, N.C., the company’s initial focus was footwear for the whole family with specialty service for customers with hard-to-fit feet. The company built a strong client base and became known for service, sizes and selection before expanding its offerings in a multitude of areas.
Jerry Levin, son of the founder and current CEO, expanded Lebo’s in the 1950s with the addition of a dancewear department that carries a complete line of ballet, tap, jazz, clogging and square dance products. In the 1960s, the company created its own Barbette line of dance shoes and dancewear products, which has grown into a recognizable brand.
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Just Cabinets Furniture & More is remodeling its older generation of stores that opened in the 1990s and opening new, modernized locations that will provide further convenience
for its customers. “Part of my objective is rolling out new bigger, brighter locations with better merchandising so customers can enjoy an array of products more effectively than in our smaller units,” President Ted Bernstein says.
Bernstein’s father, Mort, started the Harrisburg, Pa.-based company in 1979 as an unfinished furniture and kitchen cabinets retailer. “I joined him in 1990, we opened a couple more stores and quickly realized that the future of the unfinished furniture business – given the changing lifestyle of our customer – was limited,” Bernstein explains.
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When Chad Hallock is asked about the aspects of Home Franchise Concepts that most make it successful, he offers a multi-part response instead of making just one simple statement.
“A combination of several things really makes us work,” he says of the company he co-founded in 1992 and today leads as CEO. “A lot of companies go for the big, home run, but we believe more in a lot of base hits. We do a lot of little things that make the one thing, the company, all that much better.”
One of the first things Hallock mentions about the company is its culture, which is focused on helping people go into business for themselves and grow their business to be successful. “Every one of our brands has a solid vision that I think our franchisees can climb on board and believe in as much as we do,” he says, noting that the majority of new franchisees receive a day-long “Discovery Day” where HFC shares its strategic vision before anybody actually becomes a franchisee.
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The Greek philosopher Heraclitus’ remark that “the only constant in life is change” is more than likely running through the minds of the customers of many Albertson’s and Safeway stores.
Shoppers accustomed to buying groceries at one of those large chains’ locations were no doubt surprised to hear of their merger last year. As a condition of the merger, both Albertson’s and Safeway were required to sell more than 100 stores in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona.
Many of those stores were purchased by longtime Pacific Northwest grocery chain Haggen, whose employees and regular customers were also likely curious about what the major change meant for them. For Haggen, the change will be significant indeed. As a result of the acquisition, the company will expand from 18 stores with 16 pharmacies to 164 stores with 106 pharmacies and from 2,000 employees to more than 10,000 employees.
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When the doors opened at the original Don’s Car Washes location in Fargo, N.D., in 1958, the company introduced the conveyor car wash to the market. Although the company has gone through many changes over the last 50-plus years, including implementing an employee stock ownership plan in 1987, the company remains a leader in the car wash industry in the Fargo/Moorhead area. To build on its long legacy, Don’s Car Washes recently added a convenience center model to its footprint.
Today, Don’s Car Washes has two locations. One is at 2727 13th Ave. S. in Fargo, while the other is at 2500 52nd Ave. S. in Fargo. The company strives to be on the leading edge of car wash technology and car washing techniques. Its wide variety of services include the choice of a full-service or exterior car wash, complete auto detailing packages and gasoline.
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Diane’s Beachwear has a pedigree in the swimwear business that stretches back more than 50 years, but it came about entirely by chance. Founder Diane Biggs’ mother purchased a box of slightly damaged swimsuits at a closeout sale and started selling them to friends and neighbors for $5 apiece. In time, what started as a whim grew to ordering suits from manufacturers and then eventually the opening of Mickie’s Swim Shop, which is still open today under the name Mickie’s Beach.
Biggs worked at her mother’s swim shop for a while before getting the idea to start her own store, which was first located in a vacant candy counter at a movie theater converted to retail space in Santa Monica. Today, through hard work and a lifetime of experience in the swimwear industry, Diane’s Beachwear has 20 locations, mainly in Southern California. The company says its mission remains the same now as it was in the 1960s, and that has been the foundation of its success over the years.
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For CEO Tom Via, leading the successful turnaround of retailer Brookstone is more than just mere work. “It’s my most recent passion,” the 37-year veteran of retail declares.
Based in Merrimack, N.H., the specialty retailer offers functional and distinctive products, including outdoor furniture, electronics, bath and spa products, and fitness accessories. Its recent additions include the BodyForm Foam Roller, which helps achieve faster muscle recovery after an intense workout.
“When people think about unique and innovative products, they think of Brookstone,” Via states. “They think of gifting a great product.”
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