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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Companies exist to provide goods to consumers and to turn a profit from that, but that isn’t necessarily what drives them all. For Elevation Brands, the goal is to create lines of healthy, all natural foods in a grocery section that isn’t always know for its wholesome options: the freezer aisle.
In 2010, Ian’s – a line of all-natural, gluten-free and allergy-friendly foods such as chicken nuggets, sweet potato fries, pizza and breakfast options – merged with Blue Horizon Wild – a value-added seafood manufacturer that uses sustainably caught seafood – and formed Elevation Brands LLC. Blue Horizon Wild moved all of its production into Ian’s Framingham, Mass., plant, and the two brands formed one mission.
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As a family owned and operated chain of grocery stores in the Gulf Coast region of Texas, Arlan’s Markets understands how busy the life of the head grocery shopper of a family can be. With that in mind, founder Ames Arlan makes sure his locations are sized with convenience and ease of navigation in mind.
“We don’t claim to be the cheapest in town but we are competitively price and run great weekly ads,” Arlan says. “I found in the first couple of years that trying to be everything to everyone was a very quick way to go out of business.
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To some, a beanbag chair might seem like a mere novelty item. But for Yogibo LLC, it was a starting point for a firm that has brought comfort and luxury to consumers in all New England states and New York state. “The first key is the products themselves,” founder and CEO Eyal Levy says. “The products line is one of a kind and you know it when you try them.”
Based in Nashua, N.H., Yogibo specializes in lounging and comfort products and contemporary home décor accessories. Levy notes that the origin of the concept of the first line, the lounge bags, was in Israel, where he was born and raised.
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Forward thinking and an emphasis on fresh produce help Westborn Market maintain its place in a regional market known for independent grocers. The family owned retailer, which has three locations in Dearborn, Berkley and Livonia, Mich., will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.
“I think putting one foot in front of another and moving forward has been key to our success throughout our nearly 50 years in business,” stresses company President Sarkis Mark Anusbigian, who co-owns Westborn Market with his brothers Jeff and Tony. “We try to be visionary in terms of staying ahead of industry trends.”
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Tomlinson Sales Co. has spent the last 75 years getting to know its customers. From its nine locations – seven in South Carolina and two in North Carolina – Tomlinson Sales Co. focuses on the specific needs of each city it serves. The merchandise retailer is divided into various outlets such as traditional department stores, a gift shop and warehouse showrooms, which is a stark contrast from how it was founded.
U.C. Tomlinson founded his first store in Johnsonville, S.C, in the heart of the Great Depression. The lean economic times provided the foundation for a fiscally conservative and sound business philosophy that served it well during tough times. As the business grew, he opened a number of other stores in small rural towns in the state’s northeast. In 1945, he formed a new wholesale distribution company in Florence, S.C., to supply to his stores as well as other locally owned merchants in the area. In 1963, he built a new warehouse and distribution center.
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Pat Burns got his start in the grocery business at the age of 14 as a bagger for a Philadelphia-area supermarket. Later, Burns opened restaurants and catering operations throughout Philadelphia before starting The Fresh Grocer in 1996. Burns says the close ties he and the rest of the chain’s management have kept with Philadelphia have given the company a strong advantage in a tough market.
“I think the Philadelphia region has some of the fiercest competition in the country,” Burns says. “You really have to be on top of your game.”
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