With ever-narrowing margins, retailers are intent on getting the product edge that can make them a shopper destination. New products can help them do that, but many grocers are inundated with them.

“Retailers are overwhelmed with new items in the U.S.,” The Fave Juice Co. President and COO David Kirkpatrick maintains. “Each year, 30,000 new items are launched, and 95 percent-plus of those fail – and those include new items from really good companies like Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo. When you’re a little company or a startup, the odds are much worse than 95 percent.”

On top of that, whether the company will remain in business if its product fails is a legitimate concern. “Retailers have a reason to look at guys like us and say ‘no,’” Kirkpatrick concedes. “But what’s interesting is when you speak their language and talk about the shelf-stable juice category, which is a pretty big piece of real estate – up to 44 feet in a supermarket – when you ask how it’s doing, it’s been in steady decline for a decade.”

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Shoppers of francesca’s, however, can expect a completely different experience whenever they enter a new location. “While we have a lot of locations, we operate each as if it were a small, mom-and-pop store,” says Clary Groen, vice president of real estate and construction for the Houston-headquartered women’s boutique. “Many times, when someone walks into one of our boutiques, they don’t realize that we’re a national retailer, and we love that.”

Shoppers familiar with one francesca’s location are often surprised and excited to find and visit other locations, as they will differ from their home store both inside and out. “We use a multitude of types of materials and designs for our storefronts, so no two look alike, and we recently started launching new interior design prototypes, as well,” he adds. “Everything we do is in keeping with our desire to be a boutique concept perceived by our customers to be unique in nature.”

On the merchandising side, clothes, accessories and other items sold in francesca’s boutiques are available only in limited numbers, giving shoppers a sense of finding a unique outfit.   “Our customers are incentivized to buy something they like the first time they come in, because that item may not be around on their second visit,”  Groen notes.

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What started as Heater Oil Co. has evolved into a successful gas-and-convenience store business. The Heater family has had long-standing patriarchs to foster its strong ties and shared interests. David’s father, John, Go-Mart’s president, is 81, and he never intends to retire.  His brothers, Bill and Jim, were involved in the building of the company, as well. “My grandfather Fred, who started the company, didn’t retire,” Heater says, “and my dad won’t, either.”

Read more: Go-Mart Inc.

NibMor’s co-founders and employees know their core consumer so well that they’ve given her a name: Lucy. 

‘We’ve spent the greater part of the last year really connecting to Lucy and understanding what she wants, how she wants it and how we can deliver it to her,” says Jennifer Love, co-founder and CEO of the chocolate company. “We believe we understand how she feels and can speak to her like she’s one of our best friends.” 

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When Rob Paul, founder, CEO and chief science officer of Nawgan, created a functional beverage to improve brain performance, it was the science that came easy. Paul, after all, does have a science background. His standing as a university professor with a Ph.D. in biopsychology and a specialty in neuropsychology matched perfectly with his vision to create a functional brain improvement beverage. It was all of the other stuff, however – business operations, marketing and even flavor – that posed the greater challenges. 

Paul was settled on the science – an anchor combination of Cognizin, also known as citocoline, and caffeine met all of his thresholds for the functionality of the beverage. The Cognizin contains choline – which is available in many foods, such as potatoes, and cauliflower – as well as cytidine. In his research, Paul found that people who consume 250mg of Cognizin daily experience improved performance on a test of attention. So he made sure that every can of Nawgan would contain 250mg of Cognizin, as well. 

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Monarch Custom Beverages stays true to its name. As a contract beverage manufacturer, the Cold Spring Brewing Co. subsidiary works with private label-brand customers to provide each one with a unique product. Whether energy drinks, teas, juice, carbonated soft drinks, fruit-flavored beverages, beer or flavored malt beverages, Monarch Custom Beverages is able to walk its clients from A to Z and produce a one-of-a-kind quality beverage. The company’s manufacturing facility produces more than 30 million cases of canned and bottled beverages annually. In working with partner bottlers, Monarch Custom Beverages can produce in excess of another 10 million cases annually.

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Founded in 1945 as Southeastern Beverages Inc., a lot has changed about Craig Distributing over the years. But one thing that has always remained true about the company’s operations is its commitment to providing the best possible services to its local Indiana communities. 

Craig Distributing has been an exclusive Anheuser-Busch product line distributor for close to a decade. The company also has a Nestle division. Headquartered in Aurora, Ind., the company was once owned by a number of stakeholders. Today, the company is solely owned by Richard Craig. 

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Not many retailers have had the honor of being recognized for their time in their communities, but Clark Appliance soon will. For a century, the company has sold high-quality appliance products to people in Indianapolis.

“We’re one of the very few that has seen 100 years in our business,” President Bob Clark says. His grandfather, Revere Jacobs, started the business with a single store in 1913 that sold washing machines.

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