From the outside looking in, Weekends Only has been a Friday-to-Sunday operation. The home furniture outlet was founded 16 years ago with a simple but unique concept focused on saving its customers money. Its team of buyers scours the globe looking for exceptional furniture deals – closeouts, overstocks and one-of-a-kind items – to offer customers high value at low prices.
It lowers that price even more by running a lean operation focused on taking waste out of the company. Its most notable move in that effort? Opening its brick-and-mortar stores only on weekends when most people shop for furniture. To prepare its five Midwest stores for the weekend crowd, however, takes much more work than can be done in three days. Which means internally, Weekends Only has always been a seven-days-a-week business.
“Our company mission is to save the customers money,” COO Dionne Dumitru says. “The way we do that is only opening Friday through Sunday. But the supply chain works seven days a week running with skeleton crews on weekdays. We’re bringing things on the floor and taking things off the floor. We spend every day looking for opportunity buys to find amazing deals 52 weeks out of the year.”
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LTD Commodities has spent the past 50 years building its reputation as a top provider of unique merchandise at unbeatable prices. For the past five years, the company has upgraded its technology with the goal of improving customer experience and continuing its growth.
LTD Commodities began as a small mail-order business. Today, the family owned company has grown to become one of the country’s premier catalog and online merchandisers. “Our merchandise is so unique and our prices are unbelievable,” President and CEO Michael Hara says. “We have had focus groups where people say they love our company because they can’t believe the value they get for their dollar. In fact, many said they can not resist the urge to shop with us because of all the new and exciting products we have to offer.”
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Not many of the early-to-market online retailers can boast the level of success that eBags.com has seen. Founded in 1998 and launched live in 1999, eBags says it has grown into the largest online retailer of bags and accessories in the world by offering options to suit any need and lifestyle and providing superior customer service.
“Our mission is to enrich customer’s lives and journeys with the perfect bag,” President and COO Robert Cassidy says. “We fit their needs at their desired price point.”
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Based in Boston, Shoebuy.com is a true e-commerce success story. Founded in 1999 at the peak of the dot-com bubble, Shoebuy.com has grown into the largest Internet retailer focused on footwear and related apparel and accessories.
Since the Shoebuy.com website launched in January 2000, the company has seen significant year-over-year growth 12 consecutive years running. In 2006, Shoebuy was acquired by IAC, which owns other leading online properties. The company has tripled revenues since being acquired by IAC.
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Entertaining in the comfort of one’s home has become more popular since the economic downturn. Libbey, the self-proclaimed leading glassware manufacturer in the western hemisphere, offers its customers the latest in drinkware, tabletop items and home décor to set the perfect table for home entertaining, Vice President of Consumer Sales and Marketing Jeff Joyce says. “The economy has been challenging and many consumers have had to change their spending habits,” he adds. “Many consumers now want to create an entertainment experience at home. We try to understand what is happening in the market and put a huge emphasis on product development to meet emerging trends. Newness is very important to the consumer.”
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Freshpair, an Internet retailer of intimate apparel for men and women, is changing the perception that online shopping is impersonal. It is offering an individualized experience for each customer and experts on stand-by to assist with sizing or order placement.
The company was founded 13 years ago and marketed only to the parents of students in college, President Matthew Butlein says. “It was a way for the parents of students at the University of Maryland to send their kids new underwear on campus,” he explains. “That model has changed, as it was very hard to find that specific target market.”
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It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that “nerd” culture is booming right now. “The Big Bang Theory” is one of the most popular shows on TV, comic book superheroes like the Avengers rule the box office and it’s not unheard of for a video game to gross a billion dollars on its release date. It isn’t surprising, then, that online retailer ThinkGeek has experienced substantial growth over the past few years. Purveyors of eccentric and “geeky” products ranging from computer repair kits to Jedi knight bathrobes, ThinkGeek approximately doubled in revenue between 2008 and 2011, and CEO Kathryn McCarthy says there’s potential for growth even beyond the $120 million in revenue the company made last year.
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Finding a bra that fits perfectly is invaluable to a woman’s intimate collection. When perfection is found, the thought of losing it is frightening and Canada-based lingerie retailer La Vie en Rose understands that – which is why its most popular bras are never out of stock.
“Our main product is bras; that is what we are known for,” Vice President of Design and Product Development John Izzo says. “Women are loyal to bras when they find a good fit, they will come back to us. We keep our best sellers on our shelves at all times.” The company is known as the “bra specialists” because of its commitment to helping women wear the correct size. To honor that promise, bra clinics are held multiple times per year and private fittings are offered in the dressing rooms. “We make a big effort to give personalized service to customers,” Izzo says. “That’s what differentiates us, all our staff are trained on how to fit women for a bra. It’s something customers appreciate.”
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