As the nation’s leading automotive aftermarket service and retail chain, Pep Boys already had a strong legacy. The company has continued to evolve since the first Pep Boys store opened in Philadelphia in 1921. Now Pep Boys is embarking on a journey that should take the brand to even greater heights. 

“We are excited about the launch of our new service and retail experience,” says Joe Cirelli, senior vice president of development. “Our vision is to be the best place to shop and care for your car.” 

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Pearle Vision has been dedicated to helping its customers care for their eyes for more than 50 years. Its eye care specialists are involved in the customer’s eye care education, advanced care options and even selecting the right frames for eyeglasses. 

Dr. Stanley Pearle founded “Pearle Optical” in a small office in 1961 in Savannah, Ga. His vision was to provide the convenient, expert guidance of an eye care professional in the customers’ “backyard” along with on-site prescription eyeglass fulfillment and a large selection of designer frames. “I’m eager for it to be a good company, with a reputation for service and quality, because that’s what I’m all about,” Pearle said at the time. 

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Ever heard of men’s pants referred to as “slacks?” Haggar coined that term in 1938, 12 years after it was founded in a one-room office in Dallas. Did you ever notice in museums that men’s pants before the 1920s frequently had buttons where zippers go now, suspenders where belts or no belt can be found, and that they had a baggy fit – which is not to be confused with a “relaxed” fit?

Haggar Clothing Co. has participated in many of these innovations in menswear. Haggar says it introduced precuffed pants, wash-and-wear pants, pants with expandable waists, forever-prest pants and wrinkle-free cotton casual pants. Haggar claims to be the first apparel company to advertise in national magazines and on television, adopt electronic data interchange and universal product code technologies, ship pants prehung, to have invented the size-strip sticker and offer jackets and pants as suit separates.

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Not many retailers have a base of 1,100 stores and plan to expand by 75 more locations per year, but for hat king LIDS Sports Group, it’s no sweat.

LIDS Sports Group was started by athletic retail store managers and partners Glenn Campbell and Scott Molander in the mid-1990s. At first, shopping mall executives were skeptical of their plan to sell only hats. But if other stores could sell only cookies, why not hats? Hat World Inc. was born.

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Founded in 1998, Acadia Realty Trust is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that specializes in acquiring, re-developing and operating retail and urban mixed-use properties. The company’s focus is on finding properties in high-barrier-to-entry markets, such as dense urban and major metropolitan markets. Its current portfolio totals more than 10 million square feet across the United States. 

“We used to be more focused on suburban markets, but coming out of the recession we developed a new strategic plan,” says Christopher Conlon, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Our focus has been much more on urban and street retail in the last few years, although we still own an important suburban portfolio and continue to invest there.”

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The footwear market can be challenging, but Shoe Carnival Inc. sets itself apart by stocking more shoes than any other retailer, Vice President of Real Estate Michael Smith says. “Our average store will stock 28,000 pairs of shoes,” he says. “That is far superior to our competitors.

“We can carry more colors, more sizes, and that [gives] us the ability to satisfy the consumer on a consistent basis,” he continues. “We have everything from athletic shoes to work boots to sandals and slides. We provide quality brands at a reasonable price, which is why most of our customers buy multiple pairs.” 

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It may not be in the retail trenches helping customers find the right dress for an event, recommending good reads for a summer vacation or guiding them to aisle three for cereal, but R.H. Ledbetter Properties still plays a big part in retailers’ successes. As a developer, owner and operator of 1.8 million square feet of commercial properties across Georgia, Tennessee and Indiana, Ledbetter Properties knows that the behind-the-scenes decision it makes affects retail performance at the register. 

“Our customers are the retailers, not the consumers, and our objective is to make our retailers happy,” explains COO E. Wright Ledbetter of the family owned company. “We view them as our business partners, so we work closely with retailers to make sure we are providing them with the best business environment for their needs so they can find success conducting their business.”

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No matter how large sports gear retailer Hibbett Sports has expanded its footprint throughout the United States, the company has maintained its status as the neighborhood sporting goods store wherever it lands. According to Jeff Gray, vice president of real estate for Hibbett Sports, focusing on smaller communities where its locations are known as the go-to store for all things sporting goods is the reason for the company’s success.

“We primarily locate in smaller towns, so we are a big deal in most towns we’re in,” Gray says. “We take the concept of local sporting goods store to the next level with our products and brands, and it has always been that way. We want to go where it is a big deal and we’re the only place to get what we sell.”

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