How 3 small businesses stood up to larger competitors

david_vs_goliath.top.jpgBy Jessica Shambora, reporter


(Fortune Magazine) -- The Little Clinic vs. CVS MinuteClinic

The challenge: CVS (CVS, Fortune 500) continues to expand its MinuteClinics in its drugstores. They now have over 500 compared with the Little Clinic's 146 locations. How does the Little Clinic compete?

What they did: Founder Lisa Loscalzo, who launched the Tennessee-based Little Clinic in 2005, chose supermarkets for her clinics. The benefits? Long hours, good locations, pharmacies, and lots of foot traffic.

Loscalzo, 46, partnered with two well-known chains, Kroger (KR, Fortune 500) and Publix, which, she says, have ultraloyal customers. The clinics see walk-in patients for minor illnesses and flu shots. Each location has a dedicated staff, meaning you see the same people every time you visit. Says Loscalzo: "They're coming in to see Nancy Smith the nurse practitioner who works at my Kroger down the street." She won't give revenue figures, but the Little Clinic added 55 locations last year.

Maverik Lacrosse vs. New Balance

The challenge: Maverik, a lacrosse equipment maker, competes with New Balance, which owns two bigtime brands -- Warrior and Brine. How do you persuade players to go with the upstart?

What they did: John Gagliardi, 35, co-founder and president of New York City-based Maverik, has loaded his staff with players that the kids -- and coaches -- know and admire (including ex-members of Team USA). Gagliardi, a former pro and Johns Hopkins legend, also taps into the booming youth market by operating camps, where he tests and showcases his products.

A cool image is also important: Maverik's website features the top pros starring in edgy videos and offering up playing tips. Gagliardi also focuses on "lifestyle apparel" that gives the brand a "casual, cool, surf-snowboard dynamic" as opposed to the traditional prep-school vibe. He says sales were up 30% in 2009.

Amici's East Coast Pizzeria vs. Domino's Pizza

The challenge: Domino's (DPZ) can leverage its size to buy everything, from cheese to advertising, at much lower prices than operations like Amici's, which has 12 outlets in the San Francisco Bay Area.

What they did: Boston native and Amici's owner Peter Cooperstein, 54, can't beat his mega-size competitors at the profit margin game. But he can deliver his customers, many of them ex-"Pats" like him, a high-quality niche product.

In this case: a little taste of New England. Or, as he puts it, "pizza that reminds them of where they grew up." That means not skimping on ingredients, says Cooperstein: "We could save $600,000 a year by switching to a pretty-good-but-not-as-good cheese."

Pretty-good cheese aside, Amici's seems to be raking in the dough: Sales are now around $30 million -- more than half from deliveries. One big difference from the giant chains: Amici's sends only one pizza out at a time to keep them fresh.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.21%4.16%
15 yr fixed3.27%3.25%
5/1 ARM3.51%3.38%
30 yr refi4.20%4.15%
15 yr refi3.27%3.24%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.71 -0.06 -0.36%
Apple Inc 101.58 0.75 0.74%
Yahoo! Inc 42.59 -0.12 -0.28%
Microsoft Corp 46.52 -0.24 -0.51%
Alcoa Inc 16.28 0.12 0.74%
Data as of Sep 17
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,156.85 24.88 0.15%
Nasdaq 4,562.19 9.43 0.21%
S&P 500 2,001.57 2.59 0.13%
Treasuries 2.60 0.01 0.42%
Data as of 7:43am ET

Sections

Alibaba founder Jack Ma could earn as much as $867 million from his company's market debut. More

The Federal Reserve is probably not going to raise interest rates until the summer of 2015 at the earliest. More

Frederick Hutson launched Pigeon.ly in 2012 to help inmates communicate with their friends and family. He's on target for $1 million in sales this year. More

Occupy Wall Street offshoot Strike Debt says it has abolished nearly $4 million in private student loan debt for students who attended Everest College, part of Corinthian Colleges. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.