When Stew Leonard opens his second grocery store in Danbury, Conn., next year, it will have a lot in common with the original Stew Leonard's in neighboring Norwalk -- a 100,000-square-foot store ringing up $100 million annually. The second will also feature such Leonard circus classics as singing cows dancing in the aisles and a live pet farm outside. But what most don't know is that the real circus began four years ago.
It seems that, before committing to bricks and mortar, Leonard wanted to do market research about the new location. So the "ringmaster" did what any shrewd marketer would have done -- he pitched a tent. The results? Information about the preferences of his new customers, along with answers about how to integrate the business operations of the two stores. Hitting stride last year, Leonard welcomed 2.5 million customers and sales of $10 million. All under the big top.
-- Elizabeth Conlin