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The lines between big-box player and specialist have been blurring for quite some time now. The local hardware or grocery stores have found a way to compete with the Wal-Marts of the world—and vice versa. Yet, nothing is a greater testament to how far all players have come than the winners of this year’s FIRE awards—the industry’s only category-driven recognition program in which retailers nominate and vote for their choice of merchandising excellence. Each of this year’s award winners exhibits a commitment to merchandising excellence that includes a healthy obsession with product, aesthetic and detail.

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