Swimming -- and succeeding -- against the Tide

12/12/2010 | NYTimes.com

When Procter & Gamble opened a Tide-branded dry cleaning franchise in Kansas City, Mo., some independents closed, but Hangers Cleaners managed to increase revenue 10%, without cutting costs. "The entrance of Tide into our market forced us to consider how we're different, what we can do that someone else won't be able to replicate," says founder Joe Runyan. In answer to that question, Hangers played up a quirky, humorous image that a buttoned-down corporate chain couldn't match, including winking references to pop culture and politics. (A favorite T-shirt from the Clinton years read "I wish Monica and I knew about Hangers.")

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