Editor’s Note: A big shout out to our partner Building The Revolution for helping power many of our retailer profiles in 2017.

This past year presented a whole host of new challenges for retail. In an ongoing effort to bring success stories to light, we told the stories of many of those businesses and the champions behind them.

Here are the five most engaging shop profiles that our readers spent the most time scrolling through this year, and what they taught us about retail.

5. Landmark Surf Co. | Laguna, California

landmark surf co.

Landmark Surf Co.’s emphasis on surfing and its lifestyle is evident in the space’s Laguna Beach location.

We caught up with Charlie Setzler, founder of Laguna’s Landmark Surf Co., nearly 18 months after the store’s transition from being a Rusty flagship. In the interview, Setzler shares some powerful advice on how brands can be successful and stand out from the pack.

It’s no secret that brands had to adapt just as much as retailers this year in order to keep growing. Landmark’s model and its recent switch from brand-operated to independent is an interesting one to study, as the industry continues to evolve in 2018.

4.Levitate Surf Shop | Marshfield and Nantucket, Massachusetts

Photo: Paul Girello, Levitate Surf Shop

Levitate Surf Shop

This shop has been in business for the past 15 years in Marshfield, Massachusetts. In his early 30s, young owner Dan Hassett has done a lot to evolve the shop since taking over the reins from his mentor and Levitate’s former owner in 2008.

Recently, the shop has opened a second brick and mortar summer location in Nantucket and created an annual music festival that’s won over the community.

Experiential retail was a massive area of focus over the past 12 months, and will surely continue in 2018. The idea of finding new ways to speak to an audience who has multiple interests beyond your shop is a brilliant one, and we can’t wait to see where it takes many of the businesses in our space.

3. Surfy, Surfy | Leucadia, California

top retailer profiles 2017

Surfy Surfy’s iconic store front in Leucadia, along Coast Highway. Photo: Surfy Surfy

In this candid check-in with Surfy Surfy CEO JP St. Pierre, the shop owner gives his take on why the store only carries California hand-shaped and glassed boards. He also dives into some deep history behind his background, founding the shop and growing up with a surf shaper for a dad.

Niche surf shops are still very much alive, but sales tactics have changed drastically in the past few years, let alone the past 12 months. It’s always interesting to get a creative take on how small shops are setting themselves apart, especially in an iconic surf community like Leucadia.

2. Vanilla Urban Threads | Bend, Oregon

top retailer profiles 2017

Founded in 2005, this shop has been making a name for itself within Bend and the surrounding community. Photo: Vanilla Urban Threads

Vanilla Urban Threads is run by former pro-snowboarder-turned-mountain-biker April Lawyer. In this interview, Lawyer gives us a report on the retail climate in Bend, Oregon — a city that has continued to grow in popularity over the last few years. She also provides a mini case study into working with Amuse Society on a pop-up shop inside the store’s 3,000-square-foot space.

Pop-up shops are a retail trend that don’t seem to be going away anytime soon. The concept is helping many brick-and-mortar shops and the brands within them create a fresh vibe and a reason for coming through the doors.

1. Exchange Collective & the founders of One Way Boardshop | Orcutt, California

most engaging retailerl profiles 2017

The OneWay Boardshop store front in Ventura.

It’s fitting that this profile lands in the No. 1 spot, since the founders of Exchange Collective are trying to bridge the gap between brick and mortar stores and direct-to-consumer sales, ensuring that physical retail locations always get the sale. Their platform is intriguing and has brought together many larger brands and retailers in the space, working toward a common goal.

We couldn’t think of a more perfect segue into the New Year — here’s to 2018, and all the creative ways our industry can come together and continue to grow.

More Best of 2017 content from TransWorld Business

The most-read industry stories of 2017

The trends and stories that shaped our industry in 2017