There are two kinds of companies these days: companies whose sales are limping along (that's the vast majority) and those whose sales are going through the roof. My nationwide shopping spree focused on the latter. I spent a weekend at the country's most exciting music store. I made an undercover visit to the outermost fringes of the Wal-Mart empire. And I visited all sorts of other fascinating experiments in between — from an ESPN skateboard park at a mall to a specialty retailer that caters to the health needs of aging baby boomers. (Who says hip replacement can't be hip?) What follows is a set of dispatches — a memo, a letter, even some traditional articles — about five innovators that are figuring out what's selling in America.
- "First You Get High on It, Then You Buy It."
- Amoeba Music Marches to Its Own Beat
- "How Does a 900-Pound Gorilla Get to Be an 1,800-Pound Gorilla?"
- Wal-Mart Thinks Outside the Big Box
- "Our Customers Can Sniff Through Any Kind of Hard Sell. And When They Do, They're Gone."
- ESPN Takes Retailing to the Extreme
- "We Decided to Merchandise Raised Toilet Seats in the Same Way You'd Merchandise Lamp Fixtures at Pottery Barn."
- Can Take Good Care Make Hip Replacements Hip?
- "The Lamest Question in Retail Is, 'Can I Help You?'"
- How the Container Store Lays a Solid Foundation
A version of this article appeared in the January 2003 issue of Fast Company magazine.