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What’s Selling in America

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.