When Trey Brunson of H&H Lifestyles was looking to differentiate his specialty retail, appliance and custom installation business, he hit upon an electric idea. He bought a high-voltage company.

This year's five Retail Excellence Award winners—La Curacao, CompUSA/TigerDirect, Primetime A/V, H&H Lifestyles and Sherman's—are different in many ways

Tom Huff, the manager in charge of 20 full-time salespeople at Schaefer’s TV & Appliance Center, Lincoln, Neb., remembers the dark days of consumer electronics. It’s not that the store’s business ever suffered. As a 62-year-old independent business that started out as a corner drugstore, Schaefer’s has a great track record at evolving along with its marketplace. But there was a time when the trend was to keep things dark ... literally. “In the 80s and 90s, it was big to keep things dark in electronics departments,” he said. “Everyone thought that was the way to sell TVs. But on a

Trey Brunson doesn’t get one foot in the door at Nick’s noon soul food buffet before the hand shaking begins. Captain Fenwig, who runs the local ship harbor, says hello. Ben, the bank president; Larry and Jay, the real estate guys; and Mike, the little league coach, all greet him and ask after his parents. By the time Brunson has sat down and had two deep fried pork chops, he has talked to more than 10 people he’s known nearly all his life and has even heard opinions about his new showroom, H&H Lifestyles, which just opened in a nearby shopping center. “There are

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