Being "in the zone" is a hot term these days. Not only is it the title of pop star Britney Spears' new album, but it is what many athletes aspire to and some retailers, too. "In the zone" means maximum performance level, total focus on the task at hand, being in control, and having no distractions. All of these qualities are needed to win the day. In this week's special report beginning on Page 23, SN profiles independent retailers who are playing "in the zone" -- and winning. They are ...

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