Meet The Best Hardware Store In the Nation, And The Midwestern Billionaire Who Built It: John Menard Jr. - Forbes:
Growing up in N WI in the '60s, the Menard's Shed was pretty ubiquitous. As I got to Eau Claire for college in the early 70's, the store/distribution center was growing like topsy on the NW side of town where I would drive in for school.
When I hit Rochester in '78, we had a good sized one well out of town to the SE on 14, today there are two ... a big one on the S side, a decent sized on across 52 from where I live, and a mega new one going up N of me on the W side of 52, which will replace the one on the E.
How do people become Billionaires? Lots of ways ... new innovative products that are transformed into monster businesses by guys like Gates and Jobs. Buying and owning quality businesses like Buffet. Being entertaining and savvy like Oprah.
Or in the case of Menard, or Walton, just taking a plain old retail niche and doing it a better way and growing their business.
Is this still the land that can be done in? The fact that Menard's is PRIVATE may indicate something of the modern requirements to operate with less government supervision to make it big.
But it at least COULD be done. Let's hope it still can.