Get Niche Quick

Imagine a diner whose reputation for homemade pies extends far and wide. The place has folks lined up around the block, mouths watering, every day of the week. Resisting the temptation to expand into cakes, muffins, or lattes, the owner has stuck with what he knows best, ever fine-tuning his recipes while other restaurants have come and gone.

Now parlay that same model to burgers. Or steamed crabs. Or home building. Amid the perfect storm of mounting ­foreclosures, credit tightening, stagnant inventory, and timid buyers, there are builders among us who can’t seem to build fast enough to satisfy their cadre of hungry followers, even though the overall market has come to a virtual standstill.

If there’s one thing these builders have in common, it’s likely that they are specialists who have found their sweet spots and are sticking to the recipes they know best—be it for a historic architectural style, an alternative construction method, a unique buyer segment, or an unmet price point. Like the owners of the nation’s most recession-proof eateries, they aren’t pretending to be all things to all people, and they aren’t even trying.

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