Ink a partnership with Under Amour (UAA) - Get Report to spruce up a long drab athleticwear section. Invite retail killer and Action Alerts Plus holding Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report into more than 10 stores to handle its digital returns. And prepare to open mini grocery stores with cheap prices at 10 locations under the Aldi brand.

Tack on same-store sales that have been stronger than other mall concepts (see below), and one has the story of Kohl's (KSS) - Get Report . Shares of the no frills apparel and general merchandise retailer known for its funky shopping baskets have skyrocketed 66% over the past year. The VanEck Vectors Retail ETF (RTH) - Get Report during that span: +19%.

The gains come despite indications the over-stored U.S. retail sector remains under severe duress, highlighted by fresh bankruptcies from Toys 'R' Us and Claire's. One high level credit ratings source TheStreet talked with this week says recent bankruptcies are just the tip of the iceberg. Further, the source voiced concern on Kohl's rival Sears Holdings (SHLD) surviving the year -- it's downfall could place severe pressure on department stores as it liquidates inventory and sells properties.

In the meantime, go figure on Kohl's stock. 

Coming Up

TheStreet's founder Jim Cramer talks with Kohl's CEO Kevin Mansell on 'Mad Money' Tuesday evening. Read Cramer's hot new research on the retail space over at RealMoney here.