To many of us, QVC is a 1980s relic of grandmas and shut-ins. When QVC (which stands for "Quality, Value, Convenience") first went live in 1986, televised sales pitches were a disruptive idea in retail—bringing products that lived in malls to a growing cable audience in search of things to watch. The network wasn’t first-to-market in its genre—HSN (the Home Shopping Network) had launched a year earlier—but QVC’s impact was immediate. QVC would set the fiscal sales record for a new public company in its first year ($112 million) by avoiding malls, while teenage rock star Tiffany would become a pop icon by performing in them. From day one, QVC’s niche was the unhip. ... But if QVC’s 24/7/364 approach—they go off-air for Christmas—is a fossil, it’s a living one. While U.S. mall popularity peaked in 1990, QVC’s revenue continues to grow. The network now does $8.8 billion in worldwide sales a year, and like every other big company, it is eyeing expansion in China. While the grandma stereotypes are indeed a bit true—QVC’s audience is 90% women, ages 35 to 65—QVC quadrupled its young recruit customers between 2009 and 2013 from 3% to 12%. Maybe more importantly, over the last decade, QVC has been gracefully making the transition from landline caller to smartphone user. Forty-three percent of its U.S. sales now come through e-commerce channels, and 30% of these are through mobile. The television channel has become the fifth largest mobile retailer in the world. Even a hot startup like Kickstarter has learned from QVC: each product must be accompanied by a video interview with its creator. ... Ninety percent of QVC’s customers are repeat customers—the most sought after, profitable type, the same carefully cultivated by companies like Starbucks with Starbucks Rewards and Amazon with Amazon Prime. ... But while Starbucks offers the promise of free caffeine, and Amazon gives us faster shipping and streamable movies, QVC has personalities—27 hosts who are each responsible for selling hundreds of millions of dollars in products a year. They’re middle-aged. Often overweight. Family types—the average American, with better makeup and whiter teeth, each a character in a retail soap opera that viewers at home can follow forever.