By  on October 17, 2011

LOS ANGELES — The Hot Topic Inc. initiation ritual includes braving the crowds at Lollapalooza and mingling with the superfans at Comic Con.

It’s not the tranquil retirement Lisa Harper imagined for herself in 2006, when she left Gymboree Corp. after spending five years as its chief executive officer and sought refuge in Mexico to open and operate the Rancho Pescadero hotel in Baja California Sur. But it is necessary research for her new post atop Hot Topic, where she succeeded Betsy McLaughlin as ceo in March and is striving to make the retailer that was stuck in a Goth and punk rut relevant to today’s music-obsessed teens, while turning stores into efficient retail machines to power a turnaround.

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